Vital Stats:Life Span: 9 to 15 years
HistoryNamed for the exotically graceful dancers on the Indonesian island of Bali, the Balinese is a longhaired variety of Siamese. It is unknown whether the long hair is the result of a natural mutation or a cross between the Siamese and a longhaired breed such as a Persian or Turkish Angora. Although longhaired Siamese appeared earlier, the cats did not begin to be developed as a breed until the 1940s and 1950s. The Cat Fanciers Federation recognized the Balinese in 1961, followed by the Cat Fanciers Association in 1970. They are also recognized by the American Cat Fanciers Association and The International Cat Association, as well as other cat registries. Balinese can be outcrossed to Javanese, Siamese, Colorpoint Shorthairs and Oriental Longhairs.
SizeBalinese are medium-size cats that typically weigh 5 to 10 pounds.
PersonalityThe Siamese and the Balinese might differ in coat length, but beneath the skin they are identical. Balinese are extremely fond of their people. They like to be “helpful” and will follow you around and supervise your every move. When you are sitting down, a Balinese will be in your lap, and at night he will be in bed with you, probably under the covers with his head on the pillow. He is frequently underfoot, so he might not be the best choice for people who are unsteady on their feet or use a walker or cane. A Balinese is perhaps not quite as loud as his relative the Siamese, but he is most definitely just as opinionated. He will tell you exactly what he thinks, and he expects you to pay attention and act on his advice. You can also count on him to “tell all” to visitors, so be grateful that most people are not conversant in the Balinese language. The Balinese is highly intelligent, agile and athletic, and loves to play. Keep his busy brain active with puzzle toys and his body exercised with teaser toys that he can chase and a big cat tree he can climb. He likes to play fetch, is willing to walk on a leash, and learns tricks easily. He is also a good trainer himself and may be running your household before you know it. Never leave him without any form of entertainment, or you will likely come home to find that he has reprogrammed your DVR to record only nature shows or at the very least decided that your toilet paper rolls and tissue boxes look better empty. Do not get a Balinese if living with a chatty busybody would drive you insane. On the other hand, if you enjoy having someone to talk to throughout the day, the Balinese can be your best friend. Just be sure you have time to spend with this demanding and social cat. Balinese don’t mind staying home during the day while you go off to earn money to buy cat food, but they will expect you to devote time to them when you are at home. It can be smart to get two of them so they can keep each other company. Choose a Balinese if you look forward to spending time with and interacting with your cat. This is a loyal and loving feline who will pout and pine if given little or no attention. In the right home, however, he thrives for years.
HealthBoth pedigreed cats and mixed-breed cats have varying incidences of health problems that may be genetic in nature. The same problems that may affect the Siamese can also affect the Balinese, including the following:
- Amyloidosis, a disease that occurs when a type of protein called amyloid is deposited in body organs, primarily the liver in members of the Siamese family
- Asthma/bronchial disease
- Congenital heart defects such as aortic stenosis
- Crossed eyes
- Gastrointestinal conditions such as megaesophagus
- Hyperesthesia syndrome, a neurological problem that can cause cats to excessively groom themselves, leading to hair loss, and to act frantically, especially when they are touched or petted
- Nystagmus, a neurological disorder that causes involuntary rapid eye movement
- Progressive retinal atrophy, for which a genetic test is available
CareThe fine, silky coat of the Balinese is easily cared for. Comb it once or twice a week with a stainless steel comb to remove dead hair. A bath is rarely necessary. Brush the teeth to prevent periodontal disease. Daily dental hygiene is best, but weekly brushing is better than nothing. Wipe the corners of the eyes with a soft, damp cloth to remove any discharge. Use a separate area of the cloth for each eye so you don’t run the risk of spreading any infection. Check the ears weekly. If they look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball or soft damp cloth moistened with a 50-50 mixture of cider vinegar and warm water. Avoid using cotton swabs, which can damage the interior of the ear. Keep the litter box spotlessly clean. Like all cats, Balinese are very particular about bathroom hygiene. It’s a good idea to keep a Balinese as an indoor-only cat to protect him from diseases spread by other cats, attacks by dogs or coyotes, and the other dangers that face cats who go outdoors, such as being hit by a car. Balinese who go outdoors also run the risk of being stolen by someone who would like to have such a beautiful cat without paying for it.
Coat Color And GroomingExcept for coat length, the Siamese and the Balinese are indistinguishable, having a svelte but muscular body with long lines and a wedge-shaped head that is long and tapering from the narrow point of the nose outward to the tips of the ears, forming a triangle. The unusually large ears are wide at the base and pointed at the tip, giving them the same triangular shape as the head. Medium-size eyes are almond-shaped. The body is often described as tubular and is supported by long, slim legs, with the hind legs higher than the front legs. The Balinese walks on small, dainty, oval paws and swishes a long, plumed tail that tapers to a fine point. The appearance of the body is softened by a medium-length coat that is fine and silky. It is longest on the plumed tail. The Balinese comes in the same point colors as the Siamese: seal, chocolate, blue and lilac. The eyes are always a deep, vivid blue. The Traditional Cat Association recognizes a Balinese of a different type: one with a more rounded head and body. It also has a fluffier coat that is long over the entire body, unlike the show Balinese, whose coat is longest on the tail.
Children And Other PetsThe active and social Balinese is a perfect choice for families with children and cat-friendly dogs. He will play fetch as well as any retriever, learns tricks easily and loves the attention he receives from children who treat him politely and with respect. He lives peacefully with cats and dogs who respect his authority. Always introduce pets slowly and in controlled circumstances to ensure that they learn to get along together.