Basic Information

Other Name
Life Span
15-16 years
Colorpoint, Tabby, and Ticked
Glossy, Satin, Short, and Silky
Black, Brown, Chocolate, Cream, Lilac, Red, Silver, and Tortoise Shell
6 - 10 Pounds



Burmese are compact but heavy, often described as bricks wrapped in silk. That doesn’t preclude them from being active and acrobatic. Their short, fine, silky coat comes in the original dark sable brown as well as dilute colors: champagne (light brown), blue and platinum (lilac). Burmese are extremely people-oriented cats. They are almost dog-like in their tendency to follow their owners to give and receive affection. In fact, many Burmese even learn to play fetch.

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The Burmese descends from a single chocolate-colored cat, Wong Mau, who was brought back from Burma sometime in the 1920s or 1930s by a sailor. He passed her on to a Siamese breeder, Dr. Joseph Thompson, who described her thusly: “a rather small cat, fine boned, but with a more compact body than that of a Siamese, with a shorter tail, a rounded, short-muzzled head, with greater width between rounded eyes.” Intrigued by the small chocolate-brown cat with the darker brown points, Thompson began a breeding program, using seal-point Siamese since he had no access to other cats of Wong Mau’s type (which was thought by some breeders to simply be a dark variety of Siamese). Wong-Mau produced some kittens that looked like Siamese and others that resembled herself. Another litter, produced by mating her to one of her kittens with brown coloring and dark points resulted in kittens with three looks: Siamese, dark brown with points like Wong Mau, and dark brown with no points. The brown kittens with no markings became the foundation of what is now known as the Burmese. Later breedings produced kittens with blue, chocolate, and lilac coloring in addition to the original sable. It’s likely that this occurred because Wong Mau carried genes for dilution and chocolate. The Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) began registering Burmese in its studbook in 1936, but it wasn’t until 1957 that the breed became fully recognized by CFA. Partly, that was because the CFA suspended the registration of Burmese between 1947 and 1953 until breeders stopped crossing Burmese with Siamese (a practice that later led to the development of the Tonkinese). Now, however, it’s thought that Burmese matriarch Wong Mau was herself a Burmese/Siamese cross. The Burmese today is recognized by all major cat registries, but not all of the registries permit all of the colors in which Burmese are produced. And the Cat Fanciers Associations recognizes two types: the Burmese and the European Burmese.

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