The Bengal cat is a beautiful cat breed best known for the spots in his fur. They are large, strong cats that are smart and very energetic. They live up to 16 years.
Bengal cats are bred to appear like exotic jungle cats like ocelots, leopards, and margays. They can be marble or spotted and come in a variety of colors: Snow, Silver, Brown, and Blue. Newer colors such as charcoal, cinnamon, and chocolate are also growing in popularity.
Bengal cats are generally large in size. They weigh between 8 to 15 lbs. Their head is quite small in comparison with their body. Just like their wild cat ancestors, they have small ears too. This breed’s ears have a thumbprint, a thumb-like part where in their fur is very short.
Bengal cats also have an identifiable “M” on their forehead. Their bodies are slim, athletic, and strong. Their hind legs are also a little longer than the front ones – giving them an arch to the back when they stand.
Personality and Temperament
Bengal cats are very active and smart. These traits make living with them fun and challenging. These cats are conversationalists. They are confident and friendly. They are also very alert, and nothing can escape his eyes.
And since Bengal cats are intelligent and active — they can learn to play games like fetch. But these traits come with a price. Just like some active and smart dog breeds, Bengal cats can adopt to some destructive behaviors when they are left bored. They also like playing with water so keep your fish bowls away.
The Bengal cat also loves to climb. You may find him nestling at the highest point at home that’s why tall cat tree or cat condo may be useful.
Despite being mischievous, playful cats, Bengal cats can be sweet and affectionate. They will love to sit and warm on your lap, and will definitely share your bed.
Health and Care
Generally, Bengal cats are healthy. However, there are some diseases have been deemed common in the breed like:
- Flat-chested kitten syndrome,
- Distal neuropathy,
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy,
- Hip dysplasia,
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- And Patellar luxation.
Bengal cats have a short and thick coat that are easy to groom. They only require weekly combing to distribute skin oils and remove dead hair evenly. These cats rarely need a bath, but their teeth must be brushed daily – if possible – to prevent periodontal diseases. Their nails must be trimmed every two weeks. Their ears must be checked and cleaned weekly.
Bengal cats are best kept indoors to prevent them from catching diseases from other cats, getting attacked by dogs or wild animals.
History and Background
Bengal cats were named after the scientific name of the Asian leopard cat: Felis bengalensis. The first Bengal cats originated after domestic shorthair cats were crossbred with the Asian Leopard cats. While Asian Leopard cats used to be wild, they became domesticated and available in pets stores in the 1950s.
Jean Mill, a cat breeder from California, was the first to crossbreed the domestic shorthairs and Asian Leopard cats by accident. Jean got a leopard cat so her black tom cat would have company. She never knew they 2 species would breed and to her surprise, her cat gave birth to kittens. Jean kept a spotted female, bred her with her father, and gave birth to a litter of spotted and solid-colored kittens.
At the same time at the Loyola University, Dr. Willard Centerwall was also cross-breeding Asian leopard cats with domestic cats. Because leopard cats were immune to the Feline Leukemia Virus, the researchers wanted to find out if this trait can be passed down to their cross-bred offspring – but it was not possible.
Several cat breeders then became interested in developing these spotted and marbled cats as a breed including Jean. She almost gave up breeding cats but decided to get back on her feet and acquired some of Dr. Centerwall’s hybrids before searching for suitable males to breed with them. She found an orange domestic shorthair cat in India and a brown spotted tabby cat from a shelter. The Bengal cats we know today are considered to be domestic cats. It’s required that any Bengal cats for sale should be at least four generations down from any wild ancestors.
The International Cat Association is the first cat association to recognize the breed. They gave the Bengal cats the experimental status in 1983, then a full recognition in 1991. The Bengal cat is also recognized by the Canadian Cat Association, the American Cat Fanciers Association, and the United Feline Organization.