What is a long-haired Siamese cat called and why?

The long-haired Siamese is called the Balinese by the major cat associations such as the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), The International Cat Association (TICA) and the Word Cat Federation (WCF). You have to mention the cat associations as the names of cat breeds can rarely vary between associations. I believe that in Australia it is known as the Oriental Longhair. In France they call the breed “Balinais” and in Germany “Balinesen”.

Balinese cat Kareem
Balinese cat Kareem. Photo copyright Helmi Flick.
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Why is the long-haired Siamese called the Balinese? Well, at one time when the breed first appeared it was given the name “Long-haired Siamese”. However, it was unpopular with Siamese breeders. A new name was needed. Cat breed names are considered quite important to breeders as is the origin on the breed. Both can generate interest and sales.

Reasons for the name

“Balinese” was selected for two reasons:

Bali, is an Indonesian island in the Far East not that far from Thailand which was formerly Siam which is the country from where Siamese cats orgininate. Actually Google Maps tells me that Bali is 4,600 miles by car from Thailand! It would take 107 hours of driving and boat journeys! Here is a map showing Bali:

Secondly, the elegant movements of Balinese cats reflected the movements of Balinese dancers. The Balinese is a member of the large Siamese cat family of which the Oriental Shorthair is also a member as is the Javanese. In the United States some colour forms of the long-haired Siamese are called Javanese.

The start

In Siamese breeding programmes, Siamese kittens started to appear with longer fur than normal. They were first regarded as a problem but a Californian breeder turned a negative into a positive and developed a new cat breed. I think they are more attractive than the short-haired Siamese. A distinguishing and attractive feature is their magnificent plumed tail.

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