THE LEGEND – THE SACRED CAT of BURMA
In a temple built on the sides of Mount Lugh, lived in prayer the very holy Kittah Mun-Ha, a great Lama holy of holies, the one of which the God, Song Hio himself, has braided his golden beard. Not a minute, not a glance, not a thought of his life was not dedicated to the adoration, contemplation, and holy service of Tsun Kyan-Kse, the goddess with the sapphire eyes, the one who presided over the transmigration of souls, the one who permits the Kittahs to live again in a holy animal for the duration of its animal existence, before taking again a haloed body with the full and holy perfection of the great priests. Near him was meditating Sinh, his dear oracle, an all-white cat whose eyes were yellow, yellow from the reflection of the golden whiskers of his master and from the golden body of the goddess with the heavenly eyes…..Sinh, the cat to advise, whose ears, nose, tail and extremities of his legs were dark like the colour of the earth, mark of the stain and impurity of all that touches or can touch the ground.
Now, one night as the malevolent moon had permitted the murdering Phoums who came from the hated Siam, to draw near the sacred place, the Grand Priest Mun-Ha gently entered death, having at his side his divine cat, and under his eyes the despair of all his overwhelmed Kittahs….. It was then that the miracle came about – the only miracle of immediate transmigration: in a bound, Sinh was on the golden throne and sat on the head of his sagged master. He leaned on that aged head which, for the first time, was no longer looking at the goddess. And as he sat stiffened before the eternal statue, one saw the bristly hair of his white spine become suddenly golden yellow. His golden eyes became blue, large and deep as the eyes of the goddess. As he was gently turning his head to the south door, his four paws which were touching the old skull became dazzling white, up to the place that the silk of the holy garments were covering. And as his eyes were turning from the south door, the Kittahs obeying his commanding look, which was full of serenity and light, hurried in the first breeze to close the heavy bronze doors.
The temple was saved from profanation – Sinh, however, had not left the throne and on the seventh day, without having made a move, facing the goddess, eye to eye, he died – mysterious and hieratic, carrying to Tsun Kyan-Kse the soul of Mun-Ha, too perfect for the earth……
And when seven days later, the assembled priests consulted before the statue to decide on the succession of Mun-Ha, all the cats of the temple ran up, and all were dressed in gold with white gloves and all had changed to deep sapphire the yellow of their eyes, and in complete silence they surrounded the youngest of the Kittahs so thus reincarnated ancestors were designated by the will of the goddess.
Thus ran the legend until the beginning of this century. Then apparently the temple was raided again, but this time it was saved by the help given by Major Gordon Russel and Monsieur Auguste Pavie. A year or two later, the two men, who were now living in France were sent two of the sacred cats from the temple as a gift. The male died en route, but the female survived and proved to be in kitten. The litter lived and became the first Birmans to be seen in Europe, or so the story goes. Presumably the kittens were used for breeding, and it was in 1925 that this variety was recognised in France. It was in danger of becoming extinct during the Second World War, but it survived due to the efforts of one or two breeders, and by the 1960s the breed was again well established. In 1965 the late Mrs Elsie Fisher and Mrs Margaret Richards went to the Paris cat show and saw and fell in love with this magnificent breed. Before the end of the year, working in partnership under the prefix “Paranjoti” they had imported two females and a male. The male a seal point was Nouky De Mon Reve and the two females both bluepoints were Osaka de Lugh and Orlamonde de Khlaramour. The first litter to be born in this country was on the 3rd July 1966, Nouky was the father and Orlamonde the mother. There were eight kittens in the litter. To increase the gene pool Mrs Towe imported Pipo de Clos Fleuri a seal point in 1966. In 1967 the partnership of Mrs Richards and Mrs Fisher had disbanded and Mrs Fisher bought in another male – a blue point – Ghandi Von Assindia. Two years later Miss Betty Brown imported a male Solomon Von Assindia. Solomon died in 1984 aged fifteen. Two more cats were imported in the early seventies, Shani de la Valliere a seal point female and Dandy Von Aroldessen a sealpoint male. All the original imports became Champions with the exception of Orlamonde. All the Birmans in this country will have all or some of these eight cats at the back of their pedigree.
