Learn more about the Balinese
The Lovely Balinese
by Mary Kae Krause
“Soft as silk cake flour,” to use a phrase coined by a Midwestern grandmother, aptly describes the sensation of stroking the elegant Balinese coat. I’ll always remember the first time I laid eyes on a Balinese. He was a most handsome lilac point, sire to the chocolate point variant that my husband Carl and I purchased. One look at that long, lithe body cloaked in silk, with the exquisite plume and “drop dead” blue eyes, romping about the cattery and I was captivated! Within a few months we had purchased our first breeding male, a lovely chocolate point, and have been breeding and showing Balinese ever since. They are the true joy of my life and therefore, I am so happy to have this opportunity to write about these wonderful creatures.
WHAT IS A BALINESE?
The Balinese is a long, slender cat with fine boning and the same Himalayan color pattern as the Siamese. They come in the four Siamese colors: seal point, blue point, chocolate point and lilac point. Their head forms a long, tapering wedge with a long, straight profile. Ears are large and continue the wedge. Eyes are blue and almond shaped. In fact, the Balinese is exactly like a Siamese except for the coat, which is medium in length, fine and silky without a downy undercoat. It lies close to the body, flowing toward the rear where it ends in a graceful, plumed tail.
Little is known about the early history of the Balinese. Some say that at least one Chinese tapestry depicts pointed longhairs. The Cat Fanciers Federation (CFF) had a longhair Siamese (which is what Balinese actually are and what they were originally called) registered in 1928. However, this history starts later, in the 1950s, when true breeding programs were established. It is believed that “fuzzy” kittens were born to Siamese litters from time to time. This longer coat being undesirable, the breeders would quietly pet these kittens out. All of this changed forever in the 1950s when two Siamese breeders, Mrs. Marion Dorsey of Rai-Mar Cattery in California and Mrs. Helen Smith of MerryMews Cattery in New York, both found longhairs in their Siamese litters and were quite taken by their beauty. Rather than petting them out as others had done, they began line breeding to produce longhair Siamese.
It was Helen Smith who came to name these cats Balinese because she felt that the name Long Hair Siamese did not flow well and that they greatly resembled the grace and elegance of the Balinese dancers. She was the first to exhibit Balinese in CFA in the AOV class at the Empire Cat Show in New York City. Helen and Marion worked together during the ’50s and ’60s to develop breeding stock and to gain recognition as a new mutation breed. Mrs. Dorsey showed in a CFF show in Glendale California as early as 1956. It is due to these two women and their foresight that we have the Balinese to enjoy today.
In 1965 Marion Dorsey sold Rai-Mar cattery to Sylvia Holland of Holland’s Farm Cattery in Tarzana, California. Sylvia was a Siamese breeder who had acquired her first Balinese, (Rai-Mar’s Sputnik of Holland’s Farm) from Rai-Mar in 1958. She became totally captivated with the breed and dedicated the rest of her life to advancing their cause, especially with CFA.
Sylvia describes her vision of a Balinese in terms that still hold true today: “What is a Balinese like? Picture an elegant, tall, slender Siamese, with a noble head, piercing blue eyes, and a proud bearing. Clothe him in long, fine, silky hair, flowing back softly towards his tail, where it spreads out like a plume. Listen to his voice – not quite so loud and insistent as some Siamese we could mention, but unmistakably Siamese in tune. Watch how he steps up graciously to make your acquaintance, tail on high, purring his loudest and ready for a romp. This is a Balinese.”
Sylvia Holland became the catalyst that brought all of the Balinese breeders together to pool their resources and work together to improve the breed and have it recognized in all associations. When it became apparent that there was a need to outcross to expand the gene pool, she convinced fellow breeders to exchange cats and kittens and share stud service. She, herself, worked extensively in helping other breeders establish and expand their lines. Pedigrees of almost all Balinese can be traced to the Holland’s Farm line. In addition to the contributions that she made to breeding, Sylvia Holland was very active in getting the Balinese recognized in CFA. By 1965 they had been accepted in all associations except CFA. In 1967, Sylvia Holland attended CFA’s annual convention and saw the Balinese granted Provisional status. In 1970, they were finally accepted for Championship status. That year there were 23 Balinese entered in the prestigious Santa Monica show.
During this time the Balinese Breeders and Fans of America (B.B.F.A.) association was formed. It fell to this association to write the first breed standards in 1965 and 1967, which were revised again for CFA in 1970. They also wrote the Code of Ethics, which figured largely in the progress of the breed.
