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All about your Birman

Gentle, softly spoken, and happiest when lavished with attention.

You can’t miss the people-loving Birman with his full white coat, big blue eyes and long bushy tail. From grooming advice to common health conditions, our guide covers the key things you should know about this affectionate, curious and laid-back cat.

Birman Cat Sitting On A Window Sill

Breed information & advice

Originally bred as a companion cat, the Birman is friendly, quiet and docile but also smart, so while he will want to be with you, he will also want to get out and explore. Do not be surprised if you find him hiding out in some unusual places around the house.

  • This breed loves attention and can get distressed if left alone, so people often keep them in pairs.
  • His silky, medium-length coat is fairly low maintenance but will need combing more in the spring when he sheds.
  • Typically he will weigh between 3kg and 6.5kg, when fully grown.
  • A healthy Birman will usually live for 16 to 20 years.

Typical size of a Birman


Birmans love company, are wonderfully laid-back and will thrive in a house with young children, cats and other animals. Your cat may be naturally quiet, but he is also sturdy, with a nose for adventure and so you may want to keep him indoors. If you want to let him out but feel nervous that his curiosity could get him into scrapes, you could take him out on a cat harness and keep him in after dark.

Cats are meat-eaters and grazers so do not be concerned if your cat picks at his food throughout the day. Birman kittens can be fussy eaters and need to be trained to not beg or demand, or occasional treats could become standard fare and he could put on weight. Feed him high-protein, quality meals each day and bear in mind his age, size and lifestyle when working out portions. Always read the instructions on the packet, and avoid milk as it can lead to digestive problems.

Friendly and attentive pets

Affectionate and gentle, your cat will love being fussed by you, your children and friendly animals.

Birman Cat Sat In A Tree Looking Down
Seal Point Birman Cat With Blue Eyes Looking At You

Common health problems & illnesses

Birmans are generally healthy cats but they’ll need regular check-ups and vaccinations to stay in good shape. There are some conditions that this breed may be more prone to, and it’s worth being aware of the main symptoms, so you know what to watch out for.

1. Kidney disease

Kidney disease, when one or both organs are unable to clear waste from the blood properly, can develop naturally as a cat ages. It can also occur due to infection, a tumour, injury or even poisoning. The effects can usually be managed well, and if caught in good time a cat will live a healthy life. Signs to watch out for include loss of appetite or weight, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Kidney disease or kidney failure accounted for 15% of Tesco Pet Insurance claims for this breed in 2015.

2. Respiratory problems

Respiratory diseases affecting Birmans include ‘cat flu’, which is infectious and caused by a virus or bacteria, and asthma, where the airways are reduced and breathing becomes difficult. Common symptoms of cat flu, as in humans, include sneezing, watery eyes and a runny nose. Encourage your cat to drink plenty of water, keep him warm and monitor his condition, if you suspect he has it, and he may need to see the vet if his condition deteriorates. Signs your cat might have developed asthma, include coughing and wheezing. It can usually be well controlled with medication, or lifestyle changes.

3. Lymphoma

There are more than 40 different types of lymphoma – a cancer that affects white blood cells – in cats. Gastrointestinal lymphoma, which affects the stomach and digestive system, is the most common. Look out for a loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting and diarrhoea in your cat. Since these symptoms can indicate many different conditions, your vet will need to run tests to determine the cause.

4. Pancreatitis

Feline pancreatitis is a painful inflammation of the pancreas, often due to disease, injury or bowel issues. It can cause further damage to the liver and intestine, and if your Birman begins to exhibit excessive thirst, abdominal pain, or vomiting and diarrhoea, take him to the vet for tests. Avoid feeding your cat fatty food or snacks, as this can make his symptoms worse.

5. High blood pressure

Feline hypertension, or high blood pressure, that makes the heart work harder when pumping blood around the body, can be a common condition in older Birmans. It’s often brought on by a secondary condition such as kidney disease or heart disease, or an overactive thyroid. Early signs of high blood pressure itself are hard to detect. You are more likely to notice changes from an underlying disease causing the hypertension – such as hyperactivity and excess appetite. If your cat develops blood-shot eyes take him to have his blood pressure checked.

Cat name popularity

If you’re struggling to think of a name for your new Birman, take a look at the most popular ones at Tesco Pet Insurance for inspiration.

Cat name popularity

Average treatment costs

Wondering whether pet insurance for your Birman is worth it? We’ve put together the top five conditions claimed for by Tesco Pet Insurance customers in 2015, and the average cost of treatment.

ConditionAverage treatment cost
Kidney and renal disease £275.55
Kidney and renal failure£551.76
Respiratory condition£320.73
Vomiting and diarrhoea£123.90

Tesco Pet Insurance claims data from paid treatments including excesses from 01/01/15 to 31/12/15.

Considering Birman insurance?

We know your cat is an important member of the family, so give them the protection they deserve with Tesco Pet Insurance.

Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc.

Grooming advice

Semi-longhaired cats have to be groomed regularly and, although your cat won’t need as much attention as a Persian, his silky hair and skin will definitely benefit from a weekly comb.

His coat is much less prone to matting and knotting than some long-haired cats. If you need to bathe him, try running a warm shower head over him rather than submerging him in a bath that could be quite daunting.

It’s a good idea to brush his teeth and check the corners of his eyes and inside his ears every week, wiping them with a damp cloth if necessary. Encourage him to manicure his own nails with a scratching post, and be prepared to trim them every couple of weeks if they don’t wear down naturally.

Get him accustomed to his care routine as a kitten to make life easier for both of you. Your Birman is also a hygienic cat and will appreciate a fresh litter tray.

Fun & interesting facts

  • As a ‘pointed’ cat, your Birman will be born white and develop different colour fur round his face, tail, ears and lower legs – such as chocolate, lilac or blue.
  • He is thought to originally have been bred to be a companion to the holy priests at the Burmese temple of Lao-Tsun.
  • He loves to play games and can even be taught tricks, such as how to fetch.
  • Legend has it a goddess rewarded one cat’s loyalty by turning his eyes blue and his white coat to gold, with the paws always remaining white as a sign of purity .
  • His name comes from a contraction of the French ‘Sacre de Birmanie’, meaning the sacred cat of Burma.

Important information


The content on this page aims to offer an informative introduction to pet breeds, but does not constitute expert veterinary advice. If your dog or cat falls ill or has an injury, contact your vet immediately. Tesco Bank Pet Insurance has a partnership with vetfone™ which means that as a customer, you can benefit from their advice as part of your policy.

Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. The vetfone™ service is provided by Vetsdirect Ltd.

All facts and figures were correct at date of publication and were compiled using a range of sources.


Vetfone™ is a 24/7 helpline that provides expert advice from nurses qualified with the RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons). If your pet has a medical emergency, or you need reassurance on grooming, feeding or general advice, vetfone™ is there to help.

As a Tesco Pet Insurance customer, you can access expert veterinary advice provided by RCVS registered vet nurses as a standard benefit with your policy, and the service is provided at no additional cost. A quick call could answer any questions you have about your pet, give you peace of mind and could even save you an expensive trip to the vet.

Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. The vetfone™ service is provided by Vetsdirect Ltd.

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