The Balinese is an alert, intelligent, and curious breed. These cats offer the outgoing, entertaining personality of a Siamese in a slightly toned-down (and longer-haired) package.
Siamese and oriental
The Balinese is a longhaired version of the Siamese. And it shares the breed's mysterious origins.
Some people believe certain Chinese tapestries depict longhaired Siamese. And experts think Siamese have always occasionally given birth to "fuzzy" kittens. The Cat Fanciers Federation even registered a longhaired Siamese in 1928. But it wasn't until the 1950s that two Siamese breeders developed a formal breeding program for these beautiful cats after discovering longhaired kittens in their litters.
One of these breeders, Helen Smith, named the breed Balinese because she felt its grace and elegance matched that of dancers she saw in Bali. The Cat Fanciers' Association breed standard allows the same four colors as the Siamese. But The International Cat Association has expanded over time to include more colors.
Today, two versions of the Balinese exist. The Traditional version is larger, has longer hair, and more closely resembles the Ragdoll breed. On the other hand, the Contemporary version maintains the look of a longhaired Siamese and is the only one recognized by cat breed associations.
The Balinese is a medium-sized cat with a svelte, muscular build. The breed has long, tapering lines and an elegant overall appearance.
Coat and Coloring
The Balinese's coat is close-lying and medium-length, with the longest hair on the frill, shoulders, and tail. The texture is fine and silky, with no wooly undercoat.
Balinese are pointed cats. That means the hair on their bodies is lighter, whereas their masks, ears, legs, feet, and tails are darker. These dark areas (known as points) are dense and clearly defined. The hair on a Balinese's body will darken with age, but there is always a clear contrast between body color and points.
The Balinese coat comes in traditional Siamese colors (i.e., seal point, blue point, lilac point, and chocolate point) and other solid, lynx, and parti-color point colors.
Distinctive Physical Traits
Balinese have long, tapering wedge-shaped heads, flat skulls, a long, straight nose, and a wedge-shaped muzzle. Their enormous ears are wide at the base. And their vivid, blue, almond-shaped eyes slant toward the nose—one of the breed's most distinguishing features.
The Balinese's slender neck, lithe body, slim legs, and thin, tapering tail are long and graceful, whereas their paws are small and dainty.
A great breed for families, the Balinese is a social, energetic, devoted cat. Though not as demanding as others in the Siamese group, these adoring kitties do want to be involved in all household activities. They crave attention from their humans and will follow them from room to room.
Balinese are both playful and extremely intelligent. This combo means they can learn to do tricks and even fetch. They also enjoy playing with an assortment of toys—real cat toys, wads of paper, anything will do—and are world-class jumpers and climbers. Your Balinese's favorite spot is likely to be a high perch with a view of the outside world.
Despite their energy, Balinese know how to relax. They love cuddling up with their favorite human on the couch or under the covers of the bed. Because of their social nature, Balinese do best in pairs or with other pets in the house. If left alone, they can get bored. And a bored Balinese is often a mischievous Balinese.
Balinese need a high-quality diet. Because nutritional needs vary for kittens, adults, and senior cats, opt for a formula that's age-appropriate for your pet.
All cats are at risk of obesity if they eat too much. To avoid overfeeding, measure out meals and keep an eye on how many treats you're giving them. As a guideline, they should make up no more than 10% of a cat's calories.
In addition to providing meals, make sure to make fresh, clean water available at all times. Some Balinese enjoy drinking filtered water out of a fountain.
Balinese cats shed very little, and their coat isn't prone to mats or tangles. All they need is a quick brush every week to remove any loose hair and keep their coats looking and feeling good.
Most cats' nails require monthly trimming to prevent them from getting too long. Long nails are more likely to snag on something and become torn or damaged. They can even grow into your cat's paw pads, leading to pain or infection. In addition to clipping, providing a scratching post will allow your cat to do some nail maintenance themselves (thanks to their instinct to scratch).
No grooming routine is complete without a little dental hygiene. To support your Balinese's overall health, brush their teeth daily and schedule visits with your veterinarian for professional dental cleanings and exams.
Some breeds are more susceptible to certain health conditions. Balinese may be prone to Amyloidosis—a disease caused by a build-up of an abnormal protein in the heart, liver, kidney, or other organs. They can also be sensitive to the anesthesia often used during dental cleanings and spay/neuter surgeries. Your veterinarian is the best source of information about these and other feline health conditions.
Balinese Genetic Health Conditions
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (Discovered in the Abyssinian)
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (Discovered in the Abyssinian) is a disorder that causes degeneration of the light sensing retina at the back of the eye, resulting in vision loss.
Mucopolysaccharidosis Type VI Modifier
Mucopolysaccharidosis Type VI Modifier causes a mild degenerative joint disease, but only if one copy of Mucopolysaccharidosis Type VI is also present.
Mucopolysaccharidosis Type VI
Mucopolysaccharidosis Type VI is a rare disorder causing dwarfism, degenerative joint disease, and clouding of the eyes.
With more than 45 health tests, Wisdom Panel™ Complete for Cats screens for these and other important genetic conditions—allowing you to better plan for your cat's lifelong care.
Reviewed February 23, 2021 by Annette Louviere, DVM