Differences between Burmese and Siamese Cats

Group of burmese kittens

Burmese and Siamese cats are both fine options when looking to adopt a new cat and even look a bit alike.

I often hear aspiring cat parents having difficulties choosing between the two. Both breeds are excellent choices, but they’re also quite different. So, let’s look at the differences and help you decide.

While both are high in intelligence, playfulness, and activity level, these two breeds are also different in various ways. Burmese and Siamese cats have different origins, sizes, health risks, characteristics, and personalities. 

The origin of both breeds

While Siamese and Burmese cats are similar in some respects, they differ wildly in their origins. 

Siamese cats are one of the oldest domestic cat breeds and one of the most distinct. This breed originated in Thailand (known as Siam in the old days), where Siamese cats lived primarily in palaces and temples. 

They were adored by Thai royalty, and many lived in lavish homes. The first Siamese cat imported to the United States resided in the White House. 

Unlike the Siamese cats, Burmese cats originated in 1930 when a Burmese cat was brought to San Francisco by Dr. Joseph C. Thompson. 

The cat, named Wong Mau, was imported from Burma and bred with a Siamese to determine whether or not she was of an undiscovered breed, as Dr. Thompson suspected. Scientists decided that Dr. Thompson was correct from her offspring, and the breed flourished from there.

Burmese cats are gorgeous and sweet, is it your ideal cat?

Comparing their appearance

Both are gorgeous breeds, but they differ in many ways when it comes to appearance. 

Burmese cats have gold or yellow eyes, while Siamese cats have a distinguished vivid blue eye color. Burmese cats are powerfully built with rounded ear tips, while Siamese cats are slim with lean and lengthy builds and big, pointy ears. When picking them up, you can feel that Burmese cats are built heaver as they generally weigh more than Siamese cats.

While both breeds have short, smooth coats, Burmese cats are generally one color, while Siamese cats have darker fur near their face, legs, ears, and tail.

Burmese cats’ glossy coats can be gray, blue, lavender, silver, brown, or lilac.

The fine-coated Siamese cat can have a variety of color combinations, each with a high contrast colorpoint pattern. Siamese cats can be seal point, chocolate point, blue point, or lilac point. 

We have described the color variations of Siamese cats in detail here: Fascinating Siamese cat colors.

What about lifespan and weight?

Burmese cats typically have a lifespan between 9 and 13 years, although exceptionally, they can live up to 17 years old. 

Siamese cats typically have a lifespan between 8 and 15 years, and while it is only a few years more than that of a Burmese cat, they have been known to have a particularly impressive lifespan of around 15 to 20 years. 

Burmese cats are slightly larger than Siamese cats at an average weight of 8 to 15 pounds, while Siamese cats are around 6 to 14 pounds. Siamese cats are very lean with excellent balance, explaining why they have a lighter build than most Burmese cats.

burmese cat playing
Burmese cats are very playful, especially when young

Siamese versus Burmese health

Like most cat breeds, Burmese and Siamese cats have their own health risks, but many of these can be mitigated through diets and lifestyle changes to avoid any potential health problems. 

Overall, both Burmese and Siamese cats are pretty healthy breeds, although Siamese cats do have a few additional health conditions to be aware of. 

Burmese cats have an increased risk of diabetes mellitus, genetic hypokalemia, and feline orofacial pain syndrome. However, as aforementioned, many of these conditions can be reduced or helped through dietary changes. 

On the other hand, Siamese cats may be more likely to have respiratory and dental problems, such as asthma or bronchial disease. They are also at an increased risk for bladder stones, amyloidosis, heart problems such as congenital heart defects, and eye problems such as progressive atrophy and glaucoma.

Much of the risk regarding developing these conditions can be helped by being informed and making the best choices for your cat’s health, all the information which you can find by consulting a veterinarian or another expert. 

Suggested reading: 10 ways to make your cat live longer

Their character and maintenance

Both Burmese and Siamese cats are good choices for people who may be allergic to cats, but while Burmese cats don’t shed very much, they are not considered less allergenic or hypoallergenic. 

Siamese cats shed very, very little. Siamese cats are better if you are concerned with cat-related allergies or sensitivities. 

Burmese cats have high intelligence and are very playful, especially when young. Being highly active requires a moderate to a high level of attention. 

Siamese cats, also very high in intelligence and very playful, have exceptionally high attention requirements. Therefore it is crucial to make sure you can put in the time to give a Siamese cat an adequate amount of attention. 

With their affectionate and social temperament, Burmese cats are often said to have dog-like tendencies. Siamese cats are also considered quite friendly, and as a bonus, they are very easy to train. 

Both Burmese and Siamese cats have minimal grooming needs and are relatively easy to take care of in terms of hygiene. 

Comparison Siamese versus Burmese Infographic
Comparison of Siamese versus Burmese cats (infographic)


Burmese and Siamese cats are particularly excellent cat breeds, each with their own unique qualities and characteristics that make them a great addition to any household. 

Similar to intelligence, playfulness, and attention needs, Burmese and Siamese cats are also different in characteristics, health, origin, etc. 

While Siamese cats were bred to be royal pets and lead spoiled lavish lives, they still make a great house cat, as do Burmese cats. 

Understanding the differences between cat breeds is crucial when picking a cat or even getting to know various cats better. 

While many pets, such as cats, can be associated with larger stereotypes and expectations, no two cats, let alone breed of cat, are exactly alike. They each have their own distinctions, making each one just as unique as the next.

Love reading about Siamese cats?

Please have a look at our other posts about these incredible cats!

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Tom Alexander is a life-long cat parent and enjoys sharing a home with his cat Max and his family. Being a devoted cat person, his passion for everything feline and blogging is the driving force behind catnfriends.com. As the founder and editor at Cat & Friends, Tom aims to provide an interesting and great resource for cat owners.

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