Despite its name, the Balinese cat has no connection with the island of Bali; rather, the breed originated in the US as a longer-haired variant of the Siamese.
Some have theorized that the Balinese are a result of a cross of the Siamese with the Persian and Angora cats in the early 1900s.
Today, most like to think of the Balinese as more of a natural breed that resulted from a genetic mutation of some sort for their relatively longhaired coat within the Siamese breed.
Balinese Cat Breed Characteristics & Personality
Like the Siamese, the Balinese is highly social and vocal. They are also extremely active, and studies have ranked them among the more intelligent of cat breeds.
The biggest difference between the Balinese and the Siamese cat is the length of its coat.
Most Balinese are small and lean with a muscular body like the Siamese and usually weight from five to eight pounds.
They share the same type of head, large ears and blue eyes with similar body colors.
Known as a chatty kitty, the Balinese will meow endlessly if you can endure it. They are very sociable cats and are not aloof in the slightest. In fact, if you want a quiet cat that will keep to himself, the Balinese is not that!
Balinese are very suitable for cat lovers with feline allergies since they produce far less of the allergenic dander than most cats.
Common Health Issues in Balinese Cats
Balinese cats tend to be quite healthy, more so than Siamese, with lifespans of 15 to 20 years.
There are a few health conditions that are more common to Balinese cats that can be found in Siamese Cats:
Amyloidosis is a disease that occurs when amyloid, which is a protein, is formed in the cat’s organs. This typically occurs in the liver of the cat.
Bronchial Disease/ Asthma
Bronchial illness and asthma are common to both Balinese and Siamese cats. Both can be controlled if caught early enough and can either be chronic or just an occasional flare-up.
Like Siamese, Balinese eyes can sometimes be crossed. While not a medical emergency, their eyes are much more sensitive and need to be observed throughout a cat’s life.
Congenital heart defects
Congenital heart defects are when there is an abnormality in your cat’s heart that appears at birth and is hereditary. While some of the defects can be fixed, some cats will have a heart murmur for the duration of their lives.
Balinese, like Siamese, tend to have a higher incident of cancer. Cancer, which usually affects the mammary glands can form in cats even if they have been spayed or neutered.
There are a new drug and different surgery options for treating feline cancer.
Gangliosidosis, which is also known as lysosomal storage disease, is an inherited disease that occurs when one or another of the enzymes required to metabolize fats is missing or defective. As a consequence, fat molecules build up in the nerve cells, leading to a progressive loss of motor control.
Fortunately, a test exists to ensure that neither parent of a kitten carries the gene that is associated with the disease—which is one more reason to acquire your cat only from a licensed breeder who will provide documentation of a cat’s genetic fitness.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Progressive retinal atrophy, as the name suggests, is a disease that occurs when the cells of a cat’s retinas degenerate. A single gene mutation is responsible for the problem, though as yet no genetic test has been developed for cats.
It is therefore imperative to know a cat’s breeding history before acquiring a kitten in order to ensure that none of its ancestors has gone blind. There is no treatment for PRA, though affected cats can almost always live full lives if kept indoors.
Balinese, like Siamese, are prone to gastrointestinal conditions and disorders such as megaesophagus.
Megaesophagus is a condition in which the esophagus is enlarged which can then prohibit the proper digestion of food or liquid to the stomach.
Most cats that develop megaesophagus will need life-long therapy to treat the condition.
Hyperesthesia syndrome is a neurologic condition that results in cats to groom excessively which can lead to hair loss and impatience on the cat’s part when being pet or touched.
Lymphoma in cats is a cancer of the lymphocytes which is a specific white blood cell. Lymphocytes are the major cells found in lymph nodes. Lymphoma can occur in, not only the lymph nodes but the GI tract as well.
Nystagmus is a neurological disorder that will cause involuntary rapid eye movement and can be present at birth.
Can Pet Insurance Help with Health Issues of Balinese Cats?
The unequivocal answer is yes!
While your Balinese will hopefully not inherit or be diagnosed with any other disease or health condition, your kitty is at a much higher risk than other cats.
Even if your cat is healthy, there will be some health condition that occurs during the duration of your cat’s life, particularly when Balinese live up to 20 years old!
Pet insurance will help you pay for any of the medical costs that might incur over the years up to 90%.
Cat owners that adopt or purchase a certain breed, even if you get the kitty from the most respectable breeder known, should be encouraged to purchase pet insurance.
But, it is equally important to purchase the pet insurance while the cats are young and before any condition occurs and it becomes pre-existing.
Pet insurance offers owners a way to be certain that a cat’s health or even life will never hang on a bank balance.
The most important thing to look for in a policy is that the coverage covers hereditary or breed-specific conditions.
The best pet insurance companies will do just that and not add it on as a rider.
Healthy Paws, Embrace and even Petplan include breed-specific conditions in all of their policies.
Hopefully, you will be one of the lucky Balinese owners who never have a serious health issue occur with your cat. But, if you do, you will be very relieved to have purchased pet insurance.
If you would like to learn more about other health issues might occur with your cat, our list of the common health conditions of cats is a good place to start!