Although the handsome Bengal cat is a relative newcomer in the feline world, his bright coat color and equally noticeable temperament have garnered attention from generations of feline fanciers. Beloved for his intelligence and athleticism, the Bengal is also known for his sweet and affectionate disposition. If you're considering adding a Bengal to your home, be sure to find a knowledgeable breeder who raises kittens by hand for optimum socialization.
Today's Bengal cat would not have come to be without the efforts of Dr. Willard Centerwall, who was running laboratory tests on Asian leopards in an effort to understand their partial immunity to feline leukemia. Dr. Centerwall of Loyola University bred his Asian leopards to domestic cats with the hopes of creating a hybrid specimen that would aid in the development of a vaccine due to possible genetic viability. Once the experimental program was over, Dr. Centerwall rehomed some of his hybrid cats to Jean Sudgen-Mill of California. Though only an amateur breeder, Sudgen-Mill had studied genetics at the University of California-Davis in the 1940s, according to PetMD. She crossed Dr. Centerwall's hybrid Asian leopards with a feral male street cat with the look of a leopard from the zoo in New Delhi, India, creating the Bengal.
By the Numbers
Bengal cats are assigned numbers that are determined by their generation from the original pairing of an Asian leopard hybrid to a domestic cat. The first four generations from the original pairing are considered "foundation" cats and are numbered 1 through 4, preceded by an F. F1 through F3 generation Bengals are not allowed in show exhibitions, but may be safe and suitable as pets. From the F4 generation onward, only Bengal to Bengal pairings are allowed. Early generations who are not entirely socialized should be homed with humans who understand the cat's half-feral nature, according to PetMD.
The beautiful Bengal cat is a large, colorful member of the feline community. His short, close-lying coat accents his pronounced musculature. He has large feet and a thick tail, which is rounded at the tip. His rounded wedge-shaped head is crowned with ears that are medium in height and tip slightly forward. Like his body, his legs are muscular and slightly longer in the back than in the front. The Bengal cat may appear in a variety of colors and patterns, including a marbled or spotted pattern with rosettes, or many types of tabby coloring including sepia, lynx and mink, according to the American Cat Fanciers Association.
The ever-active Bengal is curious, intelligent and amiable, easily accepting all members of the household, including dogs. He does not take to boredom, and will find ways to entertain himself when his humans are not available to play with. When provided with plenty of activities to stimulate their minds and bodies, Bengal cats are sweet and affectionate, a far cry from their wild ancestors. They enjoy playing games with children and will gladly go for walks outdoors with their people. Like their Asian leopard ancestors, the Bengal seeks out water and will go for a swim or enjoy bath time, according to Vetstreet. The Bengal is easy to train, provided you invest the time and attention in positive interactions with him.