The Bengal Cat is a breed of domestic cat developed by selective breeding to evoke the feline denizens of the jungle such as leopards, ocelots, margays and clouded leopards. Bengal Cats were developed by the selective breeding of domestic cats with hybrids of domestic cats and an Asian leopard cat (ALC), Prionailurus bengalensis, with the goal of creating a confident, healthy and friendly cat with the high contrast and vividly marked coat.
The name "Bengal cat" was derived from the taxonomic name of the Asian leopard cat. They have a "wild" appearance with large spots, rosettes, and a light/white belly, and a body structure reminiscent of the ALC, but once separated by at least four generations from the original crossing possess a gentle domestic cat temperament.
Bengals are generally confident, curious and devoted companions. They get along well with other pets when properly introduced and enjoy being part of a family. Each Bengal is an individual and those interested should find out as much as they can about this wonderful breed before adding one to their family.
Origins of Bengal cat breed
Throughout history there are indications of a profound human fascination with the large and small wild felines that inhabit the jungles and forest of the world.
The earliest mention of a confirmed ALC/domestic cross was in 1934 in a Belgian scientific journal, and in 1941, a Japanese cat publication printed an article about one that was kept as a pet. Jean Mill (née Sugden), the person who was later a great influence of the development of the modern Bengal breed, submitted a term paper for her genetics class at UC Davis on the subject of crossbreeding cats in 1946
In 1963, Jean S. Mill crossed the domestic cat with the Asian Leopard Cat, a spotted five to twelve pound shy wild cat species from Asia. This was the first effort to use hybrid offspring to create a breed of domestic cat with the loving nature of a favored fireside tabby and the striking look associated with Leopards, Ocelots and Jaguars.
In the 1970s, Dr. William Centerwall bred ALCs with domestic cats to aid his studies in genetics because of their apparent immunity to feline leukemia. Eventually, these hybrids were given to Jean Sudgen Mill because of Centerwall's illness. At the same time, Bill Engler wanted to preserve the exotic cats' genes by breeding them with house cats. However, none of the today's Bengal lines originate from these cats. He chose the name "bengal," which was accepted by the ACFA.
The modern Bengal breed traces to cats bred by Mrs. Mill beginning in the early 1980's. The breed's name is a reference to the scientific name of the Asian Leopard Cat, Prionailurus bengalensis. The hybrid crosses are registered as Foundation (F1, F2 & F3) Bengals that are not eligible for show and only the females are used for breeding.
After three generations from the original crossing, the breed usually acquires a gentle domestic cat temperament; however, for the typical pet owner, a Bengal cat kept as a pet should be at least four generations (F4) removed from the leopard cat. The so-called "foundation cats" from the first three filial generations of breeding (F1–F3) are usually reserved for breeding purposes or the specialty pet home environment.
While you can train a Bengal to have "good manners", they are an active, inquisitive cat that loves to be up high. If you don't like a cat to leave the floor, a Bengal is probably not the right cat for you. Bengals are busy by nature. They are very affectionate and can be a "lap cat" whenever THEY want to be, but in general, their idea of fun is playing, chasing, climbing and investigating. When a Bengal is in full play mode, it's rather like trying to hold on to running water! They'll often save the cuddle time for when they want to sleep. Many Bengals enjoy water and may join you in brushing your teeth or taking a shower. Some Bengals are vocal while others are more quiet and selective about using their voice.
Bengals will also, in general, ALWAYS want to be where you are. After all, that's where the action is! And Bengals are all about "The Action". When given the choice of a static toy, and one that does wild, unpredictable things, Bengals will always choose the "wild" one! For individuals or families who enjoy rambunctious, funny, beautiful and dynamic feline companionship, consider the Bengal.
Bengal cat with light/white-spotted belly. Bengal cats have "wild-looking" markings, such as large spots, rosettes, and a light/white belly, and a body structure reminiscent of the leopard cat. A Bengal's rosetted spots occur only on the back and sides, with stripes elsewhere. The breed typically also features "mascara" (horizontal striping alongside the eyes), and foreleg striping.
The Bengal cat is usually either classed as brown-spotted or snow-spotted (although there are more colours, brown and snow are the only colours of Bengal that the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (UK) recognize). Within brown Bengals, there are either marble or spotted markings. Included in the spotted variation is rosetted, which consists of a spot with a dark line surrounding it. Snow Bengals are also either marble or spotted, but are also divided into blue-eyed or any other colour eyes.
The International Cat Association recognizes several Bengal colours (brown, seal lynx point, mink, sepia, silver) and patterns (spotted and marbled) for competition and shows. In the New Traits class, other colours may be shown, as well as longhairs.