It would be five years before breeders saw the first Balinese grand champion and unfortunately, Sylvia Holland was no longer alive to celebrate it; how proud she would have been. The first grand was a blue point male owned by Frank and Lieselotte A. Grimes. With the Grimes’ determination, it is not surprising that the second grand, a blue point female bred by Nellie Sparrow of Gaynells Cattery, was also owned by them. The first cat took two years and 21 shows to grand, the second only seven months.
Things got better – there were nine Balinese grands between 1975 and 1980: GC Ti-Mau’s Szabo Aki of Die Lilo, a blue point male; GC Gaynells Tanisha of Die Lilo, a blue point female; GC Elite Sunup Sky of Sunup, a blue point female; GP, RW Sharamar’s Real McCoy of Syrtaki, a seal point neuter; GC Del-Ri’s Miiko Rikki, a lilac point male; GC Ti-Mau’s Kiss Me Kate of Mikaso, a lilac point female; GC Sharamar’s Hairy of Nagai-Ke, a blue point male; GC, RW Del-Ri’s Miika Sumi, a lilac point male; GC Del-Ri’s Beige Boy of Baliagra, a chocolate point male.
While this period was good to the Balinese in the show ring, there was serious disagreement brewing within the ranks. Several breeders thought that it would be a fun idea to breed and show Balinese in the Colorpoint Shorthair colors. Because the Colorpoint Shorthair is a hybrid cat, the purists would not agree with this because it would cause the Balinese to lose its status as a pure mutation of the Siamese. If they lost their mutation status, a cut-off date for breeding back to the parent breed would be imposed. And so the controversy simmered. The solution was to breed and show these long-haired Colorpoints by a different name and, in 1979, the Javanese breed was recognized by CFA. (CFA is the only association to limit Balinese to the four Siamese colors and class all other colors as Javanese.) The rift that started would continue as opinion differed regarding standards. Splinter groups developed and broke away from the core group. As the cats continued to improve in type and enjoy increased wins, the discord intensified, unfortunately interfering, perhaps, with homogenous development of the cats and collegiality among their breeders.
In the years between 1980 and 1985 there were 36 Balinese to grand in CFA. There were also seven cats to achieve regional awards (five in the Northwest Region): GC Rangkesari’s Isadora, a blue point female, the Northwest Region’s 15th Best Cat in 1982-83; GP Balcham’s Sabrina, a blue point spay, the Southwest Region’s 8th Best Cat in Premiership in 1982-83; GP Chesboro Moonshine, a lilac point neuter, the Northwest Region’s 3rd Best Cat in Premiership in 1983-84 and 9th Best Cat in Premiership in 1984-85; GC Rangkesari’s Ironwolfe, a lilac point male, the Northwest Region’s 9th Best Cat in 1984-85; GC Ebonfyre’s Alderon of Kimeron, a lilac point male, the Northwest Region’s 15th Best Cat in 1984-85; GC Chesboro Beauregard, a lilac point male, the Northwest Region’s 16th Best Cat in 1984-85; Mr. Tai-Grr Tu, a seal point neuter, the Southwest Region’s 9th Best Cat in Premiership in 1984-85.
During this period, Leslie Lamb was a vital force in the world of Balinese. Leslie strongly encouraged the practice of breeding back to the Siamese parent breed to improve type. At this time many Balinese more strongly resembled the old style “applehead” Siamese than the modern Siamese. The practice of breeding to the parent breed produced all shorthair kittens which would carry the longhair gene. Because of the Siamese influence the variants of that time had much better type than that produced by longhair to longhair breeding. These variants, of course, could not be shown, but did prove invaluable to the breeding program. In the 15 years that she was breeding, Leslie bred 13 grands, and most of these were variant to variant breeding. The focus of her breeding program was to breed for the perfect head, breeding out the bumpy profile that for so long had been a characteristic of the Balinese. In fact, her cats were known for the “Rangkesari head.”
In 1986 Leslie unfortunately developed asthma and had to give up her cats and breeding. She placed GC Rangkesari’s Ironwolfe with Adelle Hathaway of Del-Ri cattery, where he continued to make strong contributions to the breed. The remainder of her cats were placed with various breeders and appear in many present-day pedigrees.
