Burmese Cats: Cats that Act Like Dogs
Dr. Douglas Schar
Located near Washington, DC
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Heathy cats with great personalities. I fell in love with Burmese cats and their dog-like personalities long ago. When the breed faced extinction due to inbreeding, I decided to do something about it. I did a deep dive into how American Burmese were originally made and aimed at recreating the breed. This actually required a lot of research. I ended up importing Burmese cats from Thailand to start a healthy American Burmese breed. I continue to import cats from Thailand and to keep my line healthy. We are entirely focused on making the healthiest Burmese cats with the best personalities. That's our thing: health and personality through science and research.
This is Bruce Lee. He not only likes the vacuum cleaner he likes to be vacuumed. I think he thinks it is some kind of massage. When he hears the vacuum turn on, he runs for a free massage.
When cats started coming in from Thailand, they were called the Monkey Cats of Thailand because they acted more like monkeys than cats. I would say they are somewhere between people, monkeys and dogs in a cat body. The first thing people say when they meet them is, "I've never seen a cat act like that." And you won't!
Burmese cats not only want attention, they demand attention. This is my cat Carmela who wanted to be be picked up and petted. This is her pushy cat dance that does not stop until she gets wants she wants. They are driven by their desire to be loved.
The thing about Burmese cats is they love each other as much as they love their people. Mothers love their kittens. Mothers and fathers love on each other. Fathers love their kittens. If you are having a bad day, they will come up, sit on your lap and lick you. They just radiate love to their human and cat families alike.
This is a cat I met at a market in Thailand. He is a big old Tom Cat, but as you will see, he is really a big old attention pig. He sits on a cushion in the market and just waits for passerby's to give him a pet or a scratch. Officially, he would be considered a feral cat. The dog-like personality is in the Thai cat genes, as you will see from this "feral" cat.
This is Ivan Ivanovich. He is a big Platinum Tonkinese boy. He is so sweet, he just wants to be carried around like a baby all the time. Smart, he is not. Throw him a toy and you will see he is not a rocket scientist. He is the sweetest cat. Each of these cats has their own personality unique to them. They are all great companions, but they are all made differently.
One of the whackier things about these cats is they are human-voice activated. Your average kitten from your average cat would hide in the corner if they heard a human voice or especially a stranger's voice. Not these cats. From about three weeks or as soon as they can walk, when they hear a human voice, they come running. They are voice-activated early in their life!
In my opinion, Burmese cats make the best pets in the entire world. I'd always had them and was fascinated by their unique character. I am a researcher by trade and training and I decided to study Burmese cats. I soon discovered the American Burmese breed was in trouble. It was created with two cats, Wong Mau and Tai Mau, imported from Asia in the 1930s. Virtually no cats have been imported from Thailand since and not surprisingly, the breed has become inbred. A rather sobering study by Dr. Leslie Lyons, renowned cat researcher, revealed that American Burmese is the most inbred cat breed in the world. The prospects for the breed did not look good. That was discovery one.
I decided to do something about it. My thought was this: American Burmese were CREATED with a Siamese and a Tonkinese cat, imported from Thailand, 100 years ago. The only sensible thing to do was to import more cats from Thailand and add some genetic diversity to the American Burmese breed. And that is what I did.
This fairly simple plan led to a very complex research project that came to include Thai cats in general. On the other side of the world, I discovered Thai cats in Thailand were in peril. In that case, it was due to Thai peoples' taste for foreign cats like Persians and British shorthairs! This led to me opening the Thai Cat Center to preserve Thai cats in general. So my research and work now includes Burmese cats and all the other varieties of cats from Thailand. At the Thai Cat Center we look at Thai cats in the big picture. www.thethaicatcenter.com
Things got even more complicated when I discovered a never-before-documented Thai cat gene, the Bangkok Mocha gene. Although this mutation has existed in Thailand for thousands of years, it was never noticed. So, I now have the largest collection of Bangkok Mocha cats in the world and am researching the mutation and how it behaves. www.bankgokmochacat.com. Hopefully this research project won't get any bigger.
Back to the Burmese rescue project, I have imported a spectrum of cats from Thailand and use them in my Burmese breeding program. The breed was made by John Thompson using a Tonkinese girl and a Siamese boy and I have retraced his steps. I did what he did to make the breed in the first place.
As a result of importing all these cats, not only do I have healthy Burmese kittens, I also have Tonkinese (Dong Tang) in the litters. Now 90% of my breeding stock came from Thailand and as a result, I get more colors than the usual Burmese breeder. Over time, I suspect my cats will develop a more uniform look and color range. But for now, the imported Thai cats and their incredible genetic diversity, results in truly rainbow litters. So, although I am a Burmese breeder, I now have Burmese AND Tonkinese kittens!
Although I think my cats are beautiful, they do not look like the American Burmese you see at cat shows. They have long noses and super short hair and all kinds of eye colors. But, I do not aim to produce cats that will win at shows. I aim to produce the healthy pets that will bring joy and happiness to their owners for years and years. I breed for health and personality and ... for health and personality. And honestly, trying to bring those two attributes out in my cats, keeps me plenty busy.
