The actual origins of the Siamese have been lost, but it is fairly certain that it is Eastern in origin. Manuscripts from Ayudha, the ancient capital of Siam (now Thailand), record native cats. One of these manuscripts, Cat Book Poems dating from 1350, pictures a pale-coated cat with a black mask, tail, feet and ears. The Siamese made its debut in Europe in 1871 at the Crystal Palace Cat Show in London. In 1879 the first Siamese arrived in the United States as a gift to the wife of President Rutherford Hayes from the US Consul in Bangkok. The original Siamese shown were seal points, but as blue, chocolate and lilac colors appeared, they were accepted for show. In the seventies tabby points and red and cream points made their appearance on the show bench. 1989 saw the acceptance of silver tabby points and smoke points. Around the same time particolor points were accepted for show. TICA currently accepts all colors and patterns of the pointed category for show.
The Oriental Shorthair & Longhair are man-made breeds that originated in the 1950s in England. After World War II the number of breeders and breeding cats was reduced. Some of the remaining breeders became quite creative as they rebuilt their breeding programs. Many modern breeds developed from the crosses done at that time. One such breed is the Oriental Shorthair/Longhair. Russian Blues, British Shorthairs, Abyssinians, and regular domestic cats were crossed to Siamese. The resulting cats were not pointed and were crossed back to Siamese. In surprisingly few generations, there were cats that were indistinguishable from Siamese in all ways except color. As the Siamese pointed color is genetically recessive, pointed kittens were also produced. The best Siamese colored cats from these crosses went back into the Siamese breed, enlarging and strengthening the Siamese gene pool. The non-pointed cats were the ancestors of our modern Orientals. Initially, each color was developed and named as a separate breed: such as Foreign White, Havana (chocolate), and the Oriental Spotted Tabby. Soon it became apparent that there were too many possible colors to have a breed for each. All the non-pointed cats were grouped into one breed, the Oriental Shorthair/Longhair. Orientals were imported into the United States in the 1970s. New crosses between American Shorthairs to top show Siamese created yet more colors. Interestingly, "Havanas" were imported into America early on but evolved into a distinct breed called the Havana Brown, which are quite different from solid chocolate Orientals.
The early history of the Balinese is unknown although sporadic references to it occur from early on. Some say there is a Chinese tapestry depicting a longhair, an 1871 Penny Illustrated magazine contains a reference to a longhaired Siamese, and we find a CFF registration record for one in 1928. While the longhaired kittens were showing up sporadically, the history of the Balinese starts with the first breeding programs in the 1950s. Two Siamese breeders, Marion Dorsey (Rai-Mar) in California and Helen Smith (MerryMews) in New York, both fell in love with the beauty of some longhair kittens that appeared in their Siamese litters and decided to develop more of the lovely cats. Helen Smith coined the name Balinese to reflect their grace and elegance that reminded her of Balinese dancers. The Balinese was originally recognized in four colors: seal, blue, chocolate and lilac. In 1979, red and cream along with the tabby pattern were also accepted rounding out the color palette to include red, cream, tortoiseshells of all color combinations as both solid color points and tabby points. More recently, these colors in combination with white were accepted widening the color spectrum to include bicolor points. TICA recognized the Balinese for competition in 1979.
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