Thailand, believed to have its roots near the present Thai-Burma border and developed in the United States and Britain. Most modern Burmese are descendants of one female cat called Wong Mau, which was brought from Burma to America in 1930 and bred with American Siamese. Both versions of the burmilla PDF are known for their uniquely social and playful temperament and persistent vocalisation.
In 1871, Harrison Weir organised a cat show at the Crystal Palace. A pair of Siamese cats were on display that closely resembled modern American Burmese cats in build, thus probably similar to the modern Tonkinese breed. Joseph Cheesman Thompson imported Wong Mau, a brown female cat, into San Francisco in 1930. Dr Thompson considered the cat’s build to be sufficiently different from the Siamese to still have potential as a fully separate breed. Meanwhile, in the UK, interest in the breed was reviving. The cats which composed the new British breeding program were of a variety of builds, including some imported from America.
Currently, the two versions of the breed are kept strictly distinct genetically. The GCCF, meanwhile, has banned the registration of all Burmese imported from America in order to preserve the « traditional » bloodlines. During the early period of breed development, it became clear that Wong Mau herself was genetically a crossbreed between a Siamese and Burmese type. This early crossbreed type was later developed as a separate breed, known today as the Tonkinese. The two standards differ mainly in head and body shape.