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All About the Legendary Bengal Cat

Donna has been a cat parent and writer for many years, and her passion is to share her love for cats with others.

A baby Bengal—Bengal kittens are adorable!

A baby Bengal—Bengal kittens are adorable!

Everyone loves Bengal Cats and wants them to be part of their family. Why? Because they are playful and spirited, they love to go on walks and be around their owners! Stunning coats with markings like their ancestors make them exotic and mysterious!

No wonder everyone yearns to make this beautiful cat a part of their family!

Early History of the Lovely Bengal Cat

The earliest observation of an Asian leopard cat and the domestic cross was in 1889 when Harrison Weir wrote of them in Our Cats and All About Them. And in 1924, they were mentioned in the Belgian Scientific journal. That same year, a Japanese feline publication printed an article about the Bengal Cat.

Indian leopard cat (P. b. bengalensis)

Indian leopard cat (P. b. bengalensis)

Jean Mills Creates the Beautiful Bengal Cat

Jean Mill was a cat breeder who aimed to protect the Asian leopard cat. She was also the originator of the modern Bengal cat breed. She cross-bred a wild Asian leopard cat with a domestic cat.

Then Jean backcrossed those offspring through five generations to create the domestic Bengal. She also helped produce two other breeds, the Himalayan and Egyptian Mau. (Standardized version).

Jean Mill was also the original breeder for the Bengal cat going bast F4 generations. Thanks to her, we now have this breed to be domestic house cats for all cat lovers.

Honorable Mentions

Pat Warren, William Engle, and Dr. Willard Centerwall also helped create the Bengal cat.

Amur Leopard Cat (P. b. euptilura)

Amur Leopard Cat (P. b. euptilura)

This Cat Has a Story to Tell

Bengal cats can be hybrids, the domestic (feral) of various breeds mated with wild cats. Or they are "human-bred" hybrids, meaning two different domestic species bred together.

The Bengal cat- is bred from hybrids of domestic cats and the Asian leopard cat. Their ancestors are the small Asian leopard cat and a small wild cat. Five thousand years ago, archaeological evidence shows the leopard cat was the first domestic cat in the provinces of Shaanxi and Henan in Neolithic China.

The Asian leopard cat is a native of Asia and lives in the east and southeast of the continent, from Indonesia to the Peninsula of Korea and Eastern Russia to Pakistan into Eastern Afghanistan.

This species, Felis silvestris lybica, is from the Middle East during the Egyptian Granaries—twelve thousand years ago!

The Bengal Cat Gets Recorded in Cat Registries

For a cat to be considered a domestic Bengal cat by the major cat registries, a Bengal must be at least four generations (F4) or more from the Asian leopard cat. This ensures that their ancestry to their wild cat forefathers is four generations removed.

The Bengal Cat Registries

  • In 1983, the breed was officially accepted by the International Cat Association (TICA). The Bengals gained championship status in 1991.
  • In 1997, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) accepted Bengal cats.
  • In 1999, Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe) accepted Bengal cats into their registry.
  • In 2016, the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) became one of the last organizations to accept the Bengal cat into their registry.

New York City, Seattle, and Hawaii prohibit Bengal cats. Other hybrids of domestic and wild cat species are not permitted as well. And several states have restrictions in place. Some states have specific requirements for owning Bengal cats.

So, check with your local authorities about what laws you need to follow to own a Bengal in your town/state.

F1–F4 generations Regulations in the Following States

  • New York
  • Georgia
  • Massachusetts
  • Iowa
  • Alaska
  • Delaware
  • Connecticut
  • Indiana

*In the United States, Bengal cats with a generation of F5 and beyond are legal.

Purchasing Bengal Cats: How Do I Pick the Right One?

Although I prefer to adopt than shop, here is what you need to be aware of before purchasing a Bengal cat. Remember that the cat should be at least F4 to F5 generations removed from any ancestors with wild blood!

If F3 or lower, it would make for a not-so-great cat, and they are wilder than tamed and do NOT make great house pets. Please keep this in mind, especially if you have small children.

Ask all your questions and get the history of cats' parents and great-grandparents because you don't want a wild cat in your home.

Bengals' Heart Issues: Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

What is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy?

It's when the left ventricle wall in the heart grows thicker as the cat ages, and this heart disease can rear its ugly head at any time during the cat's lifetime.

