About Birmans & their Careleaf

Dundee

For the cat lover who likes to have their feline with long fluffy coats, yet are unable to cope with daily grooming and also prefer a cat without extreme looks....then the Birman is for you. The Birman has a quiet charm, they are inquisitive, charming, playful and people orientated. When you come home they will always greet you at the door, thrilled to see you again.

The Birman is a semi-longhaired breed. The coat should be non-matting, soft, silky and easy care. The coat does require grooming once a week with a little baby powder, comb and brush. Birmans are actually classed as a semi-longhair due to the fact that their coats do not achieve the length or texture of the pedigree Persian. The coat however, still reaches a pleasing length and as a bonus, does not require daily grooming.

Some Birmans have fuller, longer coats than others and therefore may need more maintenance but they are never as full coated as a pedigree Persian.

The face of the Birman is a conventional cat face, not compromised by extremes. The expression should be sweet with characteristic blue eyes set wide on a broad head. They come in a variety of colours with the traditional Seal and Blue points still being favourites. However, chocolate, lilac, red, cream, tortie and even tabby points are available. Mention of the fine features of the Birman cannot be complete without discussion of the 'gloves and gauntlets'. These are the very distinctive white feet of the Birman that make our breed one of the most difficult for the show bench. For the pet owner, suffice to say that a Birman should ideally have even gloves on all four feet with the gauntlets being the spearhead of white up the back hocks. This feature is much easier discussed than achieved!

Birmans possess wonderful characters and because they are loving, gentle cats, will fit into virtually any home. They can become very devoted to their owners and often walk with you or between your feet! They are not overly vocal cats, but still manage to make their feelings known by the flick of a tail or the deep stare of their sapphire blue eyes. They thrive on your companionship and appreciate the company of another cat if they are to be left alone for long periods while their owners are at work.

Seal point kitten

Inside or Outside?

It is not necessary to allow your cat to roam outside, and in fact, in Australia, is irresponsible. The native wildlife has not evolved with predators such as cats and dogs, so it is safest for all concerned if your cat is to be a house cat. This has to be a decision from the start as it really is a matter of "what they don't know, they won't miss". There are excellent products on the market now for pet owners to build an area in their yard that is cat proof, so they can't escape, if this is something you feel more comfortable with. (see our links page) This is also the safest way to keep your precious pet. After all, many cats allowed to free roam live short lives from an unfortunate meeting with a car! If you are concerned boredom may be a problem since the human family are at work long hours, have two cats! They will be lifelong companions and keep each other company. This will in no way take their attention away from you! A Birman loves nothing more than to have you for company!

Grooming

One of the beauties of your Birman is that it requires comparatively little grooming to look it's best. It does require a weekly comb through as no cat is maintenance free. (This doesn't mean you can't brush daily if you wish) Like all cats, they will moult in the spring, so try to give some extra grooming to help eliminate the dead fur, pay attention to the areas of the body that rub such as under the arms and the flanks. If you find the dead hair will not come out and is dry and lifeless, try a bath with some 'woolwash' (that you would wash your wool jumpers in as this is gentle and will not strip the coat). I find a bath will loosen the dead fur so you can brush or hand groom it out (like a massage, your fingers up and down the body). When bathing, use a hand held shower nozzle. I find a cat quite tolerant of a soft shower but resentful of being lowered into a bath full of water! Often a little baby powder sprinkled through the coat, rubbed in, then brushed out will take away any greasy look that can sometimes happen, especially in hot, humid weather.

Do they moult fur? Absolutely yes! Of course they do. All animals and people do! It is extremely important that you purchase any pet with full knowledge and understanding before hand. I have no desire for any of my Birman babies to go where they may not be wanted for their entire lives.

Don't forget to check your cats claws. If your Birman is an inside cat only, clip the claws every couple of weeks with nail clippers. Just take the tip off the white nail, it is like your own nails, if the pink is cut it will be painful and bleed! This is not difficult to do. Gently press the back of the paw, between the toes to extract the claw. Also check the teeth regularly. Mouth problems are very common in some cats as they age, making meal times painful. This is even true of feral cats living on a wild diet! A soft diet without food they can chew will hasten any tendency your cat may have to these problems. Do not be fooled into thinking those small cat food biscuits will stop any teeth problems, they don't. The larger, specialist dental biscuits do help however. Also, feed your cat raw bones such as chicken wings, cut into three, or ribs. Make sure they are not brittle bones that will splinter though. The tartar build up can sometimes be chipped off with a strong fingernail, if not, it is best to have the teeth cleaned by your vet and is common past the age of 6. No different to your own need for dental work is it!

Zarlee Miss Molly - chocolate point

Fur Balls

Being the local contact for The Birman Cat Club for many years, one topic I was often asked about was fur ball problems with pet cats in spring. The only real help for your cats fur ball problems is to very thoroughly groom and eliminate the surplus of dead hair before it is swallowed. Use the information above. Bath your cat and hand groom the dead fur out as much as possible. Buy some quality combs, a 'slicker' brush (which has many fine, bent metal teeth) or even a coat stripper if the coat is extremely thick. Unfortunately many of the pet biscuits on the market which will be recommended for this condition are designed to eliminate the fur from within your cat, which logically can mean more vomiting! This is asked of me many times and people are so surprised when I confirm it will do this. But the purpose of these products is to prevent dangerous build ups in the cats intestines which can be life threatening. They are not to stop them vomiting fur balls for human convenience! Vomiting is very easy for your cat to do, it is not necessarily the same as when a person vomits, which means ill health. When you think logically, a cat is a hunter and their natural food is small rodents, birds etc. The fur and feathers that are ingested when they eat are regurgitated quite easily. So keep this in mind if your cat occasionally vomits. This does not mean daily!!! That is a problem.

Feline Diet

All cats are obligate carnivores and since they cannot synthesise sufficient amounts of the essential amino acids taurine and arginine from other amino acids, they acquire arginine and taurine from animal tissue protein sources. This means meat! Raw meat is a very necessary part of your cats diet. However, because we are not supplying the meat in a natural way, ie whole rodents etc, we only feed muscle meat. This in itself is not balanced, so it is essential that a variety of foods be fed to your Birman to keep him healthy. This should include such meats as chicken, preferably cooked since it can spoil so quickly and cause salmonella poisoning. Fish is also very good and oily varieties are great for the coat. Other foods such as grated cheese can be used as a treat. Good quality tinned foods are also fine to use plus are quick and easy to feed. Make sure you use high quality tinned food and not at every meal as it can be the cause of loose stools if overfed. (why? perhaps all that water). The next food is biscuits! So much a part of modern society now that it is pointless to advise against them, however, it is essential that you use a meat based biscuit which is available from your pet store. Be warned, the cheap cat biscuits are usually high in vegetable protein which your cat cannot digest well at all. I tell my kitten owners it is a bit like a bag of potato chips coated in vitamin powder. But ALL biscuits are very high in preservatives and anti-oxidants. This has to be because it just is not possible to keep meat, on the shelf, without refrigeration for 12 months! Makes sense doesn't it. Biscuits are a very good convenience food when you are busy working, they don't go 'off' while down all day, so they have their purpose. Plus anything is better than the old habit of table scraps or a very unbalanced diet.

This information is original and copyright to Wendy of Zarlee Birmans and is not to be reproduced!