The Birman Cat: Cat Breed Profile

Posted in: Cat Breeds - Last Updated: January 14, 2022 - Author: Jennifer Bridgers
Posted in Cat Breeds 
Last Updated: November 27, 2021  
Author:  Jennifer Bridgers
image of two birmans looking at camera

The Birman cat is a beautiful longhair with deep blue eyes, dark faces, ears, and tails, and contrasting white “socks” on their paws. They are domestic cats that have mysterious origins that rely on legend to explain.

If you are looking for a low maintenance but affectionate cat, then the Birman is for you. They are great around other pets and kids and often become “lap” cats due to how much affection they give. They are also pretty playful and aren’t too vocal.

Birmans are a beautiful and unique breed of cat that many owners appreciate.

A Brief History of Birman Cats

The Birman cat breed can be traced back to Australia, France, England, and Germany, and did not arrive in the United States until the 1950s.

The origin of the Birman breed is vague and is explained through several different legends. One legend says the Birman cat is the ancestor of a temple cat of a priest in Burma, now Myanmar, and when the priest was attacked by thieves, his cat stood by his side as he died.

The priest’s cat’s loyalty sparked a magical transformation. The cat’s fur became golden and his eyes became sapphire blue. The legend states that this was an ode to the goddess that the priest had worshipped.

Another legend states that two Birman cats were given to Englishmen after they defended an Asian temple from invasion and another says that two Birman cats were purchased from an Asian smuggler by Cornelius Vanderbilt and sent to a woman in France.

The real origin of Birman cats is still uncertain. What is certain is that this beautiful breed almost went extinct during World War II. The only two Birmans that were known to be alive in Europe when the war was over were named Orloff and Xenia de Kaabaa.

To save the breed, they were bred with Persians to outcross the bloodline and eventually, Birmans slowly started to repopulate across Europe. The Birman breed was first recognized in France in 1920 and it is now the 15th most popular cat breed in the United States.

Birman Cat Breed Overview

The Birman cat a longhair with a pale color across most of their body with darker coloring around their face, ears, legs, and tail.

  • Weight: Males weight between 10 and 15 pounds and females weigh between 6 and 10 pounds
  • Length: 15 to 18 inches
  • Coat: Long
  • Coat color: Briman coats have variants such as lilac, seal, red, blue, chocolate, and cream. Seal tortie is another variant found only in female Birmans. There are also tabby variations of Birmans including blue tabby, seal tortie tabby, and seal tabby.
  • Eye color: Deep blue
  • Life expectancy: Their average lifespan is about 14 years

Characteristics/Attitude of the Birman Cat

Birman cats are known for being very laid-back with low energy levels. This makes them great pets for families with children or other pets. They are also very affectionate and prone to forming very close bonds with their owners.

Despite having low energy levels, Birman cats can be pretty playful which can help with their tendency to gain weight. They are also highly intelligent and will need a moderate amount of upkeep with their long hair.

Birman Cat Characteristics & Attitudes

  • Friendliness: Medium
  • Affection level: High
  • Child friendly: High
  • Pet friendly: High
  • Playfulness: High
  • Energy level: Low
  • Exercise requirements: Medium
  • Intelligence: High
  • Tendency to vocalize: Low
  • Shedding: Medium

Birman Cat Breed Care

As a long haired cat, you will more than likely need to brush your Birman cat regularly, as often as two to three times a week. Although, the frequency of brushing can vary from cat to cat. Some breeders even state that Birman’s hair does not tangle easily.

Most Birman cats will be capable of grooming their long fur and getting rid of mats on their own, but brushing them regularly will not only reduce the amount of matted fur you encounter, but it can also reduce hairballs and the amount of fur you have to vacuum up off the floor. Brushing a Birman cat shouldn’t be too much of a hassle because they are so laid back!

It also might be a good idea to bathe your Birman at the end of each season to help rejuvenate their coat. Before their bath, make sure to get rid of any mats because water will just make them rest. Also clip their nails if your cat is not a happy camper around water.

Since they are so laid back, Birmans can be quite docile when given a bath, especially if they have been having baths since they were young.

One last care concern to think about if you have a Birman is the type of litter you use. Since Birmans have a lighter color in their midsection, some litters could potentially stain their fur.

Birman Cat Common Health Issues

Fortunately, Birman cats do not have any common health problems. The one area of health that may be of concern to you if you own a Birman is their weight. Birmans have a tendency to gain excess weight due to their low energy.

Because of this, you should make sure that you monitor their diet regularly so you are aware if they start to gain too much weight. Gaining too much weight could lead your Birman to developing ailments that result from obesity such as diabetes, liver disease, pancreatitis, and more.

Also make sure you take your Birman to physicals at the veterinarian’s office every year like you would any other pet!

white birman looking at camera

Recommended Diets for Birman Cats

The best diets for Birman cats would be a raw diet or homemade cat food. However, as with any diet, make sure you discuss the change with your vet before officially changing your cat’s diet. If you don’t want to feed your Birman a special diet, they will be just as happy eating commercial cat food.

The kind of cat food you feed your cat will depend on their personal needs and preferences. Like always, take into consideration foods that help different areas of your cat’s life. For instance, hairball formulas if your cat frequently has hairballs.

If you’re not sure what to look for, foods that are low carb and that do not have any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Since Birmans have a tendency to gain weight, give your cat food at planned meal times instead of free feeding. And always make sure that they always have access to a clean, fresh water bowl.

Birman Cat Pros & Cons



  • Stunning blue eyes and unique coats
  • Incredibly affectionate and loyal
  • Plays well with other pets and kids
  • Very laid back
  • Birmans don’t have a picky diet


  • Because of their social nature, these cats can get lonely if left alone for long periods of time. If you work often, consider getting them a playmate.
  • Their long hair require a bit more maintenance than shorter-haired breeds
  • Prone to weight gain

Some Helpful Facts

Every cat is unique and individual, no matter the breed. So what may be true for one Birman may not be true for another. However, here are a few fun facts that seem to be true amongst most Birman cats!

  • Birmans are more likely than other breeds to develop compulsive behaviors such as chewing on or eating things that are not food (plastic, fabric, etc.)
  • All Birman kittens are born white and their color gradually develops as the mature but their paws will always be white
  • Because of their playful nature, they can easily be taught tricks such as fetch
  • Birmans tend to enjoy low-level laying areas instead of climbing high, so make sure they have plenty of room to lounge on the floor
  • They are similar in appearance to the Ragdoll breed
  • Birman kittens typically cost anywhere between $400 and $600

Final Thoughts on the Birman Cat Breed

Birman Cats are a truly unique breed that is both beautiful and mysterious. They are a great breed for homes with multiple pets or kids as they are very low maintenance and tend to go with the flow.

If you want an affectionate and loyal companion that doesn’t take too much extra effort, then you should definitely consider a Birman cat.

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About the author

Jennifer Bridgers has been a freelance writer for several years. As a cat mom to two adorable cats herself, she loves diving into the world of cat care. When she isn’t busy dressing her cats in ridiculous outfits, Jennifer can be found crocheting, bingeing true crime documentaries and podcasts, reading fantasy novels, or writing a novel series of her own.