History of Bengal Cats
The Bengal Cat is a hybrid that is the result of cross matings between domestic cats and the Asian Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis bengalensis). Further development to the breed was done by using Ocicats, Abyssinians, Egyptian Maus, Bombays and British Shorthairs. The result is a cat the shows typical "wild markings" but with a gentle domestic temperament. This temperament shows true as long as there is a separation of at least 3 generations from the original hybrid breeding.
The Cat Fanciers Association does not accept the breed however many other registries have recognized the breed and it obtained official recognition with The International Cat Association (TICA) in 1984.
Description of the Bengal Cat
The Bengal Cat is a medium to large sized short haired cat with a long muscular body, large bones and hind legs that are longer than the front legs. The feet are large and oval and the tail is thick but tapering to a black tip. The head is a broad wedge shaped - longer than it is wide with small ears and noticeable whisker pads. The eyes are almond shaped and black rimmed. Intense facial markings add to the Bengals wild appearance.
Bengal Cats are large cats -
Males: 15 - 22 (6-9kg)
Females: 10 -12 pounds (4.5 to 5.5 kg)
The coat of the Bengal Cat is short but plush and dense giving a very sleek appearance. Although the goal of the Bengal is to mimic the appearance of its wild cat ancestor, it comes in a variety of patterns and colours that are not found in the Asian Leopard Cat.
The patterns may be spotted or marbled with a background colour of either brown or white. The spots can come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes and patterns. Many breeders aim for a wild looking arrow-head shaped spot or ‘rosettes' and the spotting should ideally be random or horizontal - but never joining up in obvious stripes. Marbling is a pattern of contrasting horizontal swirls along the side of the cat.
Bengals also carry a gene known as the ‘glitter' gene - this is a recessive gene but highly desirable as it makes the cat look like it has been sprinkled with gold!
There are a variety of other colors that can make up the background color and the spots can also vary - it is important that if you want to show your Bengal Cat you should check which colours are acceptable for the breed in your country as there is some variation as to what is allowed.
Temperament of the Bengal Cat
Bengal Cats are very intelligent, active and energetic. They love to climb and climbing structures must be provided in the cat run for them. Declawing is not an ethical option for any cat - but in this breed it can be considered a devastating mutilation. The Bengal also loves to run and leap and also has a fondness for playing in water. They have also been called wilful, outgoing and bold. They enjoy a conversation with their owners using a very distinctive raspy voice. Their wild origins show in their climbing skills but also in their love of hunting - this breed must be kept indoors and only walked on a harness in order to protect local wildlife. They also need to be supplied with a variety of toys to satisfy their needs to stalk, retrieve or hunt and just play. This breed is so active that we recommend you visit some breeders before making your decision to check that this is the type of cat you want first and see for yourself.
Bengal Cats can be prone to ‘Bengal nose'- a condition that causes a type of ulcerative dermatitis of the skin of the nose. It is not necessarily genetic but may be related to poor diet or allergies.
Possible Genetic Disorders of Bengal Cats
Some serious genetic diseases that are linked to the Bengal Cat are:
- Retinal atrophy
- Distal neuropathy
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Some less serious problems are psychogenic alopecia and entropion.
Bengal Cats are Best Suited
- For those who want a busy, demanding and interactive cat
- For those who love to play with their pets
- As a companion for people at home
- As a companion animal for dogs and other cats
Bengal Cats are Not Suited
- For those that want a couch potato
- For solitary, quiet households
- For the outdoors - they will devastate local wildlife
- For those that can't give a large amount of affection and attention
- They are not the best lap/cuddle cats as they are often way too busy!
Recommended Reading on Bengal Cats
Bengal Cats: A Complete Pet Owner's Manual