The Birman is a domestic cat breed. Also called the “Sacred Cat of Burma,” it is not to be confused with the Burmese, which is a separate and dissimilar breed. The Birman has medium-long hair, a pale colored body and darker points with deep blue eyes. Even though the cat is pointed, the paws have white gloves. The Birman is a very sociable, smart and friendly cat who is curious and people oriented, following their master everywhere. The Birman breed was first recognized in France by the Cat Club de France in 1925, then in England by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) in 1966 and in United States by the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) in 1967. It is also recognized by the Canadian Cat Association (CCA), and by The International Cat Association (TICA) in 1979.
While there is no clear record of the origin of Birmans, one legend is that the Birman cat originated in Burma where they were kept by temple priests in Northern Burma in the Mount of Lugh. This doubtful but beautiful legend is mainly attributed to the writings of Mme Marcelle Adam (novelist and president of the Federation Feline Française and owner of the famous Maldapour Birman Cattery) and first published by Dr. François Méry in the French Review Minerva. It presents many historical and factual issues hard to reconcile. The legend borrows from the nearby Siamese cat history (Siamese cats were introduced few decades before in England (1884 by British Consul-General Gould) and in France by Auguste Pavie [as mentioned in his Mission Report  – Pavie sent 4 Siamese cats to Paris’s museum in the last decade of the Nineteenth Century). There are many colorful stories of how the cats first came to France, including pairs of cats being a reward for helping defend a temple, or being smuggled out of Burma by a Vanderbilt. The first traces of historical Birmans go back to a Mme Leotardi in the city of Nice in France.
Birmans owe much to the work of a few breeders of that time like: Mme Leotardi, Mme Marcelle Adams, Mme Brassart, Mr. Baudoin-Crevoisier, Mme Simone Poirier. The most famous Birman of that time was Dieu d’Arakhan and belonged to Mme la comtesse Giriodi Panissera
Birmans were almost wiped out as a breed during World War II. Only two cats were alive in Europe at the end of the war, a pair named Orloff and Xenia de Kaabaa, both belonging to Baudoin-Crevoisier. The foundation of the breed in postwar France were offspring of this pair. Manou, Lon saito, Djaipour, Sita 1 and Sita 2, and they had to be heavily outcrossed with long-hair breeds (mainly with the new Persans Colourpoint) and also Siamese lines (like Kiou) to rebuild the Birman breed. By the early 1950s, pure Birman litters were once again being produced. The restored breed was recognized in Britain in 1965 and by the CFA in 1966. The first Birman cats were only seal-point for a long time and the Blue-point color was introduced in 1959 (Iros du Clos Fleuri) using Blue Persan lines (Persan Bluette de la Cote Azure). They owe much to the work of the des Muses Cattery (in the USA one of the first Blue Point was Griswold’s Burman Boi Bleu, born in 1964). New colors were added by the work of English Breeders in the 1970-1980: chocolate and red-point and the tabby/lynx version. The chocolate Point was introduced by the conjunction work of two catteries in England: Schwechinthe and Mandessa (one of the 1st chocolate-point is Mandessa Brita, born 1977-07-20 ). They used Persan Colourpoint lines chocolate and lilac-point (Mingchiu Nobb & Mingchiu Manakini – from Mrs. J. P. Harding, one of the creator of modern Himalayans’ cats) and Siamese chocolate lines (Mandessa cattery: Dear Dominic)
The Birman first arrived in Australia in 1967. “Grand Champion Stacpoly Kharma” and “Praha Shigatse” were imported from UK by Mrs J Starky of Sydney.
A Birman was also used to create new breeds like the Ragdoll cat in California .
Since 2008, New-Zealand Birman breeders (Lee Williams & Amanda Stokes) are presenting an experimental short hair version of the cat. They call it the Templecat Shorthair Birman. This new attempted breed was created by mating a cinnamon spotted tabby cat, an Oriental cat, to the Birman.