Symptoms and Complications

  • Loss of appetite (anorexia)
  • Lethargy
  • Weak pulse
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Short, rough, snapping breathing sounds (crackles)
  • Abnormal heart sounds (i.e., muffled, galloping rhythm, murmurs)
  • Inability to tolerate exercise or exertion
  • Sudden hind-limb paralysis with cold limbs due to clots in the terminal aorta
  • Bluish discoloration of footpads and nail beds (indicates a lack of oxygen flow to the legs)
  • Collapse
  • Sudden heart failure

This heart condition can be treated with the proper medication, prolonging your furry child's life.

This feline can be affected by several genetic diseases, one of which is Bengal progressive retinal atrophy, also known as Bengal PRA or PRA-b. Be sure to get your cat tested yearly and watch for any signs of illness.

Bengal Personality Traits

  • Playful
  • Athletic
  • Agile
  • Energetic yet graceful
  • "Talkative" and friendly
  • Water-loving (they wouldn't hesitate to get into the bathtub or shower with you)

Find out how much the kitty likes to "talk" because they are on the talkative side, and if you don't have the patience for a cat that meows all the time, you should get one that isn't as talkative.

On the other hand, if you want a "talkative" cat, find out if they are talkers and list any other questions you might have for the breeder.

How to Raise a Bengal Kitten

Bengal kittens are beyond cute! But remember that they tend to get exceptionally large if cared for correctly and may grow anywhere from 8–15 lbs.

Some Bengal cat parents have said that their cats weigh around twenty pounds and are powerful animals with a lot of strength and lean muscles!

In the first four weeks after purchasing or adopting a Bengal, you should be the only one to interact with this feline since they tend to bond with the one who interacts with them the most.

After four weeks, it is then safe to introduce your cat to your kids, other people, and pets.

If your kitten is left alone for extended periods with one of your other pets, it will bond with that pet, and you will be the secondary need for companionship! So, spend as much time as possible with your new Bengal kitten so that they bond with you or whoever you want them to connect with the most.

How to Entertain Your New Companion

What kinds of toys are the best for this breed?

  • This cat needs a variety of toys and scratching posts with different textures (otherwise, they will claw your carpet or furniture).
  • You'll need a cat tree with lots of landing pads to jump and climb on and with vertical spaces of various levels.
  • Offer interactive toys and remove buttons, eyes, strings, ribbons, twine, or anything your cat can swallow!
  • Walk them daily with a harness and leash.
  • Buy a cat wheel, which provides all the exercise they need
  • Remember, this breed is brilliant and can grow bored quickly.
  • They need lots of brain stimulation to keep them out of trouble.
What should I feed my Bengal?

What should I feed my Bengal?

Bengal Cat Diet

What diet do I need to feed my Bengal cat? As soon as the kitten is in the process of being weaned off the mama, you can start feeding them ground raw meat.

Once you start them on this natural diet, you won't have to worry about providing them with canned food.

Afterward, introduce them to nutritious, high-quality dry food. Since Bengal cats are highly active with lots of energy, they tend to need more food than your average domestic cat.

Bengal Cats Crave Raw Meat

Offer a mix of fresh meat and high-quality dry food (leaving dry food accessible all day). Be extra careful when feeding them raw meat; make sure to throw away what's left in the bowl after 20 minutes. Then, keep the meat in a large storage bag in your freezer.

Which Raw Meats Should You Feed Your Bengal?

  • Beef: Ground round, beef hearts, ground sirloin, and hamburger with high-fat content
  • Chicken: Bengals love their chicken cooked or raw

Which Human Foods Are Safe for Bengals to Consume?

Cats can have "people's food"; however, be careful because the last thing you want to do is make your cat sick.

Safe Human FoodsUnsafe Human Foods

Tomatoes

Onions

Apples

Garlic

Bananas

Grapes

Marshmallows

Raisins

Sweet potatoes

Spinach

Carrots

Swiss chard

Bread

Chocolate

Asparagus

Milk

Bengal Coat Colors

Bengal cats have vibrant green eyes, and their coats come in several colors:

  • Brown/black (the primary color)
  • Black and silver, seal brown
  • Silver, charcoal, and blue

Enjoy Your New Companion

Overall, the Bengal cat is beautiful, strong, friendly, and loving, making it a great companion! Just do your research and compile a list of questions for the breeder. It takes a particular person to care for this cat breed, and I hope that person is you!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2020 Donna Rayne

Comments

Donna Rayne (author) from Sparks, NV on April 09, 2020:

Thank you, Ms. Peggy and Benny. And yes, I adopt than buy because there are so many out there that need new forever home and Benny, most cats are milk intolerant, it makes them have diarrhea really bad if given too much!

