History

Two Englishmen, Major Gordon-Russell and August Pavie, who were living in France at the time, received a pair of Birmans from the Kittah people in 1919 as gratitude for their part in saving the temple from being overrun by invading enemies. The male died during the ocean journey to his new home but the female survived and was in kitten to him, thus producing the first Birmans in the western world from which today's breed originates.

During the war, all pedigreed cats in Europe suffered a great set back. Only two Birmans survived, a pair named ´Orloff´ and ´Xenia de Kaabaa´. The offspring of this pair formed the new foundation of the Birman breed in post-war France. Longhaired breeds had to be used to guarantee the continual existence of the Birman, but by the early 1950's pure Birman litters were being produced from Birman parents.

The Controlling Body in France began to recognise the potential of this breed on the show bench and by 1955, the Birman was once again recognised as a pure bred aristocrat in Europe. From that time only Birman was bred to Birman, the Controlling Body condoned no outcrossing into other lines. It has taken over thirty years of breeding to bring the Birman up to the high standard existing today.

In the early 1960's Mrs Elsie Fisher together with Mrs M. Richards imported the first Birmans into Britain from France. They imported a seal point male, "Nouky de Mon Reve" and two blue point females, "Orlamonde de Khlaramour" and "Osaka de Lugh". These imports became the foundation for Birman breeding in Britain and still appear in many of the present day pedigrees.

Birmans were first introduced into Australia by Mrs Judith Starkey who imported a pair of seal point Birman cats from Mrs Fisher in Britain. Early in 1968 'Stacpoly Kharma' and "Praha Shigatse" were on their way to Australia on board the "Bendigo". They, together with several other cats were housed on the deck of the "Bendigo" and were looked after by an Agricultural student.

However, after being at sea for only one week, Kharma and Shigatse became ill, and the First Officer, being very fond of cats, moved the pair into the "Officers Smoking Room". Here they remained for the rest of the journey and were fondly renamed "Boysie and Girlsie" by the First Officer and crew. A sign was promptly put on the Officers Smoking Room door - "Live Cats - Do Not Open".

They arrived safely in Sydney on 15 March, 1968 and after a spell of quarantine settled down with their new family. Since then many more blood lines have been introduced from France, Germany and America as well as the United Kingdom.

In Australia both blue point and seal point Birmans have been bred and shown since the introduction of the Birmans. New colours have since been introduced, and now chocolate and lilac point, red and cream point, tabby point and tortie point Birmans can be found on the show bench.