A Burmese cat is loving, like this dark brown feline snuggled up in a white fluffy blanket.

Meet the Young at Heart and Super-Smart Burmese Cat


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If the sentiment, “you’re only as old as you feel” resonates with you, then the Burmese cat can be your spirit animal. It may be the companion you’ve been searching for! Check out this breed profile for the Burmese cats in NZ and beyond, for more about this charming feline.

The Burmese cat: Its history

The Burmese cat’s history goes back to the 1930s and involves a female domestic cat named Wong Mau. It’s believed she travelled to the United States from Burma (now known as Yangon Myanmar) in Southeast Asia with a navy doctor Joseph Thompson.

Dr Thompson was completely smitten with Wong Mau’s striking features like her deep brown coat, beady eyes and darker brown spots on her ears, feet, and tail. He wasn’t the only one to have fallen for this fabulous feline’s looks – ancient Asian scriptures also depict what looks to be a Burmese, as a symbol of the Gods.

A Burmese cat can make a great pet, like this dark-brown fur baby closing its eyes here.

To reproduce Wong Mau’s beautiful features, Dr Thompson started a breeding program where the feline mated with a male Siamese cat. The Burmese cat grew to be an instant hit with families after its registration in 1936.

Today, there are Burmese cats in NZ aplenty.

A Burmese cat’s personality

The Burmese cat is an intelligent, playful, loving and devoted little creature. What else can one wish for in a four-legged companion?

Well…their extroverted and amusing nature will keep you on your toes. They love attention and aren’t shy to show their annoyance if they don’t get it. These furry creatures are also youthful in spirit, so their personality doesn’t wither with age.

Female Burmese cats are said to have a deep emotional connection with their human companions, while males are more conservative. Although they’re more free-spirited the Burmese cat is less talkative than their Siamese cousins.

Burmese cats may develop stress-related issues if they’re left alone for an extended period. They prefer being around their people. The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) says Burmese cats have similar traits to a puppy; only difference is they don’t grow out of this nature. NZ Cat Fancy, the largest national body for cat clubs in this country, says “have the reputation of being the most lively and energetic of pets and require plenty of space.”

Being one of the most trusting and outgoing cat breeds, Burmese often have no concept of ‘stranger danger’.

Burmese breed physical features

A Burmese cat is medium-sized – females usually weigh between 3.5 kg and 5.5 kg, while males weigh at the top end of that or a little more. They’re apparently heavier than they look because they’re muscular with a heavy bone structure.

Most Burmese are deep brown in colour with darker spots across parts of their body. These darker spots tend to disappear as they get older. Their short yet glossy coat is relatively low maintenance.

There are two different breeds of the Burmese cat – the European and the American.

The European Burmese is more slender physique with a wedge-shaped head, pointy ears and almond-shaped eyes. The American Burmese is stockier with a bigger head, rounder eyes and a more expressive personality. You may also find our article on the Burmilla cat interesting if you’re not quite sure which cat breed to go for. It too has a gently rounded head with medium to large ears. Check out this video comparison between the two.

Buying Burmese cats in NZ: Important tips

To buy a Burmese cat in NZ, approach a reputable breeder or ethical pet shop. Be aware of buying pets online because you might be supporting backyard breeding or be scammed. One of the best places to start is on the NZ Cat Fancy website’s list of Burmese breeders – here.

Be sure to visit the breeder’s home or premises to ensure the cattery is well-maintained and felines are being treated properly. Have a long, open conversation with them about their breeding experience, practices, health check-ups and more. Read more about how to identify ethical breeders.

Pet stores that are ethical will have the same commitment to happiness, hygiene and overall pet health. They, too, will give animals spacious enclosures that aren’t crowded and will keep a close eye on them daily to ensure their wellbeing needs are met.

A adorable dark brown Burmese cat shows off its playful nature.

Look out for any red flags and pay close attention to the kittens’ behaviour, which should usually be energetic and curious. They and the adult cats should have clear eyes, noses, and ear. Their coats should also appear healthy. Ask about a health guarantee for these purebred cats before buying, which is usually standard practice among reputable breeders.

A breeder should be able to issue registration papers to you and in most cases should also be open for your vet to conduct an examination of the kitten. If your new feline friend is found to be unhealthy, the breeder should be willing to take it back and issue a full refund.

Burmese cats’ common health issues

A Burmese cat is prone to several health issues. Here are some of the most common health problems to watch out for:

  • Orofacial Pain Syndrome is a disorder that can affect their tongue and face.
  • Kidney disease or failure, which prevents the organs from functioning properly.   (Also read our article: does stress cause UTI in cats?
  • Inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Asthma is a common condition for the Burmese breed.
  • Just like in humans, diabetes is common among Burmese cats and is often caused by obesity. (Read about this in our National Pet Diabetes Day post).
  • A Burmese cat is prone to congenital and acquired heart disease.
  • Head deformities, an inherited condition, are not uncommon.

On a side note and to avoid potential health issues, check out our article on what can cats eat.

Safeguarding Burmese cats in NZ

As a pet parent or soon-to-be one, you may want to consider pet insurance to help ease the stress in unexpected medical emergencies. PD Insurance has a range of award-winning, cost-effective cat insurance to choose from. This will help ensure your fur baby gets the medical attention it needs while giving you a financial cushion.

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