||The Birman or Sacred Cat of Burma
This fabled breed is wrapped in the
kind of legend that enthralls cat fanciers everywhere. According to that
legend, the Birman -- or Sacred Cat of Burma -- was honored in its native
land because people there believed that the souls of departed priests
returned to their temples in the form of these beautiful cats.
|| One of the
holy places where the sacred cats lived
was the temple of Lao-Tsun,
located in western Burma between China and India. In this temple a priest
named Mun-Ha knelt each night in adoration before a statue of
Tsun-Kyan-Kse, a blue-eyed goddess who presided over the transmutation of
souls. At Mun-Ha's side as he prayed was a sacred cat named Sinh.
One night the temple was
ravaged by invaders from Siam, and Mun-Ha was killed. Sinh stood at once
with his paws on his fallen master, facing the statue of Tsun-Kyan-Kse. As
he did, a miraculous transformation came over Sinh. His coat, which had
been white, took on the golden glow radiating from the statue. His yellow
eyes turned a deep, sapphire blue; and his legs glowed with a brown-velvet
radiance -- except for his feet, which remained sparkling white, a sign of
the purity of Mun-Ha's soul. By the following morning, all the cats
in the temple of Lao-Tsun had been
transformed from white to color-pointed cats just like Sinh. For seven
days and nights he remained at his post. Then he died, carrying with him
the soul of Mun-Ha.
||Such a tale befits the Sacred Cat
of Burma, adding to the stature of this breed. Unfortunately, it adds
nothing to the explanation of the Birman's origin. Siamese and longhaired,
bicolored Angoras are likely participants in that mysterious beginning. It
is futile, however, to speculate whether this combination -- if it was the
one that produced the Birman -- was intentional or whether it simply
resulted from those cats interbreeding freely in an isolated setting. But
whatever the parent breeds might have been -- and wherever they might have
joined forces -- they had to have been carrying genes for point color,
low-grade white spotting, and long hair.
following is taken from 'The Complete Guide to all Cats'
Though the Birman had
its genesis in Burma, there is no evidence of a genetic link with the
Burmese cat who came to us originally from that same country. In 1919 the
Birman first appeared in France where, due to diverse circumstances, it
took quite a few years to become established. In the 1960s it reached
England, and was recognized by the Cat Fanciers' Association, Inc, in the
US in 1967.
The body color of the Birman is a creamy-white, but with golden tints
lending the cat a precious appearance. The furry coat is long and silky,
with a tendency to curl on the underbody. The points on head, legs, feet
& tail are a contrasting color, that being seal, blue, chocolate or
lilac. However, that characteristic which distinguishes the Birman
all other color pointed cats is it's 4 pure white paws, & the laces,
or gauntlets which go up the 2 back paws, ending in a V.
Said to have once been the darling of temple priests in
Burma, the Birman standard calls for a strong stocky body, bearing a
round, full-cheeked head decorated with round, deep blue eyes (the
standard says the deeper blue-violet, the better). A bushy,
tail is preferred. A full ruff around the neck is
desirable. Foot pads are usually pink, but can be brown.
The Birman displays a majestic bearing, and its sweet
disposition makes it a delight to handle & to own.
In 1996 there are still only 4 color points accepted by
CFA: seal, blue, chocolate and lilac. However, all the other U.S.
registries, and all other countries of the world who register cats have
now accepted the red/cream color, with it's many color combinations, and
the tabby point (or lynx point*). N.Z.,Australia, France, have several
other colors as well (cinnamon, fawn, silver, frost, etc.)
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Copyright © 2001 BirAmor Birmans
December 05, 2008
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