Learn more about the Balinese
by Karen Christmann & Barbara Harr
The Javanese is a Siamese type cat with a medium long coat in the Colorpoint colors: lynx point, tortie point or red/cream point. The parent breeds are the Siamese, Colorpoint Shorthair and Balinese. The Javanese’s personality is similar to the parent breeds, active, playful and extremely affectionate and intelligent. They definitely want to be with their humans, on the lap, shoulder and if allowed in bed. Javanese do talk, but usually only when they want to communicate something; and they have a variety of voices depending upon what they want to say. They are intelligent and have been known to learn to fetch, to find treats in pockets and to do other tricks. They adapt to their owners’ routines, that is, if they don’t train their humans first.
The Javanese coat is one of their most distinctive features, a soft, silky single coat that lies close to the body and develops into a plume on the tail. The fur should be two to three inches long on the body, longer and fuller on the tail to create the plume. Because there is no undercoat, they require little grooming and usually keep themselves immaculate. Normally baths are only necessary for showing and then a single lather, rinse and a quick blow dry produce a show finish. The fuller coat softens the lines of the cat, and they might not appear as extreme as their shorthaired parent breeds. To truly appreciate the underlying structure the Javanese needs to be felt and its coat smoothed down. Bath time provides an opportunity to truly assess the fine boning and long lines, and there have been jokes about holding “Wet T-Shirt” contests to truly show their type.
The original Javanese were heavier, shorter-headed cats, and to improve their type most breeders have bred back to Siamese and Colorpoint lines. This produces a variant generation: shorthair cats which carry the recessive long hair gene. Hopefully these variants produce a more typey longhair when they are bred to a longhair or another variant. Frequent outcrosses to shorthair have contributed to the amazing improvement in type that has been seen over the past ten years. It is a testament to years of work that the Javanese are beginning to hold their own in competition with their parent breeds.
EARLY DAYS OF THE JAVANESE
(by Barbara Harr) About 1978, when I was living in Peekskill, New York, and editing the newsletter of the Progressive Colorpoint Cat Club, I received letters from Nina Boal (Bernadette Cattery, then in Chicago), Linna Reusmann (Cobwebbe Cattery, then in South Whitley, Indiana) and Maureen Davies (Balimoor Cattery, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada). They were all breeding what they considered new-color Balinese, or Balinese in Colorpoint colors. They wanted to receive the Colorpoint Club newsletter because much of its information (genetic information, the different tabby patterns, who had typey stock, etc.) was also useful in breeding their cats. Also, they asked for advice in getting their cats recognized in the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA). Nina had been involved in the highly successful campaign that had recently gained recognition for the Orientals, and she knew that I had seen that campaign at even closer hand, living so near its leaders.
My first reaction to the new-color Balinese people was rejection, based in exhaustion. I felt that my CFA friends already considered me a radical dabbler in far-out breeds and colors, and if I took on this new cause, they would think I was truly over the edge! But the new-color Balinese breeders were a bright and delightful group of people. Their means of communicating with each other was the unaffiliated club “Balinese Internationale,” with its witty and literate newsletter edited by Linna Reusmann. Another unaffiliated Balinese club of the time, Balinese Breeders and Fanciers of American (BBFA), published a newsletter somewhat open to consideration of the new colors, but did not advocate for them as strongly as BI did. The CFA affiliated club, Continental Balinese, then consisted primarily of Southern California four-color breeders who opposed including the new colors.
Maureen Davies was the leading breeder of new-color Balis at that time, and she worked closely with Ann Sandner (Tassam) near Seattle. Maureen and Ann, who regularly bred their longhairs to the typiest Siamese and Colorpoints in their region, were achieving type superior to that of most standard-color Balis at that time. Their cats are the foundation stock behind most good Javanese shown today.
Maureen volunteered to coordinate the petitions and applications necessary to campaign for recognition, aided by Linna’s newsletter and my tips as to what I knew of CFA’s rules and policies, and what had worked for the Orientals. Our efforts were complicated slightly by the fact that CFA’s Breeds and Standards Committee was just then trying to set firmer rules for the recognition of new breeds and colors, but Tom Dent in the Central Office was extremely helpful to us. We collected the requisite number of breeders and cats to be registered, using ACFA registration as the accepted criterion for the first foundation stock in CFA. I think it was October 1979 when Maureen Davies, Linna Reusmann, Nina Boal, a couple of other breeders whose names escape me at this late date, and I appeared before the CFA Board in Chicago. With Balimoor Pippi Longstocking (a lynx point) and Balimoor Free Spirit of Harr (a tortie point), we presented out cats and our request for registration. Our first choice was to be taken in as Balinese, in a separate division if necessary, but we were willing to accept registration as a separate breed if (as we suspected) that was politically necessary.
The discussion with the Board was good-natured, but with a slight “twilight zone” edge. One Board member observed that the obvious thing to do was the one thing that we couldn’t do. Another Board member asked why our cats could not be registered as Colorpoint AOVs. We replied that our lines had now been mixed with Bali lines for a number of generations, and Balinese are not a permissible component of CFA Colorpoint pedigrees. Pippi and Spirit, born showgirls with great personality and stage presence, purred and snuggled and walked on the tables down the row of seated Board members as if they were in a reception line at Buckingham Palace. Some earlier political arguments dissolved as the Board members happily played with the cats.