“In a temple built at the sides of the Mount of Lugh, lived in prayer the venerable Kittah Mun Ha, Grand Lama, precious among the precious, from which the very god Song Hio braid the golden barb … There was not a minute, not an inking, not a thought of his existence that wasn’t dedicated to the adoration, the contemplation, and the pious service of Tsun Kyankzé, the goddess with the sapphire eyes, the one who presides over souls’ transmutation, the one who allows the Kittahs to reincarnate in the form of a sacred animal in the time of its existence, before returning to a body surrounded with the total and holy perfection of the grand priests. Close by the goddess, Sinh the dear oracle meditated. He was a completely white cat, with yellow eyes, a reflection of both his master’s golden braid and the golden body of the goddess with sky eyes … Sinh, the counselor cat, who’s ears, nose, tail and points were the color of the soil, the mark of stain and impurity for all that touches or can touch the earth. Now, one night, as the malevolent moon illuminated the cursed Phoums, who were coming their way from the loathed Siam to the holy enclosure, the Grand Priest Mun Ha–without stopping to implore the cruel destinies–entered slowly in death, under the anguished eyes of all the devastated kittahs, with his divine cat at his side… When a miracle happened… the unique miracle of instant transmutation: with one jump, Sinh was on the golden throne on his saggy master… He perched himself on his head, heavy with years, and which, for the first time was not looking to his goddess… And as the cat turned straight before the eternal statue, one could see the hairs on his white backbone bristle and suddenly become a golden yellow. And his golden eyes became blue, immense and profound like the eyes of the goddess. And, as he slowly turned his head toward the southern entrance, his four paws, which were touching the venerable crane, became flashing white until the fringe of the sacred silk clothes. Then, as his eyes locked on the southern entrance, the kittahs, obedient to this imperative gaze loaded with hardness and light, hurried to close the heavy bronze door on the first invader… The temple was saved from profanation and looting… Sinh had not left the throne. On the seventh day, without having ever moved, facing the goddess, his eyes on her eyes, he died, mysterious and hieratic, taking Mun Ha’s soul away to Tsun Kianksé, as he was now too perfect for earth … And when seven days later, the priests assembled in front of the statue, and consulted in order to decide Mun Ha’s succession, they saw all the temple’s cats running up together … All the cats were clothed with gold and white gloves and all their yellow eyes had changed to deep sapphire… Then, all of them in silence surrounded the youngest Kittah, who was chosen by the reincarnated ancestors according to the will of the goddess … “And now” proclaimed the storyteller woman, “when a sacred cat dies in the Lao-Tsun temple, a Kittah’s soul replaces it forever in the golden god Song Hio’s paradise.“ “But also”, she said, “woe to the one who hastens the end of one of these marvelous animals. Even, if he didn’t mean to, he will suffer the cruelest torments until the sad soul he disturbed finds peace…”
Birmans have semi-long, silky hair, a semi-cobby body and relatively small ears compared to other cat races and a Roman nose. In order to comply with breed standards, the Birman’s body should be of an eggshell colour or golden, depending on the intensity of the markings colour. The markings can be pure seal, chocolate, blue, red, lilac or cream. Tabby variations are also allowed. Tortie cats can be seal, chocolate, blue or lilac. Birmans have sapphire coloured eyes.
The Birman’s coat is unusual due to the white ‘gloves’ on each paw. They are one of the few cat breeds in the colourpoint coat that has fingers and toes in pure white colour. The genetics of this feature may not be not fully clear, though a gene conferring the white ‘gloves’ has been identified.[cite]?
Points of Birman are: Seal-point, Blue-point, Chocolate-point, Lilac-point, Seal Tortie-point, Cream-point, Blue Cream point, Chocolate Tortie point, Lilac Tortie point. The same colours in Tabby version (Lynx): Seal Tabby point, Blue Tabby point, Chocolate Tabby point, Lilac Tabby point, Red Tabby, Cream Tabby point, Tortie Tabby point. Lynx or Red Factor colors on the legs, tail and face. The same colors exist in Silver/Smoke version while not yet recognize by all clubs. Birmans differ from conventional colour-point cats by their white paws called gloves. The coat is medium-length, not as long and thick as a Persian’s, and does not mat. A notable feature is their blue eyes which remain blue throughout their life. Australian breeders have been recently working on new colors like: Cinnamon point, fawn point.
The only allowed white areas are gloves. A spot of white in another area is a fault in a Birman cat. Gloves are symmetrical in all four feet. The white must stop at the articulation or at the transition of toes to metacarpals; and all fingers must be white too. The posterior gloves on the back paws finish with an inverted V extended 1/2″ to 3/4″.