Balinese (cat)

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Balinese cat
Old-Style Balinese-Seal point.png
Old-Style Balinese cat
Alternative names Long-haired Siamese
Origin United States
Breed standards
TICA standard
FIFe standard
CFA standard
ACF standard
GCCF standard
CCA standard
ACFA/CAA standard
Domestic cat (Felis catus)

The Balinese is a breed of domestic cat with long hair and Siamese-style point coloration. It is also known as the purebred Long-haired Siamese, since it is essentially a natural mutation of the Siamese with a medium-length silky coat and a plumed tail. The Balinese cat is also the parent breed for the tabby/lynx marked Balinese cat also termed as Javanese.

Balinese cats are sociable, intelligent, and inquisitive. The Balinese cat is rated the highest in intelligence of all the long-haired breeds, rated 9–10. In comparison: Persians are rated as 6 and Himalayans as 7.[1] They are claimed to have hypoallergenic qualities and tend to live between 13 and 15 years or longer.


Sylvia Holland Balinese breeder pioneer

The "Balinese" is not actually from Bali or any part of Indonesia. Its history begins with that of the first importations of the Siamese that arrived in the U.K. in the early 1800's and U.S. in the mid-late 1800's. The Balinese breed is a naturally occurring cat breed, but originated from human-controlled breeding efforts from Siamese cats that carried the recessive long haired gene. Occasional long-haired kittens in Siamese litters were seen as an oddity, and were either kept secret or sold as household pets rather than as show cats. This occurred due to breeders believing they had faulty or impure Siamese lines which was not the case.

Sylvia Holland's Balinese cats

This changed in the mid-1950s, when two breeders, Marion Dorsey of Rai-Mar Cattery in California and Helen Smith of MerryMews Cattery in New York, decided that they would commence breeding programs for these longhaired Siamese cats that were appearing in pure Siamese to Siamese bred litters.

The Balinese cat was originally registered as a "long-haired Siamese" in 1928 through the cat registry CFA, and Balinese cat examples were known from the early 1920s. The name "Balinese" was later chosen on subjective grounds to better identify this natural occurring breed: Helen Smith named the cats "Balinese" as she felt they showed the grace and beauty of Balinese dancers, and because "long-haired Siamese" seemed a rather clunky name for such beautiful and graceful felines.[2]

Like the Siamese, the Balinese gradually split into two separate varieties. One variety is essentially a long-haired modern Siamese. The Old-style, traditional, or apple-head variety resembles the cats in photos from Helen Smith and Marion Dorsey's early Balinese breeding program and the 1971 CFA Balinese article.


Traditional Balinese cat, red-point

The Balinese has blue eyes varying from a light blue to sapphire/violet colored hue. Eye coloration does vary with the age of the cat, and the deepness of the blue hue can vary with lighting, and diet intake. Their fur is a soft, ermine-like coat. The length varies but is generally shorter than that of other long-haired cats and longer than Siamese cats. Balinese to Balinese cat offspring's are often longer haired than offspring's from a Balinese to Siamese or Variant(short haired cat with long-hair gene)breeding.


The Balinese like other cat breeds have recognizable standards that vary depending on breeding programs, and cat registries. Like the Persian, and Siamese cat breed; the Balinese cat breed has two separate variations in terms of standard. The first is the Old-Style or Traditional, and the second being modern or "extreme" form.

The Old-Style/Traditional/Apple-head Balinese has a broader head and sturdier body type, similar to the first imported Siamese cats, now newly classified as the Thai under TICA registration. The modern Balinese has a more wedge-shaped head, longer ears and a more slender and elongated body. Modern cats are also referred to as Wedge-heads.

