Ever wanted a Siamese cat with a long, silky coat? Well, you aren’t alone! The Balinese cat is a breed of cat that combines the Siamese chattiness, coloration, and affection with the long, silky coat of many long hair breeds like the Oriental longhair.
If you can have a long hair, super friendly and loving cat, why wouldn’t you? It’s no wonder the Balinese are so popular!
What more should you know about the Balinese cat?
History of the Balinese Cat
Balinese cats are an offshoot from the Siamese cat and came about by accident to start and then very purposefully. By the 1950s, breeding programs for Siamese cats were in full swing in the United States and were very carefully done to promote show-ready cats.
Despite the care, however, many breeders noticed that some litters would have a few kittens that were puffier’ than usual. They were very cute, but their fur was far too long to meet the standard of the Siamese breed, so they became pets and were usually sold off as such.
But they are cute and as they grow up, they are quite beautiful. Two breeders from across the country (Helen Smith and Marion Dorsey) loved the look of the long-hair Siamese kittens and began a breeding program to exclusively promote the long hair. As they continued along, they decided that they should be promoted as a separate breed entirely from the Siamese.
The name longhair Siamese’ was bandied about, but the regular Siamese breeders were annoyed, so the name changed to Balinese in honor of the Balinese Temple dancers whose grace movements are seen in these cats.
The breed was officially recognized in 1979 and added more colors to the standard, taking it from four (seal, brown, blue, and lilac) to many more, include tortoiseshell and cream
Some people also think that the longhair may have originally come about from mixing Siamese and Persian, but it’s fairly well documented that most of the work came from a careful and vigorous breeding program of the accidental longhair Siamese cats into their own breed.
Characteristics of the Balinese Cat
Balinese cats look a lot like Siamese cats, but they have a long, silky coat. In fact, if you shaved off the coat then you wouldn’t see any real difference between the two at all. (Although we wouldn’t recommend shaving them because they will hate it and will probably get cold!)
Balinese cats are famous for their graceful build and movements. They are medium size and muscular, but they also have a very fine bone structure and an almost tubular body shape.
Although they look frail and delicate, they are actually quite good jumpers and absolutely love having perches and cat trees to climb up and rest on. They also enjoy playing and chasing things, so they get fairly athletic in build, if not overly muscular.
Since they are related to the Siamese, you can expect to see the Siamese coloration, but on a medium-to-long hair coat. They have the same point’ coloration with cream or light-colored body and darker tail, paws and mask’ (including the ears). They also have blue eyes and a triangular-shaped head.
Their tail though is much more plumed compared to a Siamese and they are of course, much fluffier. Their coat does not have an undercoat, so they don’t shed as much, but they can also still get cold easily, despite all the fluff. The hair length also varies – it can be medium or long.
Check out their tail to get a feel for where your Balinese is on the spectrum. The lack of an undercoat means that Balinese cats are easier to groom and won’t risk shedding or matting as frequently as other breeds do.
There are about a dozen variations of point’ which Balinese come in and include:
- Seal (the most common) and Seal Lynx
- Chocolate/Chocolate lynx
- Blue (also popular)/Blue lynx
- Lilac (lightest and one of the rarest)/Lilac Lynx
- Red (also rare)
- Tortie (extremely rare and largely unknown, but quite striking)
- Ivory (all white and no points! – they are considered rare and good luck charms in Thailand)
As a note, lynx coloring is when a cat has stripes (sometimes extremely scattered and pale)where it would have its point coloring and has an M’ shaped striping pattern on its forehead.
The M-shaped patterning crosses all the variations of lynx coloring, even when otherwise there would be few to no striping. This is what gives away’ the Lynx coloring variation.
Balinese cats weigh in at five to eight pounds with males being closer to eight and females being closer to five. They can live a surprisingly long time compared to other breeds – upwards of twenty years!
Show cats have a shorter coat, longer in the tail, and a more triangular head. A variant on this is a Balinese with a more rounded head and body and a fluffier coat all over their body. This is not considered a show variety, but they do make really adorable pets.
Temperament of the Balinese Cat
Balinese cats not only take their coloration and faces from Siamese, but they also take on much of the Siamese temperament, though not every part of it.
Balinese cats are quite chatty and vocal. They like holding conversations with their owners and will sometimes greet people when they come inside. They aren’t always quite as loud (or bossy) as Siamese, but they definitely make their presence known. Kittens in particular can sound a lot louder than their little bodies would attest!
Balinese cats though are also known for being intelligent and curious. If they don’t have toys and perches to use, they will make their own entertainment which can turn out quite destructive. It’s best to ensure that they have places to play and run around or else you may come back to shredded furniture.
But the main reason why these cats are so popular (aside from their appearance) is that they love people. They bond closely with their families, they like to hang around their people, and they like to cheer people up.
