Last updated: September 12, 2017
The European Burmese is definitely one of the most low-maintenance, user-friendly, sweet-natured and sociable of cats, and you will fall in love with him as soon as you bring him home, so it doesn’t matter how much you spend or don’t spend on him – he’ll love you anyway!
Yes, we all know that cats are the nearest things to angels that walk on earth (in my humble opinion!) But European Burmese cats are also among the coolest-looking cats around. They are neither too round nor too pointy, and with their lovely plush fur, I think they look just like teddy-cats – in fact, they are just made for cuddling! You can just imagine one curling up on your lap, purring fit to burst and giving you lots of slow-blinking kitty kisses.
They come in a veritable rainbow of colors like brown, blue, chocolate, lilac, red and cream as well as goodness-knows-how many tortoiseshell variations. With their comfortably rounded faces, wide, almost circular amber eyes and gorgeous velvety coats, they’re also among the most low maintenance kitties around. Bathing? Nah! This babe does it all by himself! BUT – get yourself a good brand of vacuum cleaner because you will need it! He’s something of a shedding champion, so sadly it goes without saying that he’s not hypoallergenic.
Brushing daily with a rubber-bristled brush will help with this, and will also reduce the risk of the dreaded hairballs, which are one of the downsides of a cat’s independent self-maintenance regime. A European Burmese cat is neither lightweight nor heavyweight, so middleweight would probably describe this medium sized fella, who weighs in at a compact 6 – 10 lbs (2.72 – 4.54kgs) though big toms can occasionally weigh a bit more – up to 14lbs (6.35kgs.)
Where did this totally beautiful breed originate? Actually, its origins are very well documented. The European Burmese forebears are the Siamese and the “copper cat” of Burma, which were oh-so-posh cats specially bred by royalty and the priestly classes, so they lived in temples and palaces. The “Eve” of the breed was Wong-Mau, (cool name!) who was owned by Dr. Joseph Thompson. She was small and brown, and he acquired her during his globetrotting days.
Initially, the opinion was that she was a type of Siamese with a brown or deep tan colored coat and very dark points – a Chocolate Siamese. These were documented as far back as 1880. However, the cats with paler bodies proved to be the favorites with the cat-loving populace, and therefore the breeders, naturally, till the Chocolate Siamese became non-existent in Britain. (Pity! I’d love to have seen one!) They were still around in their countries of origin, though, and in Thailand and Myanmar (Burma) the brown Siamese line continued through the pairings of wild cats and Burmese cats. This is where Mong Wau came in! She was mated by Dr. Thompson to a seal-point Siamese called Tai Mau, and the resulting kittens had brown, pointed and beige fur. Working with two breeders and a geneticist, Thompson discovered the Burmese gene. The brown kittens went on to become the Burmese breed as we know and love it today, and Dr. Thompson published the first ever paper on the genetics of cats.
The Burmese became a recognized breed in 1936 when it was registered with the Cat Fanciers Association, but registrations were suspended in 1947 because many breeders were still mating their cats with Siamese, but when this was stopped the breed was re-registered in 1953.
In the UK Burmese were mated with red point Siamese and British Shorthairs to become European Burmese. Gorgeous new colors came into the breed, such as blue tortoiseshell, chocolate tortoiseshell, lilac tortoiseshell, red and cream, so take your pick! There’s bound to be one that matches your furniture!
Unfortunately, the European Burmese is a martyr to many health problems, and while most cats are perfectly fine if well looked after, keep a weather eye out for the following, since we don’t want our kitties to suffer!
Diseases of the Eyes, Face, and Mouth
Lipemia of the Aqueous Humor causes the cornea to have a pale bluish-white film over it in the first few months of kitty’s life. It is self-limiting, however, and doesn’t bother your little kitty for very long!
Corneal dermoid is a condition in which debris such as hair, skin, and dirt can be stuck to the cornea, causing discomfort and irritation. A simple operation can put it right.
Gingivitis is an infection of the gums, and European Burmese cats are particularly prone to it. It is painful and can cause bad breath and even tooth loss. Your vet may prescribe antibiotics or even send kitty to the dentist, poor thing!
Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart muscles thicken over time and lose their ability to pump blood properly. This is a progressive disease though it’s mostly seen in older cats.
Endocardial Fibroelastosis is a heart defect in which only the left ventricle of the heart thickens, but which stretches the heart muscle. Signs are a very fast heartbeat, difficulty breathing with crackling noises in the lungs, weak pulse and an irregular heartbeat. These symptoms usually manifest themselves in the first few months of life.
Flat Chested Kitten Syndrome is fairly self-explanatory. It ranges from the relatively mild to the severe, but the kitten usually grows out of it by the time he’s a big cat!
Kinked Tail is caused by a malformity in the bones of the tail. Its effects are only aesthetic and cause kitty no problems whatsoever, although it may bother his owner!
