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Balinese

Balinese

Place of origin

California and New York, United States

History

The semi-longhaired Balinese shares its history with the Siamese cats imported into Britain from Siam (modern-day Thailand) in the 1870s and 1880s. Radically different from the round-headed British Shorthairs and Persians, the Siamese both shocked and beguiled early cat fanciers. Since those early days, occasional longhaired kittens have appeared in Siamese litters. Some people say that it's a recessive trait, claiming that at least one Chinese tapestry depicts pointed longhaired Siamese; the more likely explanation, however, is that the trait was introduced through early crossing with shorthaired domestic cats who carried the recessive longhaired gene. This would have occurred when the Siamese was first imported into the United Kingdom and the United States, and again during wartime to keep breeds going.

After many years of being ignored, a longhaired Siamese was registered with the Cat Fanciers Federation in 1928. However, these longhaired Siamese were not bred in earnest until 1955, when two breeders in California and New York began breeding and showing the longer-haired variety in the United States. Since long hair is a recessive trait, these longhaired Siamese bred true. To keep the new breed separate from the Siamese breed, a new name was required. Balinese was chosen to reflect the breed's grace, which was likened to that of Balinese dancers.

In 1961, the Balinese was recognized in the United States and accepted for registration in the same range of colors as the Siamese—blue, chocolate, lilac, and seal. Other colors have been introduced from outcrossing—including cinnamon, cream, fawn, red, silver, smoke, tabby, and tortie. Although other registries accepted all of the colors as Balinese, the US CFA recognized the newer colors under the name Javanese because those colors occurred through crossing with the Colorpoint Shorthair (the CFA’s name for the red and tabby series Siamese). Not until 2008 did the CFA merge the Javanese under the single heading of Balinese. Bicolor points (colorpoints with white markings, once dismissed as a serious defect) are also recognized by some registries.

The development of the Balinese has paralleled that of the Siamese. In the 1950s, most Siamese and Balinese cats had rounder heads and chunkier conformation than the modern versions. As the Biblemore extreme look gained in popularity for the Siamese, its longhaired relative followed suit due to the Balinese's being crossed with the Siamese. Crossing with the Siamese also affected the Balinese cat's long fur so that many Balinese cats resemble Siamese cats with plumy tails rather than semi-longhaired cats. As with the Siamese, a few breeders have continued to breed the older style.

During the 1960s, the Balinese had a competitor in the United States when Siamese cats were crossed to red Turkish Angoras to create a colorpoint, semi-longhair breed called the Singhalese. These were fluffier than the Balinese and lacked the Siamese temperament. The Singhalese was judged to the Balinese standard (with allowances made for its different coat type) but eventually lost out to the Balinese and disappeared.

Physical description

Although this is a medium-sized cat, the terms dainty and graceful are often applied to this breed. Balinese cats may look fragile, but they are surprisingly muscular. Apart from the longer coat, the Balinese is physically similar to the Siamese. The Balinese has a wedge-shaped muzzle, pronounced pointed ears, a long lithe body, and sapphire blue eyes. There is the same sharp delineation between the darker colored points and the light colored body. Selective breeding of show-quality Siamese cats over the decades has created the long, tubular body and exaggerated head type that can also be seen in the Balinese. A "traditional" or "old-style" type of Balinese is also bred by admirers of the less extreme type, and the Balinese's conformation and color range mirror that of the old style of Siamese cat.

Semi-longhaired, rather than longhaired, the Balinese has a silky coat varying from a 1/2-inch to 2 inches (1.25 to 5 cm) in length. The lack of undercoat means the coat does not mat easily and is easy to groom. The Balinese does not have a neck ruff but does have a long plumy tail with fur up to 5 inches (13 cm) long.

Colors and varieties

The Balinese occurs in the same colorpoint range as the Siamese. The original colors were blue point, chocolate point, lilac point (also called lavender point or frost point), and sealpoint. This has been expanded in parallel with the Siamese breed to include cream, red, tortie, and tabby points, and, lately, bicolor points. As with any internationally recognized breed, not all registries recognize the same range of colors. The name Javanese, used by the CFA to separate out the red and tabby series Balinese, has become redundant in the United States.

Temperament

Intelligent, affectionate, inquisitive, and mischievous, the Balinese have inherited the extrovert personality of their Siamese parents. They are highly social cats who appreciate the companionship of other cats. Balinese are very people-oriented and bond closely with their families. They are playful, turning almost anything into a toy, and want to be involved in all family activities. Balinese have a highly vocal nature and will chat with their humans-they don't like to be left out of anything. This high-energy and conversational temperament means the Balinese is not for everyone.

Activity level

High

Vocal level

High, but usually has a quieter and less insistent voice than that of the Siamese. Owners of Balinese enjoy talking to their cats, and their cats enjoy talking back to them.

Special needs

As with some lines of Siamese, some Balinese may have sensitive digestive systems that require special dietary considerations.

Variations

Confusingly, outside of the United States, Javanese referred to the noncolorpoint relatives of the Balinese. In various parts of the world, the names Oriental Longhair, Foreign Longhair, and Mandarin are used for noncolorpoint Balinese-type cats. These breeds differ from the Balinese only in color.

Traditional or old-style Balinese

Red and tabby Balinese formerly were considered a separate breed, the Javanese

From The Cat Bible, Copyright by Sandy Robins, licensed through ContentOro, Inc and used by arrangement with I-5 Press

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