Sometimes there is not much difference between one cat breed and another. This is the case with the Balinese and Javanese cat breeds. These gorgeous, long haired cats are so similar that they are sometimes considered to be the same breed (even in cat fancier circles). Both make wonderful additions to any household that wants an energetic, social kitty.
Title Photo Credit: Karissa Burnett via Flickr
Two Breeds or One? A Little Breed History
Both the Balinese cat breed and the Javanese cat breed got their start in the early 1900’s. Around that time, breeders of Siamese cats were finding long haired kittens in their litters. Many of these long haired kittens were sold as pets because they didn’t fit the standard for Siamese cats in cat fancier clubs. However, in 1928, the CFA did allow a long haired Siamese cat to be registered.
Breeders have 2 different theories about how the long haired gene entered the Siamese breed. Neither one has been conclusively proven to be correct. The first theory is that after World War I, cat breeders may have used long haired breeds to help save the Siamese cat breed. A number of cat breeds had dwindled in Europe as a result of the war. The second theory is that the long haired gene is simply a spontaneous (naturally occurring) mutation in the Siamese cat breed. Long haired Siamese cats may have always existed.
In the 1940’s, a group of breeders decided that efforts should be made to establish a long haired Siamese cat breed. They found that whenever one long haired Siamese cat was bred to another long haired Siamese cat, the kittens would have long hair as well. Many Siamese breeders did not want these long haired cats considered a part of their breed because they didn’t think the long hair was a natural mutation. The name “Balinese” was given to the new long haired cats by breeder, Helen Smith, who felt they were graceful like the dancers from the Isle of Bali.
Some of the breeders of the Balinese cat breed chose to breed Siamese cats with Colorpoint Shorthair cats. This resulted in more coat colors in the Balinese breed. Since adding the Colorpoint Shorthair to the breeding stock of the Balinese cat breed was debated, the Javanese cat breed was born in 1979. Java happens to be an island right next to Bali.
The CFA was the only cat fancier association to split the Balinese and Javanese cat breeds. In most cat fancier associations, Javanese cats are considered to be Balinese. In 2008, the members of the CFA voted to reunite the breeds as well. Whether or not this is two different breeds or just one breed is still controversial.
Both breeds are typically healthy. Balinese cats are prone to crossed eyes. Due to their slightly different breeding stock, Javanese cats are prone to respiratory, heart, and eye problems. Consult a veterinarian if you have concerns about your cat.
The Elegant Look of Balinese and Javanese Cats
One word helps to describe the elegant look of the Balinese and Javanese cat breeds – “long.” Their bodies have long straight lines and their coats are long and silky. The tail is a beautiful plume. Unlike other long haired breeds, they have a single layer coat. These coats do not mat and are reasonably easy to keep neat and tidy.
These cat breeds have pointed patterns on their coats. Originally, the Balinese coat was accepted only in the traditional Siamese colors: seal, blue, chocolate, and lilac. A Balinese cat was considered to be Javanese if the coat was red, cream, lynx point (tabby), tortie point, etc. Blue eyes are very common with both breeds.
Just like their Siamese relatives, Balinese cats have both a “traditional” look and an “extreme” look. The traditional look had an apple shaped head and a stockier body. The extreme look (which is popular today) has a modified wedge-shaped head and a thinner body type. Both body types are surprisingly muscular.
Definitely A People
There is no doubt that Balinese and Javanese cats love their humans. They are known for being very in touch with the emotions of their humans. It is just like a Balinese to sit beside you when you are sad! These kitties are very social and love to talk. If they are not getting the attention that they want, they will ask for it.
A lot of energy is packed into these beautiful cats. Balines and Javanese cats love to play! Fetch is a favorite with these kitties. They are powerful jumpers too. Be careful where you place your delicate belongings because they may get knocked down. These cats get along well with children, other cats, dogs, and pets of other species.
If you are interested in bringing a Balinese or Javense cat into your home, consider one of the adoptable kitties on Petfinder!