I feel that what sets these cats apart from the other breeds is their fantastic dog-like personality. All of the American Burmese cats in my breeding program and those imported from Thailand, have that irresistible personality we associate with the Burmese breed. They are pushy, demanding, constant companions. If you are looking for a healthy cat, brimming with personality, you have come to the right cattery. The same is true with the Tonkinese that pop up in my litters.
If you are looking for a healthy Burmese cat (or Tonkinese), I have those. My goal is to maintain the characteristic dog-like personality of these breeds and correct the health problems that have become associated with them. It's taken some work, but I now have kittens that have the American Burmese personality with the health and longevity one should expect.
If you keep scrolling down, you will see the Burmese and Tonkinese cats that appear in my litters. But, you will also find the Bangkok Mocha cats I discovered through importing cats from Thailand. Maybe discovered is too strong a word. My contact in Thailand sent me some cats we thought were Burmese cats. As it turns out, they represented an entirely new and different coat color mutation. Maybe "accidental discovery" would be the best description. Since the first three were found in Bangkok, and they have a Mocha color, I call them Bangkok Mochas. Scroll down and you can what a Bangkok Mocha looks like. Genetically they are not Burmese or Tonkinese. They carry their own coat color gene that is entirely something new.
Feline researchers and Veterinarians alike are aware that the Burmese breed is dangerously inbred and this inbreeding is causing life long illnesses and short life spans. They have said, Burmese breeders need to outcross to unrelated cats urgently.
Here is my thought. Don't think too hard on how to outcross. Recreate the breed in the same manner in which it was created.
Sadly, most people do not know a lot about the origins of the Burmese breed. This is unfortunate, because if you want to fix the problems with the Burmese breed, American or European, it would be helpful to know something about how the breed came into existence in the first place. If you know the formula that was used to make the breed, you can use that same formula to remake the breed. It is only logical.
The Burmese breed came into existence when an avid thinker, John Cheeseman Thompson, decided that there was another cat coat gene floating around Thailand besides the Siamese gene. He had seen Siamese cats in Thailand but had also seen a darker variant. He had it in his mind that this darker variant was actually a different gene to the Siamese gene. Thompson was a spy, naval psychiatrist and avid animal biologist. He was able to grab one of the darker cats from the Malay Peninsula, a cat named Wong Mau, and brought her to San Francisco. He retired from the navy and decided to test out his theory that there were at least two unique cat mutation genes in Thailand. To test his theory, he mated Wong Mau to a Siamese stud. Then he bred the darker kittens to their darker mother, and the result was dark kittens (Burmese), intermediate kittens (Tonkinese), and Siamese kittens. The darker kittens, when bred to darker kittens, bred true. They consistently produced solid brown cats.
His little experiment resulted in the Burmese breed of cat. All American Burmese cats descend from Wong Mau and Tai Mau. ALL. That is a little scary when you realize the breed was started with two cats and all American Burmese cats trace their ancestry back to two cats. But, that's another story. After Thompson died, the results of his experiment were published. Below you will find the article published about his experiment and you will see the origins of the Burmese breed.
Any breeder interested in correcting the defects found in the Burmese breed today, or any consumer interested in getting a Burmese cat, should read the article below which details HOW the breed was made. The formula is there. The original formula can be used today to fix the inbreeding problems within the Burmese today - use imported Siamese, Tonkinese, and Burmese cats from Thailand in your breeding program!
My primary house cat was Bruce Lee II. He was my last pure American Burmese cat and as can be expected from these sadly inbred creatures, he got sick when he was 9 and struggled to make it to 12. I have lived through an inbred American Burmese cat slowing dying. It was horrible. Living through Bruce's death was no fun for him and was a daily horror show for me. No cat and no cat owner should have to go through what Bruce and I went through. This is the reason I created a breeding program designed to make healthy long lived Burmese. I have imported over 40 cats from Thailand to make healthy Burmese. With any luck, it has worked.
I have followed the formula laid out in the experiment that created the breed in the first place. The creators of the breed left their recipe behind in a journal article. You will find the article below.
Bruce Lee II was my primary house cat for 12 years. He was my last pure American Burmese cat and as can be expected from these sadly inbred creatures, he got sick when he was 9 and barely made it to 12. I have lived through an inbred American Burmese dying and it is the reason I created a breeding program designed to make healthy long lived Burmese. I have imported over 40 cats from Thailand to make healthy Burmese. With any luck, it has worked. Because living through Bruce's endless illnesses was no fun for him.
He was one fabulous cat. When he was a kitten he taught himself how to use the people toilet and never used a litter box. However, he was very private about bathroom time. I never caught him in the act, but, as he did not master flushing the toilet, I would know when he had been to the bathroom. In the last year of his life I managed to catch him using the toilet. He was so mad, he jumped off the toilet and just scowled at me as he marched off in total disgust. Anyhow, here you can see Bruce Lee II, using the people toilet. He is probably in cat heaven sending me daggers for exposing his private time to the general public, but, people should know what they get when they get a Burmese cat!
Breaking News. We have moved. We are still in Virginia, not far from Washington, DC, just a few counties over. Still accessible to National Airport and Dulles Airport, and by car, from95, 66, and 70!