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Cat Breeds 101: The Burmese

burmese sable cats kittens

These Burmese cats demonstrate the traditional sable coloring of the breed

The Burmese originates from Burma, Thailand. The first Burmese was brought to the U.S. in the 30s and has become a favored breed among cat enthusiasts ever since. They are a talkative and social breed that comes in many colors. Oddly enough, the Burmese is one of the only cat breeds with different standards in the U.S. and U.K. Here, we’re going to explore everything that makes this breed so beloved throughout the world.

Where do Burmese come from?

The first appearance of a Burmese-like breed was back in 1871 at a cat show at the Crystal Palace. Two Siamese cats were shown, and both demonstrated a build more similar to that of today’s American Burmese than that of Siamese of the time. British breeders then attempted to develop Burmese, but the program fell apart.

Fast forward to 1930: a female cat named Wong Mau was brought from Burma to the U.S. Wong Mau was bred with a Siamese to produce the first Burmese breed line. Wong Mau then bred with one of her kittens from that first litter to produce dark brown kittens- a distinct strain of Burmese kittens. These kittens were finally different enough than the Siamese so much that they were granted breed recognition by the Cat Fanciers Association. In order to extensively grow the breed, many purebred Burmese were mated with Siamese, leading to the CFA suspending the breed recognition only ten years later.

The American breeders were too stubborn to let the Burmese breed die, and by 1954, the breed was back on the CFA’s map. Across the ocean, British breeders were building their own Burmese breed standard. Still today, the American and British Burmese cats are two separate and distinct bloodlines. The CFA uses the American breed standards in most cases today.

What do Burmese look like?

The biggest difference between the British Burmese and the American Burmese is the shape of their head and body. Their size and coat are quite standard.

British: The British Burmese is slender with a long and lanky body. Their heads are wedge-shaped, topped with large pointy ears. Their muzzles are more tapered, complimented with their large almond-shaped eyes. Their long legs end with oval-shaped paws, and their tails are medium-length and taper towards the end.

American: The American Burmese head is broader and bolder. Their eyes are less almond shaped and more round. As opposed to a tapered muzzle, the American’s muzzle is flat. Their ears are wider and more bulbous. As opposed to long lanky legs, their legs are proportionate and relatively stocky, as is their tail.

Regardless of being American or British, the Burmese breed is always a small/medium breed, weighing 8-10lbs. They should look lightweight and docile, but have a nice hefty weight to them when picked up. Their coats are short and glossy; full yet fine. The color of a Burmese should be uniform and only lighter in the underparts. Green and gold are the breed standard color of eyes for the Burmese.

burmese cats kittens cat

Burmese cats can come in a variety of colors

The original breed color is a rich dark brown, often referred to as sable, brown, or seal. They get their distinct color from the Burmese gene, a gene that causes a reduction in pigment. This gene causes any black to turn brown, and all other colors to pale. This gene is related to albinism and also causes the colorpoint pattern that is often observed. Today, Burmese can be many colors, including brown, chocolate, blue, lilac, cream, red, and tortoiseshell. The Cat Fanciers Association recognizes sable, blue, champagne, and platinum as well.

What do Burmese act like?

Burmese take after their Siamese heritage (link), but only to an extent. They are notorious for being human-oriented, making them great cats for families. They are dog-like and ready to learn to play games like fetch and tag. Like their Siamese relatives, they are very talkative, but have been observed to possess a softer and sweeter voice, unlike their shrill relatives.

The Burmese breed is notoriously needy, and not the best choice for people who aren’t home often. Cats are known to be a self-reliant species, but certain breeds need more attention than others. Burmese are prone to becoming depressed (link) if left alone for extended periods of time. This depression can manifest as starvation, destruction of property, and changes in sleep patterns.

A cat’s behavior has everything to do with their upbringing, regardless of their breed. Many of these traits may be common for Burmese cats, but it is important for any cat to be socialized as a kitten.

What is the health of a Burmese like?

