The Burmese is considered an established breed. The history of the Burmese in North America dates back to 1930 when Dr. Joseph Thompson of San Francisco acquired a walnut-colored cat from the Orient named Wong Mau. Dr.Thompson, along with other well-known breeders, Virginia Cobb and Billie Gerst and geneticist Dr. Clyde Keeler, developed a breeding program to identify and study the genetic characteristics of Wong Mau. Through their studies, the Burmese gene was identified and isolated. The first ever article published on the genetics of the domesticated feline was the result of this early breeding experiment. Wong Mau was to become the "mother" of the Burmese breed and all North American Burmese cats can trace their heritage back to Wong Mau.
The breed was proposed to CFA in 1934 and accepted for studbook registration in 1936. Siamese were used in the early breeding programs of the Burmese. In 1947, CFA suspended registration of the breed until this practice was eliminated. The breeders took this seriously, stopped using Siamese, developed a more defined standard and was reinstated for registration in 1953 and accepted for championship in 1957 and adopted the standard in 1959. This standard has remained essentially unchanged since then. For a breed, which has started in the US with just one cat in 1930, the Burmese has established themselves as a highly popular and successful member of the cat fancy. According to the Cat Fancier's Association 2003 registration statistics, Burmese is the 10th most popular breed.
The Burmese breed standard calls for a pleasingly round head without flat planes, a distinct nose break dividing the short muzzle from the rounded head and a sweet expression. Burmese ears should be rounded at the tip and tilt slightly forward, contributing to their sweet expression. The eyes should be large and luminous in yellow to gold color. Burmese are often described as "bricks wrapped in silk" because the Burmese carries a surprising weight for its size and is covered in a short, close-lying, glossy coat. CFA recognizes four colors of Burmese, sable, champagne, blue and platinum.
As a breed, Burmese are very people-oriented and inquisitive. They crave attention from their owners and even strangers. They delight in being the center of attention and want to be involved in all of the household activities. Having a Burmese around can brighten anyone's day. One look from those big gold eyes will melt your heart!