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The Birman is known as the Sacred Cat of Burma. There is a fine legend describing their origins. In the days before the coming of Buddha there lived an old and wise monk called Mun Hawho devoted his life to the sapphire-eyed Tsun-Kyan-Kse, the goddess of the migration of souls. The monk had a white male cat with orange eyes, whose name was Sinh. One day the temple was attacked and Mun Ha and the other monks found shelter in the santuary of the temple, but he died of shock there. As he lay dying, his faithful companion Sinh leapt apon his white head. At that moment the monks saw a miracle as the old mans soul entered the cat. The goddess granted the cat her own godly golden colour but the tips which rested on the old monk remained white. The cat's eyes became sapphire blue like those of the goddess. They shone brightly, facing one of the gates which the monks closed preventing the invaders capturing the temple. All the other cats in the temple took on the same colouring which has been passed on to all their descendents.
The evidence, scant as it is, tends to support the story of the Asian origins. The first pair of Birmans were given to a major Russell in 1919 for assiting some monks during the first world war. The male died during the journey to France but the female produced kittens.
Birmans, as we know, make very affectionate pets and have a quiet soft voice. They are semi-long haired with a golden body, coloured points an upright tail and white tips to the paws and have bright blue eyes. They attract attention where ever they go! Ours has the classic seal (browny) points but they also come in blue, brown and lilac - there are even some with tabby points. Most Birmans are very placid and are happy to live in a house. Our latest, Tigger, is still a kitten and seems much more outgoing but still seems to settle quickly to the constrained space on our narrowboat.