Introducing Bengal Cats
Bengal cats are large shorthair cat that have a striking ‘wild look’ and a gorgeous thick, richly coloured, patterned coat. Their origins can be traced to Asian Leopard cats that were bred with domestic cats with the intention of breeding a domestic cat that had the physical attributes of its wild ancestors but with the temperament of a domestic cat.
The name of the Bengal is derived from the Latin name of its wild ancestor, Felis Bengalensis (Asian Leopard Cat).
History of the Bengal Cat
The Bengal cat is a relatively new breed of cat whose origins can be traced back to an early breeding program back in 1963 by a breeder called Jean Mill from the United States. The early breeding program was abandoned after the death of her first husband.
In the mid 70’s a Dr Willard Centerwall carried out a hybrid breeding programme between Asian Leopard cats and domestic cats in a study on the immunity of the Asian Leopard Cat to the Feline Leukaemia virus. The study was inconclusive.
Knowing of Jean Mill’s interest in breeding these cats as pets he gave eight of the hybrids to her which she used to resume her breeding program. In 1983 she registered the first Bengal cat under the prefix of Millwood. The Bengal cat was imported into the UK in 1991 and was officially recognised by the GCCF in 2003.
Bengal Cat Description
The Bengal cat is a medium to large breed of cat that is very well muscled. An average size for a fully grown male is 12 to 16 pounds with the females being anything from 7 to 10 pounds. The body is long and has a very powerful feel and appearance to it. The tail is thick and is tapered.
The head is rounded and is a modified wedge that is longer than it is broad. The head may seem smaller in comparison to their muscular frame but this is a characteristic of the breed. The eye shape is almond and they are set wide apart giving them the all-important ‘wild look’. Ears are small to medium and rounded. The nose is broad and they have a full muzzle with pronounced whisker pads.
The coat is glossy and has a thick but soft texture, often described as a pelt due to the luxurious feel. The coat is either a spotted (rosetted) or marbled pattern and can be found in a variety of colours that include brown and snow colours in addition to the silver varieties. Bengal cats should also have a white tummy. Another characteristic of the Bengal cat that must be mentioned is that some Bengals have a distinct ‘glitter’ effect over their fur, which gives the appearance of each hair being tipped with gold dust. This is a highly desirable trait in the breed.
Health of Bengal Cats
Bengal cats are a healthy breed of cat but like all breeds of cat do have some health issues that have been associated with them. Older Bengals have been known to suffer from Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) which is a disease of the heart causing thickening of the muscle meaning the heart has to work much harder.
Other health problems reported include joint problems, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and poor tolerance to anaesthetics.
Personality of Bengal Cats & Kittens
Bengal cats and kittens are friendly, intelligent and very lively. They form strong bonds with their family and get on well with other animals and also children. Probably due to their ancestry many Bengals enjoy playing with water .
They are very social and fair better with company, so if you are out at work all day it is worth considering getting a friend for your Bengal. They have also been described as being very dog like in that they will happily follow you from room to room and also like to welcome you on your arrival home with lots of head butts.
Young Bengals sometimes take a little while to learn some manners and can be extremely active and boisterous. They seem to have two speeds, go and stop, either everything is at 100 mph or they are fast asleep gathering energy for their next adventure.
Grooming & General Care
Bengal cats have short coats that don’t require much grooming, weekly grooming sessions will suffice and can provide and excellent opportunity to bond with your cat. A weekly brush and a quick rub over with a chamois leather will get rid of any loose hairs.
They will eat any quality manufactured ‘complete diet’ cat food and can also be given tit bits of chicken, turkey, ham etc. A bowl of water should be available at all times.
Bengal Cat & Kitten Gallery
Below are some Bengal cat pictures, please feel free to contact us if you would like to contribute any photos of your own Bengal cats and kittens, we would love to include them!