The early history of the Balinese cat has not received any conclusive vindication. Its origin is not from Bali as the name might imply. Rather, its appearance started with the first importations of the Siamese cats that arrived in the U.K. and U.S. in the early 1800s and mid-late 1800s respectively. Such importation has given continual opportunity for the pure breeding of the Siamese cat, as well as the unexpected appearance of a longhair kitten in one of such Siamese litters.
The privilege of beholding the uniqueness of this odd kitten belonged to breeders Marion Dorsey of Rai-Mar Cattery, California and Helen Smith of MerryMews Cattery, New York, when the litter was produced in one of their breeding programs. Uncertain whether it is a result of a fault or impurity in the Siamese lines, the occasional appearances of such longhair kitten were considered as a veer from normality and thus were not made as show cats.
Such variety was however originally registered as the longhair Siamese in the late 1920s by the Cat Fanciers Federation (CFF). Considering that it could be a result of a natural mutation of a recessive longhair gene, the breeders had then begun the breeding programs for such longhair kitten that appeared in pure Siamese-to-Siamese bred litters.
The breed began to gain popularity in the 1950s for its unique beauty. Sylvia Holland was the one who had initiated the work in establishing the breed’s standard through a Balinese breeding program in the 1960s and 1970s.
The CFF gave full recognition to this new breed in 1961 and the Cat Fanciers Association follow suit in 1970s. Several other cat registries such as the American Cat Fanciers Association and the International Cat Association have also recognized the Balinese breed. The name ‘Balinese’ was conceived by Smith for the cat in reflecting the exotic grace and elegance she has seen in a Balinese dancer.
Physical appearance and attributes
Weighing between 5 – 8 pounds, the Balinese has a body that is the epitome of a beautiful svelte and sleek stature. There is an added strength in the elegant stance. Coating its body is soft, silky hairs that lie half an inch to two inches long over its body.
The Balinese is born with white coat and the point restricted pattern of seal, chocolate, blue or lilac will only develop slowly as it ages. This is the result of a genetic mutation in which the presence of certain enzymes generates the production of pigments. The enzymes however produce little or no pigments at temperatures above 37 degree Celsius. Thus, the point color will only be developed in body areas that are cooler, such as the face, ears, legs and tails. The absence of an undercoat and ruff around its neck has allowed for the beautiful lines of the body to be more evident.
Supporting such a body are lean, fine-boned legs with dainty, oval shaped paws. It has a wedge-shaped head that tapers from the tips of the ears to the tip of the nose. The same triangular shape is carried by the ears that are medium to large in size. They are set well apart, wide at the base and slightly pointed at the tips. Pointed diagonally outwards; the ears give it an acutely intelligent and perspicacious stance.
The Balinese has almond-shaped eyes and the color can range from the blue of the clearest sky to the blue of the purest sapphire. Adorning and accentuating the body and its line is its long tail that is of a luxurious plume, and the Balinese swishes it in the most gorgeous manner.
Personality and temperament
Having an extremely affectionate and loving temperament, its personality certainly does not reflect its exclusively aloof appearance. As much as the physical appearance of a Balinese calls for much attention, its personality commands no less of it in a different way.
The Balinese is highly vocal – but not loud – about its emotions and opinions, offering much interaction as a family pet. Coupled with this is its activeness and unreservedness that will see it following you around the house, nestling on your lap and draping across your shoulders. Its affection is certainly not passive as it seeks to participate and help around any household activities. This makes it a breed that is able to learn tricks fast.
With its high level of playfulness, agility and intelligence, it can make a toy out of anything to keep itself busy and engaged. With its ability to adapt well, its friendliness is extended to children and other pets in the family as well.
Care and health issues
The Balinese cat breed is generally healthy. Any health issues that might be of concern include Iysosomal storage disease that can result in neurological signs, and feline acromelanism, which is a condition that causes a coat color change.
With a coat that does not suffer matting easily, brushing and combing the Balinese would take little effort. While a bath is rarely necessary, weekly brushing will help to maintain the coat’s glossy sheen.
Besides coat care, making it exercise and incorporating a good diet would help to retain its lean muscular body. Hygiene practice on the teeth, ears and nails would allow the Balinese to possess an overall healthy and beautiful body.
The ideal home
This lovely and devoted breed that seeks attachment with its chosen people is an ideal pet that would provide an excellent companionship. Its activeness will inject much life and adventure to the household.
The Balinese is highly demanding of attention and it enjoys living in packs. Thus, a family that will be able to provide it with the needed love and interactions would be ideal. Introducing other pets or getting another Balinese can help in the social life of this vocal breed as well.
While the Balinese can be kept an indoor pet for safety reasons, spaces would need to be created for active play. Entertainments of different sorts, such as puzzle and teaser toys should be given to satisfy its playfulness. With such an opinionated disposition, not a day of dullness would occur with the Balinese as a chosen pet.