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The Wildly Energetic Bengal Cat

Updated on November 4, 2016

Introduction to Bengals

The Bengal cat is a hybrid breed of the domestic cat and the Asian Leopard Cat (ALC). The name comes from the taxonomic name of the ALC. They have a wild look because of their coat which is completely covered with large spots or rosettes.

Bengal cats have a light/white belly and share the same body structure as the ALC. The Bengal also has a small head when compared to other breeds. Bengals are very active and love to play with toys. They are social, intelligent and very curious and they are known to be able to learn how to open a door. Families with a lot of action in their homes are the ideal place for Bengals.

History of the Bengal Cat

It is widely accepted that the Bengal cat of today has its roots in the 1960s, but a similar cross was also mentioned in 1989 by Harrison Weir in his book “Our Cats and All About Them: Their Varieties, Habits, and Management”; he mentions that a hybrid between the wild cat of Bengal and a tabby she-cat could be seen at the Zoological Society Gardens in Regent’s park.

Jean Mill is the person who is credited with the development of the modern Bengal breed. She submitted a paper for a genetics class at UC Davis about crossbreeding cats in 1946. In 1963 she managed to successfully crossbreed a domestic cat that looked like the Asian Leopard Cat with one of them.

The modern Bengal breed originates from the cats that Jean Mill bred in the 1980’s. Between 1975-1980 Jean decided to create this hybrid in order to save the original Asian Leopard Cat from being hunted down for their fur. Hoping that people would be dissuaded when their friends owned loveable cats with a similar look as their coats.

In the early 1980’s Bengals were registered as domestic cats at the Cat Fanciers Association (C.F.A.) At the same time breeders Greg and Elizabeth Kent started their own breed of Bengals using the Asian Leopard Cat and the Egyptian Mau. As of today, many Bengals are descendants of this hybrid breed.

Appearance of Bengals

The Bengals have the wild looking coat of their parent-breed the Asian Leopard Cat (ALC). Like the ALC Bengal cats have a boned face, but this is not in their advantage. Because they are a hybrid breed they don’t always have all the features of the ALC; this results in them having too big and pointy ears and also too small and slanted eyes. Bengals have a coat that is covered in large spots or rosettes and they have a light/white colored belly.

Their body type is roughly the same as that of the ALC, their neck is long and strong. Some Bengals have short and strong necks. Their body is heavily muscled, with the hind legs being a bit longer than the front legs. The back of the Bengal is straight and long, with a medium length and thick tail with a rounded tip.

In short, the Bengal is of an athletic and muscled build, with the males weighing 5 to 6 kilos. Even though this would suggest that they look ungainly nothing could be farther from the truth. They carry a natural grace of controlled strength in them, the females can actually be quite elegant.

Personality of Bengal Cats

Bengals are very energetic cats, they love to play with toys and appreciate the company of others. They are social cats who like to play with anyone. The Bengal cat is not a quiet and calm cat and they are not lap cats at all. They follow people around in the house and can always be seen in places where they can play.

Bengal cats grow attached to family members and therefore are in need of attention daily. Much like a dog, they like to communicate, be noisy and react to sounds you make with their own sound. Bengals are intelligent and therefore very curious and confident so they will explore constantly. Their intelligence makes it possible to teach them a lot of different tricks.

You will find the Bengal constantly chasing, catching, leaping and running around. Another typical trait of the Bengal cat is their affinity for water. They are very attracted by running water and are not afraid to jump into water at all.

The Bengal is ideal for people who are in search for a dog without the usual dog hassles, like the necessary daily walks. If you are in search for an animal with the fiery look of the jungle combined with a warm and tender personality you should consider a Bengal.

Bengal Cat Health

There are a couple of health problems from which Bengal cats could suffer so it is important to read this text. Bengal cats are created through selective breeding, including inbreeding, making them susceptible to genetic diseases.

A serious health problem of the cats is Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). This causes the cat eventually to go blind. Unfortunately there is no way to screen for this gene, but it is confirmed to be caused by a recessive gene; meaning that both parents need to carry the gene for it to be activated in the cat. Another ocular problem is cataracts, this also causes them to go blind but this can be corrected with surgery.

Another condition that could surface in the Bengal cat is called cardiomyopathy, a heart problem causing them to become very ill. Feline leukemia is something all cat breeds could suffer from, but Bengals are more prone to suffer from it. In most cases it is fatal to the cat that suffer from this.

Keep in mind that Bengal cats have very sensitive stomachs and can become very sick from contaminated food. Therefore you should never give them table scraps and it is best to give them high-quality cat food only.

Take Care of Your Feline Friend

Their hair requires to be groomed regularly to avoid it from getting mats. These groom sessions should be done weekly for roughly five minutes. It’s best to let the cat get used to this routine by doing it when they are still a kitten. Bengals love these sessions because of the attention they are getting, so expect a happy response.

They need toys to play with because they are extremely active, these toys should encourage them to jump and reach for them. Consider taking the Bengal out for a walk, but only if you started taking these walks with them when it was young. Give them only high-quality food to eat as they can get ill from table scraps.

I hope you've learned a lot about this curious and joyous cat species. When you give them the care they need they'll be fantastic friends for life.

Bengal Cats 101

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    • Frances Metcalfe profile image

      Frances Metcalfe 10 months ago from The Limousin, France

      They look gorgeous. I love interactive cats. Some cats are very intelligent indeed, a friend of mine had one who sat on the toaster, put the lever down with her paw, jumped off when it became too hot, and leapt back on again when it was the right temperature for not getting burnt.