Which cat has the exotic looks of a leopard, jaguar or ocelot with the playful, inquisitive nature of a fun house pet? The Bengal.
Bengals are beautiful cats bred to have the look of a jungle cat and the gentle nature of the domesticated breeds.
Jean Mill first created the breed in 1963 by breeding a wild Asian leopard cat and a domestic cat. The same Mrs. Mill established the Bengal’s modern form in the early 1980s. Although the first Bengals were bred using the wild Asian leopard cat, the Bengals of today are only bred with other Bengals.
The Bengal typically weighs 6-15 lbs. with the males being larger than the females.
They are best known for their beautiful coats which can be spotted like a leopard’s or marbled.
The most common color combination is the brown and black variety, but this oversimplifies the cat’s appearance. The brown can range in color from tan, to gold, to a reddish-brown color.
Some Bengals have what is called the “glitter” gene, which adds and iridescent quality to their already beautiful coat.
Less common are the varieties that result from forms of albinism, including the ivory, cream, silver and light tan cats. Those with light coats are referred to as “snow” varieties.
Bengals are just as loved for their personalities as they are for their coats. The breed is loving, inquisitive and very active. The cats love to be up high, so if you’re looking for a lap cat, you may need to look elsewhere.
This breed is rambunctious, making playthings out of everyday objects in their surroundings. They can be quite vocal, too. Many of them like to play in water, so don’t be surprised if one decides to hop in the shower with you.
Bengals do not require any special care. Because they are extremely active and curious, they must be provided with plenty of stimulation through toys and frequent interaction. The short, soft coat needs a brushing at least weekly.
Overall, Bengals are a healthy breed. Recently, an early-onset disease that affects the photoreceptors has been found in some Bengals. This leads to blindness within the cat’s first year.