The Bengal cat is a distinct, unique breed of spotted domestic cat derived from the ancestral crossing of a domestic cat such as an Abyssinian, American Shorthair, Burmese or Egyptian Mau with an Asian Leopard Cat. The wild Asian Leopard Cat is a beautiful, small, wildcat approximately the size of a domestic cat. The Asian Leopard Cat can be found in twenty-one Asian countries, throughout Southeast Asia, including Taiwan, China, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo, Laos and the Philippines.
The name «Bengal» is derived from the Latin name of the Asian Leopard Cat, Feline Bengalensis.
Above, this beautiful Asian Leopard Cat photo is also from BengalBreeder.Net
The domestic Bengal has inherited the exotic, stunningly wild spotted pattern from the Asian Leopard Cat, found in the wild in central Asia. This beautiful breed of cat is very loving, affectionate, playful and friendly while retaining the wild look of it’s ancestors.
The first hybridization with the intention to create a pet «leopard» was accomplished in Japan according to the 1941 Cat Fancy publication. It was not until 1960 that any records exist in the United States of breeding Leopard Cats todomestic cats.
The well-known Asian Leopard Cat named Taro, above Owned by Grace Lush of Bundas Cattery
The chief credit for this breed is given to Jean (Sudgen) Mill of the USA. Jean Mill crossed a black shorthaired domestic cat with a female Asian Leopard Cat in 1963. Offspring were produced proving that a secondgeneration was possible. Further experiments were interrupted due to a death in the family.
The little Asian Leopard Cats became very well known in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when it became fashionable to wear leopard furs. It would take over 200 leopard pelts to make just one fur coat! These little leopards were almost wiped out of existence to meet the demand for fur. Thanks to concerned scientists, animal rights activists and the union of Nations, the hunting and trading of Asian Leopard Cats across international boundaries was banned and is still in effect today under CITES.
In the 1970s, the domestic cat population was seriously threatened by Feline Leukemia. At that time, there was no vaccine or cure. It was discovered that Asian Leopard Cats did not get the disease. A study was started to find out if this immunity would be passed on to the hybrid kittens of the Leopard Cat bred to domestics. As a result of this study, in 1975 Jean Mill acquired eight female hybrids from the geneticist, Dr. Willard Centerwall.
Jean Mill began again to further the new breed. Jean felt that if people could own a domestic little leopard as a beloved pet that they would be less likely to either buy Asian Leoapard Cats for pets OR to want to wear leopard fur! She hoped this new breed would help protect the shy, but beautiful, Asian Leopard Cat.
In 1984 the domestic Bengal became recognized by the International Cat Association (T.I.C.A.) and was then eligible to be shown.There are also many colors within the breed.
You’ll find that Bengals come in two distinctly different patterns as far as coat is concerned.
The spotted variety and the marble variety. Both types exhibit all the other Bengal features and it is not unusual to have both spotted and marbles in the same litter.
There are also many colors within the breed.
The spotted and marble varieties both come in these colors:
Blue (not a color recognized by TICA)
Melanistic (not a color recognized by TICA)
The spotted variety also come with different formations of the spots and are distinguished by the following terms:
Typical Spotted: Solid black or brown spots on a lighter background
Rosetted: Spots are formed by two colors. Lighter color in the center with a darker or black outline to the spots.
Rosettes come in a variety of patterns: Closed or doughnut rosettes, Open rosettes forming an arrowhead or
paw-print pattern. Combinations of both.