A Birman cat, full length.
A Birman cat, full length. Photography ©ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo.

Quick Facts

  • Weight: 8 – 12 pounds

Look down at the paws and you will discover a telltale Birman trait. All Birmans are born with all four paws white. They are referred to as “gloves.”

A Birman’s eyes are deep blue and expressive. The head is round with small ears. The coat comes in light colors offset by darker points visible on the face, legs and tail. Its body is medium to large in size.

One of the many pluses of this breed is that its long, silky hair is mat-free.

Females weigh between 6 and 10 pounds and males average between 10 and 15 pounds.


  • Sweet, gentle personality
  • Masters tricks easily
  • Comfortable with other household pets
  • Sometimes mistaken for longhaired Ragdoll or Siamese

Ideal Human Companion

  • Families with children
  • Singles with other pets
  • First-time cat owners

What They Are Like to Live With

A Birman likes to communicate with people, but does so in a soft tone. This is a gentle cat who plays gracefully and enjoys learning some tricks in a dignified style.

Because this breed enjoys the company of other pets and people, it is best suited in a multi-pet household rather than being a home-alone cat.

Don’t worry about your valuables displayed on high shelves. This breed prefers to hang out at ground level rather than climb curtains or hang out on high perches.

Its coat needs minimal care – just run a comb through once or twice a week to maintain its silky feel.

Things You Should Know

The Birman lacks an undercoat.

This breed can be prone to becoming overweight, so measure out daily food portions.

All kittens are born completely white. The colored points and markings gradually appear within the first two years.

Birman History

The Birman’s origins are mysterious but enchanting. One popular legend from ancient Burma proclaims that this breed was a favorite cat with Kittah priests. One day, robbers invaded the Khmer Temple in Burma to steal a golden statute in the image of the blue-eyed goddess Tsun-Kyan-Kse. Mun-Ha, the high priest was injured during this confrontation. As he lay dying, his loyal Birman named Sinh, was said to come to his side and gently rest his paws on his chest, offering him companionship in his final moments. The priest died and his cat was transformed. Sinh’s fur turned golden like the goddess and his eyes took on the color of the goddess. Hiss paws were turn to pure white, symbolizing the feline’s devotion to his dying priest.

Birmans first came to Europe in the late 1910s and the first Birmans arrived in the United Stations in the late 1950s.

A Birman naming tradition remains intact. All Birman breeders agree to name their kittens born in a specific year with the same letter of the alphabet. All Birmans born in 2007 in the United States, for example, are registered with names beginning with the letter “E.”

All major cat breed registries recognize the Birman. It garnered championship status by the Cat Fanciers Association in 1972 and now ranks eighth in popularity among the CFA-recognized breeds.

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