Looking After a Birman Cat at Home – Definitive Guide
What is a Birman Cat?
The Birman cat and the Siamese cat of Thailand have several similarities, the only differences being that its body is much stockier, it has a long silken fur coat that comes in several pointed colors, including lilac and chocolate, contrasting white "socks" or "gloves" on each of its paws and deep blue eyes.
It is regarded as a medium-sized to large sized domestic feline and has an average weight of about seven to twelve pounds. This domestic cat breed has another very common name, Sacred Cat of Burma.
The name Birman was derived from Birmanie, which happens to be a French term for Burma. Cat Club de France was the first to recognise the Birman cat breed in France, 1925. It was then later discovered in England in 1966 and then in the United States in 1967. However, how this breed of cat came to be is still relatively unknown.
Some theories claim it was a cross of the Siamese with the Persian or Angora cat, but the where and when this initial meet-up happened is not known.
This cat breed is an affectionate, calm domestic feline that absolutely enjoys being in the company of other people. It loves when you give it lots of your attention.
They also get along with other pet animals as well as children. When talked to it responds in a pretty, soft voice, but, it's rarely ever that vocal. They are also not as active as some other breeds are, but they do have their playful side.
What is the Birman Cat's Personality Like?
If you do not like the yowly voice the Siamese Cat breed has, but, you like its pointed patterns, then the Birman may just be the ideal cat breed for you. Just like humans, each cat has its own individual genetic traits and factors it inherits from its ancestors.
Bred for nearly a century now, the Birman breed has acquired adequately stable personalities. Their Siamese side has given them social and dependent personality traits while their Persian side has given them a more cool, relaxed and independent element.
They can be described as being in the middle whereby some individuals will like sitting on laps while others don't, however, one certain thing about all of them is that they will probably love being in your company, whether it's following you around the home or just hanging out beside you.
This docile mentality doesn't mean it's dumb, in fact, the Birman is a rather smart and intelligent cat breed, and very curious as well. They absolutely love exploring their environments and are known to get themselves trapped in the most unlikely of places. Keeping close tabs on your Birman cat's whereabouts is always a good idea.
They communicate in a pretty, quiet and soft voice, but it's usually only when they want something specific like when it's cuddling time with you on the sofa or when they want something to eat. Most of them adore being petted and cuddled, great attention seekers, and love being held as if they were furry babies.
How Much Does the Birman Weigh?
The Birman is a medium sized to large sized cat breed. They are normally not a small type of cat. It has a strongly built body shape, stocky and rather elongated, and it's neither cobby nor svelte, according to its commonly recognised breed standards.
The male Birman cat usually weighs in at around four to six kilograms or eight to twelve pounds while the female Birman's weight measures around two to four kilograms or four to eight pounds. Females are known to be slightly smaller than their male counterparts.
Colours of the Birman Cat
The Birman is a color point cat breed that usually has a pale white body that has been offset by much darker areas usually found around their feet, ears, face and tail.
They are normally born pale white and begin to develop their other colours the older they get. Most kittens usually come out all white.
As they get older and mature they start to showcase and develop a variety of colors, some of which include lilac, seal, red, cream, chocolate, tortie and blue.
When they've grown into full adults their fur becomes long and silky and each of their paws develops "gloves" or "socks".
All their color patterns can either be solid in nature or showcase more dramatic lynx patterns, which happen to display tabby markings on their point colors.
However, your average Birman cat will usually have a creamy white or golden mist colour. This cat breed's distinctive white, or whichever colour they have grown into, paws, of both the back and the front, should be symmetrical and should extend upwards in an inverted V shape on its hind paws.
What is the Birman Cat's Lifespan?
Most sources claim that the Birman cat lives until about twelve to fifteen years of age. Very few rarely go beyond the age of fifteen years old.
Should Your Birman Cat Go Outside or Stay In?
It's not necessary to allow your Birman to roam freely outside, in fact, in some parts of the world, such as Australia, it is generally considered as being irresponsible when you do so.
Your safest bet would be to ensure that your Birman remains a house cat. It's important that you make this decision at the very beginning because what your Birman cat doesn't know, it certainly won't miss.
There are several excellent products that cat owners can use to build areas in their backyards that can be made cat proof, which do not give your cat an opportunity to escape.
If you feel this is something you might be more comfortable with then you should strongly consider buying some of these products.
If your concerned that your Birman will get bored and become a problem because the human family members are away at school or at work, then you might want to get another cat or pet animal to keep your Birman company while everyone is away.
