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Getting to Know the Balinese

By Terrie Smith
from The Cat Fanciers' Association Complete Cat Book

The first look at the Balinese brings to mind a Siamese cat except for the length of its coat. Under that long, silky ermine coat he wears so proudly, this beautiful cat is all Siamese, and that includes his personality. The Balinese has a long, fine, silky coat, covering its long, hard tubular body. The ideal coat of this breed lies close to the body and ends in a plume at the tail. There is never the appearance of a ruff around the neck and the coat must not be thick or double. Balinese cats come in the four colors: seal point (dark brown), chocolate point (a warmer, milk-chocolate brown), blue point (slate grey), and lilac point (rosy grey). These colors are restricted to the points of the cat, which are the tail, the feet, the mask (entire face) and the ears.

The head follows a long, tapering wedge, which starts at the nose and flares out in straight lines to the tips of the ears, forming a triangle. The ears must be large and flared following the wedge, and there should be no breaks at the whiskers. Balinese cats have striking deep blue eyes. They also have svelte bodies with long tapering lines and are lithe yet muscular. These are medium-sized cats, with males ranging from six to eight pounds and females ranging from five to seven pounds. The most distinctive feature of the Balinese is its luxurious tail plume.

Their Personality


Balinese cats are active, intelligent, social and vocal. They want to be an everyday part of the lives of their human family. This includes "helping" you with your everyday chores, sleeping under the covers at night, and enjoying energetic play.

These beautiful cats will play fetch, and return a ball or toy over and over again. They are capable of jumping quite high, from the floor to the top of the refrigerator in one graceful movement, for example. Balinese are very intelligent and simply hiding a toy in a drawer may not suffice for they can quickly learn to open doors or drawers if they feel there is something they want in there. At times, they may just prefer to sit on your lap as you watch TV. Balinese get along well with children and other pets and seem to be especially fond of dogs, enjoying their company.

In short, Balinese cats believe they are the same as people and will try to become involved in everything that people do. This includes trying to share with you the food you are eating, as you eat it. They are quite vocal and have a wide range of vocal capabilities from purring and quietly carrying on a conversation, to loudly demanding attention if he does not believe you are responding quickly enough to one of his demands.

Coat Care and Grooming

Because the long, fine silky coat of the Balinese does not have an undercoat, they shed very little hair. This also means that the coat will not mat and consequently little grooming is required for the pet Balinese except for occasional brushing and a bath when it appears to be necessary.

Grooming the Balinese for competition in a cat show involves bathing the cat as close to the show as possible, preferably the night before. The nails of the cat should be trimmed before the bath. The type of shampoo will vary depending on what works best for a given cat. Many breeders will use the same shampoo and conditioner that they use on their own hair.

The cat should be bathed thoroughly and rinsed until there is no shampoo remaining in the coat . If the cat has a dry coat you may use a conditioner, but it depends on the requirements of the individual cat. If there are greasy spots that persist, at the base of the tail or behind the ears, for example, you may use a small quantity of Dawn dish soap, and dab it on before the shampoo. Balinese do not need to be blown dry. Their coats will air dry with a little hand grooming as they are drying. Most breeders prefer to trim excess hairs just inside the base of the ears, just to give the cat a cleaner look, using round tip scissors for safety. It is not preferred practice to trim out the entire ear.

That is all that is needed to prepare the Balinese for the show ring, along with maintaining a high quality diet and allowing them to exercise freely. They are very energetic and need to run, jump, and play amongst themselves.

Breed History

Very little is known about when or how the first Balinese appeared, although it is generally accepted that the breed originated as a spontaneous mutation of the Siamese cat. Siamese kittens with longer hair began appearing in Siamese litters in the early 1900's. Because their longer coats were not acceptable for cat shows or desirable for breeding show cats, breeders would place them in pet homes . It was not until the 1940's that serious efforts were made to promote them as a recognized breed.

Helen Smith of Merry Mews Cattery in Long Island, New York was one of the first Siamese breeders to fall in love with the "Long Haired" Siamese. With the help of a CFA allbreed judge, Smith named the breed "Balinese, "because it reminded them of the graceful movements and svelte lines of Balinese dancers. Sylvia Holland, another Siamese Fancier, became interested in the breed when she saw a Balinese kitten and bought him the minute she saw him. That kitten was Rai-Mar's Sputnik of Holland's Farm, and he became the foundation of Holland's cattery. Sputnik also became the foundation for a number of today's Balinese.

Championship Status was granted to the Balinese in 1970, and in 1975, the very first Balinese achieved Grand Champion Status.

As the seventies came to an end and the eighties continued the Balinese became less popular. This may have been in part due to the many new shorthaired breeds that were emerging at the time plus the fact that the Balinese must be bred back to the Siamese for type. Those from such a litter will be shorthaired kittens carrying the longhair gene. These shorthaired kittens cannot be shown as Balinese but are an integral part of the Balinese-breeding program. Therefore, it may have been easy for some breeders to become discouraged. In addition, during this same time period, there was disparity in the type of the Balinese being shown, which was confusing and frustrating for breeders as well as judges.

Despite these drawbacks some breeders persevered believing that the journey is worth the reward. Currently, the Balinese is enjoying a resurgence of popularity. Its beauty and intelligence captivate people, and although it is not easy to breed a top show quality Balinese, the reward is great.

Balinese are very people oriented and in fact think of themselves as people. If you are looking for an addition to your family, one who will be a true member of the family, the Balinese is the right cat for you. They are happiest when they are with you, doing whatever it is you are doing, whether it is sleeping in your bed, playing catch or just sitting in your lap watching TV.

The Balinese will be an active, vocal, intelligent and loving addition to your family who will give you unconditional love. The beautiful Balinese is a challenging breed to breed, but a delightful breed to enrich anyone's life that chooses to share it with one.

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