What to Know About a Balinese Cat

Medically Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on June 18, 2022
7 min read

Balinese cats are the perfect companion for adults and children of all ages due to their playful and affectionate personalities. Plus, they get along perfectly with other pets and are known to be a healthy breed. However, they can be more prone to certain conditions due to genetic imperfections. Here’s everything you need to know. 

Balinese cats are famous for their elegant and aristocratic looks, and they are also one of the most playful breeds out there. Like their close relatives the Siamese, they are an affectionate and sensible breed ideal for households with children or other pets.

Physically, Balinese cats are longer than usual and have a flowing coat that sets them apart from other, similar breeds. Another key characteristic of these cats is their long and elegant tail plume.

However, under that soft coat hides a muscular frame, as Balinese are strong cats known for their agility and athleticism. Their slender bodies are sometimes visible through the fur as, unlike most similar breeds, it only has a single coat. The average Balinese size is medium, but they can grow to be up to 1.5 feet long. Females may be smaller.

Balinese cats are as elegant as they are affectionate, talkative, and social. The Balinese personality makes them the ideal companion for adults, children, and even other pets. For example, they’re known to follow family members during the day — constantly looking how to cheer them up or how to be helpful.

Keep in mind that Balinese cats are very active animals. While this means that you may never get bored with them, you will also need to provide them with toys and attention. They are also very receptive and intelligent animals, so people often teach them to play fetch or even behave well while on a leash.

On top of the fantastic Balinese temperament, they can also live for longer than most other breeds. The average Balinese cat lifespan is well above 15 years, and some have been known to live for over 20.

Balinese cats are just as easy to keep as most other cat breeds. As long as you provide a healthy amount of exercise and attention, along with good nutrition, they will live a fantastic life. While some grooming is also necessary, it’s less intensive than the amount needed by other longhaired breeds.

When it comes to nutrition, adult Balinese cats should be fed twice a day — the same amount needed for most breeds. Whenever possible, try to feed them canned food instead of dry food, as it has a higher protein content and will increase the fluid intake of your pet. 

Grooming your Balinese cat is easier than you might think. Because of the silky nature of Balinese fur, you’ll find that it doesn’t usually tangle, making it easier to brush and groom. Ideally, you should brush your cat’s hair once a week to prevent excessive shedding and keep that beautiful fur healthy.

In the same vein, you should try to trim their nails on a weekly basis using a clipper to tip the white areas. Eyes, ears, and teeth should also be looked out for — try to clean their eyes and the inside of their ears with a damp cloth without hurting them. Brushing their teeth on a daily basis is crucial for a healthy cat and should be done with a trustable, veterinary-approved toothpaste.

While Balinese tend to be very healthy pets, they are more prone to some conditions than other cats. Much like the Siamese, experts point out that this increased risk of certain conditions is due to them being a pure breed. You should also keep in mind that this breed is also more sensitive to anesthesia, so it’s always best to let doctors know their breed before surgery.

Balinese cats are usually more prone to:

Amyloidosis. Amyloidosis is a condition common in Siamese and Balinese cats that causes a specific kind of abnormal protein to appear in the liver and, sometimes, other organs. Eventually, these compounds start replacing normal cells, leading to various health problems. Common signs of amyloidosis include dehydration, lethargy, and weight loss.

Asthma. Much like in humans, feline asthma is a condition that affects the lower portion of the lungs. When cats with asthma are exposed to an allergen, their body initiates an aggressive immune reaction that constricts the airways. However, with the right medication and care, cats with asthma can live a normal and healthy life.

Progressive retinal atrophy. Progressive retinal atrophy doesn’t refer to one specific condition — rather, it’s the combination of certain genetic disorders. These cause the progressive deterioration of your cat’s light-sensitive eye cells. This wasting of the retina eventually leads to progressive vision loss and, finally, blindness.

Hyperesthesia. Hyperesthesia is a rare disease that’s characterized by an extreme sensitivity in an area of your Balinese’s skin. Often, cats will react aggressively to being touched there, and their skin may ripple when they are in contact with something. On top of that, some cats with hyperesthesia may scratch and dig violently in that area, causing self-harm.

Lymphoma. Lymphomas are a type of cancer that targets the lymphatic system — the structure that helps regulate and maintain internal organs. Naturally, this leads to severe problems, such as lethargy, weight loss, and, sometimes, death.

Heart defects. Balinese cats have an increased chance of having congenital heart defects that may be present as soon as they’re born. While some can be treated and don’t expose severe symptoms, others can lead to serious health problems and even death.

Luckily, Balinese cats don’t need many special considerations, as they’re a healthy breed that doesn’t have problems socializing. However, there are a few general guidelines that are particularly important when it comes to this breed. 

When it comes to adopting or buying Balinese kittens, they should, most of the time, be at least 12 weeks old before being transported to a new environment. Another thing to keep in mind when they’re babies is that you should feed them three or four times a day, as kittens burn calories faster

As mentioned before, Balinese cats are particularly sensitive to anesthesia, so make sure to check with a veterinarian before any kind of intervention. In the same vein, consult with an expert about spaying or neutering your Balinese kitten, as it can lead to many health benefits.

In general, try to keep in mind that Balinese cats are very active cats, so you’ll need to provide them with a daily dose of attention and exercise. You may need to buy a scratching post and several toys to keep them entertained. 

When it comes to other pets and children, rest assured that Balinese cats are the perfect choice for a full household. They get along well with everyone due to their affectionate personality, and the extra stimulation will help in keeping them entertained.

Lastly, keep in mind that, despite the common myth, there is no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic cat. This includes Balinese cats, which may release allergens into the air when they lick their coats.

Unfortunately, not much is known about the history of this elegant breed. Many believe that Balinese history starts as early as some Chinese tapestries, which depict a similar-looking cat. However, the first officially registered Balinese cat appeared in 1928 — although it was referred to simply as a “longhair Siamese”.

For a long time, these longhair Siamese relatives were considered undesirable by breeders, who’d more often than not take them out of their litters. This quickly changed in the 1950s, when two breeders were astonished by the beauty and elegance of Balinese cats. 

One of them, Helen Smith, is responsible for the famous name that separates this breed from Siamese cats. She named them Balinese cats due to their elegance, which she said resembled the elegance of Balinese dancers.

These two breeders paved the way for the Balinese as we know them today — yet, it would still take some more time before all colors were recognized. Because most breeders considered that Balinese should be a direct mutation of the Siamese, only cats with Siamese colors were accepted.

Due to this issue, they decided that other colors should be considered different breeds — this way, the Javanese breed was born. However, its distinction didn’t last for long, as most breeding associations started accepting color variations among the Balinese breed.

While Balinese cats may not be as popular now as they were back in the day, they remain one of the most elegant and healthy breeds out there. Some people attribute this to their breeders, who’ve worked hard to create and perfect the Balinese breed for years.