the history of Burmese
Playful, energetic, acrobatic and highly intelligent, the Burmese cat is the extrovert of the Cat Fancy. They are very mischievous, but they love people and they are tuned in to the needs of their owners. Once you have known a Burmese you have a lifelong passion for the breed.
Burmese cats have been known for centuries past living in Burma, Thailand and Malaya and have been imported along with the Siamese. But the striking appearance of the blue-eyed, seal pointed Siamese always left the Burmese in the shade. They were found in England in the late 1800s when they were known as Chocolate Siamese, but they were never favoured and gradually the breed died out in England and in Europe. Then, in 1930 Dr Joseph C Thompson of San Francisco, California imported a little brown female called Wong Mau. As there was no similar cat in the USA Dr Thompson mated her to a Sealpoint Siamese imported from Thailand. This litter produced Sealpoint Siamese kittens and brown kittens similar to Wong Mau. When mated to her son Yen Yen, Wong Mau produced yet a third type of kitten, a much darker brown in colour, and the true Burmese cat had arrived.
In 1949 Mrs Lilian France, who bred Siamese cats under the Chinki prefix, imported two Burmese cats. One was a male, Casa Gatos da Foong, and the other was a female, Chindwin’s Minou Twm, already in kitten to an unrelated male in the USA. Unfortunately Minou lost her kittens in quarantine, and she herself suffered bad health from that point on. Mrs France decided to import a third cat, an American Champion, Laos Cheli Wat, who had already successfully produced and reared kittens in the USA. From these three cats the breed quickly gained popularity, and within two years Mrs France imported another stud male, Casa Gatos Darkee. It was at this point that Mrs France had to give up her Burmese cats and they were all transferred to Mrs C F Watson who bred Siamese under the Milori prefix. In 1956 Mrs Watson imported another male, Darshan Khudiram, and then had the good fortune to purchase a female from a Canadian serviceman who was returning home. This female, Folly Tou Po, was the last of the USA cats to join the early breeding programme.
On 29th March 1955 a litter of five kittens was born to Chinki Golden Gay, now owned by Mrs Watson. The sire was Ch Casa Gatos Darkee. Gay was the litter sister of Chinki Golden Goddess, the first Burmese champion. As Gay was a maiden queen it was decided to send two of her kittens to be reared by Mrs Margaret Smith’s Chinki Yong Kassa, a very experienced queen who had just produced a single kitten. The two kittens were taken from the litter at random and sent to Leicester. As the kittens grew it was quite obvious that the female was a totally different colour. At first there was some speculation as to what colour this paler kitten was. In fact when a prospective owner went to purchase the brown male, Sealcoat Konyak, for 7 guineas, she was offered the little pale female for 12/6d as no one was sure what she was, so much so that she was registered as a "Blue Cream". Some other early blues were registered as "Silver". Mrs Smith decided to keep the female and she was named Sealcoat Blue Surprise. At first "Silvo" was mated to Mrs Smith’s stud, Ch Sablesilk Bimbo, who was descended from Casa Gatos da Foong, and therefore did not carry the blue gene. It was a great disappointment that no further blue kittens were produced at this time. However, when Silvo was mated back to her father she did produce a blue kitten, and produced others when mated to sons of Darkee. After many enquiries in the USA it was proved that Casa Gatos Darkee came from a line carrying the blue gene. This new colour quickly gained popularity and by 1957 had gained championship status, the first Champion being Robine Pocock’s Lamont Blue Burmaboy.
In 1963 Pussinboots Blue Truepegu, owned by Mrs Elizabeth Gray, managed to escape whilst calling, and was mated by a red tabby shorthaired cat. The resultant litter contained a very elegant black-tortie
kitten, which Robine Pocock decided to purchase and breed from, in the hopes of producing a new colour in the Burmese breed. This kitten was named Wavermouse Galapagos, and early in 1965 she was mated to Robine’s brown male, Ch Soondar Mooni. One of the kittens in this litter was also a very striking black tortie. She was named Pussinboots Pagan’s Pride, and produced 3 kittens which were to be most important to this new breeding programme, Gogmagog Golden Guinea and Kipushi Tiki, red males, and Kipushi Kandy, a blue tortie female. Two other unrelated matings took place in the hopes of widening the gene pool. Chevening Susy, a tortie and white female carrying the Siamese gene, was mated to Ch Soondar Mooni to produce Chevening Meringue, a red male, and Arboreal Fenella, a brown female owned by Dorothy Blackman, was mated to Southview Havoc, a Redpoint Siamese male, producing two tortie females, Kudos Farrago and Kudos Fantasia. A daughter of Kudos Farrago, Kudos Blue Bonnetia, produced the first cream kitten when mated to Robine Pocock’s stud Ch Buskins Blue Sunya. This was Kudos Golden Guinea, so named because the coat on his tummy exhibited a spotted pattern. These three lines finally met up in a cream female owned by Robine Pocock, Golden Chincherinchee. Robine produced many lovely cats from Golden Chincherinchee, including Mandola, Marimba, Rosenda, Pickettywitch and Valldara.