They will probably end up being lifelong companions for the Birman cat has a very friendly nature. And don't worry, this friendship they'll have will not take away any attention they usually have for you.
Grooming Your Birman Cat
Long-haired cats usually require regular grooming. Birman cats have fur coats that have long silky textures which make them relatively easy to groom.
It's made easier because, for starters, the silky nature of their fur coat limits tangles. Therefore, you should ensure you brush your Birman cat at least twice a week.
If doing it twice is something you can't do then ensure you brush your cat at least once every week. Use a brush that has soft bristles on one side, for fuzz removal, and hard bristles on the other, for removing tangles.
Make sure your satisfied with the brush's grip capability. The ones that have an elastic grip are usually the best. Work the fur coat from head to tail removing any loose or dead hair. Be extra careful when you reach its belly and chest region because those areas are easily prone to injury.
The regular grooming of your Birman cat will not only help your cat's blood circulation but will also help keep it clear from long-lasting and unpleasant allergies and infections.
However, you should be aware that seasonal changes considerably affect the shedding of its fur coat. Extra brushing is vital during these seasons because your cat may begin swallowing that extra hair and begin to develop fur ball problems.
Do They Get Fur Balls?
Most long-haired cats usually have fur ball problems and complications. The only real effective way to deal with this problem is very thorough grooming, as we've explained above, and the elimination of surplus dead hair so that your Birman doesn't swallow any.
The type of comb that was previously discussed in the above subtopic is what you should consider for this. There are several cat biscuits designed to help you tackle this problem, however, they could mean more vomiting.
This is largely due to the fact that they have been initially designed to prevent build-ups in your cat's intestines because some of these are usually dangerous and can pose a serious threat to your cat's life.
Vomiting is not as hard and as unpleasant for your cat to do as compared to humans, and, unlike humans, it doesn't necessarily mean that your cat is sick.
Cats are natural predators and the foods they're naturally meant to eat are small birds, rodents etc. These animals have feathers and fur that needs to be regurgitated, which cats often do quite easily. So, cats occasionally vomit. However, if yours is doing it daily, then that might be cause for concern.
What Should You Feed Your Birman Cat?
Choose very healthy cat food. The Birman cat breed is a medium to large sized feline that happens to be quite playful and active. This means that it will require food that provides it with sufficient energy.
Feeding it high-quality cat food is the best way to ensure it gets all the energy it needs. High-quality cat food is one that has meat (and NOT meat by-products) listed as the first two ingredients on the package.
Stay clear of cat food products that don't have this. Those cat foods that are made up of meat by-products are usually of low quality. They will rarely give your Birman the nutrients and energy it requires.
Typically, wet food is considered the best option for a Birman cat. This is because wet food allows for you to monitor your cat's food intake as well as weight.
They also ensure your Birman cat stays hydrated. However, if this isn't possible due to a busy schedule, feeding your cat dry food will work just fine. These types of cat are normally pretty good self-feeders, so leaving dry food out should be fine.
The Birman Cat's Health and Vaccination
The Birman breed of cat is generally a very healthy domesticated feline and can live to about thirteen to fifteen years old. Hereditary diseases are not something they are predisposed to.
The most common serious health complication currently witnessed in this type of breed of cat is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This is a heart disease that most cats suffer from and, unfortunately, the Birman cat is no exception. Early symptoms usually include lethargy and panting. Your feline's heart muscles become thicker and generally have to work harder than they usually do.
This can eventually lead to blood clots, which will, in turn, result in back leg paralysis, congestive heart failure and, inevitably, death.
Below are some other common health problems you need to look out for that your Birman cat may be subjected to:
- Congenital hypotrichosis, which is essentially being born without any hair, and thymic aplasia, which is an immune deficiency, however, both of these happen to be extremely rare.
- Corneal Dermoid, which is the growth of hair and skin on the cornea's surface. It also happens to be extremely rare. In fact, it seems you can only find this condition in research papers and veterinary textbooks.
- Spongiform Degeneration. It's a progressive degenerative disease that attacks the cat's central nervous system. Some of its symptoms include uncoordinated movement and hind leg weakness. It's also very rare as well.
- Feline Audiogenic Reflex Seizures or FARS, in short, is another disease your Birman cat may be prone to. These seizures are normally sound induced and the disease usually affects older cats.
The Birman cat, again, like all other cats are susceptible to viral and bacterial infections such as calicivirus, panleukopenia, rhinotracheitis as well as rabies.
