Balinese cat breed: the cat whose graceful motions are reminiscent of the movements of dancers

László Enikő

2023. November 14 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

Actually the Balinese is a long-haired Siamese cat. Longer fur is the result of a natural mutation, but individuals with such fur were labeled as defective for a long time and little attention was paid to them.


Affectionate, playful and attention-seeking, the Balinese cat has many similarities to its Siamese cousin. Since it is very intelligent, it is worth keeping hits sharp mind busy, because if it is bored, the furnishings of the apartment may suffer. It constantly needs company, whether it is its beloved owner or other four-legged pets.


Unfortunately, the origin of the breed is not well documented, but the first written records date from the end of the 19th century. It was first mentioned in a weekly newspaper in 1871. Although Siamese were known to have longer fur, for a long time breeders considered this trait a defect and did not care for these kittens. Until two American breeders, Marian Dorsey and Helen Smith, decided to take these individuals more seriously. Thanks to their success, the breed was officially accepted in 1961.

But where does this exotic name come from, if the breed is American? From the graceful dancers of the Indonesian island of Bali. Helen Smith believed that the cat’s elegant movement evokes the dance of Balinese ladies.

A breeder named Sylvia Holland (who was also an illustrator for the Walt Disney Studios) worked to further develop the breed standard in the 1960s and 1970s. She recognized only those cats that showed the classic Siamese markings of seal, chocolate, blue and lilac as true Balinese, and refused to accept others that they were probably from crossbreeding. In the meantime, the American Cat Fanciers Association officially classified those individuals that did not wear the colors of the Siamese standard as a separate breed. They are called Javanese cats.

Breed standard

The Balinese is a medium-sized cat with medium-long hair. Its body weight is about 2.5-5.5 kg. Its body is long, muscular and slender, its movements are elegant and graceful. The head is wedge-shaped, its muzzle is elongated, and its nose is elongated too. Seen from the eye, it is triangular in shape. Its eyes are almond-shaped, slanted, medium-sized and blue. The ears are large, wide at the base and pointed at the ends. Its limbs are long, the back ones are longer than the front ones. The aws are oval and small. Its tail is long and thin. Its fur is close to the body; fine, silky, no undercoat and medium in length. All Siamese colors are allowed for the breed: blue, lilac, seal and chocolate point. Expected lifespan is 8-13 years.


The coat of the Siamese and the Balinese differs from each other, but their character is similar. The Balinese loves its family immensely. It often follows its master and supervises its every move. When you sit down, a Balinese will be on your lap. At night it will lie in bed with you, probably under the covers, with its head on the pillow. A Balinese may not be as vocal as its relative, the Siamese, but it certainly likes to communicate just as much. It lets its owner know what it thinks and expects it to listen and act on its advice. It is also very direct and vocal with the guests.

The Balinese is highly intelligent, agile, athletic, and loves to play. It is worth getting it different toys, including some that exercise its mind. It likes fetching, likes to walk on a leash and easily learns tricks. However, it tends to become the master of the house and grow on the owner’s head if it is not paying attention. It is important to always have something to occupy this cat to avoid destructive behavior. The Balinese is a loyal and loving cat that takes it very badly if it is not paid attention to and is not afraid to voice it.

Ideal environment

This type is often puttering around, so it may not be the best choice for older people. But even more so for families with children, because it loves the little ones very much and likes to play with them. It is not recommended for those who do not like their cat to meow a lot, as the Balinese is a very vocal animal. However, its voice is much more pleasant, softer and more melodious than that of the Siamese. The Balinese doesn’t mind staying home while you are at work, but expects you to make time for it when you get home. It’s worth getting a companion to keep it entertained. It typically gets along well with dogs. If, however, it is a solitary pet, always make sure that it has something to occupy its attention in its lonely hours.

The Balinese is particularly fond of children.


The fine, silky coat of the Balinese is easy to care for and does not require much care. Comb once or twice a week with a stainless steel comb to remove dead hair. It rarely needs a bath. The cleanliness of the ears should be checked weekly. If they look dirty, wipe them with a cotton pad or a soft, damp cloth moistened with a 50-50 mixture of apple cider vinegar and warm water. You should wipe its eyes from time to time with a soft, wet cloth. To avoid possible infections, use a separate area of the cloth for each eye. Its claws should be cut if they grow too long, and its teeth should also be cleaned regularly. As all cats are sensitive to the cleanliness of their litter, so in the case of the Balinese, make sure that the tray is always spotless.

Common health problems

The Balinese is a tough cat, but it can also have some health problems. It may has amyloidosis, which is a disease that occurs when a protein called amyloid is deposited in the body’s organs, primarily the liver. Asthma, squinting or excessive eye movement resulting from illness can occur too, which are also typical of Siamese. Some individuals may have congenital heart defects such as aortic stenosis. Digestive system problems and possibly lymphomas may occur. Hyperesthesia syndrome can occur too, which can cause cats to behave strangely, including excessive grooming. A genetic test is available to rule out progressive retinal atrophy.

(Literature used: János Szinák – István Veress: Cat Guide, Jean-Luc Renck: The Cat, Laura Aceti – Viola Autieri: Our Best Friend, the Cat)

Balinese breed description semi-long-haired cat

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