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February 13, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 3 Faves: 0

The Bengal

By Erin Froehlich More Blogs by This Author

Bengal

Bengal Stats

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Cat of the Week: The Bengal

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Bengal Cats

Bengal

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Fun Facts About Bengal Cats

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  • Bengals owe their wild look to the Asian Leopard Cat who fathered the original wild/domestic kitten mix (at the time called the Safari Cat) back in the 1960’s.
  • In the 1960’s, owning wild cats was actually legal, but breed founder Jean Mill knew all too well what happened to most of the wild cats being adopted. Well-meaning, but under-educated families admired the beauty of the felines, but quickly became overwhelmed by the care they required, leaving many to the zoos and euthanizing many others. She wanted to give people to give people the best of both worlds - the striking looks of wild cats and a sweet, playful nature of domesticated.
  • Asian Leopard CatEach Bengal’s degree of domesticity is described as F-# with the “F” standing for “Filial” and the number standing for the number of generations away from a wild cat they are removed. F-1 Bengals are only one generation removed from Asian Leopard Cats and thus, still retain much of their wild temperament. TICA (The International Cat Association) require F-4 or higher domesticity for Bengal show cats. The CFA (Cat Fanciers Association) does not allow any breed with wild blood.
  • Thanks to the Asian Leopard cats, Bengal are remarkably unable to develop feline leukemia – a trait which scientists are studying and hoping might help other domestic cat breeds someday!
  • Bengals are noted not only for their striking good looks, but also their quirky interest in water and their funny, chirping meow.
  • Today, the Bengal breed is being used to develop several new varieties of wild-looking domestic cats – the Serengeti, Savannah, Toyger, and Cheetoh. (YEP, the Cheetoh. You can't make these things up.)

Bengal Cats

Bengal Cat

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How to Spot a Bengal

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Leopard-Like Markings. The Bengal’s most important identifying feature is definitely their wild looking rosette or marbeled coat. While spots are unique from cat to cat, and Bengal’s come in several colors, there are some there are a few ideal traits each coat should have. Judges say they look for an unusually soft feel, an iridescent sheen, rosettes or marble spots that are as sharp and well defined as possible, and patterning that is aligned horizontally with the spine rather than all over as with a tabby. Cats without belly spots are immediately disqualified for awards.

Wide-Set Eyes and Ears. Like small forest cats, the eyes and ears of the Bengal are wide set. The ears are short with wide bases. The eyes are large and oval to slightly almond shaped.

Thick, Muscular Body.  Bengals are built like their ancestors, the Asian Leopard Cats, with back legs that are very muscular and slightly longer than their front - making them better runners than your average domestic cat. Breed standards dictate that a Bengal’s build should be “long and substantial, not oriental or foreign” with “robust boning - never delicate.”

Bengal Kittens

Bengal Kitten

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What to Expect from a Bengal

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A Very Smart Cat. Not only are Bengals smart, they are actually considered to be one of the top 5 smartest cat breeds in the world! In fact, despite a popular belief that cats cannot be taught as dogs can, many are leash trained and can do tricks. Of course, on the other hand, a smart cat is one that more easily becomes bored. For this reason, most experts recommend only experienced cat owners with plenty of time to devote to play take on a Bengal. If left unchallenged and to their own devices for too long, you can bet your Bengal will make their own fun – such as the un-roll-all-the-toilet-paper game or the shove-all-the-books-off-the-shelf activity.

A Quiet Cat. While I can’t guarantee this cat won’t wake you up with their playful antics, I can pretty safely say you won’t be kept up by their meowing. Vocalization, you see, is a trait linked with feline domesticity. Cats became more talkative because they evolved with talkative humans that rewarded the behavior with food or attention. On the other hand, wild cats that vocalize put themselves at risk of losing their dinner or worse – being discovered by predators. With the Bengal’s wild blood not quite so far behind as the very vocal Siamese, the breed is one of the quietest cats there are, only rarely using their unusual “barking” or “trilling” meow.

An Energetic Cat. The Bengal is just about the polar opposite of the laid-back Ragdoll or Persian from previous Feline 101 articles. If you were hoping for a lap cat to lounge around with you all day, you’re going to be disappointed. The Bengal is built for athletics and their playful, intelligent mind keeps them always on the go.

Bengal Cats

Bengal Cat

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More Bengals!!!

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Bengal Cat

Bengal Cat

Bengal Kitten

Bengal Mom and Kitten

Bengal Kitten

SOURCES

VetStreet: The Bengal

Animal Planet: Cat Breed Directory: The Bengal

Animal Planet: Cats 101: The Bengal

YouTube: Moogly, the Bengal, Amazing cat Tricks

PHOTO CREDITS

BasiliskSam@flickr

Alicakes*@flickr

shinzui@flickr

littleREDelf@flickr

mw3106@flickr

FurLined@flickr

WatchCaddy@flickr

diverevan@flickr

Graham Etches@flickr

Zanastardust@flickr

seanmcgrath@flickr

carianoff@flickr

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3 Comments

  • Yep. They are awesome. I knew someone who had one years ago, and it was the coolest cat ever. Never ran out of steam for playing.

  • My sister has two Bengal litter mates - Mina and Echo. They are adorable. :)

  • I think Bengals are very talkative. Mine is - and there are dozens of YouTube videos of other talky Bengals - like this one (not mine, it just entertains me) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aPjetuyI6w

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