Last updated: February 18, 2017
Many registries consider the Javanese to be a division of the Balinese rather than a breed of its own. There are a few that recognize it as its own breed but most have now integrated the Javanese breed standard with that of the Balinese.
Like the Balinese and Siamese, the Javanese has the typical tubular, slender body of many of the oriental breeds. He is slight but muscular and very agile. The body is rectangular in shape. They are fine boned cats with long, tapering tails. The rear legs are slightly longer than the forelegs giving them the characteristic appearance of being higher in rear.
The head is wedge shaped and triangular with a flat forehead. The ears are quite large and wide set. The eyes are almond in shape and set at an oriental slant in the head. They are always a bright, vivid shade of blue.
The coat is medium long in length with little undercoat. It is silky in texture and lies close to the body. The lack of undercoat means that it is not prone to tangles and matting and requires very little in terms of grooming care. The occasional brushing will suffice in most cases. It is plumy on the tail and slightly longer on the britches and on the belly.
The color is where the Javanese differs from the traditional Balinese. The latter is lilac, chocolate, blue, or seal pointed cats. In the Javanese colorpoints are recognized. They come in lynx, tortie, and red and cream. Lynx is considered to be tabby stripes in a variety of shades and tortie is several shades on the same cat. The registries that consider the Javanese and Balinese to be one and the same accept all of these colors as part of the Balinese breed.
The Javanese came out of crosses between the Balinese and colorpointed shorthairs during the 1970s. Fans of the personality and coat of the Balinese wanted to expand the range of colors it came in, hence the crossbreedings. The Balinese was named for its resemblance to the grace of the Balinese dancers, not because it originated in Bali. In a nod to this, the new breed was christened the Javanese because Java is the next island over from Bali. Like the Balinese, the Javanese was never found on Java.
The colorpointed Balinese was quite popular and recognized as its own breed initially. Over time, many registries began to feel that the only real difference between the two breeds was the acceptable colors. This led to some groups amalgamating the two breeds under the name Balinese and expanding the acceptable color range to include colorpoints. Today, most registries consider the two breeds to be one and the same and do not list them separately although there are still a few that do.
The Javanese is generally a long lived, healthy cat. They do have some health issues that are known to crop up in the many breeds derived from the Siamese. Hepatic amyloidosis is known to occur in many of the oriental breeds. It involves an accumulation of amyloid in the liver. In Abyssinians, it is known to occur in the kidneys and is referred to as renal amyloidosis. Unfortunately, it hides better in the liver and the consequences are fatal. Affected cats often die before they turn five years of age, often quite suddenly. If caught early enough, it is sometimes possible to nurse the cat through to a period of recovery but it does keep re-occurring and is eventually fatal. Symptoms include jaundice, pale gums and ears, high white blood cell counts, and vomiting that may be tinged with blood. Eventually, the liver fails or hemorrhages fatally. Unfortunately, there are no genetic tests for it at this time. When buying a cat from a breeder it is a good idea to discuss this disease with them.
Crossed eyes, hyperesthesia, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) are also known to occur in the Javanese. Crossed eyes can look odd but do not affect quality of life. Hyperesthesia is a syndrome that leads to odd behaviors including an increased sensitivity to touch and phantom itches that can lead to scratching and chewing at the skin. It can be managed with a reduction in stress and does not degenerate over time. It is not fatal and cats with hyperesthesia can live long lives. There is a gene test for PRA and breeders should be able to provide proof that their breeding stock is clear of this disease.
Like the Balinese and Siamese, the Javanese is a talkative and active member of his family. They need to be involved in everything and have an opinion on everything which they will not hesitate to vocalize. When you are home they demand attention and will be underfoot. This is not a good choice for someone who would like a cat content to snooze on the sofa and enjoy the occasional petting.
They are quite active and love high places. They are excellent jumpers and love cat trees. The Javanese is likely to find his way to all the perches in your home, so breakables should be safely stored behind cabinet doors. Playful and energetic are good words to describe this breed. Puzzle toys, chaser toys, and anything that can be thrown for a game of fetch are all good choices. Like the Balinese, failure to provide toys can lead to the Javanese creating his own toys which can lead to unfortunate consequences such as empty toilet paper rolls, flying papers, and broken items.
They are affectionate and love to be loved. They will carry on a conversation and follow you from room to room. They can be somewhat dog like and are easily taught tricks. Games like fetch and walking on a leash are all well within the range of normal for the Javanese.
Provided that other pets in the home are willing to play and cuddle, the Javanese is very accepting of their presence. They can do okay when left on their own during the day provided they have lots to keep themselves occupied but will do better with company.
The Javanese is a good choice for families with children. They will gladly spend hours playing with them, retrieving, and otherwise enjoying their company. This is a good choice of breeds for many families provided that they want a cat that is determined to be involved in all aspects of family life.