'Hungry Head' & 'Momma Kitty'

The following information is provided by the CFA.

In the early 1930's, Dr. Joseph Thompson of San Francisco acquired an attractive walnut-brown female from Burma which he named Wong Mau. Through selective breeding to Siamese, it was established that the Burmese is a distinct breed. Lighter colored kittens were occasionally produced and eventually the American breeders requested recognition from CFA for these "dilute" colors; first, as another breed named Malayan, then later as a dilute division of Burmese. The four colors recognized by CFA are: sable, champagne, blue and platinum.

Burmese carry surprising weight for their size and have often been described as "bricks wrapped in silk." Their coats are very short, satin-like in texture, and generally require little grooming other than daily petting. There is a range in Burmese head and body type; the more compact cats with the rounder heads are seen in the show ring. Burmese have large, expressive eyes that are great pools of innocence and seductive appeal, irresistible in effect. These eyes are their most persuasive weapon in an arsenal of endearing traits that mask an awesome power to hypnotize their owners into life-time love affairs through which they effortlessly rule their families.

As kittens, Burmese are quite lively. They often seem clumsy when they attempt feats beyond their capabilities and land on their rears with solid little thumps. They will be playful well into adulthood. As Burmese grow, their high intelligence emerges and their own individual personalities start to unfold. They mature into charming, resolute executives who move in and take over a household, running it efficiently with those big eyes and a velvet paw. If encouraged, many Burmese converse with their humans, using soft, sweet voices (they are neither loud nor raucous). They are good with children, will tolerate the family dog, and if introduced to it at an early age as something pleasant, most will enjoy traveling in a car.

Burmese are extremely people-oriented; their personalities are almost dog-like in a tendency to shadow their owners and in a desire to give and receive affection. Many Burmese have delighted their "humans" by learning to retrieve. They love warm laps and caressing hands and enjoy cuddling up in bed either under the covers or on top of their favorite persons. They delight in helping to manage the house. Some of their favorite chores are assisting with paper work or reading (by sitting on top of the material), or going into cupboards (to demonstrate where things ought to be). Typically, Burmese are always with people. The females tend to request center stage and take an active role in ruling the household. The males prefer to supervise from the lap position, are more laid back and less opinionated. If emotionally slighted by their owner's obtuseness, Burmese may sulk, but fortunately not for long. Burmese often convert the most anti-cat person into a Burmese enthusiast. Be forewarned! They can be addictive, and like potato chips, you may find you cannot have just one. Many people find the complete Burmese experience is to have one of each sex or perhaps two (or more) colors.

Burmese should never be let outdoors as they are entirely too trusting and have little, if any, survival instinct. Their idea of survival is to turn their soulful eyes on you to attend to all their needs. This does not work for catching food, fighting off enemies or avoiding cars.

A Burmese should be purchased only from a reputable breeder; avoid pet shops. It is advisable to visit the breeder's home to observe the conditions in which the litter is being raised. While breeders differ in their methods, the environment should be clean and relatively odorless. The kittens should be energetic, curious, and easily handled. They should also appear healthy, as should all the cats in the breeder's home. Check for clear eyes and noses, clean ears and healthy-looking coats. A breeder should guarantee the health of the kitten or cat for a reasonable length of time, provide registration papers (often after the kitten has been altered), discuss care, and be available to answer questions.

Pricing on Burmese usually depends on type, applicable markings and bloodlines distinguished by Grand Champion (GC), National or Regional winning parentage (NW or RW) or of Distinguished Merit parentage (DM). The DM title is achieved by the dam (mother) having produced five CFA grand champion/premier (alter) or DM offspring, or sire (father) having produced fifteen CFA grand champion/premier or DM offspring. Usually breeders make kittens available between twelve and sixteen weeks of age. After twelve weeks, kittens have had their basic inoculations and developed the physical and social stability needed for a new environment, showing, or being transported by air. Keeping such a rare treasure indoors, neutering or spaying and providing acceptable surfaces (e.g. scratching posts) for the natural behavior of scratching (CFA disapproves of declawing or tendonectomy surgery) are essential elements for maintaining a healthy, long and joyful life.

There are CFA clubs devoted to the promotion, protection and preservation of the Burmese breed. For more information, please send inquiries to CFA, PO Box 1005, Manasquan NJ 08736-0805.

Text: Judith Kollman and Patricia Swihart - Last Updated: 8/2/2006

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