Elbow Osteoarthritis, is caused by the inflammation of the elbow joint. This causes the impairment of kitty’s movement. Your vet will treat it with analgesics and anti-inflammatory medication.
Congenital Peripheral Vestibular disease is a syndrome suffered by kittens. It’s characterized by tilting and shaking of the head, bad balance and lack of ability to walk properly. Some poor kitties may also lose their hearing.
Orofacial Pain Syndrome. Yuk. This is a bad one! The cat paws at his face, licking excessively as if to get rid of something. Stress can make it even worse and the cat’s appetite can be affected because it’s just too uncomfortable and sore to eat. The vet may fit a conical collar and bandage poor kitty’s paws to stop him self-harming, but many cats recover spontaneously, then, just when you think it’s gone, the condition comes back again! The causes of this disorder are still a mystery. The vet may prescribe anti-convulsive therapy and analgesics. He may also recommend a visit to the dentist since many cats paw at their faces when their teeth are sore.
Diabetes Mellitus. Insulin is a hormone which is absolutely vital to the ability of the cat’s body to function since it is needed to break down the components in its food into glucose, the body’s main energy source. It is produced in an organ called the pancreas, and Diabetes Mellitus is a result of its malfunction. This means that the cat’s body can produce little or no insulin, (Type 1) or has an inability to use it. This is called insulin resistance (Type 2.) Because of the lack of insulin, sugars build up in the blood. This causes thirst, frequent urination, loss of weight, muscle wastage, poor coat condition, sluggishness, jaundice, large liver, depression, and vomiting.
Diabetes has many causes including hereditary ones, so it’s best to let your vet do the thinking for you! They will plan a regime of treatment for you. Remember that obese and overweight cats are most at risk, so if yours is a tubby tabby, get your Supervet to put him on a diet!
This cat just oozes personality! If you want a quiet life where you can sit at your computer, watch TV, do your knitting (DON’T even think about knitting with this cat around!) then don’t get one of these, because he is a joiner-inner of note, and absolutely MUST be involved in every aspect of your life whether you want him to be or not! You will be SEVERELY reprimanded for ignoring him! He invented curiosity, and will happily inspect and explore every inch of ‘his’ territory just in case another cat has invaded it! He doesn’t like to be left on his own, so if you’re out at work all day maybe this isn’t the breed for you.
Females of the species are not called ‘Queens’ for nothing. They are in charge, and they leave nobody in any doubt of it. She wants attention and she wants it NOW!
The European Burmese is a particularly intelligent cat. After he’s eaten or drunk, place him by the litter box and indicate that you want him to do his business. This shouldn’t be a problem since most cats love to dig into soft sandy stuff anyway. He will soon get to know what’s expected of him! He can easily be trained to use a scratching post by being gently but firmly reprimanded for using anything else. Your leather sofa is not up for grabs, after all! Having said this, he is a particularly clever cat and needs to keep that fertile mind occupied (on the principle that the Devil makes mischief for idle paws!) You can teach this fabulous feline how to play ‘fetch‘, bearing in mind that he’s not a dog and won’t learn tricks in the same way. Use lots of treats and praise, and if you’re impatient like me, count to ten, (or twenty, or whatever gets the job done) because it takes a lot of forbearance! He can be leash trained, although again it takes much patience, but if you surf around the internet you’ll see just how well they take to walking along on a leash. There are hundreds of cat videos showing thousands of cats doing just that (you may get some funny looks when you go out, though!) European Burmese love the kind of puzzle toys where they have to work out how to get their food, and playing with interactive toys with their favorite human is the highlight of their day!
Buying and Caring cost analysis
So you’ve decided on a European Burmese? Good choice! Now, just how many $$$ will you have to invest in your new best friend? Truly, it depends on too many variables to give an exact price. There is the question of the breeder, his reputation, the cat’s bloodline, and what the breeder has invested in the cat’s food and veterinary care already. He may have spent hundreds of dollars on the kitten before you have even looked at it, so I’m not even going to try to pinpoint a price. But you are buying a living creature, so price should be only one of the determining factors. Make sure you buy from an accredited breeder and get a health certificate to make sure that you’re not going home with a sickly animal. Caring for your lovely cat is much more important than the money you spend.
Unlike many breeds, your European Burmese needs little in the way of grooming, so there won’t be many (or any!) trips to the Pooch Parlor. There are all the usual costs of living with a cat, like food, litter, veterinary costs like routine health checks and vaccinations, as well as toys, a scratching post, a cat bed, and deworming and flea medication. Another thing you may not have thought of is the cost of the time you spend cleaning up after him! As well as all that, no matter how well-prepared you are, there are unexpected medical costs from time to time, so it may be worth your while to get a pet medical insurance. He is a member of the family after all!