Bengal Cat Breed History

I’m receiving a question or two regarding Bengal cats. Now first – I’m not a Bengal breeder. However, I do have a good knowledge of the Bengal breed in general due to owning them since 1996.

And, as there’s a little confusion regarding some aspects of Bengal cats, breeding and history, I thought I’d clear up the Bengals’ origins.

Bengal Cat Breed History

 

The Bengal cat breed history is easy to trace. The Bengal is a hybrid – a cross between a wild cat and a domestic breed. The wild cat is the Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) a small predatory cat found in Asia. The first kitten produced was as a result of an ALC female breeding with a regular black tom cat, brought about by a lady called Jean Mill.

Jean Mill, happened to own an ALC. Thinking it lonely, she placed a black tom into the cage as a means of company. The pair produced a kitten. The kitten got Jean thinking – due to its beauty and nature. This was back in the sixties.

Original Bengal Breeder

Asian Leopard Cat

Asian Leopard Cat
Asian Leopard Cat

The Original Bengal Cat

Millwood Tory Of Delhi - left in the picture.
Millwood Tory Of Delhi - left in the picture.

However, a good few years passed before Jean became the original Bengal Breeder. It's fair to say that the breed came about due to her fascination with breeding a domestic version of the beautiful but wild ALC.

Eventually Jean produced the first official Bengal cat. His name was Millwood Tory of Delhi and his name is found on practically all pedigrees to date.

Although there are discrepancies as to the official year that Bengal Cats were created, it appears to have been some time between 1980 and 1982.

In 1983, Jean Mill first registered a Bengal with the International Cat Association (T.I.C.A.) – though at the time they were only considered as an experimental breed.

The Bengal Cat Branches Out

Bengal Cat - Types

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Brown SpottedSilver MarbleSilver SpottedSnow SpottedBrown Marble
Brown Spotted
Brown Spotted
Silver Marble
Silver Marble
Silver Spotted
Silver Spotted
Snow Spotted
Snow Spotted
Brown Marble
Brown Marble

It was 1986 before the Bengal Cat was recognised as an official breed – it was at this point that the approved breed ‘standards’ were created. From that point on the breed began to take off.

Breeders became interested in this fascinating cat species and it began to grow in popularity. Some twenty odd years later the breed has produced literally thousands and thousands of beautiful Bengals around the globe.

Now, the breed has broadened in terms of colour. The original type tended to be black spotted, over a brown pelt – Bengal fur is referred to as a pelt as it is a little different to the fur of other domesticated cats.

The Bengal Cat Today

The Bengal Cat today is now bred as brown/black spotted, silver and snow-leopard. I'm not sure that I agree with the 'branching out' that the breed has undergone in the last few years or even the point. The original type was bred for it's beauty and personality. It was, at the time, considered a feat in itself - yet now there's a whole range of different colours and markings contained within the breed.

Personally I’d only ever buy a brown Bengal cat as I lean towards the original Bengal type. However – the colour choice is personal and whatever colour you choose, the wonderful Bengal character remains intact.

More by this Author


9 comments

ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

Interesting stuff


wordscribe41 7 years ago

Thanks for the great information, frogdropping. It's weird they're such a recent breed, surprises me somewhat. I thought they'd been around a lot longer. That must have been quite a surprise for Jean Mill. I also didn't know they could be silver, I thought they pretty much looked the same. I've never heard of the fur being called pelt. I imagine it to be very sleek and soft. Thanks for educating me!


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 7 years ago Author

wordscribe - you're welcome. They're worth being educated about, in particular if you're thinking to buy or own one. A beautiful animal but they won't suit everyone. Very active cats and they can be rather demamding!

The fur is called a pelt in part because of the 'glitter'. The Bengal pelt is closer to a wild cats than any of the domestic breeds' fur. It's softer than silk and shimmery ... glittery. Well gliitered pelts on Bengals are highly prized for breeding and showing purposes :)


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 7 years ago from South Africa

Very interesting hub. I take it these cats are not bred for their pelts?


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 7 years ago Author

sixty - No they're not. They're purely bred to be pets. Show or otherwise - they're pets. I'd be horrified to find out that someone is doing it for that reason. And incredibly saddened.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

Fascinating. I sort of went off imagining the possibilities...of my very own. The times we'd share...the trouble we'd get into....the stories we'd have to tell...


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 7 years ago Author

Frieda - You'd have enormous fun. A tip though ... buy a male, as and when you're ready. Far better in my opinion :)


Sephanie 4 years ago

Thought you might enjoy this thorough account of the Bengal cat's history: http://www.bengalsillustrated.com/bengal-cat-histo...


ThePen-ismy-Sword profile image

ThePen-ismy-Sword 3 years ago from anywhere i please

The Bengal actually originated in 1972 not in the 1980's. I have been around these cats since i was 6 years old. My family has an established cattery for this fascinating breed. If you would like to look into buying one i can point you in the right direction.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working