Burmese (cat)

The Burmese (Thai: ? RTGS: Suphalak meaning fortunate, beautiful, and splendid appearance) is a breed of domesticated cats split into two subgroups: the American Burmese and the British Burmese (and are not to be confused with "Sacred Cat of Burma," in respect of which, see Birman). Most modern Burmese are descendants of one female cat called Wong Mau, which was brought from Burma to America in 1930. Most cat registries do not recognize a split between the two groups, but those that do formally refer to the type developed by British cat breeders as the European Burmese.[1] Originally, Burmese cats were exclusively dark brown (sable), but years of selective breeding have produced a wide variety of colours. Different associations have different rules about which of these count as Burmese. Burmese cats are known for being sociable and friendly with humans, as well as very intelligent. They are also very vocal, and often call to their owners. The accepted eye colour for the breed is gold or yellow. The coat is known for being glossy, with a satin-like finish. As with most short-hairs, it requires no additional grooming. The shape of the British breed is more moderate but must not be Oriental,[2] while the American breed is sturdier in build. Longer lived than most pedigree cats, they often reach 16 to 18 years of age.[3] Burmese are a small to medium size breed and tend to be about 4–6 kg in weight.[4] Burmese are vocal like the Siamese but have softer, sweeter meows. They are very affectionate and enjoy company, being a people-oriented breed who form strong bonds with their owners and gravitate toward human activity. Burmese need a reasonable amount of human attention, are not as independent as other breeds and are not suited to being left alone for extended periods of time. The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) breed information on the Burmese implies that all survival instinct of flight or fight seems to have been bred out of them.[5] However, other sources[6] note that, while rarely aggressive with humans, Burmese cats can defend themselves quite well against other cats, even those larger than themselves. Burmese maintain kitten-like interests and energy throughout their adulthood. They have a number of dog-like characteristics, often learning to play fetch and tag.[5] Burmese are good with children and dogs. They are suitable as an indoor breed of cat, will usually stay more affectionate if kept indoors and are comfortable travelling in cars. [edit]History The earliest records of a type resembling Burmese come from Thailand, then known as Siam. A series of 17 illustrated poems written in Siam during the period of the Ayutthaya mention three types of cat which appear to correspond to known breeds. These were the Vichien Mat (Siamese), the Si-Sawat (Korat), and the Thong Daeng (Copper, now known as Burmese). These cats are thought to have remained in Thailand until it was invaded by the Burmese in the 18th century; returning soldiers may have taken the temple cats with them back to Burma.[6] However, it is worth noting that cats from South East Asia often share characteristics and it is further breeding that gives them their distinct features. In 1871, Harrison Weir organised a

at show at the Crystal Palace. A pair of Siamese cats were on display that closely resembled modern American Burmese cats in build, although Siamese in marking. This means that these cats were probably similar to the modern Tonkinese breed. After this, cat fancy began with cat clubs and cat shows forming, although it took many years for breeds to be worked-out and developed. The first Burmese cats in the late 19th century in Britain were considered Chocolate Siamese rather than a breed in their own right, and this view persisted for many years, encouraging cross-breeding between Burmese and Siamese and attempts to breed Burmese to more closely conform with the Siamese build. The breed slowly died out in Britain.[7] Dr. Joseph Cheesman Thompson imported Wong Mau, a brown female cat, into San Francisco in 1930. As had happened earlier, many breeders considered the cat simply to be a colour variant of the Siamese, but Dr Thompson considered the build sufficiently different to be something else. Without any male of a similar type, Wong Mau was bred with Tai Mau, a sealpoint Siamese from Thailand. Wong Mau was then bred with her son to produce dark brown kittens that were called Burmese cats. In 1936, the Cat Fancier's Association granted recognition to the Burmese breed. However, due to the extensive breeding with Siamese cats that had been used to increase the population, the original type was overwhelmed. CFA, the leading US cat registry, suspended recognition of the Burmese as a purebred cat on May 8, 1947.[8] Other American cat registries continued to register the Burmese in America. In 1954, CFA lifted the suspension, and Gerstdale's The Princess of Re-Ru and Hassayampa Spi-Dar of Regal were entered in the Foundation Record of CFA.[8] In 1958, the unaffiliated breed club, United Burmese Cat Fanciers (UBCF) wrote a single standard that was to be used for judging ideal Burmese in all registries.[8] The UBCF standard has remained essentially unchanged since its adoption. This standard is used in all American registries, but European regestries maintained their own standard. Recently, The International Cat Association (TICA) and CFA clubs have started holding shows in Europe and use the American breed standard for judging the Burmese in Europe. During the early period of breed development, it became clear that Wong Mau herself was genetically a hybrid between a Siamese and Burmese type. Such hybrids were later developed as a separate breed, known today as the Tonkinese. The history of the breed unfolded differently in England. The breed was recognized by the United Kingdom Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) in 1952. From about 1949 to 1956, the British Burmese population was being enriched with cats imported from America. The cats which fed the British breeding programme were of a variety of builds. By 1952, three generations had been produced in Britain and official recognition was granted by the GCCF and the breed was accorded the breed number 27. Until the late 1960s, the gene pool in Britain was very small, with most Burmese being descended from 6 initial imports and a Burmese/Chinese hybrid from Singapore. In 1969, more were brought over from Canada, and the genepool was widened.