The Burmese breed has an extremely low genetic diversity rating, only second to the Singapura. Because of this lack of genetic diversity, they are prone to a variety of health problems including:

Diabetes mellitus: Type 2 diabetes; manifests as high blood sugar
Hypokalaemia: A recessive gene that causes low levels of serum potassium
Teething issues: Burmese kittens have problems with painful teething that often causes them to scratch at their faces. This does not cause oral problems; only cosmetic issues from scarring from the scratches.
Feline hyperaesthesia syndrome: This causes increased sensitivity to touch and can make small gestures feel very painful to the cat
Glaucoma: An eye condition that can result in blindness
Calcium oxalate urolithiasis: Painful bladder stones
Agenesis of the nares: Incomplete development of the nostrils

With any cat, there is no guarantee that they will or will not have these problems. Many health problems can be tested for, which is why it is a good idea with any breed to have a relationship with your veterinarian and report any changes in behavior.

If you are interested in bringing a Burmese into your family, there are a few ways to go about adopting one. It is certainly possible to keep an eye out at your local shelter for a Burmese, but you’ll more likely come across one at a dedicated Burmese rescue. These rescues often rehome Burmese who’s owners have unexpectedly passed away or can no longer care for their pets. Burmese rescues go out of their way to find Burmese cats and kittens and work to find great homes for cats of all ages.

If you do decide to purchase from a breeder, you are looking to spend $400-700 for a Burmese kitten. If you are going to purchase from a breeder, make sure that they practice responsible breeding and are open and honest throughout the process. Bringing a Burmese into your home will bring your household great entertainment and a new furry friend for years to come.

How To Help Feral Cats

Feral cats roam the streets their whole life

Feral cats roam the streets their whole life

Feral cats are a huge issue throughout the world. Most people know a few feral cats in their neighborhood, and some areas are infested with ferals. Feral cats are cats that grew up on the street and live their lives in the great outdoors. They provide problems for a variety of communities, including people, birds, and other cats. Luckily, there are many ways that people can help with the feral population in a humane and loving way. Here, we’re going to tell you everything there is to know about feral cats and how you can help.

Are feral cats different than strays?

In a short answer, yes. Feral cats are cats that have lived their whole lives outside or in the wild. Stray cats are cats that were living in a home at one time or another but were lost or abandoned. Stray cats and feral cats behave very differently due to their previous experiences of exposure with humans. A stray cat may come up to you and beg for food, while a feral cat would wait in the background until you left the area. Feral cats rarely make any noise, where a stray cat has learned to meow around humans. Stray cats openly depend on humans while feral cats barely acknowledge them.

How do feral cats live without humans?

The life of a feral cat is not an easy one. For starters, they have no medical care and are therefore extremely susceptible to disease, infection, and parasites. Feral cats also have to deal with inclement weather; from rain, to snowstorms, to overwhelming heat waves. They are at risk of animal abuse simply from being outside, and have to avoid animal poison and traps. Finding food is a constant task, and fighting over territory with other cats is always a threat. For all of these reasons, the average lifespan of a feral cat is less than two years. This isn’t including the fact that approximately half of feral kittens born die in the first week.

Did you know: October 15th is National Feral Cat Day

 

What are some ways to help with feral cats?

There two main ways that a person can help the feral cat population. Both are aimed at keeping the feral population down in a humane way, as well as relieving communities from the harmful effects of untouched feral colonies. Feral cats that haven’t been spayed/neutered are more likely to spray, fight, and of course, remain on the streets for the rest of their lives. The ways that you can help keep the feral cat population down, and increase the quality of life of the feral cats in your community:

Participate in trap-neuter-release: Trap-neuter-release, or TNR, is the single most effective way of humanely keeping down the population of feral cats. In TNR, participants will set out humane traps to catch the feral cats to later pick up and bring to the veterinarian. The veterinarian will then spay/neuter the cat and likely vaccinate them against rabies. Then, the cat will be released back in the area that they were trapped from. This way, the cat can no longer produce more feral kittens, or transmit rabies to another animal. This is the most cost-effective, humane, and efficient way to keep the feral cat population down. Many veterinarians and animal hospitals provide free spay/neuter services for feral cats, or at a discounted rate.

