Welcome to Bengal Info, the quick reference resource about the domestic Bengal Cat. This is not to be considered a comprehensive guide, but rather a starting point to help those interested in the breed and to help provide a better understanding of the Bengal Cat. We will summarize answers to many of the frequently asked questions, and try to provide information that you may find useful both as a current Bengal owner, or someone considering adopting a Bengal.
Bengal cats are the descendants of a cross between the Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) and domestic cats such as Egyptian Maus, American Shorthair, Burmese, Abyssians. The domestic Bengal Cat is is the size of an average domestic cat and considered by many experts to be one of the most intelligent and loving of all domestic cats, with a personality that is both endearing and unforgettable.
The goal in developing the Bengal cat was to preserve a strong physical resemblance to the ALC whilst creating a purely domestic temperament. The Bengal is considered to be one of the most active and quickly progressing of all cat breeds, with notable changes occurring within a few years and sometimes months as new characteristics emerge and become new trends in breeding programs.
The Bengal derives its name from the Latin name of its wild ancestor, Felis Bengalensis (the Asian Leopard Cat).
The Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) has one of the widest spread ranges of any of the Asian species of wild cat. To the west of its range, it can be found through parts of Pakistan, across South East Asia to the east and down through Java and Borneo to the central Philippine Islands.
Although generally found in forested or wooded areas these often spill out to cover adjoining scrub and grasslands. Throughout its range the main prey source is considered to be small rodents, whilst other prey types include small birds and mammals, amphibians, fish, insects and reptiles. In general the ALC is a solitary and nocturnal hunter. The build of an Asian Leopard Cat is similar to that of a normal domestic cat however in general they have somewhat longer legs and a longer back.
They have a relatively small head with a short narrow muzzle, larger eyes (nocturnal) and a thick tail of about 11 to 14 inch long. The length of the body ranges between 25 to 32 inches and weight is from around 7 up to 18 pounds. Size and weight of the ALC vary between sub-species in different geographical regions but in general the males are heavier than the females.
There are over ten sub-species, showing distinct variations and unique characteristics. All sub-species have a ringed or spotted tail with a black tip, four black bands running from their forehead to the back of the neck gradually breaking into spots on the lower neck and shoulders. The small rounded ears are dark and have a white spot on the back (ocelli) The throat and cheek-flashes are white with body underparts spotted on a white background. Body markings can be solid or rosetted and occasionally display marbling.
The Bengal is a relatively new breed of cat which was first bred with mixed success in the U.S.A in the 1960's by Jean Mill. During the 1970's important research was being conducted into the Asian leopard cat's partial immunity to feline Leukaemia. The research involved breeding ALC's to domestic cats in the hope that the immunity would be transferable to the resulting offspring. Jean later obtained some of these ALC/Domestic hybrids to form the basis of the Bengal breed we know today.
While the Bengal is a beautiful and graceful creature that attracts us all, their temperament introduces unique characteristics that keep us all coming back for more! While beauty may only be skin deep, the intelligence of these cats provide an intellectual rapport not easily attained with other domestic cats. The Bengal is curious, active, loving, and has an amazing memory. They usually like to sleep near or with their owner, with many of them adopting a special place at the foot of the bed. The Bengal is not a sleep-all-day, soak-in-the-sun type of cat. They are loving, but still independent.
Bengal personalities can vary, but overall they are a curious, tenacious, humorous and determined cat. They are as comfortable taking the challenge of walking the 2" railing on the second level of the house as they are trying to burrow under the fridge to retrieve a toy they swatted there three months ago. They are not usually an in-your-lap type of cat, but they do love you, and in general ALWAYS want to be with you, near you and well, even do your computer work for you if you will let them. Their personality is both entertaining, daring and captivating. They can usually be trained more than most cats.
The average Bengal cat weighs between 6 to 8 pounds for a female and 9 to 15 pounds for a male. The Asian Leopard Cat is a small cat ranging in weight between 5 to 7 pounds. Thus, the size and substance of the Bengal comes from the domestic side and not the Asian Leopard Cat, as many may assume.
In general, yes, they are excellent with kids. As with any domestic cat, if Bengal's are raised in loving environments with human interaction they tend to have a special bond with children.
The Bengal breed is a young breed that is progressing quickly, making frequently updated Bengal-dedicated websites the most reliable source of information. Organizations such as TICA and TIBCS are excellent resources for information. The Bengal Standards specifically defines the guidelines and standards for the Bengal breed.
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