According to legend, the Birman cat breed originated in Burmese temples (“Birman” is derived from the French word for Burma or Myanmar) and was brought to France in the early 1900s.
Birmans resemble Siamese and like them, have brilliant blue eyes.
They are very adaptable, and thrive on attention and activity; it is a good idea to have another pet, whether a cat or a dog or a potbellied pig, to keep your Birman company.
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Birmans have lifespans that are average for felines, around 12 to 16 years.
The selective breeding responsible for their striking appearance has also left them susceptible to a number of congenital health problems:
All cats are at risk for cardiomyopathy, which is a term that encompasses four related conditions in which the muscles of the heart become weakened or fail to function properly.
Left untreated, cardiomyopathy often leads to heart failure and death. The condition is diagnosed based on a veterinarian’s examination for heart murmurs and other cardiac abnormalities.
Treatment usually involves the administration of drugs that help to restore the heart’s normal rhythm.
Feline Congenital Ocular Dermoid
Burmese and Birmans alike may develop abnormal growths of skin cells, sometimes including hairs, on the cornea, the hard material on the surface of the eye. The condition is uncomfortable for the cat but is fortunately readily treatable with surgery.
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Other hereditary conditions in Birmans can be detected in newborn kittens, but cardiomyopathy and ocular dermoids may be slow to develop and only manifest later in life.
Fortunately, either condition can be managed with proper medical care; unfortunately, that care can be quite expensive.