Bengal Cats are a domesticated breed that combines the temperament of a housecat with an exotic, leopard-like appearance.
People are attracted to the Bengal cat in large part because of the striking coat and the fascinating merge between tame and wild.
There is much to explore when it comes to this extraordinary animal. A complete understanding of the breed encourages not only proper raising, but also a genuine sense of appreciation.
The history of the Bengal Cat is as intriguing as its appearance. It is the only breed to successfully pair a tame cat with a wild cat. While there is some evidence that there were several attempts to cross-breed tame cats with Asian Leopards, the first documented success was in the 1970s.
The story of the Bengal Cats begins with research for feline leukemia. As many cat owners know, feline leukemia is an incurable illness that attacks the immune system. However, Dr. Willard Centerwall spent some time researching Asian Leopards as they appeared to have built up an immunity to the disease. He attempted to cross-breed Asian Leopards with domestic cats in an effort to create a domestic breed that also had the immunity.
Once Dr. Centerwall completed his study, he sought a home for the cats. A small-time breeder, Jean Sudgen, took a few of the cats that were showcasing signs of proper socialization and temperament. She continued to work toward producing the perfect hybrid breed that combined the beautiful coat from the wild with the domesticated feline personality people love so well.
Bengal Size & Appearance
The size and appearance of the Bengal Cat are often the first indications that this breed has a feral lineage.
The breed is known for producing medium-to-large felines with a distinctive muscular build and requires a Species-Appropriateness cat food diet.
The head is small in comparison to the body with a broad muzzle and distinct cheekbones that highlight the large, captivating eyes.
Hinting at the wild-cat ancestry are the slightly longer hind legs that make the posterior region elevated. A full grown Bengal cat size for male is around 9-16 lbs and females 8-13 lbs.
The most attractive physical feature is found in the appearance of the lush, thick coat.
The leopard-like spots can take on various patterns and shapes. Generally, the colors consist of black and brown spotted coats or black and brown marbled coats.
However, breeders have managed to produce white spotted and white marbled Bengal Cats. Also, some Bengal Cats inherit the “glitter gene” which literally means that their coats appear to sparkle.
Bengal Cats are very low maintenance when it comes to grooming as they are excellent self-groomers. It is suggested to brush your Bengal once per week to promote a healthy coat. Bengal Cats also have the reputation of being hypoallergenic because they shed very little.
Bengal Cat Personality and Temperament
It is important that people understand the personality and character of the Bengal Cat as it combines two entirely different worlds.
While they are certainly not lap cats, and can be a bit more aloof than other domesticated felines, the Bengal Cat is easily tamed and affectionate to their owners.
While they generally don’t seek out regular attention, they do enjoy the company of their family, specifically children.
Bengal Cats operate with a high energy level and enjoys playing games and toys that stimulate their minds and meets their physical demands.
Bengal Cats also enjoy hunting and will seek out opportunities to tap into that natural instinct. They enjoy hunting small animals, such as birds, but will also pursue water prey.
The Asian Leopard is known for its fishing abilities, and Bengal Cats often seek out water as part of their instinctive drive to fish for food.
It is not unusual for Bengal Cats to swim or play in the water, which is quite the opposite of ordinary housecats.
It is important that potential owners understand that Bengal Cats certainly are a combination of feral and domestic.
While they certainly carry domestic cat features and personality, they very much present their feral ancestry through their high energy demands and innate drive to hunt.
Not doing so may lead a Bengal cat to develop personality problems.
The average life span expectancy for a Bengal Cat is 14-16 years which is on par with domesticated felines. Bengal Cats are generally healthy.
However, they are more susceptible to some illnesses due to Bengal cat genetics.
The three most common problems are HCM (heart disease), PkDef (chronical anemia) and an early onset autosomal recessive disorder which may lead to eye disorders (macular degeneration) and even blindness.
However, many breeders screen against these problems and can reduce the likeliness of your cat having such issues.
Breeding of Bengal Cats
In order to breed this extraordinary Hybrid Cat, Bengal breeders have put in place a system to help identify how far removed the cat is from the original Asian Leopard Cat parent, which follows a logical progression once understood and makes it very easy to identify the genetic heritage of a given Bengal cat.
- An F1 Bengal (“F” standing for “foundation”) is the result of breeding between an Asian Leopard Cat and a domestic Bengal cat – the first generation of offspring. F1 kittens are often very high in demand as they are considered as an “original” Bengal.
- An F2 Bengal is the offspring of an F1 and a domestic Bengal. In other words, the F2 Bengal has an ALC “grandparent”.
- An F3 Bengal likewise has an F2 parent which bred with a domestic Bengal, an F1 grandparent, and an ALC great-grandparent.
- An F4 Bengal is an additional generation down, but is more commonly referred to as “SBT” (Studbook Tradition).
Bengal Cat Facts
While we have discussed the overall traits of the Bengal Cat, many lesser known facts are both interesting and important to know. Here are a few:
Bengal Cats are not immune to feline leukemia. While they were initially bred as a part of an experiment to produce an immune cat, the goal was not met.
Asian Leopards cats are among the most docile when it comes to wild felines. They are relatively shy and timid which made them an excellent choice to pair with domestic cats.
Bengal Cats are no more savage than any other domestic cat.
The Bengal Cat was NOT named after the Bengal Tiger. Instead, it was named after the Latin term for Asian Leopard which is Prionailurus bengalenses.
Bengals can jump up to three times their height.
Bengal Cats are highly intelligent and can learn tricks.
Bengal Cats are known for hiding things such as car keys or other small objects.
Bengals can easily be trained to walk on a leash.
Bengals are very vocal and will communicate loudly and persistently if they want something.
This is an expensive breed. The average cost for a single cat can range from $500-$5000.
Popular Colors, Markings, and Patterns
- White Bengal cat
- Silver Bengal cat
- Grey Bengal cat
- Charcoal Bengal cat
- Long haired Bengal cat
- Snow leopard Bengal cat
- Red Bengal cat
- Marble Bengal cat
- Orange Bengal cat
- Spotted Bengal cat
- Rosetted Bengal cat
- Solid Black Bengal cat
Bengal Cat Overview
Bengal Cats are among the most visually appealing cat breeds in the world. However, there is much more to this incredible breed than physical beauty.
The blend of jungle-like stealth and high energy mixed with a friendly and tame demeanor makes for the ultimate feline experience.
Understanding and appreciating the feral heritage coupled with gentle qualities will ensure that you are prepared for what it takes to be a successful Bengal Cat owner.