Burmese

Janelle Leeson
By Janelle Leeson. Reviewed by Barri J. Morrison, DVM on Aug. 13, 2023
brown burmese cat lying on a gray blanket

In This Article

General Care

Burmese cats are friendly, intelligent felines who enjoy zooming around the house just as much as cuddling on the couch. They’re also known to play a quality game of fetch, and they prefer not to be left alone for too long. In fact, some say Burmese cats remind them of spunky pups!

Dr. Primrose Moss, VetMB, MRCVS, a UK-based small animal veterinarian, agrees. She says that Burmese cats are “extremely loving, people-focused, and dog-like in their behavior.”

Burmese cats have short, silky fur that comes in a variety of colors depending on the type of Burmese cat you choose. This is because there are two distinct varieties of the breed: the American Burmese and the British (European) Burmese. Both trace their origins to the same stock in Burma (now Myanmar), but they have some subtle differences in appearance.

Caring for a Burmese

Burmese cats are medium-sized, with an average weight of 8–15 pounds. Though both varieties are muscular and relatively solid cats, the American Burmese is slightly stockier than the British Burmese, with a broader head and shorter muzzle. No matter their geographical connection, Moss says both varieties have short, satin-like fur that’s easy to maintain.

Burmese cats happily live in either apartments or houses; they only ask to be near their human companions. They’re also known to get along well with children and other pets when introduced properly.

Burmese Health Issues

The Burmese is a generally healthy cat with a lifespan averaging 10–17 years. However, they’re not immune to some of the most common feline conditions and diseases. Purchasing health insurance for your Burmese kitten can help to relieve the financial burden of unexpected medical expenses.

Diabetes Mellitus

While all cats can develop diabetes, Moss says Burmese cats may be at an increased risk. Up to 10% of Burmese cats are estimated to have the disease. “This is suspected to have a genetic basis, so it’s worth discussing any family history of health problems with your potential kitten’s breeder,” she says.

These are some of the symptoms of diabetes in cats:

Diabetes in cats is manageable with at-home diet changes, weight loss, and/or insulin therapy.

Feline Orofacial Pain Syndrome

Feline orofacial pain syndrome (FOPS) is a condition that causes bouts of pain throughout a cat’s face and mouth. It’s thought to be an inherited disorder because it’s more often reported in Burmese cats than in any other breed.

The pain caused by FOPS can be severe and may affect one side of the face more than the other. It can be triggered by eating, grooming, or even just opening the mouth.

FOPS can affect cats of any age, but it’s most commonly reported in kittens post-teething or in cats with a history of oral lesions. There’s no cure for FOPS, but managing pain may be possible. If your cat shows signs of pain, schedule a vet visit. Your vet can prescribe an appropriate pain management plan.

Hypokalemic Polymyopathy (Burmese Hypokalemia)

Hypokalemic polymyopathy is a genetic condition that causes periodic (or sometimes constant) muscle weakness. Because it commonly affects the neck muscles and sometimes the limbs, cats with hypokalemic polymyopathy may have difficulty holding their head upright and/or walking. Affected Burmese kittens typically show signs in their first year of life.

While previously difficult to diagnose, genetic testing can now help prevent hypokalemic polymyopathy in kittens by identifying carriers. If you’re planning to bring home a Burmese kitten, ask your breeder about the breeding parents’ genetic test results. 

If your kitten shows signs of muscle weakness, see your veterinarian for treatment. Hypokalemic polymyopathy can be managed through potassium supplementation.

What To Feed a Burmese

To receive a complete and balanced diet, Burmese cats need to be fed cat food that meets the nutritional recommendations for their life stage provided by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

How To Feed a Burmese Cat

Adult Burmese cats should be fed two meals a day. Kittens require more frequent meals and calories per body weight to fuel their growth spurts.

No matter their age, it’s not recommended to “free-feed” cats, as they’re often not good at self-regulating their food intake.

How Much Should You Feed a Burmese?

The amount of food you should feed your Burmese cat depends on their age, lifestyle, and ideal weight. Moss says Burmese cats aren’t particularly prone to obesity. However, given the high prevalence of obesity among cats—nearly 60% of U.S. cats are obese—“It’s still important to keep an eye on their weight!”

Burmese cats are naturally stocky, so it can be difficult to recognize when they are overweight. “Ask your vet about body condition scoring and make sure you’re keeping your cat in a healthy weight range,” Moss says. “Diabetes mellitus in cats is typically associated with obesity, so it’s especially important to keep this predisposed breed at a healthy weight.”

