I discuss the differences in more detail on the Burmese page of the main website, Pictures-of-cats.org: see Burmese cat.
The European Burmese cat, it is agreed, is more oriental in appearance. This is a cat fancy term that means less rounded/cobby (stocky). This is the case despite the origins of the American and European Burmese being the same. They both originate from the same cat that was imported into the West in 1930, Wong Mau.
In developing the breed, both cat breeders in England and America had to outcross to another breed, the Siamese cat. This is because at the beginning there were no other Burmese cats from which to develop the breed. This is a different start to the Devon Rex, which also started with one cat, Kirlee, a cat carrying a mutated gene causing the curly coat. To expand the breed inbreeding took place and latterly outcrossing to widen the gene pool. The inbreeding in the Devon Rex caused genetic diseases to surface. See Devon Rex cat breeding and Genetic Diseases in Purebred cats.
The development of the breed in England and then the UK took a slightly different course to that which took place in the USA. Ten colors are accepted by the GCCF in the UK, while the CFA accept 4:
--sable - deep rich brown
--champagne - warm beige to pale golden tan
--blue - medium blue to a slate blue
--platinum - sliver color with pinkish tinge
The GCCF accept these colors (solid and tortoiseshell): brown (similar to sable), blue, chocolate, lilac, red, brown tortie, cream, blue tortie, chocolate tortie and lilac tortie.
I am a little apprehensive about describing the type of Burmese cat because of the difficulty in differentiating one type from the other. I am not sure if this lovely cat is a purebred cat, perhaps the photographer can tell me in a comment? I think he/she is though. The appearance indicates the look of a European Burmese cat.
I think the difference between the two cats can be quite fine. Perhaps because the breed standards allow leeway in appearance. Cats at the extreme ends will look different but a cobby European Burmese might look similar to a less cobby American Burmese. There is a range of American Burmese body types and the same will be the case for the European Burmese. In America the more contemporary rounded appearance is, it seems, more likely to be seen in the show ring.
The Siamese, Tonkinese and Burmese are closely related. The Tonkinese is a cross between a Traditional or Classic Siamese Cat and a Burmese cat. In fact the original Burmese cat mentioned above is now considered to be a Tonkinese. It is quite complicated made more so by the fact that there are 4 types of Burmese cat:
- Contemporary (American Burmese) - rounded
- European - standard looking cat
- Traditional - presumed more like the traditional Siamese in shape
- Foreign - a Canadian cat fancy term meaning European Burmese cat with orange gene acquired through outcrossing
I think it fair to say that there will be an overlap for the reasons mentioned above.
All types of Burmese cat are medium sized but feel heavier than the appearance suggests. See largest domestic cat breed. Burmese cats are people orientated.
From European Burmese to Modern Siamese cat