Who has not already heard of this breed of cats that look so much like their wild cousins, the leopard? The Bengal cat has a distinctive spotted coat, a large size and looks as if he belongs in the jungle. Before deciding to adopt a Bengal cat, here is some interesting information about this particular cat.
A brief history of the Bengal cat
The Bengal breed was created in United States in the 70’s through crosses between an Asian leopard cat and domestic shorthairs. The Bengal cat is named after the scientific name of the Asian leopard cat: Prionailurus bengalensis. Dr. Willard Centerwall was crossing Asian leopard cats with domestic cats at Loyola University. The leopard cats were resistant to the feline leukemia virus, so researchers were interested in finding out if the trait could be passed on to hybrid offspring. Various breeders became interested in developing the cats as a breed. Jean Mill, a breeder in California, was one of them. Jean Mill was instrumental in recognition of Bengals as a breed by The International Cat Association in 1983.
Bengals today are considered to be one and the same with domestic cats, although one of his ancestors is the small wild Asian leopard cat. In fact, any Bengal purchased should be at least four generations removed from any ancestors with wild bloodlines.
The Bengal could be called an athlete: agile and graceful with a strong and muscular body as if he belongs in the jungle. This is not the kind of cat that tends to gain weight. The Bengal's beautiful coat comes in many background colors, ranging from golden, rust, brown and orange to sand, buff and ivory. Bengal spots also vary in color, from rust or cocoa and chocolate brown to charcoal or black. Some Bengal coats have striking rosettes or spots made up of more than one color, usually a secondary color forming a dark outlining to the spot. Bengal coats also come in a marbled pattern: one or more colors swirled into the background color. While most commonly seen in the brown spotted tabby pattern, they may also be found in the marbled pattern. A Bengal’s coat can have hairs with an iridescent sheen, making it look as if it has been sprinkled with glitter. His eyes are two large ovals, almost round. Another characteristic of the Bengal cat is a spotted belly. Enhancing the Bengal’s wild appearance is a short, thick pelt that feels luxuriously soft and silky.
The Bengal cat is a lot of fun to live with, but he’s definitely not a cat for everyone or for first time cat owners. Extremely intelligent, curious and active, he demands a lot of interactions. If you won’t be home during the day, think of having two of them, or don’t get one. The Bengal is a confident, talkative, friendly cat who is always alert. Nothing escapes his notice. He likes to play games, including fetch, and he is very good at learning tricks.
Bored bengal cats can also adopt some slightly annoying habits, such as: turning light switches on and off and excitedly plucking CDs from your DVD player. He also loves to climb and can often be found perching at the highest point he can reach in the home. A tall cat tree or two is a must for this cat, as are puzzle toys that will challenge his intelligence. Bengal can also be very affectionate and will be more than happy to sit on your lap.
Other interesting facts
As well as being desired for their appearance, they are also known for being a breed that sheds very little. Many claims that the Bengal is a hypoallergenic breed, but this is purely anecdotal evidence, and while some people may not react, others will still have an allergic reaction to them.
Bengals are generally healthy, but the following diseases have been seen in the breed:
- Distal neuropathy
- Flat-chested kitten syndrome
- Hip dysplasia
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
- Patellar luxation
- Progressive retinal atrophy
The Bengal cat is a perfect choice for families with children and cat-friendly dogs. Nothing scares him, certainly not dogs, and he will happily make friends with them if they don’t give him any trouble.
The price to purchase a Bengal from a registered breeder (which we highly recommend!) vary between 1200$ to 4500$. Click here for the list of TICA's registered bengal breeders.