By Kris Willison
Take one Balinese, dip in the colors of the rainbow and you have a Javanese. The Javanese is everything that is Balinese, and then some... the intelligence, grace and refinement of the Siamese, the luxurious silk of the Balinese coat, combined with the designer colors of the Colorpoint Shorthair. The Javanese were named for the island of Java, near Bali, and have been around for as long as the Balinese. Some appeared spontaneously in litters of Colorpoint Shorthair, most likely a result of the longhair gene being introduced via the domestic Shorthair when the red, lynx and tortie point colors and patterns were first introduced to the Siamese breed. Most are the result of Balinese breeders using the Colorpoint Shorthair to introduce these colors and patterns into the Balinese breed. The Javanese standard is identical to that of the Balinese, which is to say a cat of Siamese type with long flowing coat, the only difference being in the colors accepted for championship.
The Javanese is a breed for folks who want a little spice in their lives. They are a study of contradictions; elegant refinement, sometimes fragile in appearance but in reality hard and muscular with surprising strength. Their slender lines and flowing coat hide a rock hard body capable of amazing feats of acrobatic proportions. Highly intelligent, they become familiar with their human's routine. They will "talk," gently reminding when you are late with meals or play time, joyously greeting you whenever you have been away. As a rule, the Javanese voice is softer and gentler than the Siamese. They use their paws like little hands to open cabinets and drawers in search of a favorite toy they saw you hide. Many "fetch," but do not fool yourself that you taught them this game. In reality, they have cleverly taught you how to throw.
About the Colors ... and Variants
While the Balinese might have specific personalities linked to each color, the Javanese most definitely do. Tortie points (points are the differing colors on the face, legs, ears and tail) are an acquired taste, you either like them or you do not.
Their markings can vary from a soft sprinkling of red and cream on a background of seal, blue, chocolate or lilac, to bold splashes of color, sometimes creating a clown-like appearance. Tortie points are the Javanese version of a dizzy blond or crazy redhead acting almost as if, between the splash of red and cream mixed with the background color, they can't make up their minds how they are supposed to behave. They "speak" their minds freely and entertain you with their antics. If Lucille Ball were ever reincarnated as a cat, she would definitely be a tortie.
Red and cream points must get their color from Cupid's arrow; this has to be the most laid back and easy going personality of all colors. They seem to exist only to love you. While they love to play and do the same things that so-called normal cats do, they take frequent breaks to reassure you of their devotion. They need to feel a part of your life and love to "help," offering suggestions from a short distance before moving in to assist you with the project in question.
Lynx points seem to be the most popular pattern. There is nothing quite so dramatic as silvery stripes on a seal point background. Lynx points also come in blue, chocolate, lilac, red and cream point colors along with all possible tortie point colors. Lynx point personalities seem to vary between the very regal and dignified to those that seem to be part monkey or squirrel, creative and always entertaining with tricks and toys.
Javanese also come in seal, blue, chocolate and lilac point colors similar to the Siamese and Balinese. However, these colors in the Javanese are not eligible for championship competition in CFA. Javanese breeders use Siamese and Colorpoint Shorthairs in their breeding programs producing variants that might look like Siamese or Colorpoint Shorthairs. The coats have a richer feel than that of a true shorthair. Because of the number of genetic variables, the kittens that are marked like Siamese are almost always sold as pets while those that are marked like Colorpoint Shorthairs are used within breeding programs.
Coat development varies from kitten to kitten, even within the same litter. Some will have a respectable coat and "plume" (tail) by four months. Still others might appear to be shorthairs (from a distance) until they get closer to eight months or even older. "Frills" on the belly and "pantaloons" do not always mean that the kitten will be longhair. Longhair kittens will have a much softer, silkier texture to their coats and combing against the grain will reveal the actual length. The most desirable coat drapes softly, softening but not concealing the sleek lines of the body. Hair is shortest on the legs and around the face, longest on the tail to form a regal plume.
As for grooming this breed, they are very easy to care for. The Javanese coat never mats and tends to need less grooming than the Siamese or Colorpoint Shorthair, making them a "lazy man's longhair." The average pet Javanese will only require occasional combing and nail clipping. Most will have had at least one bath during their early training as periodic baths freshen the coat and promote a healthy skin.