The legend also has it that when a priest dies, his souls was transmigrated into the body of the cat and upon the cats death the priests souls transition into heaven had been accomplished – and according to Major Russell Gordon “But woe also he who brings about the end of one of these marvellous beasts, even if he did not mean to. He will suffer the most cruel torments until his soul he has upset is appeased”.
THE BIRMAN CAT
Birmans are long and massive cats with thick-set legs of medium length and short, strong paws. They have a strong and rounded head with medium sized ears that are spaced well apart. Their nose is medium in length with no “stop” but with a slight dip to profile. The checks are full and round with a full, well developed chin that is tapered but not receding. Their eyes are almost round but not bold, blue in colour, the deeper the blue the better.
Birmans have long silky fur with a full ruff around the neck and a medium length bushy tail. The distinguishing appearance of the Birman cats arises from the Himalayan coat pattern and the characteristic white feet. The front paws have pure white symmetrical gloves and the back paws have pure white gauntlets which taper up the back of the leg and finish just below the point of the hock.
Birmans are ‘people’ cats; they love human company and make excellent family pets. They are very devoted cats, making them highly suitable for elderly people, or those who are at home all day. Once neutered, males in particular, can become almost dog-like in their devotion.
A Birman kitten makes an excellent companion and will be there with you all day. Whether they live with a large family, or go to live with a quiet couple, Birmans seem to adapt very well. The only exception to this rule is the Birman homed with someone who works long hours away from home; they so love companionship that left alone all day they can become lonely and rather bored. However, Birmans will happily share their lives with other breeds of cats and dogs too.
Gentle natured and rather ‘laid-back’, Birmans can also be described as quietly playful. They will happily chase small balls and soft toys as well as indulge in gentle games with their owner.
As you can see from this picture, Birmans are a breed that is very well suited to an indoor life-style. They are also quite happy to be given the limited freedom of a small walled garden, or supervised access to the outside. Generally speaking even the Birman who is allowed unlimited access to the outside will not wander far.
Birmans are usually poor or infrequent hunters and are said to be no real threat to birds or other wildlife. They love to lie in the sun, enjoying its warmth and watching the birds fly overhead – comfort and relaxation are important elements in a Birman’s life!
About the breed
Legend tells how Birmans were originally sacred temple cats in Burma, but their true origins will probably be forever lost in the mists of time. They were first brought into the UK from France in 1965; the GCCF (Governing Council of the Cat Fancy) officially granted recognition in 1966, and they were given the breed number 13c.
Today there are 20 colour variations, but all Birmans carry the characteristic blue eyes, coloured points (face, ears, legs and tail), paler body colour, white gloves and gauntlets (front and back feet).
Buying a kitten
If the kitten is to live with a family, then the whole family should visit the breeder – your Birman could be with you for 15 years or more and it is important that kitten and owners all get along! Buy a kitten that has been raised indoors and is used to normal household noises and activities. It should be free from all signs of illness and infection and should show no signs of fleas. Your kitten should be a minimum of 13 weeks old and fully vaccinated – that is having received BOTH parts of its vaccine, with at least 7 days since the last injection.
The breeder should provide you with a pedigree showing at least 3 generations, a Transfer Form or the Mating Certificate of the parents, the kitten’s vaccination card and a diet sheet showing the type of food, and the frequency of meals, that your kitten is used to.
Pet owners can gain further helpful information about the breed by joining one, or more, of the 4 Birman breed clubs such as the Southern & South Western Birman Cat Club. These clubs all provide their members with twice-yearly magazines; hold annual shows, meetings and seminars.
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AGM Meeting Summary
3rd June 2016
Anne Gregory Tributes
9th June 2016
Birman Heart Research update
25th July 2016
Committee update, Front Page update, New 2017 Show Date
NEW SHOW DATE – 2017
The date for the 2017 show has been changed to Saturday the 4th March 2017 and will now be at a new Venue – Ellendune Community Centre, Barret Way, Wroughton, nr Swindon. SN4 9LW
We have seen a growing problem with the car parking arrangements at Cricklade Town Hall which has now become unacceptable. The Committee took the decision to find a new Venue for the show. Car parking should be much better at this new venue.
As a result of the move in show date for 2017 we have also had to make a change to the date for the AGM. Subject to availability of the hall the new dat will be 9th April 2017. This will be confirmed to members in the summer newsletter.