Nutritional Tips for Burmese Cats

Feeding your Burmese cat a complete and balanced food labeled with an AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy ensures they receive the nutrients, vitamins, fats, and proteins they need. If your cat has specific health issues, your veterinarian might recommend supplemental nutrients such as omega fatty acids, which contribute to improved skin, coat, and joint health.  

Behavior and Training Tips for Burmese Cats

Burmese Personality and Temperament

Burmese cats are known for their loving and affectionate nature. They are often described as being “dog-like” in their devotion to their humans and their spunky temperament. Burmese are always eager to be around their people and are frequently found trailing behind them from room to room.

Because they thrive in social environments, Burmese cats are a great choice for homes with children or other cat-friendly pets. Just be sure to properly introduce and socialize everyone. “This often involves swapping scents and gradually exposing them to one another,” Moss says.

While they have a relatively low prey drive, Burmese cats are highly curious. For this reason, it’s best to keep your Burmese indoors, secured inside a catio, or outdoors safely on a harness and leash.

“Burmese cats can be well-suited to apartment life—they’re relatively small and they’re happy to spend their time indoors with their pet parent,” Moss says. That is, as long as they get enough attention and play!

Burmese Cat Behavior

If you’re not available to give a Burmese cat all the attention they crave, expect to hear about it. “Like the Siamese, Burmese cats can be pretty vocal,” Moss says. “If you’re looking for a quiet, low-maintenance breed, the Burmese may not be the breed for you.”

It’s safe to say that Burmese cat parents find their Velcro cats endearing. Due to their strong attachment to loved ones, Burmese cats aren’t well-suited to being left alone for long periods.

Burmese Training

“Burmese cats are a relatively trainable breed compared to other cats,” Moss says. “So you may be able to teach them some tricks!” Discover what your Burmese cat enjoys most. This could be playtime, treats, or snuggle sessions. Then, use these incentives as tools for positive reinforcement during training sessions.

Fun Activities for Burmese Cats

Burmese Grooming Guide

Burmese cats have silky smooth fur and were initially a single color: a deep brown with a lighter chest and belly. But today Burmese cats come in an array of colors, such as black, blue, lilac, and even tortoiseshell. Their eyes are usually yellow, although, as Moss notes, they may sometimes appear pale green.

Here’s how to help your feline companion look and feel their best.   

Skin Care

“With their fine, short coat, Burmese cats don’t usually need a lot of grooming,” Moss says. But while they don’t require special bathing or skin care, monitor your cat for any changes in grooming routine. If you notice your cat is overgrooming, undergrooming, or itching, schedule a checkup with your veterinarian.

Coat Care

Burmese cats shed less than other cat breeds, but they still need to be groomed regularly. Brushing your Burmese cat once a week helps to remove loose fur and keeps matting at bay.

“However, many Burmese enjoy one-on-one attention and grooming,” Moss adds. She recommends grooming your Burmese cat when they’re young. This will make the grooming more enjoyable for both you and your cat as they age and require more hands-on care.

Eye Care

Burmese cats don’t require special eye care, but occasionally wiping their eyes with a soft, damp cloth will help to remove any normal tearing and prevent buildup around the eyes. If you notice abnormal discharge, redness, or general crustiness, make an appointment with your veterinarian.

Ear Care

Burmese cats don’t need special ear care beyond regularly checking for any redness, odor, discharge, or debris. These can be signs of an underlying medical condition, like an ear infection or ear mites.

Considerations for Pet Parents

Burmese cats are friendly felines who make great companions for people of all ages—and other pets, too. If you’re looking for a cat who will be your constant companion, loves to cuddle, and has kitten-like energy long into their adult years, a Burmese cat may be a good fit for you. However, Moss warns, if you’re looking for a cat with an independent streak, a Burmese cat may not be the best choice.

With their silky short fur, they’re relatively low-maintenance when it comes to grooming. Burmese cats are also generally healthy with a lifespan of 10–17 years, but they may be at an increased risk of a few conditions. Purchasing pet insurance for your new Burmese kitten can provide financial support throughout your many years together.

Burmese FAQs

Is a Burmese cat a good pet?

Burmese cats are excellent pets for families who have the time and enthusiasm to play, cuddle, and socialize with them regularly. Burmese cats are generally friendly and have outgoing personalities, which can make them good companions for households with kids or other pets.

How long do Burmese cats live?

“The Burmese breed is typically pretty healthy,” Moss says. While they may have a higher risk of a few feline conditions, Burmese cats boast an average lifespan of 10–17 years. 

How much does a Burmese cat cost?

The price of a Burmese kitten ranges from $600 to $2,000, with specific colors (like blue Burmese) being pricier.

Featured Image: iStock/frankiefotografie


Janelle Leeson

WRITTEN BY

Janelle Leeson

Freelance Writer


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