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Birman Cat vs Balinese Cat: Pictures, Differences, & Which to Choose

Kathryn Copeland

By Kathryn Copeland

Finding a new cat for your household is an important decision. Cats can be with you for as long as 15 to 20 years, and you want the temperament of your cat to be a good match for your family. The Birman and the Balinese are two different but gorgeous cats that can be an amazing addition to most families. These two breeds are not as common as others but should be on the top of your list when thinking about getting a pet cat.

So, if you’ve been trying to decide between these two breeds, we’ll be going over their differences and similarities in this article, which we hope will make your decision a little easier. We’ll take a closer look at their personalities, characteristics, and appearances, so if you’re interested in learning more about these cats, please read on.
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Visual Differences

Birman Cat vs Balinese Cat
Photo Credit: Left: Birman cat: Daydream Photographie, Shutterstock | Right: Balinese cat: Fazlyeva Kamilla, Shutterstock

At a Glance

Birman Cat
  • Origin: Myanmar (Burma)
  • Size: 12 pounds
  • Lifespan: Up to 15+ years
  • Temperament: Affectionate, gentle, lap cat
Balinese Cat
  • Origin: United States
  • Size: 5–12 pounds
  • Lifespan: Up to 15+ years
  • Temperament: Affectionate, outgoing, curious

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Birman Cat Overview

sealpoint birman cat outdoor
Image Credit: Patrik Slezak, Shutterstock

The Birman has a mysterious and lovely story that surrounds its origins. This mythological story that has given them the name of the “Sacred Cats of Burma” tells of Sinh, a beautiful white cat with golden eyes. He stood guard over a dying Kittah priest in the temple of Lao-Tsun in ancient Burma (now Myanmar).

At this time, Sinh placed his paws on his master and faced the goddess Tsun Kyan-Kse. The cat’s fur turned to gold, his eyes to sapphire, and his paws to white, matching the goddess’s appearance. Sinh was one of about 100 temple cats who all eventually changed appearance. It’s still believed that when one of the temple cats dies, the soul of one of the Kittah priests accompanies the cat’s soul on its journey to paradise.

This legend is a beautiful way that tells the story of the Birman, but what we know for certain is that sometime in the 1920s, this breed arrived in France and was given the name of Birmanie (Birman for short), which translates to “Burma” in French.

However, by the end of the Second World War, there were only two Birmans in all of Europe. These two cats were crossed with other breeds, mainly Persians, and eventually evolved into the Birmans we are familiar with today.

Characteristics & Appearance

Birman cat on the floor
Photo Credit: Daydream Photographie, Shutterstock

Birmans are medium to large cats that all have gorgeous long, silky fur and blue eyes. They are famous for those blue eyes as well as their white, mitted paws and an all-over golden hue.

Birmans come in all pointed colors—cinnamon, chocolate, cream, lilac, red, blue, seal, frost, fawn, and fawn, which means they have pale bodies and darker tails, feet, faces, and ears.

Birman kittens are born all white and don’t develop their pointed colors until they have fully matured.


Birman cats might be known as sacred, but they are also known as Velcro cats as they tend to stick to your side as much as they can. They are very gentle and laidback cats and tend to be quite adaptable to various situations and people.

Birmans are also very inquisitive and intelligent cats that thrive on affection and attention and love to be on your lap and held. They do well in single households and with large families with children.

They enjoy playing as much as sleeping on your lap and genuinely enjoy being the centers of attention. They also get along with all kinds of cat-friendly pets. Their adaptability, as well as their curiosity, makes them fantastic cats for most households.

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Balinese Cat Overview

Balinese Cat Sitting On A Cherry Tree
Photo Credit: Fazlyeva Kamilla, Shutterstock

If you have a fondness for the Siamese cat, you’ll probably love the Balinese. This breed is essentially a longhaired version of the Siamese and is a member of the Siamese Breed Group (which additionally includes the Oriental Shorthair and Longhair).

While it’s thought that a longhaired Siamese has been around as far back as the 1800s, the history of the Balinese really starts in the 1950s with two Siamese breeders. Marion Dorsey of California and Helen Smith of New York both discovered longhaired kittens in their Siamese cat’s litters and decided to continue developing this breed.

Helen Smith came up with the name “Balinese” based on the elegant gracefulness of these cats, which reminded her of the beautiful Balinese dancers of Indonesia.

Characteristics & Appearance

balinese cat in grey background
Photo Credit: Pasiaflora, Shutterstock

The appearance of the Balinese is essentially a longhaired Siamese. This, of course, means they come in a variety of pointed colors—blue, chocolate, fawn, cinnamon, cream, red, and seal points. They can also come in tabby points (known as lynx points), tortie points, and silver/smoke points.

The Balinese can be small to medium in size, and the coat is wispy but with a beautiful, plumed tail and shaggier undercoat. Like all Siamese, they are blue-eyed with wedge-shaped heads and large ears.


Again, like all Siamese, the Balinese are quite chatty. Expect a lot of conversation with this breed as they will keep you company by following you around the house and will enjoy telling you all about their day.

They are highly intelligent and are very good-natured and energetic cats. They love their families, are very affectionate, and are very social and curious. The Balinese demands attention and can become pretty naughty if they are left alone or ignored for long periods of time.

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What Are the Differences Between the Birman and Balinese?

There’s a similarity in appearances between these two breeds. They are both pointed in their coloring, have longer fur, and are blue-eyed. The differences are that the Birman tends to be slightly larger, both in size as well as having a stockier build, and they have those white mittens and a golden hue.

The Birman’s coat is slightly thicker than the Balinese, so it requires a little more maintenance, but honestly, not much more. Weekly grooming for both breeds is sufficient. The Balinese are known to be one of the longer-living cats than most other breeds and have lived beyond 20 years. Both breeds are healthy, but the Balinese can be sensitive to anesthesia, which your vet needs to be aware of.

There are also definitely similarities in temperament, but we’ll go over the differences. The Balinese are a more active and energetic breed compared to the Birman. They are both playful, but the Balinese will enjoy longer and more intense playtime. Additionally, the Birman is more of a quiet lap cat. The Balinese are affectionate and love attention but are highly energetic and love to find high perches to keep an eye on everything. The Balinese are also easy to train because of all that energy and intelligence.

Finally, the Birman is a quieter and gentler cat all around than the Balinese. The Birman doesn’t talk as often, and when it does, it’s in a quiet, soft voice.

balinese cat sitting on pathway in the park
Image Credit: SJ Duran, Shutterstock

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Which Breed Is Right for You?

Now that you’ve learned more about the Balinese and the Birman, hopefully, you’ve also figured out which breed will make the better fit for your family.

If you are looking for a gentler and quieter cat that will prefer to hang out on your lap as often as possible, then you should definitely go for the Birman. But if you want an affectionate cat that will expend a ton of energy playing, running, and jumping, and if you’re interested in training your cat, the Balinese will be the better choice.

Both the Birman and the Balinese are gorgeous and loving cats, and really, you can’t go wrong with either breed.

Featured Image Credit: Left: Birman cat: Piqsels | Right: Balinese cat: SJ Duran, Shutterstock

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