Color variations[edit]

Modern Balinese cat, blue tabby-point

The pointed pattern [1] is a form of partial albinism, resulting from a mutation in tyrosinase, an enzyme involved in melanin production. The mutated enzyme is heat-sensitive; it fails to work at normal body temperatures, but becomes active in cooler areas of the skin.[3] This results in dark colouration in the coolest parts of the cat's body, including the extremities and the face, which is cooled by the passage of air through the sinuses. Like the Siamese, Balinese kittens are born pure cream or white. They develop visible points in the first few weeks of life in colder parts of their body which include the face, ears, paws and tail. By the time a kitten is four weeks old, the points should be sufficiently clearly distinguishable to recognize which color point they are. Some cats tend to darken with age, and generally, adult Balinese cats living in warm climates have lighter coats than those in cool climates.

Modern Balinese cat, chocolate tortie-point

In most associations like the Cat Fancier's Federation and others, the Balinese breed is accepted in a full range of colors, including the four traditional Siamese point colors of seal, blue, chocolate, and lilac as well as less traditional colors such as red, cream, tortie and patterns such as lynx (tabby) point(Javanese) and foreign white(not white Oriental breed).[4] Though cross breeding's took place in order to produce these less traditional and rare colors not naturally found in the Balinese breed, they are considered purebred cats. Cats with pure Siamese or Balinese lineage are considered purebreds if they are registered and have at least 3-4 or more generations of Siamese or Balinese lineage.

However, in the Cat Fanciers' Association, the Balinese is only accepted in the four traditional Siamese colors; with Lynx patterns being designated as Javanese, and tortie, red, cream and other rare colors as colorpoint short hairs.[5]


Like the Siamese, the Balinese loves attention and is compared to dog companions; they are very playful and fond of human company. It is a vocal breed which may vocalize for no apparent reason, albeit at lower volume than the Siamese. Balinese owners and breeders attest that due to the higher intelligence of the Balinese, that they are known in doing unordinary things compared to a regular housecat. They are known to be cat retrievers, play fetch and very much interact with their surroundings, including other animals.

Some owners attest in their cats being tech savvy, with some Balinese cats trying to "interact" with digital/electronic devices such as phones, like the famous Long-Haired Siamese cat Choupette[6] owned by famous fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld. They are also known for being quite acrobatic and love to lie or perch on their owners' shoulders. [2]

Hypoallergenic claims[edit]

Hypoallergenic qualities have been noticed in the Balinese breed for over a couple of decades, with owners, breeders and those sensitive to cat allergies attesting to this rare quality. Though there is no scientific proof of this, it is noted that of all cat breeds, the Balinese cat breed produces very low amounts of the Fel d1 and Fel d4 protein allergens that all felines produce.[7] These are produced by all domestic cats and are the cause for allergic reactions to those sensitive to cats. As with the Siberian cat breed, there are Balinese breeders and clubs that are working together in the effort of producing scientific proof of the Balinese's hypoallergenic quality.

It is noted that some mixed cats having some Balinese lineage also produce less of the Fel d1 Fel d4 proteins, but there is much less of a guarantee with these cats being hypoallergenic due to them not being of pure Balinese blood.

Balinese in popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ J. Anne Helgren, 1997. Barron's Encyclopedia of Cat Breeds: A Complete Guide to the Domestic Cats of North America. Barron's Educational Series, 1997. ISBN 978-0-7641-5067-8.
  2. ^ a b Somerville, Louisa (2007). The Ultimate Guide to Cat Breeds. Edison, N.J.: Chartwell Books. p. 52. ISBN 9780785822646. 
  3. ^ D. L. Imes et al. (April 2006). "Albinism in the domestic cat (Felis catus) is associated with a tyrosinase (TYR) mutation" (Short Communication). Animal Genetics 37 (2): 175. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2052.2005.01409.x. PMC 1464423. PMID 16573534. Retrieved 2006-05-29. 
  4. ^ "Breed Standard Balinese". World Cat Fancy. Retrieved 2012-05-22. 
  5. ^ "Breed Standard Balinese". Cat Fanciers' Association. Retrieved 2012-05-22. 
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