These are all preventable through vaccination. There's always a high chance of your Birman cat contracting any one of these diseases. So, most vets will recommend you administer your cat with the corresponding vaccines, which are also more commonly referred to as the "core" vaccines.
Furthermore, vaccines are also important when you want to protect your Birman from other various diseases such as, for one, the feline leukemia virus or FeLV.
Periodontal disease is something Birman cats are also very prone to contracting so you must ensure you brush its teeth as often as you can.
It's best you practice daily dental hygiene, however, if that may not be possible, you can try doing it weekly because once a week is certainly better than nothing at all.
Trim its nails every now and then and to remove any discharge found in the eye, use a soft, clean, damp cloth to wipe the corner of its eyes.
If you can, use a different clean cloth for each eye so that you can effectively avoid any risk of spreading potential infection.
Also, make sure you check its ears at least once a week to check whether they are dirty or clean.
If you find that they are filthy, use a soft damp cloth or cotton ball moistened using a fifty-fifty mixture of warm water and apple cider vinegar to wipe its ears. Avoid the use of cotton swabs for it can damage the ear's interior.
How to Discipline Your Birman Cat
Many cats have the reputation of being distant, aloof and unflappable. So, how do you properly discipline your cat when it has done something wrong?
For starters, cats should rarely be reprimanded. Common cat issues such as spraying, clawing and relieving itself in areas it's not supposed to should be tackled with by instituting immediate training.
Herein below are two of the best ways you can discipline your cat:-
- Spraying - Using a spray bottle is one of the best and most effective ways you can reprimand your Birman cat.
Cats usually don't like getting wet and the spray gun sound accompanied by the sudden shock of getting sprayed with cold water will startle your cat.
You need to be consistent with such reprimanding techniques if you want it to change its behaviour. Also, you should remember to only use such techniques when you've caught your cat in the act of doing something it's not supposed to or immediately after.
- Sound Advice - After you've implemented whatever disciplining method you've chosen to use, you should always try to accompany it by snapping your fingers, a firm 'no' or a hand clap.
Doing this consistently will eventually teach your cat to associate that sound with a reprimand.
This technique is ideal for most Birman cats. When you achieve this then all you'll have to do is make that sound in front of your cat and it will know it's doing something wrong.
How to Play With Your Birman Cat
Carve out some time in your daily schedule to play with your Birman. This cat breed is highly active and is naturally playful as well.
They love to "help" their owners with whatever they may be doing and will follow you around the house any chance it gets. Ensuring that you play with your Birman every day will keep it as happy as a clam.
You can even make spreading your bed every morning a game by letting it hide and wiggle itself under the covers as you spread.
They'll definitely enjoy this. You can also purchase some cat toys such as furry mice and spongy balls which you can throw and your cat can chase around.
A Birman cat also loves playing inside collapsible tunnel toys. These keep them both mentally and physically stimulated.
This is because they have a rather adventurous spirit and running through those collapsing tunnels is sure to keep them thoroughly entertained, especially when you take part in its activities and play with it.
Laser pointers are also another very good option when it comes to entertaining you Birman cat because they love chasing things around. However, it sometimes might not fully satisfy the Birman's appetite for play and adventure for it may need something a little more concrete.
They happen to be also extremely affectionate and love the attention of their owners and humans in general. Keeping this cat breed happy and equally stimulated isn't actually that hard.
Regular affection and love can double up as playtime for this breed of cat. Petting and stroking its fur while letting it sit on your lap is almost like a silent, relaxing game for your Birman cat.
Is a Birman Cat Hypoallergenic?
Allergies are one of the main reasons why most people avoid keeping cats as pets. These allergic reactions that are usually found in cats are caused by specific proteins found in the cat's urine, saliva and skin.
These allergens collect on the fur coat of your cat and then get spread around the house as dander or tiny flakes of skin. They can last for months, which means that people can get affected by them even after your cat isn't there anymore.
Hypoallergenic cats also produce allergens, however, nowhere near as much as a regular cat would.
So, is the Birman cat hypoallergenic? The Birman cat may have long, silky cat fur, but, they don't have an undercoat.
What this means is that their cat fur is usually less prone to matting and knots as compared to other cats.
So, because they lack an undercoat, they shed less dander as well as less fur as compared to other breeds of cat. However, they are not yet officially considered as being a hypoallergenic breed, even with all these qualities.
You still might want to consider choosing a different breed if you're someone that suffers from allergies.
The Best Way to Choose a Birman Cat Breeder
A very important process that is usually overlooked by most people is choosing a reputable breeder. It is advised you find a breeder that cares for the kittens they are breeding.
