Monday, January 21, 2013

The Characteristics of the Burmese Cat

The first real record of a Burmese cat dates back to 1930. A cat named Wong Mau was brought over from the orient and gifted to Dr. Joseph Thompson. All modern Burmese can trace their lineage to Wong Mau, who was a young female at the time.  She was walnut brown with points which were slightly darker, which led some to assume she was just a darker Siamese. Dr. Thompson, however, began a breeding program in an attempt to reproduce her unique features.

A breeding with a seal point Siamese produced some kittens like Wong Mau and other like the Siamese father. As breeders continued to use Siamese cats in their breeding programs, the only difference between Siamese and Burmese was the color. Recognition was difficult because most associations required three generations of like-to-like breeding.

The breed finally gained wide recognition in the 1950s. By this time, Siamese outcrosses had stopped, but crosses with black American Shorthair became more common. Over time, colors other than the original brown gained acceptance. The Burmese was recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA) in 1979. It was one of the first breeds to be recognized by this association.

The Appearance of the Burmese Cat

The Burmese has a compact and well muscled body and are medium in size. The ears are a little larger than most other breeds. The coat is silky and generally low maintenance, but does require weekly brushing to remove dead hair and keep your cat looking and feeling his best. 

The head of the Burmese is triangular in shape and the eyes are large and golden in color. Kittens are born with very distinct points, but as cats age the points become less visible. A full mature cat may appear to be almost solid. There are many colors available, including blue, sable, lilac, chocolate, and even red.

The Personality of the Burmese Cat

If you want a cat who will sit on your lap and never leave you alone, the Burmese may be what you're looking for. These cats like to play and enjoy younger children and small pets as companions. They don't tend to have a problem with dogs, though an older cat with no exposure to canines may be hesitant, especially with large dogs. Like the Siamese, the Burmese is a vocal breed and likes to talk to the people in its family.

The Burmese does not do well on its own. If you're away from home for more than six hours at a time, you might want to consider getting a second cat. This breed is not good for people who are away from home for days at a time, not unless you have someone at home who can keep your cat company.

Known Health Issues of the Burmese

For the most part, the Burmese is a healthy enough cat breed. However, there is a deformity known as the Burmese head fault or craniofacial defect. This deformity is carried on a lethal gene and kittens almost never survive birth. Those that do are typically euthanized to spare them a slow and cruel death.

The good news is that this defect is found exclusively in the American Burmese, and American Burmese are banned from most breeding programs. Ask  your local breeder about instances of this defect in their breeding program to determine if your cat is at risk.

The Burmese is a sweet and loving cat who needs attention. This breed is perfect for the family who wants an affectionate loving pet.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cat Stories: Stalker Cat

Never say that cats don't know how we feel.

Sylvester was an energetic, fun-loving, half Siamese black and white cat. He looked so much like the well-loved cartoon character that his name can naturally. No one really remembered who named the cat, but his young mistress took all the credit.

This particular cat had a bit of an attitude. He had his favorite people, much like anyone, and he had an odd way of showing it. Sylvester took an instant liking to his mistress's Grandmother. The feeling was not mutual, as Grandma was more of a dog person. Still, she treated the young cat well and even brought him treats once in a while. The treats went a long way to making Sylvester love Grandma, and he started to pester her whenever she came over.

Grandma, not wanting to encourage the cat, decided to ignore him. This didn't please Sylvester at all. One day, when Grandma came for a visit, Sylvester decided he'd either get her attention or get even. He didn't much care which. After the obligatory round of hugs and kisses, Grandma took a seat in the kitchen, selecting the chair nearest the refrigerator.

Sylvester immediately hopped on top of the fridge and perched like a hawk. He hovered over her, fixing her with a stare that was nothing short of predatory. This continued for the better part of two hours.

Finally, Grandma couldn't take it anymore. "Stop it." She didn't yell, she didn't scold him, just make her statement firmly. Then she went back to the conversation she'd been having with her daughter and granddaughter.

It had no effect on the precocious cat. He continued to stare, unblinking, trying to unnerve her. Grandma started to shift in her chair as the weight of his gaze came to rest on her shoulders.

"Stop it." This time she looked directly at him.

If a cat could smile, Sylvester (or Vesser, as we called him) did. Instead of listening to her, he shuffled forward until he was almost falling off the fridge.

Eventually, Grandma just couldn't take it anymore. She got up and went to the other side of the table, the side nearest the microwave. The microwave sat on a counter, and above the microwave was a cabinet. There was no more than four inches of space between the microwave and the cabinet.

But four inches was nothing to Vesser. He immediately leaped down from the fridge and hopped onto the counter. He slithered into the space between the cabinet and the microwave, wedging himself in there. He inched forward until he was once again hovering over Grandma. The height might have been less, but he still managed to inspire discomfort on the part of his victim.

It wasn't long before Grandma turned to the hovering cat and cried, "What do you want?"

Vesser flew off the microwave and landed lightly on her lap. He placed his delicate paws on her chest and lifted his head toward her. After staring intently into her eyes for several long moments, Sylvester licked her nose once and cuddled his head under her chin. A few moments passed before Grandma put her arms around the purring feline.

"Is this what he wanted?" she asked incredulously.

The cat's young mistress spoke up. "Of course, Grandma. He just wants you to love him, and to make him the center of the world." The young girl smiled. "He is a cat, after all."

Grandma laughed and held Vesser tightly. "Maybe I am a cat person after all." The cat started to knead her with his white paws. "Imagine that, after all these years."

Mistress, Mom, and Grandma all laughed at each other as the rambunctious cat nibbled Grandma's chin.