Blessings to you both,

Donna Rayne

Alianess Benny Njuguna from Nairobi, Kenya on April 09, 2020:

I have always admired Bengal cats. It was interesting learning their origin, how to take care of them and the disease they're prone to. I didn't know milk makes them sick. I thought all cats love milk.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 27, 2020:

These Bengal cats certainly do resemble their wild cousins. So far the cats we have had as pets have all been rescues of undetermined origin, but they made wonderful pets.

Donna Rayne (author) from Sparks, NV on March 23, 2020:

I appreciate that, Lorna. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Blessings,

Donna Rayne

Lorna Lamon on March 23, 2020:

Such a stunning cat - beautiful. Your article is really interesting and an education in itself Donna. I loved the history and their remarkable lifespan. A really enjoyable read.

Donna Rayne (author) from Sparks, NV on March 23, 2020:

Flourish, I believe in adopting before buying. Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate it.

Blessings,

Donna Rayne

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 22, 2020:

They are lovely to look at but given the potential medical and personality issues as well as the fact that there are so many homeless cats (including purebreds) dying in shelters, I would never breed an animal. Your article, however, is well written and I enjoyed it. I have actually trapped, neutered, and returned a feral cat a few months ago that had to have been part bengal based on his markings. He was strikingly gorgeous and so unusual, piercing green eyes and swirling spotted brown taupe coat.

Donna Rayne (author) from Sparks, NV on March 22, 2020:

Thank you, Ms. Pamela, and Manatita. I appreciate you reading my long article and for your sweet words.

Blessings,

Donna Rayne

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 22, 2020:

These are beautiful cats. I appreciate all of the great information you provided. I liked reading about the history of the bengals. Thanks for an excellent article.

manatita44 from london on March 22, 2020:

Well, Donna, a pretty extensive article on cats, or rather Bengal cats. They are giant in size and 15 - 20 lbs is quite a lot. I bet they eat a lot! I thought they drank milk, though. Shows you I know nothing. Ha ha.

I don't keep pets and haven't since I was about five to six years old. The maintenance is to tiring and too high. Their eyes are amazing yes and their colours tantalising.

Donna Rayne (author) from Sparks, NV on March 21, 2020:

Thank you for your comment T. It prompted me to realize I didn't do all my homework for my article, so I thank you for some of the information and experiences you've shared with me.

I love it when I get comments like yours, it helps me to become a better researcher, writer, and editor. I really do appreciate your input and thanks again.

Blessings,

Donna Rayne

The Logician from then to now on on March 21, 2020:

I have had dozens of Bengal cats over the last 50 years. Your article was fun to read!

I have to take issue with them being for sale in pet stores in the 50’s and 60’s or that they were hunted for their pelts because Bengals as a breed did not really begin in earnest until much later. Jean Mill made the first known deliberate cross of an Asian leopard cat with a domestic cat (a black California tomcat). In 1970, Mill resumed her breeding efforts and in 1975 she received a group of Bengal cats which had been bred for use in genetic testing at Loyola University by Willard Centerwall. Others also began breeding Bengals.

They are awesome domestic cats. Like any cat each has it’s own personality and generally their dispositions after F5 generations is not unlike other breeds of domestic cat.

My cats love to run all day in a cat wheel which provides them all the exercise they need.

https://onefastcat.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw9tbzBRDVARIs...

Although you have pictures of some of the best looking Bengal cats I have ever seen there is a huge variation in the types of spots and color phases available from snow leopard varieties to various other shades of color.

The kind you have pictured are extremely expensive and likely not even purchasable unless you are an approved member of TICA and purchasing the cat for show and/or breeding for show. And not all Bengals glisten in sunlight. That coat characteristic is known as glitter and is only found in Bengals that are bred specifically for that trait.

The standard for the Bengal cat is short hair and thick coats known as pelted coats are desirable however breeders have bred for a rare, recessive, long hair version of the Bengal cat which has become popular though not show quality. These are known as Cashmere Bengals because of the silkiness of their longer coat which does retain the leopard like Bengal spots.

The cats I have had made great house pets although there have been a couple outliers when it comes to affection. This can be found however in many cat breeds while variation in bonding and socialization always plays a part.