At this same time, on the other side of the country in Hawkinsville, Georgia, there was another breeder who was making very solid gains with the breed, Nellie Sparrow of Gaynells Cattery. Nellie had been working with the Balinese since the early 1970s and was extremely concerned for the Bali coat. Although she agreed with Leslie’s belief in the need for breeding back to the parent breed to improve type, she was concerned that this be done judiciously or the proper coat would be lost. She was furthermore very mindful of the type of Siamese that should be used, believing that Siamese showing longer coats were longhair carriers and were what should be used in the breeding program. It was her experience that the coats produced by this type of Siamese were of the silky type which was desired in the Balinese.
The late ’80s continued to be a controversial time in the Bali world. Due to the lack of agreement among breeders and the subtle differences and lack of consistency in cats presented for show, judges probably became confused as to what a Balinese was supposed to look like, and this likely prevented their bringing them up in finals. Exhibitors did not know what to expect, and those new to exhibiting Balinese quickly became discouraged. Due to this turmoil, combined with the emergence of many new breeds, the popularity of the breed begin to decline. Whereas there could be upwards of 35 Balinese in a class in the late ’70s, by the late ’80s they had become a rarity in the show hall.
One result of the controversy was that there was a reclassification of the breed from the longhair division to the shorthair division; Balinese began competing as shorthairs in 1984.
Balinese breed clubs also were experiencing problems during this period. They were losing membership and consequently funding. Newsletters began cutting back on pages and then entire issues. The B.B.F.A. continued to try to unite the various forces but finally decided that it had outlived its usefulness and disbanded. They passed the torch to the California Balinese Club (later to become the Continental Balinese Club) which became the force to represent the Balinese with CFA.
By the late 1980s Leslie Lamb had left breeding for health reasons and Nellie Sparrow took a leave of absence for personal reasons. Both of these women made strong contributions to the breed and their cats appear behind most of the current day lines. We owe a great deal to both of these ladies for helping develop the modern day Balinese.
A couple of other breeders of note from this period were:
- Gillian Melz of Chesboro Cattery. Gillian experienced a great deal of luck in getting great coat on her cats. She was active in breeding for approximately 10 years and in that brief period produced 10 grands.
- Adelle Hathaway of Del-Ri Cattery. Adelle’s tenure in working with the Balinese breed probably exceeds most others. She purchased her first Balinese from Sylvia Holland in the ’70s and over the years produced and showed many to grand status and regional wins. She became breed council secretary in 1988 when Leslie Lamb had to step down, and she served in that role until 1997.
As Leslie Lamb was going out of breeding and Nellie Sparrow was going on a leave of absence, Bobbie Short, owner of Balik Balinese, came along to pick up the baton. She had the good fortune to acquire cats from both the Rangeskari and Gaynells catteries. Bringing the hard work of these two catteries together was like magic, and within a very short time Bobbie was producing outstanding cats! CH Rangkesari’s Tabia of Balik was to become the first Balinese DM and one of Tabia’s descendants, GC, RW Balik’s Snow Goose Mambo, was the first Balinese to break 5000 points – not to mention that offspring of “The Goose” are producing grand offspring, that are producing grand offspring. What an accomplishment! Bobbie only had the opportunity to breed and exhibit for a brief period of time in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Then circumstances caused her to take a sabbatical. By this time, however, she had shared the “magic” of the Balik Balinese genes and had placed cats with many present-day breeders. The Balik line has contributed to the success enjoyed by several catteries including CasaDecano, Chiquita, Gaynells, Jaibois, KLM, Purrmatix and Staccato, to name a few.
GC Balik’s Symphony of Staccato achieved DM status in July, 1995, followed by CH Balik’s Woman Child of Purrmatix, DM (mother of two Purrmatix DMs) later that same year and GC Balik’s Sweet Dreams of Jaibois, DM in June of 1997. (Sweet Dreams and Symphony are the only two littermate sisters to receive a DM in the Balinese breed.) GC Balik’s Bolshoi of Purrmatix needs only one more grand to make him the first male DM. In addition, CH Balik’s Maestro of Staccato, CH Balik’s Diego of CasaDecano and CH Balik’s Khartoum of Jaibois have each produced numerous grands. This should give one some idea of the success Bobbie had with her Gaynells x Rangkesari matings.
Bobbie served the Balinese breed by representing it as CFA’s Balinese Breed Council Secretary.