One problem that we had not anticipated was the brand new demand, stated in the newly adopted “Rules for New Breeds,” that we accept a “cut-off date” past which we could no longer breed to Siamese, Colorpoints or Balinese, our permissible component breeds. We were the first “new breed” to face this stricture. How could we compete for finals with the Colorpoints, Orientals and Balinese, all of whom could breed to Siamese indefinitely, perfecting their type even as the Siamese fashions changed, and keeping up in ways that a cut-off date would not allow us to do. (This issue is still a vital concern to Javanese breeders.) At the meeting in 1979, we accepted the cut-off date reluctantly, with a date as far off as possible. Since then, the cut-off date has been extended once, and we hope for further extension so that we can continue to compete on an equal basis with the other Siamese-type breeds.
In 1979, then, the Board concluded that we could register our cats, but not as Balinese; we were to think up another name for them. Anticipating such a decision, we had collected and discussed several possible names. Those of us at the meeting sat down with some Asian maps and guidebooks which we had scrounged from my brother, an Asia-based Foreign Service officer with the US State Department. We found the island of Java, next to Bali. The two islands share a common language, culture and religion, but Java is the larger, richer, and more fertile island – a twist we rather enjoyed. “Javanese” was one of the names that had been suggested, and our new research confirmed it as appropriate. And so the breed was named.
Thereafter, we carried on a serious campaign to gain full recognition in CFA. Our tortie point, Balimoor Free Spirit of Harr, now became a “freedom-rider” for exhibition only at CFA shows throughout the East. Spirit was also a fine mom, and her kittens, too, became troupers at CFA shows. Maureen flew in with several other good cats for the Empire show in New York. We took out full-page catalog ads, passed out flyers, and talked ourselves hoarse explaining our “Javanese” cats. After twenty-five years in the cat fancy, one of my all-time favorite memories is of Free Spirit hamming it up with Judge Bill Eisenman at Empire: she walked up his chest and sat on his shoulder killing his peacock feather DEAD, while Bill mugged dramatically and the crowd roared approval. They should have taken that act on the road! “Spritzy” – along with other close relatives from Balimoor and Tassam – is behind many fine cats of today. Maureen and I subsequently added Felitan, Sin-Chiang, Fan-C and other top CFA Siamese stock to our Javanese lines, and other breeders did likewise.
(by Karen Christmann) In 1984 Barbara went back to graduate school, and temporarily became less active in cats, so I’m picking up the story from there. I would first like to mention some other early breeders that contributed to the Javis: Nancy Lehrer (Purr Power), Fran McFarland (McBali), Crys Eikanger (Ei-Kan), Howard Angel (Angeland), Kris Willison (Su Bali/KLM), Bev Eitner (Berkely), Gail Fine (Anawacket), Janet Wilkie (Musashi), Robin Radlein (Rain River), Ramona Turner (Darktree), and Terry Cobden (Sholine) to name a few.
Maureen Davies and I attended the Board meeting to request advancement of the Javanese to Provisional status, again bringing several examples of the breed. The Board members were very supportive of us, as long as the Javis would be a separate breed, and not a division of the Balinese. We were given provisional status, and it was on to meet the next set of requirements. The next year saw a push to exhibit the breed, covering as many regions as possible. With the efforts and cooperation of many, the requirements were met, and in 1986 the Javanese were granted full Championship status. It was on to the next chapter of Javanese history.
- November 1986 produced the first three Grand Champion Javanese: Tassam’s Tru Purr (seal lynx point male), Tassam’s Kinu (blue lynx point female) and Musashi’s Cleopatra of Balique (seal lynx point female). Cleopatra went on to become the first national Best of Breed Javanese, with Kinu taking second place honors.
- The first tortie point granded the next year, Balique Gypsy Flame (seal tortie point female), and also took best of breed for the year 1987.
- 1988 saw another lynx point, Tassam’s Lady Alyssa of Balinan (blue lynx point female), taking the breed win, and the first red point grand, Balique Firecracker (red lynx point male) claiming second honors in breed.
- Aileron in the Buff (cream point male) became the first solid point grand in 1989, as well as Best of Breed, with another “funny” color placing second, Balique Winning Colors (blue-cream lynx point female).
- A major step was accomplished in 1990, with the first Javanese regional winner, Zinzani Marion B (seal lynx point female), the North Atlantic Region’s (NAR) 16th Best Cat, with 2nd Best of Breed going to Hunnapurr Sheezajehm (seal tortie point female).
- There were two regional winners in 1991, Zinzani Zapata (blue lynx point male ) NAR’s 19th Best Cat, and national Best of Breed, and JaiBois’ Shelby (blue lynx point female) Northwest Regional 20th best shorthair cat, and 2nd Best of Breed nationally.
- The first National Winner was produced in 1992, NW Zinzani St. Johns’ Revelation (blue lynx point male), 9th Best Cat and NAR’s 4th Best Cat, as well as Best of Breed. 2nd Best of Breed went to Balik’s Jubal (blue lynx point male), also the Southwest Region’s 18th Best Cat.
- The 1992-93 season also saw the first Javanese Grand Premier, and a double grand at that: Balique Firecracker (red lynx point male).
In the seven-and-a-half years of competition, the Javanese have produced thirty two grand champions and four grand premiers, five regional winners and one national winner. And each year brings more grands and further accomplishments. These numbers may not appear that impressive, but considering the relatively small numbers that the breed started with, and the need to frequently breed back to the Siamese and Colorpoints to improve type and then work with a variant generation, these numbers reflect a significant accomplishment and steady growth of the breed.
I would like to express my appreciation to everyone who contributed to this article, and to the many who have made the Javanese what they are today. Barbara Harr was invaluable with her firsthand account of the early development of the breed and Kris Willison again worked her magic with statistics and pedigree research.