One Wild Look
If there is any cat breed that is known for its coat colors and patterns, it is the Bengal cat breed. According to the Cat Fancier’s Association, the most recognizable coat color and pattern is the brown background with beautiful, leopard-like black rosettes and tabby markings (source). These cats have green, yellow or gold eyes. Cats of the Bengal cat breed tend to be medium to large size cats weighing 6-15 pounds (2.7 – 6.8 kg). They have a wild look with long, well-muscled legs and thick tails.
There are multiple coat colors and both rosetted and marbled patterns. The marbled patterns look very similar to the Classic Tabby pattern. Silver Bengals have a grey to white background with dark grey to black patterns. Snow Bengals, which have a form of albinism, have ivory, cream, or light tan backgrounds with light brown to dark chocolate patterns. These Snow Bengals have blue or aqua colored eyes.
The Bengal Cat Breed History
The Bengal cat breed is somewhat controversial in the cat fancier world because of its breed begins with The Asian Leopard Cat (pictured above). The Asian Leopard Cat is a small wild cat, about the size of a domestic cat, but with longer legs. They are found with a variety of coat colors and patterns, one of which is a beautiful rosette pattern. Generally speaking, they are shy wild cats that don’t like to be bothered. In the 1960’s, Asian Leopard cats were being studied because of their partial immunity to Feline Leukemia. As the study was completed, the cats were rehomed.
One of the recipients of a female Asian Leopard Cat was Jean S. Mill of California. It wasn’t Mill’s intention to create a new cat breed, she simply wanted the Asian Leopard Cat as a pet. Feeling that the cat might be lonely, she adopted a domestic cat that happened to be male. To her surprise, in 1963, the two cats had a litter of kittens of which only a female kitten named Kin-Kin survived.
At first it was believed that Kin-Kin would be sterile due to genetic makeup. Then, Kin-Kin produced a litter of kittens with her domestic father. One of those kittens was very sweet, like the domestic father.
The Bengal cat breed began when Mill’s decided that she would use her cats to begin a domestic cat breed with a wild cat look. She believed that the Bengal cat breed could help solve some of the problems that the Asian Leopard Cats were facing by creating an alternative for pet owners. The Bengal cat breed name came from the Asian Leopard Cat’s scientific name, Prionailurus bengalensis.
TICA allowed the Bengal cat breed to gain championship status in 1991 (source). Hybrid crosses are registered as “foundation cats” (F1, F2, F3) and they are not eligible for show. Only females of the foundation generations are used for breeding (males are often sterile). It takes four generations before cats of the Bengal cat breed are reliably domestic.
A Busy Body Personality
Not only does the Bengal cat breed have a wild cat look, but it also takes on aspects of the wild cat personality. Bengals are very playful, and they keep their kitten-like energy as adult cat. They love to be up high and entertain their favorite people. By nature, they are very busy kitties.
Bengals are very intelligent and inquisitive, always looking to be wherever the action is. These cats love to be with their owners wherever they go. However, Bengal cats don’t often want to be lap cats. Some are talkative, some are not. If you are looking for a low-key, aloof kitty, Bengals are probably not for you. Bengals love interactive play, water (yes, water), and learning new tricks.
If you are interested in adding a cat from the Bengal cat breed to your family, check out Petfinder for adoptable kitties near you!