burmese cat hunting toy

Burmese Cat

A complete breed guide for Burmese cats

Last Updated 29 JULY 2022

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Maree Monaghan, BVSc (Hons)

Often described as a "dog in a cat skin", Burmese cats are the perfect breed for people who say they don't like cats! Burmese cats are affectionate, playful and very social, making them ideal pets for first time cat owners. They are just as happy cuddling in your lap or under your doona as they are playing fetch and performing tricks. Burmese integrate well into any type of household as they get on well with all types of humans and other pets.


Facts about the Burmese


Physical Characteristics


Health Problems

Diet and Nutrition

Further Reading

Facts about the Burmese

Place of origin: Life expectancy: Level of affection:
Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Malaysia 10 to 15 years High
Energy level: Tendency to vocalise: Coat colours:
Medium High British Burmese: Brown, Blue, Chocolate, Lilac, Red, Cream, Cinnamon and Fawn. American Burmese: Sable (Brown), Champagne (Chocolate), Platinum (Lilac) and Blue.
Coat type: Size: Coat markings:
Short, straight, glossy Female: 3.5 to 4.5 kg Male: 4 to 5.5 kg Solid colour (American and British) or Tortie (British)
Shedding factor: Overall grooming needs: Eye colour:
Low Low All shades of yellow to amber, golden yellow preferred

Burmese History

The Burmese cat originated in Myanmar (Burma), Thailand and Malaysia and was imported into many other countries as early as the 1800's. Their popularity did not match that of their Asian cousin the Siamese and the breed was not established outside its native lands until the 1930's.

A Californian doctor, Joseph Thompson, imported a brown female who he named Wong Mau and bred her with a Siamese male named Tai Mau. The kittens that resulted from this mating looked like either Sealpoint Siamese or Brown Burmese. When Dr Thompson bred Wong Mau with her son, Yen Yen Mau, she produced dark brown kittens that he christened Burmese.

The breed became very popular very quickly and, soon after, British cat breeders began to import Burmese from America. The British Burmese developed into a distinctly different style of cat from the American and this is reflected today in the recognition by some modern cat registries of two types of Burmese, the American and British (or European).

Burmese Physical Characteristics

burmese cats

Although the two types of Burmese are physically very similar, there are some key differences. The American Burmese is a stockier cat with a broader head and shorter muzzle than the British Burmese. It also has rounded eyes, whereas the British has a more wedge shaped head, longer muzzle and slightly slanted upper eyelids.

Overall, the Burmese has a rounded appearance with round ears, head and body. They have a compact and muscular build which makes them a lot heavier than they look. This can cause quite a shock when they decide to launch themselves off the top of your wardrobe onto your stomach when you are lying in bed!

Burmese Personality

Burmese kittens are the Ninja warriors of the cat world! They love to climb and jump and will often attempt athletic feats that are beyond their physical capabilities. The Burmese maintain their playful nature well into adulthood and even a senior Burmese can be prone to an attack of the zoomies at any time of the day or night. They are highly intelligent cats that can learn to play fetch and they enjoy interactive toys and puzzle feeders.

Burmese adore people and will follow you from room to room, waiting for the opportunity to snuggle into your lap the minute you sit down. They are also very curious and like to be involved in all activities around the house, often using their human's shoulder as a vantage point for directing proceedings.

Unfortunately, the combination of their curiosity and trusting nature means that they are very vulnerable to harm if they venture outdoors. It is best to keep Burmese cats indoors and provide them with comfortable places to watch the world go by like a cat hammock or window bed.

Top toys and accessories for Burmese Cats

Paws for Life Cat Balls

You can teach your Burmese to play fetch with this variety pack of fuzzy, jingly and plush balls.

Petlife Self Warm Cuddle Bed

When the humans are out of bed and don't sit still long enough to provide a warm lap to lie on, this cosy self warming bed is the perfect spot for a Burmese cat nap.

Catio Equanimity Cat Tree

Intelligent cats like Burmese love the variety of options this stylish piece of furniture provides. The multiple plush resting platforms, hidey holes, ball on a string and jute twine scratching poles provide endless opportunities for rest and play.

Scream Interactive Teaser

Burmese cats love their food, so why not turn meal time into fun time? This interactive brain teaser is perfect for slowing down your hungry Burmese while providing mental stimulation by engaging their problem-solving abilities.

Burmese Health Concerns

playful burmese cat

Like many purebred cats, Burmese are prone to a number of health conditions including Diabetes Mellitus, Hypokalemic Myopathy and Periodontal disease.

Diabetes Mellitus

Although this disease is common in overweight, middle aged dogs and cats, Burmese cats appear to be particularly susceptible. This has led many people to believe there may be an inherited component to the development of Diabetes Mellitus in Burmese. The symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus in cats include drinking excessive amounts of water and producing large volumes of urine, weight loss despite increased food intake and walking with the hocks on the ground due to nerve damage.

Hypokalaemic Myopathy

This is a muscle disorder caused by low levels of potassium in the blood. It is an inherited disorder in Burmese that causes episodes of weakness in the neck muscles. During these episodes, affected cats cannot lift their heads. The disease usually occurs when kittens are 3 to 4 months old. The condition is usually successfully treated by supplementing the cat's diet with potassium.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease occurs when plaque builds up on the teeth leading to bacterial infections around the teeth. The bacteria penetrate under the gums causing them to become inflamed and occasionally bleed. This disease can be avoided by good dental care at home from an early age.

Burmese Diet and Nutrition

burmese cat on bed

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What is the best food for a Burmese?

Most Burmese cats love their food and can be prone to becoming overweight. This is a significant risk factor in the development of Diabetes Mellitus - a very common disease in this breed. A weight control cat food or calorie controlled indoor dry food is recommended for adult Burmese. Dental cat food can also be an appropriate addition to your Burmese's dental care regime. Adding a premium quality wet food supports your Burmese's kidney and bladder health by ensuring adequate hydration.

Top dry foods for adult Burmese

ADVANCE Adult Cat Healthy Weight

This super premium, Australian made, dry cat food is complete and balanced with fewer calories to support the nutritional requirements of your overweight or less active cat

Royal Canin Indoor Adult Dry Cat Food

This premium dry cat food is made from highly digestible ingredients to improve digestion for less active indoor cats and reduce stool odour.

Hills Science Diet Feline Adult Oral Care

Using a unique kibble fibre technology, this premium dry food is clinically proven to help mechanically clean your cats teeth while they chew to reduce plaque build up.

Top wet foods for Burmese Cats

Ziwi Peak Provenance Multi Pack

Rich in free range New Zealand meats, sustainably sourced fish and green lipped mussel, Ziwi canned foods are packed with natural, wholesome nutrition to suit all adult cats.

Advance Cat Indoor Adult

This combination pack includes two scrumptious flavours of super premium, Australian made, wet cat food. Both flavours are complete and balanced to support the health and wellbeing of your indoor adult cat.

Hills Science Diet Feline Perfect Weight Adult

hills science diet adult perfect weight cat food-pouches

This premium wet cat food formula contains breakthrough nutrition to support healthy weight loss while maintaining lean muscle mass.

Further Reading

Want to read more? Check out our other articles:

Games you can play with your cat

Arthritis in cats

Teach your cat to walk on a lead

Dental care for cats

How to tell if your cat loves you

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Australian National Cats Inc National Breed Standards, 2017, Burmese

Cat Fanciers Association, 2016

Harari,, J (2020) MS, DVM, DACVS, Veterinary Surgical Specialists, Spokane, WA, Feline Hypokalaemic Myopathy, MSD Manual