Rare Breed is Not Indonesian
The Javanese cat has been trying to make a name for itself for more than half a century now. Grouped in with cats such as the Balinese, Siamese and Oriental, the breed would probably suffer from identity crisis—if it weren’t such a mild-mannered, good-natured, happy cat.
Its affectionate, playful personality, along with its exotic appearance, has made this rare breed a cherished one amongst its families and admirers.
Although the Javanese cat has what you would assume is a derivative name, the breed is not from Java or anywhere else in Indonesia.
The breed was named by MerryMews Cattery founder Helen Smith, who was inspired by the cat’s exotic appearance.
Genetically, the Javanese cat is an Oriental, crossed with a Balinese and a colorpoint shorthair. In the early 1950s, Smith, along with Marion Dorsey, another cat fancier, collaborated on a breeding program specifically to expand the Siamese breed. The two are also responsible for creating the Balinese breed.
In fact, some cat fancier associations, such as The International Cat Association (TICA), make no distinction between the Javanese and the Balinese breeds, grouping them both under the “Balinese” category.
While the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) officially recognized the Javanese as a separate breed in 1979, it considers the cat to be an Oriental with points—also known as a Siamese.
To know the origins of the Javanese cat is to be familiar with the history of the Siamese, which was discovered by the English more than 100 years ago. Siamese cats are believed to have hailed from Asia; specifically Thailand (then Siam), and are one of the first recognized breeds of oriental, or foreign, cats.
When Smith and Dorsey decided to breed new lines of the Siamese, they based one cattery in California and another in New York; as a result, the Javanese is considered rare as compared to more well-known breeds which are readily available for adoption.
The Javanese cat has a disposition similar to that of a Balinese: highly social and interactive with people and other pets, such as dogs. This breed is known to be extremely affectionate and prefers the company of its family rather than being left alone for long periods of time.
The Javanese also likes to perch from high places, such as a cat condo, a bookshelf, the top of the refrigerator or even on the shoulder of a family member. This is a very curious breed that enjoys adventure and playing games. If you easily can’t locate your Javanese, check unique hiding spots such as shopping bags, underneath a couch, behind an appliance or inside small spaces.
As with the Balinese and the Siamese, the Javanese is a rather vocal cat, often voicing its demands with a loud, low-pitched meow.
Some cat fanciers refer to the Javanese as a long-haired Oriental. Like the Siamese and the Balinese, the Javanese cat has a graceful, medium-sized muscular build with long tapering lines.
The breed’s exotic features—slanted eyes and wedge-shaped head—are notably due to its Oriental roots. Like the Balinese and Siamese, the Javanese has blue eyes, described by some as “sapphire.”
The Javanese cat’s coat is “pointed,” meaning the body of the cat is lighter than its head, tail and legs. The darker colors of the cat are known as the “points.” The fur itself has a silky texture. One difference between the Javanese and Siamese: The Javanese has a single-layered coat, thus lacking a downy undercoat, and has a full, plumed tail.
The breed’s coat can be tortoiseshell, chocolate, blue, seal, lilac or red and cream. On average, the Javanese weighs between five and 11 pounds.
While these medical conditions are generally uncommon they are known to occur in the breed. Your Javanese cat will not necessarily develop any of the conditions listed below. Choosing a reputable breeder from which to purchase your pet will help minimize the risks.
- Hereditary liver amyloidosis occurs when an amyloid protein is deposited in the liver leading to organ failure.
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a hereditary eye disease that causes deterioration of the retina and blindness.
- Strabismus is a hereditary disorder of the optic nerve that causes cross-eyes of Siamese and Balinese cats. Crossed-eyes are of little consequence for most cats but the condition can make them ineligible to compete in cat shows.
As with any pet, be sure to regularly consult a veterinarian for routine care and medical advice for your four-legged friend.