Some breeders use the same hair products on their cats as they do on their own hair, others swear by products discovered at shows or a combination of products arrived at by lengthy experimentation. There is simply no one right or wrong way to groom a Javanese other than to keep it simple. Everything about showing a Javanese should be fun. The minute that grooming and show preparation start to feel like work, you are probably doing something wrong.
The show bath should be as close to the date of the show as possible; the Javanese coat is most glorious and silky when squeaky-clean. The cat should be protected from drafts and chills, but blow-drying is not necessary. Nails must be clipped prior to the first judging; eyes and ears checked and cleaned if necessary. Some exhibitors also trim the hair slightly around the ears; this is not absolutely necessary and should not be attempted without receiving detailed instructions and a demonstration from an experienced breeder/exhibitor.
Show preparation actually starts before the kittens are even weaned. While taking time to kiss and tickle furry bellies, the experienced breeder and exhibitor will be unable to resist "playing show" with each baby. Supporting the tiny body at waist and chest, the kitten is stretched and taught to fly. Flying is a term used for carrying the cat in a stretched position, much like Superman with arms and legs extended. The kitten is then stood on its hind legs (chest still supported), the body and legs stroked to check the refinement of boning and development of muscle tone. Lastly, the breeder will check the smoothness of the profile and wedge by smoothing back the facial hair with their fingers. It is this special handling that helps to mold a polished show cat and/or loving pet. Some kittens are so taken with the idea of flying that they decide their owner's shoulder is their favorite vantage point. As grown cats, they might be observed calmly sitting on or draped around the owner's neck as they are taken to a show ring for judging.
As for their history, the Javanese became a separate breed from the Balinese because of their added coat colors. Most registries around the world group the Colorpoint Shorthair with the Siamese and initially accepted Balinese in all the same colors and patterns. During the mid 1970s, there was increased interest in these different-colored Balinese by breeders all over the United States and Canada. A controversy grew out of these added colors and patterns with disagreement between various Balinese Breed Clubs on this issue. Some clubs refused the new colors and patterns while others embraced them. Eventually most Balinese breeders agreed to accept the new colors and patterns but only as a separate breed. In spite of the controversy, there was no stopping the enthusiasm for the additional colors and gettimg them accepted by the CFA.
In October 1979, a group of breeders met with the CFA Board of Directors in Chicago to petition for acceptance of these colors and patterns as new colors of the Balinese. The Board of Directors examined the cats and discussed the issues. Because CFA recognized the Balinese as a mutation of the Siamese, and the Colorpoint Shorthair (same colors as the Javanese) as a hybrid the cats in question could not be accepted as Balinese because they had been crossed with Colorpoint Shorthairs. For a similar reason they could not be accepted as Colorpoint Shorthairs, because they had been crossed to Balinese.
The Board's final decision was that the new colors would have to be brought in as a separate breed, which would require a new name prior to registration. Anticipating such a decision, those with the cats in question met and discussed several possible names.
At this meeting, the breeders sat down with some Asian maps and guidebooks and noticed the island of Java, next to Bali on the maps. The two islands share a common language, culture and religion, but Java is the larger, richer, and more fertile island, a twist they rather enjoyed. "Javanese" was one of the names that had been suggested, and new research confirmed it as appropriate. And so the breed was named.
We are fortunate that a few key breeders involved in promoting the Javanese breed, working toward its advancement in CFA, are still actively breeding. Although the roots of the Javanese breed spread wide, pedigree research indicates that the majority of noteworthy Javanese can be traced back to two "foundation" females: Alonale's Willo-the-Wisp (Canada-1978) and Mishna M'Lady of Su-Bali (California-1972).
In May 1986, the Javanese were advanced to championship status and in November 1, of that year, the race to see who would earn the distinction of the first CFA Grand Champion was won. Not just one, but three Javanese earned their grands that month. Since that time many Javanese have achieved prestigious titles including National and Regional Winners and Distinguished Merit Awards.
Reviewing the statistics year after year, a fairly steady number of cats are being shown. The drawback of a progressive breeding program is that an entire litter might be comprised of all AOVs (Any Other Variety which means for this breed the wrong color and/or wrong hair length). For this reason, any breeder at any given time might end up "on the bench" for an entire show season or even longer.
These longhaired, colorful beauties are a magnificent gift to the world combining the best qualities from some of the best cats of two continents.
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This program is supported by
The Cat Fanciers' Association, Inc.
This program is supported by The Cat Fanciers' Association, Inc.