Become a colony caretaker: Colony caretakers will take it upon themselves to TNR a particular colony in the neighborhood, as well as a few other responsibilities. If a cat needs surgery, the colony caretaker will trap and drive the cat to the appointment, and then offer their home for aftercare. They may also step in and foster feral kittens so that they can be housecats and help to adopt them out. If you are interested in becoming a colony caretaker, Alley Cat Allies has a great guide for the whole process.

Feral cat colonies like this one can pop up anywhere

Feral cat colonies like this one can pop up anywhere

Is relocation an option?

It may sound simple: “Why don’t we just move the feral cats somewhere else?” Well, unfortunately, cats are very territorial creatures and will simply make it their goal to return to the same area that they’ve been hanging out in all along; Not to mention the fact that it would be difficult to transport and then find an area for the entire colony of cats to live in.

Can I bring a feral cat to the shelter for adoption?

Unfortunately, feral cats are often past the point of being adoptable. If a cat is truly feral, their behavior around humans is not desirable for almost any cat owner. They don’t know how to interact with humans and won’t learn any time soon. However, if the cat living in your back yard seems friendly and eager to come inside, they are likely a stray cat, not a feral cat, and might be a great candidate for adoption.

Can I adopt a feral cat?

Again, feral cats are not the same as housecats. A feral cat and a housecat are great examples of the nature vs. nurture argument. Although both cats are cut from the same cloth, their upbringing severely changes the way that they interact with humans. Even if you had two kittens from the same litter, one left to the wild and one brought into the home, they would grow up to act completely different. Early socialization is the best way for a cat to learn to behave with humans. Bringing a feral cat into your home is a danger for your entire household, since feral cats may have any number of diseases, infections, and parasites, and may behave violently towards humans.

Can I adopt feral kittens?

Feral kittens can become housecats if they're exposed to humans early enough

Feral kittens can become housecats if they’re exposed to humans early enough

Yes! As long as the kittens are at least four weeks old, the minimum age required for kittens to nurse from their mothers, they can be safely brought into the home. Make sure to take the kittens to the veterinarian for their shots and spay/neuter procedures, and socialize them as much as possible. Kittens generally shouldn’t be up for adoption until they are at least 8 weeks old; at that point, you can adopt them out yourself, submit them to a no-kill shelter, or decide to keep them yourself. If feral kittens are brought into a home early enough, they can end up just like any other happy human-friendly kitty.

What should I do if I find a cat on the street?

If you find a cat on the street and they come up to you, they are likely a stray cat, not a feral cat. You can proceed by contacting your neighbors, bringing the cat to a veterinary clinic to be scanned for a microchip, and contacting all local shelters to add the cat to their lost-and-found bulletin. You can also see what resources for lost cats are online for your area. Fostering the cat and helping by posting “found” ads yourself will probably end better than a shelter, since most shelters are kill shelters and will only hold onto strays for a few days before euthanizing them.

How do I trap a cat?

Trapping a feral cat for TNR may be saving its life

Trapping a feral cat for TNR may be saving its life

You’ll need to purchase a humane cat-sized trap, for starters. You can find these at most hardware stores or online for less than $50 each. Remember that you can use this trap more than once, so it is a worthy investment, especially if you live near a colony. Resist the urge to feed the cats for two days before trapping so that they’ll be extra hungry and will risk entering the trap for a treat. Place wet cat food in the trap behind the trip plate, and wait for the cat to be caught. Then, you can take the trapped cat to your veterinarian as soon as they’re securely in the cage. The veterinarian will do the procedure, and then likely ear-tip them. Ear tipping is a way to tick the cat’s ear so that humans will know that they are TNR’d.

By participating in TNR, you are helping keep the feral cat population down, as well as helping the feral cats in your area have a greater quality of life. Feral cats didn’t choose the street life, the street life chose them, so you can think of them as your housecat’s weird cousin. Happy TNRing!

Do you have a feral cat colony in your area? Let us know in the comments!

