The Balinese Cat Breed. History and Origins

Cats of the Balinese cat breed have long hair and thick, plumed tails, with Siamese-style colorpoints and blue eyes.

They first came about from the development of the long-haired kittens that occasionally occur in (usually short-haired) Siamese litters. Originally, these long-haired kittens were thought of as flawed and only suitable as pets.

However, in the 1940s two American breeders saw potential in developing the kittens into a new breed, and this new Balinese breed was eventually recognized in its own right (and given Championship status) by the Cat Fanciers' Association in 1970.

Balinese Colors

Balinese cats are found in all the same point colors as the related Siamese cat. As with their relatives, the CFA only recognizes the seal, blue, chocolate and lilac point colors, referring to all other point colors (see below) as Javanese.

Most other registries, however, do recognize all the different Siamese point color variations, including the reds, torties, tabbies (lynx) and tortie-tabbies.

Seal Lynx (Tabby) Point Balinese catSeal lynx (tabby) point. See the lovely thick tail!
Image Wikimedia Commons | Angelica Andersson

What Does a Balinese Cat Look Like?

Balinese cats are long-haired, with flat, silky coats. These are very different to the Persian style of coat; they don't have the thick undercoat of a Persian cat and are much easier to maintain and groom.

Nowadays there are two distinct types. The contemporary or modern Balinese that you can see in our photo above looks very like the modern wedge Siamese, with a long slim body and tapering, wedge-shaped head, a comparatively short coat, and the characteristic plumed tail.

The second type is the 'traditional' version, which has a longer coat than the cat above (generally about two inches long all over) and looks more like a long-haired version of the Applehead Siamese, with a stockier body and round face, as you can see in the photo below (and the same cat as a kitten, at the bottom of the page).

Traditional Balinese
Image with thanks to and copyright © Glenn Duffy

Balinese Health and Character

They are generally healthy and long-lived cats, and like their Siamese cousins, they are active, sociable, intelligent and talkative! (Balinese cat breeders generally say that their cats have softer voices than Siamese cats, though!)

Where Does the Balinese Cat Breed Name Come From?

Helen Smith, one of the original Balinese breeders, felt that these cats looked rather like dancers from the island of Bali.

They have all the agility, grace, poise and elegance that these dancers possess, so the name is very fitting!

Traditional Balinese kitten, Nicci
Image with thanks to and copyright © Glenn Duffy

More Siamese Relatives

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