Before I move on from this recent history I would like to offer a (partial) list recapping those names made known to me by my resources who have gone before us and laid the ground work for those of us in the present. To those contributors I have neglected to note here because my resources may have been less than complete, please accept my apologies. Balinese breeders today owe you all a great debt: Francis Byford, Mia Ching; Lorene Campbell, Nagai Ke; Karen Christmann, Balique; Elcy Crouch, E.L.C. Kats; Maureen Davies, Balimoor; Nancy Grandison, Balinan; Barbara Harr, Harr; Barbara Karns, Balihoo; Leslie Lamb, Rangkesari; Nancy Lehrer, Purr-Power; Chris Norton, Jaimar; Diana Price, Baliagra; Carol Radatz, Cahera; Louise Reardon, Queenettes; Ann Sandner, Tassam; Adrienne Schettini, Azureyes; Nellie Sparrow, Gaynells; and Kris Willison, KLM.
With the development of so many new breeds in the past 20+ years, Balinese no longer have the popularity they enjoyed in the early days (but this is probably true for almost all breeds); however, those of us working with Balinese have seen them achieve great accomplishments. The cats being shown today, products of all the blood, sweat and tears of those who worked so diligently before us, truly meet not only the Balinese breed standard but also, except for the coat length, the Siamese standard as well. They truly are long-haired Siamese. Probably the most visible of the present day catteries is Purrmatix, owned by Terrie and Bruce Smith of Long Island, New York. Terrie has been breeding and showing her lovely Balinese since 1989. Purrmatix cats have been national Best and/or 2nd Best of Breed in four out of the last five years. GC, RW Purrmatix Suzie-Q holds the record as the highest scoring Balinese (5827.70 points) to date. Purrmatix has also bred two DMs with Purrmatix prefixes, GC Purrmatix Dream Come True in Blue, DM and GC Purrmatix New Sensation, DM. Purrmatix has produced more grands than any other Balinese cattery to date, two of which were one-show grands, and has enjoyed the most “firsts” and “bests” of any Bali breeder thus far. This could be the season for a national win for a Purrmatix Balinese, a “first” that would go far to promote the Balinese breed.
Jan and Bob Isaak of Jaibois have been working with Carol Baker-Jones of Bellavia, Ron Davidson of Chiquita and Pat Decano of CasaDecano producing some lovely Balinese. GC, RW Jaibois Sweet Talker was Best of Breed in 1993-94 and GC, RW Chiquita Salome On Rye of Bellavia was national 2nd Best of Breed 1995-96 and in 1996-97 GC Chiquita Chickyboom was national 2nd Best of Breed. Among them they have produced at least 12 grands.
Best of Breed 1995-96 was GC, RW Balilyn’s He’s My Boy, bred and shown by Evelyn Forster of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Evelyn has been breeding and showing Balinese for many years and has produced a number of grands as well.
My husband Carl and I, of Staccato Cattery, have been breeding and showing Balinese since 1989. In that time Staccato has produced six Balinese grands, two of which were regional winners in 1994-95: GC, RW Staccato’s Mozart and CH, GP, RW Staccato’s Ravel. Our CH Balik’s Maestro of Staccato also has two Javanese grands to his credit: GC, RW Staccato’s Coffee Cantata and her littermate sister, GC Staccato’s Sonata of Derry Downs.
Kris Willison of KLM (formerly Su-Bali) has been working with Lorene Campbell of Nagai Ke with Balinese for over 20 years. Kris is the only breeder to date to have a Balinese double grand, GC, GP, KLM’s Lightning Boy. She has been of continued service to the Balinese breed since the 1970s. Kris and Lorene have worked together to produce some wonderful examples of the breed using variants and Siamese to lock type into their lines.
Kris has made another important contribution to the breed by applying her computer skills as its historian and statistician. Whenever one wishes to research a pedigree or learn more about a specific cat, Kris is there with the answers. She also maintains the largest website for Balinese and Javanese cats. (Browse her site at http://www.flash.net/~klm/cattery.) She provided me with numerous articles and reams of statistics which were used to write this article and to prepare the statistical charts. It is great to have such a wealth of information so readily available. (Kris states that her data is current as of 7/1/97; she welcomes any additions or corrections to her data.)
Other contemporary Balinese breeders include:
- Karen Helfert of Ashlea Cattery, who bred GC Ashlea’s Charlie Brown (CFA’s 2nd Best of Color and Southern Region’s 2nd Best of Breed 1991-92), GP Ashlea Dame Pussy Willow Paws, and who currently owns CH Gaynells Aures of Ashlea (formerly of Balik), who was a key sire in Balik’s line producing seven grands.
