Burmese cats originate from Burma, Thailand and Malaya where they are well documented. Although they have been imported into many countries, along with their close cousins the Siamese, as early as the mid 1800s, it was the striking appearance of the blue-eyed Siamese that was preferred, and the little brown cat with the yellow eyes gradually disappeared.
In 1930 Dr Joseph Thompson of San Francisco, California, imported a brown female, whom he called Wong Mau. Dr Thompson felt that Wong Mau was a distinct breed of cat and decided to embark on a breeding programme to prove this. Wong Mau was mated to the nearest suitable stud – an imported Siamese called Tai Mau. The kittens produced were either Sealpoint Siamese, like their sire, or little brown cats like Wong Mau. But when Wong Mau was mated to her son, Yen Yen Mau, there was a third, much darker, type of kitten produced. Dr Thompson called this dark coated cat a Burmese.