The origin of the breed
The first Bengal cat was born of the accidental crossbreeding of a female Asian leopard cat with a short-haired tom-cat in California in 1963, but the planned breeding of the Bengal cat type only began in 1980. A student named Jean Mill wanted to create a cat breed with the temperament of a domestic cat but the appearance of an Asian leopard cat.
The Asian leopard cat, Felis Bengalensis, is a small, spotted wildcat indigenous to South Asia. One of the geneticists at the University of California in Davis provided the leopard cats, which were crossbred with American domestic cats – Ocicats, Egyptian Maus, Abyssinian and Burmese cats – to create the unique appearance of the Bengal cat.
Appearance, colour and pattern varieties
The body of the Bengal cat is large and muscular, with a nicely spotted, rosetted coat, reminiscent of the robust appearance of the leopard cat. The body weight of an adult tom-cat is usually 4-8 kg, while for adult females it is 3-5 kg.
The head is elongated rather than wide. The general requirement set for the appearance of the Bengal cat is the “M” pattern appearing on the forehead, which is also reminiscent of tabby house-cats.
Its large, almond eyes, placed far apart, and short, round ears all emphasise its wildcat appearance. With Bengal cats, the spots are positioned horizontally. Just as with snowflakes, no two Bengal cats possess the same pattern.
Accepted patterns are: spotted, with rosettes, and marbled. The spots can be black, brown, yellowish-brown/reddish-brown, chocolate or cinnamon-coloured. Certain Bengal cats have a recessive “light gene”, which gives their coat an excellent sheen. Their coats are short haired, packed, dense, extremely fine and fur-like.
Behaviour and temperament
Via multiple cross-breeding and the selection and further cross-breeding of gentler specimens the transformation of the Bengal cat into a gentle, smart, extremely intelligent, inquisitive domestic pet, attached to human beings has been successfully completed. This naturally does not mean that the cat lacks the behaviour typical of cats; their insistence on enforcing their own will. Alongside all this, this cat is very playful and patient as well. It makes friends with other animals easily. It is a peculiarity of the breed that, contrary to many other cat breeds, it enjoys bathing. This is not true of all Bengal cats, of course. It tolerates wearing a leash. It “communicates” well with people. It meows often and in varied ways, this is how it accentuates its desires. It requires the attention and care of its owner.