How to get it? With nutrition that thinks ahead.
Ancestry: Domestic cats from Southeast Asia
Place of Origin: Burma (now Myanmar)
Date of Origin: 1930
Accepted by: CFA, TCA and UFO under the name European Burmese (championship); CCA and CFF under the name Foreign Burmese ( championship); TICA under the name European Burmese (registration only)
The European Burmese is an athletic, muscular, elegant cat of foreign type, according to the CFF breed standard, although the CFA standard calls for a cat of moderate type, with gently rounded contours. The European Burmese shown in CFA falls between svelte and cobby in body style. Any resemblance to either is regarded as a fault. The hard, muscular body is of medium length and size, and is heavier than it appears. Adult males weigh 10 to 14 pounds; adult females weigh 7 to 10 pounds. The chest is strong and rounded in profile, and the back is straight from shoulder to rump. The legs are rather slender with the hind legs slightly longer than the front, but both are in proportion to the body. The feet are small and oval. The tail is medium length and not thick at the base; it tapers slightly to a rounded tip.
The head is in proportion to the body and is carried on a medium-length neck. The top of the head is slightly rounded between the ears, which are set well apart. Viewed from the front, the head forms a short wedge, with wide cheekbones tapering to a short, blunt muzzle with a visible nose break. The jaw is wide at the base, and the lower jaw is strong, as is the chin. The ears are broad at the base, medium in size, set well apart, and have slightly rounded tips and a slight forward tilt. The eyes are large, alert and set well apart. The top line of the eye is slightly curved with an oriental slant toward the nose, and the lower line is rounded. Eye color is lustrous and bright yellow to amber; deeper color is preferred.
The coat is short, fine, close-lying and very glossy with a satin-like texture. The fur is almost without undercoat. One of the main differences between the American Contemporary Burmese and the European Burmese, besides head and body type, is that the European comes in many additional colors. Because the Burmese was crossed with European Siamese and other bloodlines that possessed the genes for additional colors, a wider range of colors are accepted, including brown, blue, chocolate, lilac, red, and cream. One additional pattern is accepted: tortoiseshell, in brown, blue, chocolate, and lilac, combined with patches of red or cream in various shades. Patches of color are distributed over the whole body and the extremities— the patch distribution is less important than the other color details. In CFF, lilac tortie is not accepted, but champagne tortie and platinum tortie are. In all colors, the cat’s underside is slightly paler than the back. Though not a pointed pattern breed, the points may show some contrast, left over from the Siamese heritage. No outcrosses are allowed.
One would think with a name like the European Burmese, the breed must have originated in Europe. However, the breed comes from the bloodlines of Wong Mau, the foundation cat of the North American Burmese. Both breeds share much of their early history.
Their histories diverge in 1949, when two of Wong Mau’s descendants were imported to Britain by Siamese breeder Lilian France. The male was named Casa Gatos da Foong, and the female Chindwin’s Minou Twm. Minou was already pregnant by an unrelated male, but lost her kittens while she was in quarantine. (Cats and other companion animals entering the United Kingdom must be quarantined for six months at owner expense because of the risk of bringing rabies into the country, unless they qualify for a "pet passport,." which was not available in the 1940s.)
Minou suffered from poor health after that, so France imported another female Burmese from the United States, Laos Cheli Wat, who had already proved herself healthy and fertile. Two years later France imported another male, Casa Gatos Darkee. From these cats the breed quickly gained popularity, and other fanciers began breeding programs.
Since the gene pool was limited in Europe, Siamese were included in Burmese breeding programs. Additional colors were added intentionally and accidentally; in 1963, a female blue Burmese in heat escaped and mated with a red tabby domestic shorthair. The litter included a tortoiseshell who was included in the breeding program. A brown female Burmese and a red point Siamese were deliberately mated, and a tortie and white barn cat carrying the recessive Siamese gene was mated to a male brown Burmese carrying the recessive blue gene. Many breeders contributed to developing additional colors for the breed. Today the European Burmese comes in 10 colors distinctively different from the four decorating the Burmese.
