Birman - breed information and advice

The Birman is a truly beautiful breed, with bewitching sapphire-blue eyes and a pale, fluffy coat, and a gentle, loving personality, making it the ideal family cat. Affectionate and happy to be handled, this personable breed loves discovering new things and is always willing to join in with fun and games.
To ensure your Birman cat is protected in case of an emergency, take a look at our cat insurance policies.

Breed information


Colour: Although all Birman kittens are born white, the adult’s distinctive appearance displays a white or cream coat. They have darker points on the face, legs and tail, and snowy-white paws.

Coat: Semi long-haired, the Birman has a non-matting coat that requires only weekly or occasional grooming.

Life span: Around 15 years, although it's common for Birmans to reach their late teens.

Mouth and gum disease

Like most breeds, Birmans may suffer from gum and dental disease during their lifetime. Gum disease occurs when some (or all) of a tooth’s deep supporting structures become inflamed. This begins when food, bacteria and minerals accumulate along the gum line, leading to the build-up of a brown scale known as tartar. When this undermines the gum the condition is called gingivitis. Eventually, small spaces can form between the gums and the teeth creating pockets of space for bacteria to grow, resulting in what is known as periodontal disease. The bacteria from infected gums can spread around the body and damage the liver and kidneys. This condition can be prevented with basic routine care such as feeding cats dry food and brushing their teeth, helping them to lead a normal, pain-free life.


We paid £2,423 to treat Harvey the cat for mouth and oral disorders in 2016

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Heart disease

Heart disease in cats refers to when the heart’s structures aren’t working as they should be. There are two categories of heart disease: congenital (meaning the cat is born with it) and acquired (meaning the disease develops later in life). Congenital heart diseases include defects in the wall of the heart, abnormal valves and blood vessels. Birmans are prone to a disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which can lead to heart failure. Whilst this condition is not curable, it can be treated with lifelong medication.


We paid £2,389 to treat Pixie the cat for heart disorders in 2016

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Gastrointestinal disorders

The Birman, like all cats, can suffer from problems affecting the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The GI tract is a long, winding tube that starts at the mouth and ends at the anus, with various twists and turns along the way. Conditions such as gastroenteritis caused by infections (like feline enteritis), poisoning or an obstruction within the bowel (due to the cat eating string for example) commonly cause vomiting and/or diarrhoea. Treatment depends on the exact cause, but prompt intervention usually results in a full recovery.


Gastrointestinal disorders are the second most common illnesses we see in Birmans

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Kidney disease

Cats’ kidneys are responsible for filtering the waste products from their blood into their urine. Birmans may be affected by kidney disease caused by infections, blockages, tumours or toxins (especially licking anti-freeze) as well as age related changes. Chronic kidney disease occurs when the kidney function deteriorates gradually over a period of time. Treatment depends on the cause and the extent of damage, but usually begins by flushing the kidneys using intravenous fluids, followed by special diets and medications. Unfortunately kidney disease is irreversible, but with the right support many cats can enjoy a reasonably normal life.


Kidney disease is the fifth most common illness we see in Birmans

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Conditions that affect a cat’s bladder and urethra are collectively known as feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), which is more commonly referred to as cystitis. Birmans can suffer from these conditions, which can be caused by stress, not urinating enough, infections and bladder stones or crystals. Cats suffering from cystitis make frequent, painful attempts to urinate, and blood is often found in the urine. Treatment depends on the cause, but cats diagnosed with cystitis will usually require pain relief, access to plenty of water, special diets and perhaps some help to reduce stress.


Cystitis is the third most common illness we see in Birmans

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