About the Birman origin


The Cat Club de France was created in 1913 by Dr. Jumaud, at Saint-Raphaël.

THE SACRED CAT OF BURMA HISTORY 
Circa 1924

The first officiel mention of Le Chat de Birmanie is found in a small French booklet untitled : "Les races de Chats" by Dr. Ve Ph. Jumaud, in 1925.

Dr. Philippe Jumaud, General Secretary of the French Cat Club (Cat Club de France) wrote his dissertation on cats' breeds. He is, in France, one of the first to do that study in a serious wayThis book is the work of 20 years of research by Dr Jumaud. The 2 first editions were printed at 3000 copies. This 3rd edition (cf. pic) included some new material and the Birman article (pp. 52-60).

While there is no clear record of the origin of Birmans, one legend is that the Birman cat originated in Burma where they were kept by temple priests in Northern Burma in the Mount of Lugh. This highly doubtful but charming legend is mainly attributed to the writings of Mme Marcelle Adam (novelist and president of the Federation Feline Française and owner of the famous Maldapour Birman Cattery) and was first published by Dr. François Méry in the French Review Minerva. It presents many historical and factual issues hard to reconcile. The legend borrows from the nearby Siamese cat history (Siamese cats were introduced few decades before in England (1884 by British Consul-General Gould) and in France by Auguste Pavie [as mentioned in his Mission Report – Pavie sent 4 Siamese cats to Paris’s museum in the last decade of the Nineteenth Century). There are many colorful and invented stories of how the cats first came to France, including pairs of cats being a reward for helping defend a temple, or being smuggled out of Burma by a Vanderbilt. 

The first traces of historical Birmans go back to a Mme Leotardi in the city of Nice in south of France. She was also a siamese breeder.

Birmans owe much to the work of a few breeders of that time like: Mme Leotardi, Mme Marcelle Adams, Mme Brassart, Mr. Baudoin-Crevoisier, Mme Simone Poirier. The most famous Birman of that time was Dieu d’Arakhan and belonged to Mme la comtesse Giriodi Panissera.

Birmans were almost wiped out as a breed during World War II. Only two cats were alive in Europe at the end of the war, a pair named Orloff and Xenia de Kaabaa, both belonging to Baudoin-Crevoisier. The foundation of the breed in postwar France were offspring of this pair. Manou, Lon saito, Djaipour, Sita 1 and Sita 2, and they had to be heavily outcrossed with long-hair breeds (mainly with the new Persans Colourpoint) and also Siamese lines (like Kiou) to rebuild the Birman breed. By the early 1950s, pure Birman litters were once again being produced. The restored breed was recognized in Britain in 1965 and by the CFA in 1966. The first Birman cats were only seal-point for a long time and the Blue-point color was introduced in 1959 (Iros du Clos Fleuri) using Blue Persan lines (Persan Bluette de la Cote Azure). They owe much to the work of the des Muses Cattery (in the USA one of the first Blue Point was Griswold’s Burman Boi Bleu, born in 1964). New colors were added by the work of English Breeders in the 1970-1980: chocolate and red-point and the tabby/lynx version. 

The Birman first arrived in Australia in 1967. “Grand Champion Stacpoly Kharma” and “Praha Shigatse” were imported from UK by Mrs J Starky of Sydney.

A Birman was also used to create new breeds like the Ragdoll cat in California, as indicated in the first CFA Ragdoll pedigree.

Note: 

- Since 2008, New-Zealand Birman breeders (Lee Williams & Amanda Stokes) are presenting an experimental short hair version of the cat. They call it the Templecat Shorthair Birman. This new attempted breed was created by mating a cinnamon spotted tabby cat, an Oriental cat, to the Birman.

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