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Balinese cats are an offshoot of the Siamese breed as are any cats that have the pointed color pattern which the dictionary actually calls the Himalayan pattern. Examples of this pointed color pattern are Siamese cats, of course, Himalayan cats, Ragdoll cats (although these cats may have white feet), Tonkinese and Balinese cats.
Balinese have longer coats than do Siamese and the Balinese look less angular because of it. There are three reasonable theories of the Balinese cats' origins and they are presented below.
The most popular theory, at least with Balinese breeders, is that the Balinese is a natural mutation of the Siamese. The reasoning is that longhaired kittens were occasionally born to normal Siamese. This is not likely as Balinese cats possess recessive genes for hair length (long hair is recessive to short hair in any breed) and Siamese cats have only dominant hair genes (short hair is dominant). Siamese cats had, for generations, given birth to short haired kittens only. A natural mutation could have happened and the genes for hair length could have spontaneously changed to the long hair recessive gene, but that is not likely.
Another theory is that during World Wars one and two, cat breeders in Europe could not afford or even find enough food to feed their cats so they kept only a few cats while letting many out to fend for themselves. Most of the released cats died and some bred with other cats of different breeds or even with domestic cats. When the war was over, the cat breeders themselves would sometimes breed their cats with cats of questionable ancestry while trying to build their own particular breed back from almost extinction. Some of the Siamese breeders could be included in this group of people and in this way, the longhair recessive gene could have been introduced to the breed only to show up later on in litters of otherwise normal Siamese.
The most likely theory relates to some cat breeders efforts to breed a long haired pointed cat in the 1930's and 1940's. Siamese cats were crossed with Persian cats. The resulting kittens would then carry the recessive long hair gene from the Persian and the pointed gene from the Siamese. All of the kittens would have been solid in color and short haired. These kittens could then be bred with other Persians and some of the kittens would carry the Siamese color and would actually be long haired. Breeding a kitten from this litter and a kitten from another litter arrived at in the same manner would produce some heavy boned kittens that were both long haired and Siamese colored. The end result of the program became known as Himalayan cats. If you assume that some of the first offspring were bred back to Siamese cats rather than to Persian cats, the offspring would be longhaired and Siamese colored but the cat would tend to look more Siamese while the other procedure would produce cats that looked Persian. The program really then produced the Himalayan cat which is a Persian that is colored with the pointed Siamese pattern and it also produced the Balinese cat which is a Siamese cat that has long hair.
No matter the origin, Helen Smith in New York and Marian Dorsey in Southern California both loved these long haired Siamese and they set out to establish a new breed. Helen Smith named them Balinese after the graceful dancers in Bali and the breed was born. Many other breeders have contributed their efforts until we now have the cats we all know and love as Balinese.
The outstanding feature of these cats is the silken coat that feels like ermine. It lies close to the body and may appear shorter than it actually is, flowing naturally toward the rear and does not detract from the elegant body structure. It should end in a luxurious plume on the tail. Because the Balinese has a single coat, unlike other pointed longhairs that have a dense undercoat, very little upkeep is needed. There is no tendency for the coat to mat, and they seem to shed even less than the traditional Siamese.
Balinese are allowed to outcross to Siamese. The resulting litters will be registered as Balinese only but will contain short hair variants. These cats are important for maintaining good body structure in a breeding program. Should you be offered one of these short hair Balinese as a pet like our friends the Barbies (pictured) and their cat Taffeta in Florida, do not hesitate to accept. They are the same great cats with shorter hair. Balinese are acrobatic, liking to run, jump and ride on the shoulders of their owners. One such cat, Coconut, who lives with the Bernstein's in Indiana, loves to ride on shoulders and is happiest there we are told. Balinese are very affectionate and demand affection in return. They define the term grovel according to the Ballentines in Plantation whose cat Romeo, pictured on the left, will do anything for attention. They require people in their lives. They want to walk with you, sit with you and eat with you. They are social and will be perfectly delighted to tell your innermost secrets to the first stranger who offers them a lap. Our friend Kenny, pictured, will attest to that as his two Balinese, Christo and E.T. really fit the mold. Their antics will keep you entertained and their loving dispositions will make them wonderful companions. Highly social, Balinese are sensitive to your moods and feelings and are happy to cheer you up if you are feeling depressed.
Balinese are currently quite rare but fanciers say they are certainly worth finding. Once you have one you will be hooked. We certainly are!