Bengal

The Bengal Cat

The Bengal is a relatively new hybrid breed of cat, formed by the cross of a domestic feline and an Asian Leopard Cat

Bengal cats have "wild-looking" markings, such as large spots, rosettes, and a light/white belly, and a body structure reminiscent of the Asian Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis bengalensis). The Bengal cat has a desirable "wild" appearance with a gentle domestic cat temperament, provided it is separated by at least three generations from the original crossing between a domestic feline and an Asian leopard cat.

Development of the breed

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s there was a great deal of activity with hybrids, but there was no significant effort to create an actual breed from them. Around this time, Jean Mill (née Sugden) began to renew her breeding efforts.

She says -I deliberately crossed leopard cats with domestic cats for several important reasons. At that time, wild cats were being exploited for the fur market. Nursing female leopard cats defending their nests were shot for their pelts, and the cubs were shipped off to pet stores worldwide. Unsuspecting cat lovers bought them, unaware of the danger, their unpleasant elimination habits and the unsuitability of keeping wild cats as pets.

Most of the wild kittens from this era ended up in zoos or escaped onto city streets. I hoped that by putting a leopard coat on a domestic cat, the pet trade could be safely satisfied. If fashionable women could be dissuaded from wearing furs that look like friends' pets, the diminished demand would result in less poaching of wild species. Jean Mill and colleagues worked hard to popularize the breed, and when the public saw the result of their work, word spread quickly.

Description

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.

The 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.

Temperament and 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 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.