This attractive cat has an exotic name, but actually comes from the USA, where it first occurred during the 1940s. It is the longhaired form of the Siamese, with a similar, but longer, fine, silky coat. Its unmistakable vivid-blue eye coloration indicates its ancestry, and closer acquaintance shows its personality to be very similar to the Siamese. The Balinese is a highly affectionate companion, and actively seeks attention when it feels ignored.
An extremely attractive and graceful cat, the Balinese makes an excellent family pet. It is very gregarious, lively and affectionate, but has a quieter voice and temperament than its Siamese relative.
- BREED DEVELOPED: 1940s
- COUNTRY: USA
- TYPE: Semi-longhair
- BODY SHAPE: Elongated, with a plumed tail
- MAXIMUM WEIGHT: 5kg / 1l lb
- PLUS POINTS: Affectionate and intelligent; loves joining in, but is less boisterous than the Siamese
- WATCH POINTS: Active by nature; can be noisy, especially in the case of calling queens
It is something of a mystery how the longhaired characteristic entered the Siamese bloodline. It seems to be traceable back to the longhaired gene from Angora cats. From the 1920s Angoras were sometimes mated with Siamese in an attempt to revitalise the breed. At first, there was little interest in breeding from the longhaired cats, but later they started to gain acceptance among cat fanciers.
THE BREED IS NAMED
A Californian breeder, Marion Dorset, was first attracted to the cats during the 1940s. She set up a dedicated breeding programme over the next decade. She was then joined by Helen Smith, a breeder based in New York. It was she who suggested the name `Balinese’. The breed gained championship status in 1970.
Over recent years, the length of the Balinese’s coat has tended to shorten, most notably over the tail, because of repeated outcrosses back to the Siamese. Such crosses have been necessary to maintain the similarity in appearance to the Siamese. The tail of the Balinese used to be a dense plume of long hairs, but now the hair may be little more than 2.5cm/lin. The more exotic colour varieties of the Balinese are now often rather confusingly described as Javanese in the US.
- This cat’s elegance led to it being called Balinese, after the graceful temple dancers on the Indonesian island.
- The breed has been described, with justification, as ‘the fashion model of the cat world’.
- Crossings between Siamese and Balinese cats produce shorthaired kittens, which have coats with a felt-like texture.
- The Balinese’s coat is less likely to get matted and tangled than other longhairs because it does not have an undercoat.