Meanwhile Mrs Joyce Dell mated her blue female Kipushi Blue Silk to the red male Kipushi Tiki, and kept a blue tortie female, Kupro Kepikilo. Kepikilo was then mated to Joyce’s stud Freefolk Blue Boy, and another blue tortie was kept, Kupro Silken Sophina, who was the foundation queen for Joyce’s wonderful line of Cream Burmese. Up to this point there was still a bit of a problem with barring in the reds and creams, but Joyce chose to mate Sophina with Kathoodu Sapphire Kilvi, a blue male owned by Mrs Burton, and she quickly realised that this mating was clearing the coats and by the end of the 60s barless kittens were being produced. One of the first from this mating was Kupro Cream Chantel, who sired many famous cats, among whom were Melanin Lorenzo, Kupro Cream Kismet, Kupro Cream Kirsch, who went to Australia, and the beautiful red boy Cavcots Creighton. Perhaps Joyce’s best-known stud from that period was Gr Ch Kupro Cream Rama, a son of Kismet.
We now had six colours of Burmese, the original Brown, the Blue, the Red, the Cream, the Blue Tortie, and last of all the Brown Tortie. But Vic Watson had been corresponding with various breeders in the USA, one of whom, Jolietta Ott, now Mrs Remy Smith, had been breeding some of the first Burmese cats with much paler coats, the Champagnes (or Chocolates). She had also succeeded in producing the very first Platinum (or Lilac) Burmese. In 1969 two groups of people in the Burmese Fancy decided to try and import this new colour. Mrs Elizabeth Caldicott (Ramree) and Mrs Pam Evely (Kernow) decided to import between them four cats from Mrs Jane Simon (Si-Mon Burmese of California). Of these four, two were Brown carrying the Chocolate gene, Suda Sirrocco Simon, a male, and Kimboh Kyeema, a female. Mrs Evely owned these two cats. Mrs Calidcott owned two Champagnes (renamed Chocolates at a later date). These were a male, Aybo Budda, and a female, Kari Simone. It was known that Aybo Budda carried the blue gene from his lilac father, Si-Mon’s Frosty Knight, but it was quickly found that Kari Simone also carried the blue gene when she produced Kernow Lilac Kerconnao. Also Kari’s blue gene was passed to the offspring of the first mating between Suda Sirrocco Simon and Kari Simone, and the first lilacs were born. Ramree Judi produced Sabra Honeymist Will, Ramree Mata Mas produced Sittang Sylvan Surprise, and Ramree Mimpi Elok, kept by Mrs Caldicott, produced many lilacs, the most famous being Kasi Sikit, Penchinta, De Soissons, Fadzil and Bettina Bapa.
The second pair of Chocolates imported in 1969 were Jo-Dee’s Golden Morningstar, a male owned by Iona Beckett, and Jo-Dee’s Belcanto Norma, a female owned by Moira Mack. Neither of these cats carried the blue gene. Moira’s first lilacs came from Belcanto Little Leela, whose grandsire was Jo-Dees Golden Morningstar, and whose paternal granddam was the famous blue female Belcanto Floria Tosca. Perhaps one of Star’s most famous sons was Cragland Champagne Charlie, whose dam, Ramree Kasi Sikit, was the daughter of Mimpi Elok. His best-known daughter was probably Morningstar Jade, the foundation queen for the Planetjade line. Jade’s grandsire was the beautiful blue boy Morningstar Blue Jon.
Whilst the Jo-Dee’s cats were used mainly for the breeding of Chocolate into the British Burmese, Mrs Caldicott soon decided to try a cream mating to introduce the red gene into the chocolates and lilacs. She mated Ramree Mimpi Elok to Primsu Golden Aquila, the cream stud bred by Mrs Page. This mating produced on 18th September 1973, a lilac tortie, Ramree Kepala Susu. However, there was to be a long wait for the arrival of the chocolate torties, one of the first being Kaboobi Isabelle, born on 2nd August 1976. The sire was the famous Ch Kaboobi Choc Ice and the dam Helen Hewitt’s Braeside Sweet Enchantress, a brown tortie owned by Mrs Diana Hayes. So now all ten colours were complete.
Author: Rosemary Hale
Willows Cattery based in Ifold on the Surrey/Sussex boarder, the home of the Oyibo Burmese breed.
Run by Neil and janet Tedder,
Breeders for over 60 years.
The Drive, Ifold, Nr Loxwood,
W Sussex, RH14 0TD.
Tel: 01403 752848