The Bengal cat breed is a perfect example of man’s need to breed a domestic cat that has the look of a wild jungle cat. In the 1960’s there was an accidental mating between and Asian Leopard Cat and a black, short haired domestic cat at Jean Sugden’s home in California. She made no further attempt to develop this hybrid cat breed until the early 1970’s when she (now Jean Mill) received more such hybrids from Dr. Willard Centerwall at the University of California.
These cats were part of a research project aimed at determining if the Leopard Cat’s immunity to feline leukemia could be transferred to domestic cats. Unfortunately the results were negative. This was the first effort to create a cat breed with the temperament of the house cat and the look of a jungle cat.
The Bengal Cat
The distinct, unique breed of spotted domestic cat derived from the ancestral crossing of a domestic cat such as an Abyssinian, American Short hair, Burmese or Egyptian Bengal cat is mixed Breeding with an Asian leopard cat. The name "Bengal" is derived from the Latin name of the Asian Leopard Cat, Feline Bengalensis. The domestic Bengal has inherited the exotic and stunningly wild spotted pattern from the Asian Leopard Cat, found in the wild all over Central Asia. This beautiful breed of cat is very loving, affectionate and friendly whilst retaining the uniqueness of its wild ancestors.
The main credit for this breed is given to Jean Sudgen of the USA. Jean Sudgen crossed a black short haired domestic cat with a female Asian Leopard Cat in 1963. Offspring were produced proving that a second generation was possible. Further experiments were interrupted due to a death in the family. Later in 1975, Jean Sudgen, now Mrs. Jean Mill, acquired eight female hybrids from a geneticist called Dr. Willard Centerwall, who had been involved in a breeding program where Asian Leopard Cats were crossed with domestic cats as part of a study of feline Leukemia. Jean Sudgen Mills began again to further the new breed. This was the beginning of the exciting and exotic Bengal cat breed. Finally in 1984, the domestic Bengal we know today became recognized by the International Cat Association.
The domestic Bengal (must be four generations or more from the Asian Leopard Cat) is a medium to a relatively large short haired exotic cat. Bengals vary in size with the male between fourteen to twenty pounds and females slightly smaller at ten to twelve pounds. Bengals are very muscular cats with long bodies, thus appearing larger. They are also sturdy and substantial in appearance.
Heads are wild looking and formidable. The face should have a feral expression with small rounded ears, intense facial markings, and pronounced whisker pads. Careful selection of breeding ensures that the Bengal remains loving and friendly with a superb temperament while still retaining a strong physical resemblance to it's wild ancestor.
The Bengal can be very mischievous and boisterous. They are active cats always ready to play. They can also be very vocal, intelligent, loving and people oriented cats, always eager for human companionship and approval. Bengal owners find that they are very "dog-like" in personality, following you from room to room and always greeting you with a loving welcome. The Bengal also mixes well with children and other animals. These beautiful, majestic cats will grace any home and be a loyal life companion.
Bengal cats are also unique in that these cats actually love and enjoy water. They will play for hours with a slightly running tap and will delight children and adults alike with its playful antics with water.
The Bengal has six official colors, the Brown (Black) Spotted, the Brown (Black) Marbled, the Blue-Eyed or AOC-Eyed (any other colored) Snow Spotted Bengals, and the Blue-Eyed or AOC-Eyed (any other colored) Snow Marble Bengals. There is much variation between divisions with the Brown Spotted Bengal as the most popular and closest to the Asian Leopard Cat in appearance. In the US, the Bengal colors are essentially the same but are termed differently. Brown Spotted and Brown Marble Bengals can be found with large, expressive, alert, almond shaped green or gold eyes while the Snow Bengal is found with either blue or any other colored eyes.
Did You Know?
The Bengal has six official colors, the Brown (Black) Spotted, the Brown (Black) Marbled, the Blue-Eyed or Did You Know? Bengals with seal sepia, seal lynx and seal mink color patterns, which have a pale white or cream background, are known as “snow” Bengals