The Bengal cat is a hybrid 'domestic' breed of felines that is called so due to the distinct markings on the body, such as spots and rosettes. Its gait and physical resemblance to the Asian Leopard Cat makes it a part of the established exotic feline species and a popular pet.
The Bengal cat breed has a 'wild' appearance that stands out in contrast to its domestic temperament. Today, the feline is separated by at least three 'wild' generations. This breed is the result of a cross between an Asian Leopard cat and a domestic feline.
It gets its name from the taxonomic name of the Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) and not the Bengal tiger species. Official record on this breed dates back to 1871, at the world's first cat show, in London.
The category 'Between Wild and Domestic Cats - Modern Cat Fancies' highlighted pure and mixed 'wild' breeds of Persian, Manx, Angoras, Abyssinian, Siam, and the domestic species. In 1889, Harrison Weir mentioned it in 'Cats and All About Them'.
These cats are rich-colored and handsome, but very wild, if provoked. This exotic feline species is the result of a lot of experimentation around the epidemic of feline leukemia virus in the 1960s and 1970s research program to study the animal's natural immunity.
The felines in this category were first registered with the American Cat Fanciers Association in 1977. Nearly all Bengal pedigrees available today are the result of a cross developed around the mating of ALCs and Egyptian Maus.
The establishment of the International Bengal Cat Society, Authentic Bengal Cat League, and the Bengal Breeders Alliance promoted breeding practices and education to feline owners, to discourage unscrupulous breeding of the cross.
The Bengal cat is recognized as a conventional domestic feline. An adult female weighs around 10 pounds, while an adult male falls within the 12 pound range. Some males are also known to weigh more than 15 pounds.
The felines have large bones and are well-muscled. At the same time, their graceful gait comes from their lean bodies that can add muscle mass to complement body length. It displays distinct horizontal stripes or spots, alongside the eye and back of the neck. They have large eyes and rounded ears.
Their noses arch with well-set whisker pads, highlighting a narrow, triangular face structure. Their special features include triangular ears, bright eyes, spotting and rosetting patterns, and contrasted markings.
A typical feature of the breed is the alternatively colored 'foot pad'. Their tails are thick and even and the color contrast is maintained throughout the body. They have luxurious, soft coats that are bi-colored.
The body, including the legs and tail, display symmetrical stripes and plain colored belly spots. The spotted or marbled coat makes the animal easily identifiable.
They are commonly categorized as:
Brown Spotted or Marbled Tabby
Seal Sepia Spotted or Marbled Tabby
Seal Mink Spotted or Marbled Tabby
Seal Spotted or Marbled Lynx Point
They are unique in the fact that they are the only breed of felines that display a golden fleck on each individual hair tip. This glitter not only looks extremely stunning, but also gives the pet a rich, smooth, satin feel.
The felines display a highly reduced 'shedding' cycle and 'dander' presence. Its cry is very different too; much more vocal in both, frequency and volume. The cry has been compared to that of a crying baby, chirp, squeak, and even warble.
This breed enjoys a lifespan of approximately 16 years and most personality traits vary according to the training imparted. They are known to be quiet and solitary creatures. Their fondness is communicated via forehead butting, rolling with their belly upwards, and stretching. They love perching on tall, narrow, places.
They take to litter box training very well and amuse pet owners with quickly learned tricks, such as opening lever style handles and 'mewing' on command. They enjoy human food, ready-made cat food, meat, and dairy, and consume a lot of water.
All of these qualities make the Bengal Cat breed a very good choice to have as a pet. Although a little more difficult to find than other breeds, the experience will be worth the time.