What You Don't Know About Balinese & Javanese
Cat Talk|June 2021
Overheard at a cat show: “Oh Mylanta! Would you look at that!!!! It’s a longhaired Siamese! Oooh! And would ya look at its tail!!!!”
Candilee Jackson

The beauty this young couple was exclaiming over was not a Siamese, but a close cousin, a gorgeous redpoint Balinese cat who was gracefully waving her tail in greeting to her many admirers.

“What’s so great about a Balinese cat? Everything! Ask anyone who is owned by one of these fabulous felines what is so special about the breed, and you set offa glowing monologue that ends only when the speaker is exhausted. Despite his regal bearing and aristocratic appearance, the Balinese is a clown with a heart as big as a circus tent. To gauge the level of his intelligence, you have only to gaze into those sapphire eyes which sparkle with alertness and healthy curiosity. Although he is every bit as demonstrative and affectionate as the Siamese, he is somewhat less vocal, and his voice is softer.” (CFA Breeds)

A Little History, Please …

Contrary to popular belief, the Balinese did not originate on the Island of Bali. Instead, this graceful cat was named for its resemblance to the movement and lines of Balinese dancers. (The Great Cat). Likewise, the Javanese did not come from nearby Java, but its name was most probably created because of the resemblance of each cat breed to the other, just as Bali and Java are considered sister islands.

Through research, this writer found various cat registries around the globe recognize these two breeds differently but all take the close connection with the Siamese into consideration. According to CFA, “The Javanese is a longhaired variety of Siamese dressed in Colorpoint colors. He was developed from a foundation of Siamese, Colorpoint, and Balinese cats. At first, the Cat Fanciers’ Association categorized the Javanese as a distinct breed, separated from the Balinese by color, but in 2008, the Javanese was declared a division of the Balinese breed.

In the late sixties and seventies, a Walt Disney employee, Sylvia Holland, began working to establish the Balinese breed. As a breeder, Sylvia only accepted the classic Siamese colors (blue, seal, lilac, and chocolate) into her breeding program. The Cat Fanciers’ Association standard for the Balinese adheres to the Siamese classic coloration, with all other colors and mutations of color falling into the Javanese division of the breed. (The Great Cat) “Today, these cats are more slender with the distinctive wedge-shaped head. Both the Balinese and Javanese cats sport a luxurious single coat that lies close to the body and does not mat, but their elegance originates from their graceful, plumed tails. By the 1980s, the traditional or old-style Siamese and Balinese had disappeared from cat shows.” (The Great Cat)

Like most cat breeds, the general origins of the Balinese are shrouded in myth and mystery, but wiser heads tend to agree that Mother Nature allowed “a spontaneous long-haired mutation of the Siamese cat … the already glorious Siamese could be made even more glorious by adding the long, flowing coat to the svelte body lines of this graceful oriental beauty.” (CFA Breeds)

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