Indoor vs. Outdoor: The Facts

cat tabby folded ears window

Outside or inside?

Many people believe that it is best to allow their cats to live like their ancestors; out in the wild, able to run around and roam freely. Well, many of these owners may think twice when they hear that outdoor cats live on average more than ten years less than their indoor counterparts. Although it may be debated whether cats are domesticated or not, the common housecat will certainly live a longer life if kept indoors. Here, we’re going to talk about all the factors that go into deciding if you want your cat to be indoors or outdoors, and how you can best equip either lifestyle choice.

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11 Everyday Ways To Elongate Your Cat’s Life

Happy CatWe all want the same thing for our pets; to have a happy and comfortable living situation with a great quality of life. What many pet owners aren’t aware of, however, is that there are simple everyday ways to help keep your cat healthy and happy. It is always better to work on preventative measures ahead of time rather than having to attend to a problem later on. Here, we’re going to help you out with xx simple ways to elongate your cat’s life and keep their health in tip-top shape.

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Cat Breeds 101: The Cornish Rex

Cornish RexCornish Rex hail from Cornwall, Britain, and are an easily recognizable breed of housecat. They are unique for their lack of guard hairs, presenting a fine and short curly coat.
Their coats may be one of the softest of any cat breed. Cornish Rex are built to be indoor cats, especially since their fine coats escape their little bodies very quickly. Here, we’re going to dive into the great breed that is the Cornish Rex and learn all about their history, behavior, looks, and health.

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Cat Breeds 101: The Savannah Cat

Savannah_Cat_portraitThe Savannah cat is a Serval and domestic hybrid, and one of the largest house cats, if you can call it that. Many people adopt Savannah cats for their large size, their exotic looks, and their dog-like temperament. The serval is a medium-sized african cat hailing from sub-saharan Africa, and mates with a domestic cat to produce the Savannah cat. The Savannah cat is revelled for having a temperament closer to that of a domestic cat but boasting the looks of the exotic serval.

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Calculating Your Cat’s Age

Portrait of bengal cat close-upMany people wonder how to tell a cat’s age, and since a cat can’t just up and tell you their birthday, this feat becomes a guessing game for many cat owners. Many times, veterinarians are able to take an educated guess at the age of a cat, but this isn’t necessarily always right. There are a few ways to predict the age of your cat, whether they’re a young kitten or an older cat. Here, we’re going to give you some tips and tricks to figure out the age of your cat, and understanding what you can expect from that age.

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5 Fun Ways To Exercise Your Cat

Having a cat as a pet is a low-maintenance job, only requiring a few routine practices to keep your furbaby happy and healthy. Between feeding, grooming, taking care of the litter box, and other small tasks that are required of a cat owner, many cat owners forget one of the most important things that they need to do; exercise their kitty! Cats are very close to their wild ancestors, and are therefore built to run, leap, and stalk every day. Did you know that the biggest health problem for domestic cats is obesity? Here, we’re going to discuss some easy and hassle-free ways to introduce more exercise into your feline’s day.

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Cat Breeds 101: The Persian

Young Persian cat sitting in front of white backgroundAh, the recognizable Persian cat; with their squishy faces, round heads, and fluffy bodies, the Persian is one of the most well-known cat breeds around. This cat is one of the most worldly breeds, with its popularity spanning from America to Eastern Asia. With any squish-faced animal, the Persian faces some serious health risks that go along with their specific facial structure. The term “Persian” actually refers to a group of breeds. Here, we’re going to learn all about Persian cats; from their history, to their breed profile, to their temperament, and more.

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Cat Breeds 101: The Sphynx

Sphynx kitten, 4 months old, portrait in front of white backgrouThe Sphynx cat is hard to miss- between their big eyes, their long tails, and “hairless” bodies, Sphynx cats can tend to create quite a stir. The Sphynx cat is a relatively newer breed that has exploded in popularity in the last fifty years. Their docile and silly nature will surely convince anyone put off by their odd looks that the Sphynx cat is one special breed. Here, we’re going to talk all about the wondrous Sphynx cat and all of their delightful qualities.

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