- Leslie Brinson of Loblolly, who bred GC Loblolly Keratella (CFA’s Best of Color 1990-91, Southern Region’s Best of Breed 1990-92), a beautiful blue point female whose photograph has been utilized as a model in art prints and jewelry by Leslie Newcomb, a Pacific Northwest artist, and GC Loblollys Alvin Goodenough (CFA’s 2nd Best of Breed 1995-96).
- Carol Moomjian of Rakkestad, who produced GC Rakkestad’s Tsunami and GP, RW Rakkestad’s Blue Moon (Southwest Region’s 19th Best Cat in Premiership 1996-97).
- Diane Cargal of Bali Del Sol, who bred GC Bali Del Sol Walker (CFA’s 2nd Best of Beed and the Southwest Region’s 10th Best Cat 1994-95).
- Carol Radatz of Cahera, who bred GC Cahera’s Erin (CFA’s Best of Color and the Midwest Region’s Best of Breed 1993-94).
- Louise Reardon of Queenettes, who bred GC Queenettes Chopsticks of Winnsong (CFA’s 2nd Best of Breed in 1990-91), GC, PR Queenettes Piquette and CH, GP Queenettes Angelette of Balijoy.
- Karen Christmann of Balique, who has worked with Barbara Harr, Maureen Davies and others to produce both Balinese, including GC Balique Moonbeam, and Javanese.
SO WHAT ARE BALINESE REALLY LIKE?
If you share your life with a Balinese you will never be at a loss for a best friend. Balinese adore their people and have to be involved with everything their person does, be it brushing teeth, cooking breakfast or reading a book. They make you feel that no matter what you are doing, you are the most wonderful, fascinating creature on earth. My DM helps me with my makeup every day. Since she is a blue point she is especially helpful on “Blue Jean Friday.” They are very verbal and can speak to you on just about any subject. If you are sad, they will weep with you; sick, they will comfort you; and happy they will play with you. And do they love to play!
Balinese love to ride around on your shoulder and to play “fetch the mousie.” I have even seen Ron Davidson’s Chiquita Balinese ride on his shoulder to ring calls on numerous occasions. Give them a ping pong ball and they have a great game of “soccer,” especially on a hardwood or tile floor.
The males are especially affectionate. I call them my “cling-ons” because that’s exactly what they love to do. My husband Carl calls the boys Mommie’s marsupials due to their extraordinarily loving temperaments.
Balinese are very easy to care for. Because theirs is a single coat that lies close to the body, all that is needed is an occasional brush or comb, routine nail clipping and oral hygiene. Show cats are, of course, bathed before every show and whole males do occasionally need a “stud tail” bath. Depending upon personal preference, some exhibitors trim ear hair to emphasize ear size and comparison to Siamese type. Others prefer to leave the “feathers” natural to the Balinese.
A good diet and plenty of exercise are essential to maintain the Bali’s firm, tubular body (Bali’s should not be fat or flabby) and silky coat. The ideal Balinese body feels like steel sheathed in silk.
So, except for the attention which they assert themselves to obtain, Balinese are a low maintenance cat. Generally, Balinese show cats are extremely well-mannered and easy-going. Many are quite savvy about their ring manners and know what to do to please judges and spectators. As pets, of course, Balinese are indeed integral members of the family. I know that my life is made richer by my lovely Balinese. If you seek a highly intelligent, interactive, verbal pal, you would be delighted with a Balinese.
In closing, I would like to acknowledge and thank the following people for their help and support in writing this article:
- Bobbie Short for her faith and confidence in selecting me to write this article and also for her undying support throughout the process.
- Kris Willison for sharing her wealth of knowledge and statistics which helped immensely in writing this article and preparing the charts.
- My husband Carl Krause for his support and confidence throughout the process.
- Lorene Campbell and Pat Nichols who had provided all of the historical research for the articles in the CBC Newsletter which helped tremendously in researching this article.
- And finally, all of the Balinese breeders who so generously supplied pictures of their lovely Balinese for the article.
Author’s Note: Since this article was written, Balik’s Bolshoi of Purrmatix became the first male Balinese DM on 8/2/97. Congratulations to breeder Bobbie Short and owner Terrie Smith! You have both made a wonderful contribution to the Balinese breed.