The European Burmese has recently been accepted as a separate breed in North America. CFA accepted the breed for registration in 1994, first in the non-championship miscellaneous class (except in international division shows, where they were eligible for championship). Today CFA recognizes the European Burmese for championship, as does CCA, CFF, TCA and UFO. CFA, TCA and UFO call the breed the European Burmese, while CCA and CFF call the breed Foreign Burmese. However, regardless of the different names, they are the same breed. The European Burmese is popular with fanciers who prefer its moderate type over the compact style and foreshortened face of the North American Contemporary Burmese.
Because the European Burmese facial type is not as physically extreme as Contemporary Burmese, the breed lacks the physical problems of some Contemporary Burmese lines, such as cranial deformities, eye tearing, and breathing problems.
While the European Burmese is usually a healthy breed, some lines have been found to possess the inherited genetic disease GM2 gangliosidosis, a degenerative neurological disease that causes swollen neurons and brain lesions, which lead to severe muscle tremors, loss of motor control, and eventually death. GM2 gangliosidosis is governed by an autosomal recessive mutation, so a cat must inherit the faulty gene from both parents to develop the disease. Cats who inherit only one copy of the gene do not develop the disease but are carriers, usually not detected until mated with a cat also carrying at least one copy of the gene. Matings between carriers on average produce kittens of which 25 percent inherit two copies of the gene and therefore are affected with the disease; on average 50 percent inherit one copy and become carriers. Fortunately, a genetic test has been developed and is available at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, California. This test reveals not only whether the cat is affected, but how many copies of the gene the cat possesses. Testing and culling affected breeding cats has helped reduce this threat. It’s wise to buy from a breeder who tests for this disease and provides a written health guarantee.
Some lines are prone to tartar buildup and gingivitis as well. Gingivitis can lead to the dental disease periodontitis (an inflammatory disease affecting the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth), which can cause tissue, tooth and bone loss. Untreated, dental disease can undermine a cat’s overall health. Feeding a high quality tartar-control dry food will remove some tartar, but European Burmese need annual veterinary checkups, periodic teeth cleaning by your veterinarian and, if your cat will tolerate it, regular tooth brushing using cat toothpaste and a cat toothbrush (a soft child’s size toothbrush can also be used). If you notice your cat wincing when you pet the side of her face, or notice that her gums appear red or inflamed or that eating seems painful to her, take your kitty to your veterinarian as soon as possible.
The European Burmese’s fine, close-lying coat usually requires little grooming. Even so, grooming your cat about once a week benefits her health. You can reduce hairballs and fur on your furniture and also become aware of the onset of health problems such as palpable tumors by running your hands over the cat. If your Burmese winces or exhibits pain during grooming, an appointment with your veterinarian is in order. Regular grooming can also help you bond with your European Burmese since she usually enjoys the extra attention.
Romanticized fables about the Burmese abound. According to legends, Burmese were temple cats and the pets of royalty long before the Siamese claimed that honor. Each Burmese cat was assigned a novice monk whose duties included indulging the every whim of his feline charge.
European Burmese are similar to American Burmese in personality. They are lively, highly intelligent and entertaining. Loving and loyal life-long companions, they enjoy spending most of their waking hours with the humans with whom they’ve formed bonds, playing interactive games, cuddling in warm laps or lying on top of their humans’ favorite reading material. Very active cats particularly when they are young, European Burmese enjoy performing acrobatic tricks from the highest perches in the house. They remain playful all their lives.
European Burmese are skilled at wrapping their humans around their silky paws. Very determined, they will outlast you in most battles of wills. Once they have got it into their heads to climb into your lap for a love-fest or to find out what’s behind that interesting closed door, you might as well give in and accept the inevitable.
European Burmese enjoy a good conversation with their people, particularly when they have something vital to tell you such as the empty condition of their food dishes, but are not as vocal as Siamese. Their voices usually have a hoarse, raspy sound, thoughtfully donated by their Siamese ancestors.
For the most part, they make good family pets and are usually good with other cats, cat-friendly dogs, and gentle children who play nicely, as long as the proper introductions are made.
European Burmese can become unhappy or depressed if left alone too much of the time. If you’re away for long periods, another cat companion will help keep your European Burmese company. If you have space for only one cat and work full time, consider a less people-oriented breed.
Coat Length(s):Short hair.
Grooming Requirement:Little grooming needed.
Usually Good With:Adults, seniors, and children (6+).
Time Alone:4 to 8 hours per day.
Attention:Needs lots of attention.
Handling:Can be a handful.