They need social time with their humans every day or else they run the risk of getting stressed and sad or feeling neglected (and then they act out to get more attention).
They often enjoy training for tricks, as long as they get praise and treats, and they like puzzle toys. They are also very loyal to their families. Some people consider them to almost be humans in their own right, at least so far as socializing is concerned.
This does mean though that you need to have a household that can keep up with a Balinese. It should have toys, perches, lots of social time with people, and sometimes another pet as a buddy, assuming that everyone has been introduced properly. This helps to keep the Balinese company and provides even more mental stimulation when it comes to playtime.
Their vocal nature also makes them less ideal for close living quarters like apartments. They also are not terribly suitable for people who use mobility aids like canes, walkers, or chairs as they like to be underfoot (And they might try to go for a ride in your wheelchair with you!)
Health Conditions that the Balinese Cat Can Have
Because Balinese cats are basically Siamese cats, they share the same potential health problems. While overall, this breed is sturdy and long-lived, there are some things you have to watch out for.
Going through a reputable breeder can lessen the chances of some of these things, but it’s still something to be aware of. Balinese cats are prone to problems such as:
- Amyloidosis: This is a Siamese family-specific disease, which occurs when the amyloid protein is deposited in body organs (usually the liver)
- Asthma and other bronchial diseases
- Congenital heart defects
- Crossed eyes (mostly this has been bred out of Siamese, but it can still crop up)
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Hyperesthesia syndrome is a neurological condition. It causes cats to excessively groom themselves and by extremely sensitive to touch
- Nystagmus is another neurological condition that causes rapid eye movement
- Progressive retinal atrophy, but there is a genetic test available for that
It’s also more likely that your Balinese which just be plain… odd, compared to many other breeds of cat.
Much like Siamese cats which sometimes have different neurological quirks, such as the over-the-top grooming, Balinese cats, since they share the same family, can show up as being a bit weird, even for a cat. But of course, this isn’t a given and sometimes it can be rather funny and hopefully harmless.
Just like any other cat, it’s important to brush their teeth at least weekly to prevent periodontal disease. You should also wipe the corners of their eyes with a soft, damp cloth to remove discharge and check the ears for dirt.
The Balinese cat’s coat is fairly easy to care for since there is no undercoat. It just has to be combed once or twice a week and they rarely need a bath, which is a good thing since most cats will not be enthusiastic about water!
A good stainless steel comb is usually all that is needed and if you do it regularly, most cats will grow to enjoy it (or at least tolerate it). Pay close attention to that plumed tail to make sure it doesn’t have any little tangles!
Like most other cats, Balinese cats do much better indoors. They run the risk of being injured or becoming ill if they are outside often and they can be stolen by other people who want this breed of cat and don’t want to pay for it.
What Type of Owner is Suitable for the Balinese Cat?
Balinese cats may be stunning, but they do come with some personality quirks that don’t always make them suitable for all types of owners. The best owners for Balinese cats will:
- Be at home regularly to shower their cat with attention and play with it regularly
- Not mind being talked to’ (and perhaps will talk back! Most of us do….)
- At least consider taking the time and energy to introduce another cat or dog into the household to keep the Balinese company.
- Have enough space and toys for the Balinese to play, exercise, and climb safely.
- Take the time to do a bit of training (such as training them to stay off counters)
Balinese cats are generally quite good with children and even with other dogs, as long as the dog is good with cats. They have no problem even with younger children and will usually just leave (or jump somewhere high) when they have had enough.
The only thing to watch for would be if your cat is particularly sensitive to being touched and then you would want to spend some careful time with children and the cat to make sure they don’t wind each other up.
While a Balinese can live in a small apartment just fine, it’s not necessarily the best environment as their vocalizations may annoy neighbors, and depending on how cramped it is, they won’t have enough space to play.
Balinese cats are generally good about looking after their own exercise needs, but if they don’t get enough exercise, they can end up overweight which causes their own set of health problems like arthritis and diabetes.
Finally, if you have allergies to cats, Balinese cats are probably not ideal. They are not hypoallergenic, and they have a knack for getting into everything, including right under your blankets! This means that their fur can end up everywhere, so people with allergies may be a lot more miserable with this breed.
Summary of the Balinese Cat
The Balinese cat is a graceful and beautiful offshoot of the Siamese that has become a breed in its own rights. The combination of the Siamese coloring with the long silky coat makes them lovely to look at and then their sociable and chatty personality often cinches the deal.
They do best in a household with people who will give them lots of attention and time to play, they are often quite fun to train, and they live for a long time.
The main danger is that they can have some genetic health problems and they get sad if they are left alone too much. Otherwise, this is a fun breed, excellent for families, and a really gorgeous pet with lots of curiosity and intelligence.
Have you ever owned a Balinese? Which color point did you have?
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.