Burmese - About the Breed
The two standards differ mainly in head and body shape. The British or traditional ideal tends toward a more slender, long-bodied cat with a wedge-shaped head, large pointed ears, long tapering muzzle and moderately almond-shaped eyes. The legs should likewise be long, with neat oval paws. The tail tapers to medium length. The American (also called "contemporary") Burmese is a noticeably stockier cat, with a much broader head, round eyes and distinctively shorter, flattened muzzle; the ears are wider at the base. Legs and tail should be proportionate to the body, medium-length, and the paws also rounded.
In either case, Burmese are a small to medium size breed, tending to be about 4–6 kg, but are nevertheless substantially-built, muscular cats and should feel heavy for their size when held -- "brick wrapped in silk".
Coat and color
In either standard, the coat should be very short, fine and glossy, with a satin-like finish. Color is solid and must be uniform over the body, only gradually shading to lighter underparts. Faint colorpoint markings may be visible, but any barring or spotting is considered a serious fault. The eyes are green or gold depending on coat color.
The breed's original standard color is a distinctively rich dark brown, variously known as sable (USA), brown (UK, Australia) or seal (New Zealand). It is the result of the Burmese gene (cb), part of the albino series. This gene causes a reduction in the amount of pigment produced, converting black into brown and rendering all other colours likewise paler than their usual expression. The action of the gene also produces the modified colorpoint effect, which is more noticeable in young kittens.
The first blue Burmese was born in 1955 in Britain, followed by red, cream, and tortoiseshell over the next decades. Champagne ("chocolate" in the UK) first appeared in America. Platinum (UK "lilac"), the last major variant to appear, was likewise developed in America beginning in 1971. Currently, the British GCCF standard recognises solid brown, chocolate, blue, lilac, red and cream, as well as the tortoiseshell pattern on a base of brown, chocolate, blue or lilac.
In America, champagne, blue, and platinum cats were first formally considered a separate breed, the Malayan, in 1979. This distinction was abolished in 1984, but until 2010, the CFA continued to place the sable Burmese into a separate division, bundling all other recognised colors into a "dilute division" and judging them separately. Currently, the CFA standard still recognises the Burmese only in solid sable, blue, champagne, and platinum.
Other colors have been developed from this initial base set, with varying degrees of popularity and recognition. In 1989 a cinnamon breeding programme was started in the Netherlands; the first fawn kitten was born in 1998. Cinnamon, fawn, caramel, and apricot Burmese have also been developed in New Zealand, as have tortoiseshell variants of all these colors. A new colour mutation ("Russet") appeared in New Zealand in 2007. This line has an initially dark pigment in the cats' coats, which fades as they grow, eventually becoming a paler orange color.
Burmese are a notably people-oriented breed, maintaining their kitten-like energy and playfulness into adulthood. They are also said to have a number of overtly puppy-like characteristics, forming strong bonds with their owners and gravitating toward human activity. The cats often learn to play games such as 'fetch' and 'tag'. Veterinarian Joan O. Joshua has written that the "dog-like attachment to the owners" of the Burmese, like Abyssinians, causes "greater dependence on human contacts". This stands in contrast to the mere "tolerant acceptance of human company" based around "comforts" that multiple other breeds display.
They are persistently vocal, in a manner reminiscent of their Siamese ancestry. Yet they have softer, sweeter voices. Burmese are not as independent as other breeds and are not suited to being left alone for extended periods of time.