The Bengal Cat is the most widely accepted domestic/wildcat breed of cat. It was developed in the United States by crossing small Asian Leopard Cats with domestic cats with the goal of creating a wild-looking cat with a pet temperament. This cat may enjoy playing in water and is known for being quite the problem solver. Not a delicate, placid creature, but is very active and entertaining.
The Bengal is characterized by a beautiful coat that resembles a wildcat and a substantial body style. They are medium to large in size. The coat color base can come in a wide variety of colors including rust, golden, brown, orange, sand, buff and ivory. The secondary markings can be spots, rosettes, and marbled stripes of varying colors, and sometimes multiple colors within the marks. Some of the hairs may be iridescent, causing the fur to look glittery in certain lighting situations. Bengals with white or ivory backgrounds are often called Snow Bengals. Snow Bengals may have blue eyes.
The earliest cross between an Asian Leopard Cat and a domestic shorthair was documented in 1889. The most notable Bengal breeding program began in 1963 by Jean S. Mill. Her desire was to create a domestic companion with a wild look. Further contributors to the breed were Greg and Elizabeth Kent, who developed their own line of Bengals using ALCs and Egyptian Maus. This was a very successful line and many modern Bengals will find it in their pedigree. Most cat registries recognize the Bengal except for the Cat Fanciers Association, which does not admit any hybrid lines.
The Bengal is an inquisitive, active, highly intelligent cat designed to inspire awe both in looks and behavior. This is not a cat for the first-time cat owner as they require lots of interaction and cat-proofing for safety and success. These cats delight in climbing up high, opening cabinets and stealing items. If you do not have a sense of humor and prefer to have everything orderly, this may not be the cat for you. Bengal cats generally made available to the public with their sweet yet active domestic personalities are at least four generations removed from their wild Asian Leopard Cat ancestor.
Keep your sense of humor!
Breed Club Links: The International Bengal Breeder's Association
BaxterBoo.com Perfect Pairings: Cat's Trapeze Cat Hammock
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Ready to adopt a Bengal? Visit Petfinder.com to see available cats.
Photo courtesy of Roberto Shabs.