You can achieve this by finding a breeder that ensures his kitten's parents all have good medical histories and makes sure that the standards of living of both their cats and kittens are well above average.
Also, good breeders never breed from families that have a history of HCM. Avoiding breeding from families that have HCM will make sure that your cat not only grows up to be healthy but, the chances of it developing hereditary health complications will be quite slim.
Researching and scrolling through breeder reviews will help you know whether a particular breeder is good or not.
You should also try and ask the breeder you've chosen many questions about the cats being bred and the kitten(s) you're intending to buy.
It's also a good sign if the breeder you've chosen shows some interest by asking you questions about how you intend to take care of the cat. This shows that they have the cat's welfare at heart.
Do Birman Cats Get Along With Dogs?
If the dog is friendly, then your Birman is sure to get along with it. However, it's very important you oversee and supervise these relationships, especially at the early stages.
Often times you'll find that it's much easier to introduce an older cat to a tiny puppy because the cat will feel like it has the upper hand or in this case paw, so to speak.
When attempting this it is also very important one ensures that your dog has no access to your cat's food. Given the opportunity, most, if not all dogs, will always try and eat the cat's food.
Your Birman's litter box should also be placed in an area out of reach from your dog because most dogs also have the tendency of eating whatever they can find in the litter box whenever they can.
Putting both these things out of reach from your dog will help ensure both pets ease into a good and healthy relationship.
Also, placing perches and several other high places all around the house would be a good idea and will come in handy in the event your dog gets a little pushy for they will give your Birman cat an opportunity to escape the dog.
Do They Get Along With Other Cats?
Most Birman cats have that natural alpha cat mentality and will often try dominating any other felines they find in the home. This is largely due to the fact that they love garnering the most affection and they want to be the only center of attention.
However, with that said, most of them will have no problem being in the company of felines and do actually enjoy it even, given that they are highly active and playful. They are neither prone to fighting nor are they an aggressive type of cat breed. They simply want and enjoy being the ringleader amongst their friends.
Regardless of age, if you intend on introducing a new feline companion into your home, you may have to give both cats some adequate time to get familiar with each other.
Fostering relationships between new cats are some of those things you just can't rush. Patience will be key. Cats need to work out amongst themselves who will get the best sleeping area, who has a higher social ranking etcetera.
With time they'll eventually become good friends so patience is key. Sometimes, a Birman cat may get jealous when they feel that they aren't getting enough of your attention, so when introducing a new cat into the home, make sure to not forget to give your Birman the attention it's accustomed to.
If you forget to do this you could end up causing more problems between your new cat and your Birman cat.
Is a Birman Cat Expensive?
The price of a Birman kitten isn't something that has been set in stone. Usually, the breeder you choose is what will determine how much the kitten will go for.
On average, this breed of kitten should set you back between four hundred to six hundred dollars. Okay, that may seem like lots of cash for a cat, however, for a beautiful new family member such as this one, it surely isn't such a big price to pay, is it?
Unfortunately, the overall price is not the only thing you have to consider when your thinking of buying a Birman cat, or any other cat for that matter. The cost of pet insurance is something you will also need to look into as well as care costs such as food and vaccinations.
Why Are They Called the "Sacred Cat of Burma"?
Legend has it that Myanmar's (Burma) Kittah priests and Lao Tsun temple guardians kept this breed of cat as their pets. Actually, the original colors they used to have were pretty different from what they are today.
Their fur was a deep white and they had yellow eyes. The temple's goddess, on the other hand, had deep blue eyes. The temple's head priest used to have a beautiful feline companion named Sinh.
One day some enemies attacked the temple and during that attack, the head priest ended up losing his life.
During the final moments of the priest's death, Sinh, his feline companion, placed its feet on its master and stared at the goddess found in the temple.
Sinh's white fur immediately turned a goldfish mist colour, its eyes took the colour of the goddess' eyes and turned deep blue and its tail, legs and paws took on the earth's colour and turned dark brown.
However, where its paws touched the priest, as a sign of purity, remained white. The rest of the temple cats immediately took the shape, size and description of the new Sinh. A week later Sinh died and escorted his master's soul to paradise.
All in all, the Birman cat is a wonderful feline companion and is great at being the family pet. It loves hanging out with the children and adults alike. Its playful and adventurous nature makes it something the kids will enjoy having around.
Taking care of it might not be the easiest thing to do in the world, but, it's manageable nonetheless. Especially with the help of this article on looking after a Birman cat at home - definitive guide. We hope it has been a great help to you and yours, and remember, sharing is caring.