Differences Between Siamese and Balinese Cats

balinese cat

Thinking of getting a beautiful blue-eyed cat, but can’t decide which breed? Getting a beautiful Siamese cat is a fine idea, especially looking at their graceful appearance. But, what about a Balinese cat instead?

This article will help you spot the differences between a Balinese and Siamese cat and, hopefully, help you choose between the two.

So, what are the differences then?

Biologically, Siamese and Balinese cats are very similar. Balinese cats have longer hair, resulting in a more fluffy coat. The main difference is that the Siamese comes from Thailand whereas the Balinese cat is American. Other than that, there are minor differences in their coat colors.

Siamese and Balinese cats are incredibly similar in terms of appearance, behaviors, and mannerisms – even when it comes to life expectancy and health issues. 

Read on to see a comparison between the two, and see which, if either, is the right cat for you.

Not from Bali?

You might think that Balinese cats are from Bali, the Indonesian island. Although that assumption makes sense, it is not correct. 

As mentioned, Balinese cats are closely related to Siamese cats and are actually bred, by the initial breeder, Helen Smith, in the early 1900s. 

She took Siamese cats that were imported to the United States from Thailand and bred the occasionally long-haired Siamese kittens, resulting in this new bloodline.

Because she thought the cats resembled gracious Balinese dancers, she named the newly created breed “Balinese”.

Later, at the time Pioneer breeder by the name of Silvia Holland, who (fun fact) was also an illustrator at Walt Disney’s studios, was instrumental in perfecting the Balinese breed and ultimately getting it recognized officially by the Cat Fanciers Organization.

Are they the same breed?

Due to their similar appearance, and the fact that the Balinese are a lesser-known breed, Balinese cats often get mistaken for Siamese.

Whilst technically the Balinese cat is a long-haired Siamese, they are in fact, different breeds. 

This was not always the case, however. In fact, they weren’t recognized as a unique breed until the mid-20th century, in 1961

Before then, long-haired Siamese – aka “Balinese” – were seen as “impure” and undesirable pets.

Since the change in classification, Siamese cats are almost exclusively bred in Thailand, where they originated. Balinese cats are long-haired versions of Siamese cats, bred predominantly in America. 

I guess Americans like fluffy cats more! 🙂 

Differences in appearances

Since the Balinese cat is the genetic offspring of the Siamese, there are actually very few differences between the two – both genetically and in terms of appearance. 

The Balinese is long-haired; “fluffier” compared to the Siamese cat. There’s no undercoat, though, so it won’t knot.

Balinese cats are also slightly smaller and lighter than Siamese cats, with the color of their fur usually being softer and lighter tones than those of a Siamese. 

Where a Siamese might have black fur, a Balinese might have a more chocolatey color.

Apart from these barely distinguishable features, both the Siamese and Balinese have almost identical:

  • Similar coat colors
  • Long, nimble, acrobatic bodies
  • Wedge-shaped heads
  • Piercing blue eyes
  • Large triangular ears

Differences in behaviors

Just as they are similar in terms of physical appearance and biology, Siamese and Balinese cats are also incredibly similar behaviorally.

Siamese cats are famous for being affectionate, intelligent, and playful in nature. Balinese cats share these traits and like attention from humans, cats, and even other household pets just as much.

On the other hand, neither breed of cat does well being left alone for extended periods of time. In this sense, it is both good and common practice for owners of Siamese and Balinese cats to have two or more so they can entertain each other.

Having other pets in the house or people who work from home is helpful too!

Both breeds of cats enjoy company and are known to follow their owners around the home. They’re also both highly “talkative” and can be exhaustively needy. 

Siamese cats in particular are often compared to dogs and are not recommended for owners who don’t have time to dedicate to their pet(s).

balinese furry cat
Balinese cats are more ‘fluffy’ than Siamese cats

Do they have different health issues?

Unfortunately, Siamese cats suffer from more health issues than most breeds, due to a selective breeding process that values appearance over well-being. 

On the other hand, among purebreds, Siamese and Balinese cats are both strong breeds that can generally reach a life span of 12 up to 20 years.

The problems can range from minor concerns such as dental problems to much more serious issues, such as feline cancer.

The most common issues include:

  • Respiratory issues, including asthma
  • Heart defects
  • Kidney malfunction
  • Crossed eyes, glaucoma; progressive retinal atrophy
  • Liver disease

Because Balinese cats are directly related, a lot of their health problems are shared. 

Due to their smaller size, one notable difference is their life expectancy – 2-4 years shorter than Siamese cats on average.

Interestingly, the most common issue in Balinese cats is crossed eyes – but it’s not considered a genetic defect, as it is in other cat breeds. 

It’s actually a common condition in the Balinese breed and generally doesn’t hamper your cat’s vision. Still, it can have side effects including nausea; head tilt. 

If you think your Balinese is showing signs, see a vet. Better be safe than sorry.

Other frequent health problems found in Balinese cats are kinked tails, which is an inherited condition and generally not a concern, as well as dental problems – but that is something that is not specific to Siamese nor Balinese cats.

Is one breed a better pet than the other?

Both breeds of cats share qualities that make for excellent pets. 

They both enjoy company and attention and love to be around people and house pets. 

They’re even both intelligent enough to be trained to do tricks

They are both most famous, though, for being highly affectionate breeds of cats. Siamese cats are particularly loving, giving as much physical attention as they crave. 

They can be quite demanding, however, and are known to be vocal when being so. 

The same can be said for Balinese cats, and neither breed enjoys being left alone for long periods of time. 

Both Siamese and Balinese cats love to be around their owners, and the more they can play, the happier they are. 

They make perfect cats for families, couples; even individuals as long as they are given enough attention. Do this, and either breed will make a fine pet that will give lots of love to everyone in the family.

Our final thoughts

Overall, the differences between Siamese and Balinese cats are few and far between. 

As the Balinese cat is the genetic offspring of the Siamese, this was inevitable. They are almost indistinguishable in terms of affection, intelligence, and behaviors.

The most notable difference is, of course, the Balinese’ magnificent long fur compared to the Siamese’s silky short coat. 

For potential owners, this could be the key difference – not only do they look different, but the longer coat of the Balinese also needs frequent brushing to avoid matting.

The size difference between the two means the slightly bigger Siamese have a longer life expectancy (12-20 years vs the Balinese’ 10-16), though the Balinese are generally considered to be quite healthy; less susceptible to debilitating health issues.

All in all, either one would make a wonderfully affectionate pet for any household with the right amount of time and attention.

Love reading about Siamese cats?

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Tom Alexander is a life-long cat parent and enjoys sharing a home with his cat Max and his family. Being a devoted cat person, his passion for everything feline and blogging is the driving force behind catnfriends.com. As the founder and editor at Cat & Friends, Tom aims to provide an interesting and great resource for cat owners.

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