What to Know About Burmilla Cats

Medically Reviewed by Vanesa Farmer, DVM on June 21, 2022
6 min read

Burmilla cats are some of the newest to join the ranks of cat breeds. They first appeared in the 1980s but quickly gained popularity.

Their name comes from their two parent breeds, Burmese and Chinchilla Persian. They have some of the best qualities of both breeds, making them great companions.

Burmilla size and shape. Burmilla cats are a medium-sized breed. They stand around 10 to 12 inches tall.

Burmillas tend to weigh between 8 and 12 pounds. Males may weigh slightly more.

Coat characteristics. The Burmilla's most iconic feature is its coat. Its unique parent breeds gave it a silvery coat often tipped with mild black, tan, brown, and other colors. 

The Burmilla takes many coat qualities from the Burmese cat. They get their unique silver coloring from the chinchilla-colored Persian cat.

Burmillas' coats can come in two lengths, semi-long and short. A Burmilla with a semi-long coat is called Burmilla Longhair, and they have a silky coat with a feathery belly, chest, and tail. 

Burmilla cat lifespan. Burmilla cats are new and rare, so statistics about their life expectancy aren't well-recorded. They'll live around 10 to 12 years, but they may live longer or shorter depending on their genetics.

Burmilla cat personality. Some say that the Burmilla has the best personality traits of Burmese and Persians. They're the perfect mix of independent, loving, mischievous, and laid-back. 

You can expect a Burmilla to be gentle and affectionate most of the time, and they'll be a little playful when they've had enough lounging around

Coat care. The Burmilla's coat is easy to maintain since it's shorter. You must brush it weekly, though, to remove dead hair and dirt. 

Longhair Burmillas are still low-maintenance, but they may need slightly more frequent brushing to prevent tangles and matting. 

Dental care. Dental hygiene is vital for your cat. Dental diseases are a common problem and can lead to severe infections. 

Brushing your cat's teeth is the most effective way to clean them. You'll need to use a vet-approved toothpaste and toothbrush.

Of course, trying to brush your cat's teeth can be difficult. Some other methods for keeping their teeth clean include:

  • Professional cleanings
  • Dental chews or treats
  • Oral rinses

Nail care. Cats typically need their nails trimmed monthly. You, your vet, or your groomer can trim them.

Feeding and nutrition. Most cats can get their essential nutrients from high-quality commercial wet or dry food. Cats can be picky, so you may need to try different options with your Burmilla.

You should feed your cat an amount of food appropriate for their size and activity level. They need constant access to clean water.

Two daily meals are enough for most cats. Timed, portioned meals let you observe your cat's eating habits.

Some cats do well with having food always available, a diet called free-feeding. Free-feeding can cause overeating, though, if not used carefully.

Also, don't free-feed with wet food. It can attract unwanted bacteria and pests if left to sit out.

On the plus side, wet food can help keep your cat hydrated. It has many flavors and can keep your cat interested in mealtime.

Wet food is typically more costly than dry food. Dry food is affordable and stays fresh longer. However, dry food has a lower moisture content. A hard food diet can make it more challenging for cats to stay hydrated and digest their food.

Cats are picky, and their eating habits will change throughout their life. As your Burmilla gets older, talk to your vet to make sure that their diet provides them with the nutrients they need.

You may be tempted to give your Burmilla treats, but remember that treats are junk food. Treats shouldn't make up more than 10 to 15% of their daily caloric intake.

Exercise and activity needs. Burmillas tend to be independent in their activities. They keep themselves occupied but need an engaging environment.

Interactive toys, cat trees, and climbing places work best to satisfy your Burmilla. Since they're mischievous, they may get into trouble without engaging toys and perches. 

Indoor vs. outdoor cats. Many cats enjoy looking outside or going on walks. You shouldn't let them freely roam outside despite their love of the outdoors. 

Cats are predators and will hunt rodents and birds. This hunting can damage the local ecosystems and expose them to diseases.

Engage your Burmilla's predatory instincts instead through:

  • Games
  • Interactive toys
  • Places to explore 

Flea, tick, and heartworm prevention. Fleas, ticks, and heartworms aren't just an issue for outdoor animals. Indoor cats also need protection from those common parasites.

Fleas and ticks can get inside on you or your outdoor pets. Once they’re indoors, your Burmilla can be at risk.

There are many flea and tick prevention options, though. Talk to your vet to determine which is suitable for your cat.

Infected mosquitoes transmit heartworms through their bites. Heartworm disease is more common in dogs, but heartworms can also be a cat problem.

Identifying and treating heartworms in cats is a new field. There isn't an approved drug treatment for heartworm disease in cats.

Heartworm disease can be deadly if caught too late. Talk to your vet about heartworm infections in your area, available prevention options, and heartworm tests at your Burmilla's regular vet visits.

Vet visits. Burmilla kittens need several vet visits during their first few months to:

Your vet will specify the amount and frequency of these visits.

Adult Burmillas need a yearly vet visit. These visits focus on: 

  • Updating vaccines
  • Preventing diseases
  • Monitoring weight

Senior Burmillas need at least two vet visits each year. Your vet will monitor symptoms of aging, conduct regular exams, and catch diseases early.

Burmilla cats are generally healthy. As they are a newer breed, there aren't detailed studies about Burmillas being susceptible to particular health conditions, and responsible breeding practices will limit the potential for hereditary conditions. 

Of course, some conditions affect all cats regardless of breed.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). HCM is the most common feline heart disease. This condition causes the heart walls to thicken and the heart to have difficulty pumping.

There isn't a preventable cause of HCM. It's a genetic condition in many cases that can cause problems at any age. 

Cats with HCM don't typically show symptoms. 

Severe symptoms that they may show include: 

There's no cure for HCM. Treatments focus on symptom relief like regulating your cat's heart rate and reducing congestion. 

Feline dental disease. At least half of cats 4 years old and older have a type of dental disease. Dental diseases are highly preventable and treatable, though, if caught early.

If your Burmilla has a type of dental disease, they may stop eating because of discomfort. The most common dental diseases include:

  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontitis
  • Tooth resorption

You can help prevent dental diseases through dental hygiene using the methods previously mentioned. Professional cleanings can treat mild problems like gingivitis and periodontitis.

Professional cleanings and at-home methods won't fully treat severe problems. Severe cases and tooth resorption typically necessitate tooth extractions.

Other common conditions. You can vaccinate your Burmilla against common conditions like feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and rabies. Some other common conditions in cats are:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Upper respiratory infections

Are they good with other pets? The Burmilla's social but semi-independent nature allows it to get along well with other pets. 

Are they good with kids? The Burmilla is gentle and laid-back. It can be a great companion to children.

Are they allergenic? Burmillas are moderate shedders, so they may irritate someone with a cat allergy

In the early 1980s, Baroness Miranda von Kirchberg of the United Kingdom had a love for cats. She had a female lilac-colored Burmese named Bambino Lilac Fabergé.

The Baroness wanted her husband to have the same love for cats that she did, so she got him a male Chinchilla Persian. They named the Persian Jemari Sanquist.

The two cats fell in love when the Baroness and her husband weren't looking. When a cleaner left Fabergé's door open one day, she slipped away to find Sanquist.

The two cats ended up being parents to four kittens in 1981. They were all female, shorthair, and had the signature silver color that Burmillas would become famous for.

The Baroness adored the kittens and set out to breed more of them. Burmillas are rare, but their good looks, charming personalities, and noble history have ensured their popularity.