Birmans were almost wiped out as a breed during World War II. Only two cats were alive in Europe at the end of the war, a pair named Orloff and Xenia de Kaabaa, both belonging to Baudoin-Crevoisier. The foundation of the breed in postwar France were offspring of this pair. They had to be heavily outcrossed with long-hair breeds such as Persian and Siamese to rebuild the Birman breed. By the early 1950s, pure Birman litters were once again being produced. The restored breed was recognized in Britain in 1965 and by the CFA in 1966.
The first Birman cats were seal point. The blue point colour was introduced in 1959 using blue Persian lines. New colours were later added by English breeders including chocolate, red, and lynx (tabby) points.Birmans have also been used in the development of new breeds, notably including the Ragdoll.
Birmans have a medium sized, rectangular body with a broad face and distinct Roman nose. Their ears are ideally as wide on the base as they are tall and should be set as much on top of the head as on the side. The eyes are rounded and should be a deep sapphire blue.
The Birman's fur is medium-long and should have a silky texture. Unlike a Persian or Himalayan, they have no undercoat, and are thus much less prone to matting. Coat colour is always pointed, save for the contrasting pure white, symmetrical "gloves" on each paw that are the trademark of the breed. The white must involve all toes and in front must stop at the articulation or at the transition of toes to metacarpals. These gloves should extend noticeably further up the back of the leg (referred to as the "laces"), finishing with an inverted V extended 1/2 to 3/4 up the hock. Any other spot of white on the points is considered a serious fault. The base body colour is white to cream, with a wash of color that corresponds to the points but is much paler.
Recognized point colours are seal, chocolate, blue, lilac (a softer silver-grey), red or cream. Tabby and tortie variations in seal, chocolate, blue or lilac are also allowed; other colours are in development.
Data refer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birman_cat