Do you want an intelligent, energetic jungle cat with a leopard-like appearance? Then maybe a Bengal is for you… but it’s not a cat for everyone.
Humans have always been fascinated by the beauty and stubbornness of feral cats, and some have even imagined catching ozelots and cheetahs and trying to tame them. It has not been very successful. But the American Jean S Mill actually succeeded.
In 1963, she started a breeding program where she mated small Asian leopards with short-haired domestic cats. The goal was to create a leopard-like cat that could function as a pet. The result was Bengal. The name of the new breed was inspired by the Latin name of the Asian leopard cat, Felis Bengalensis. In 1999, the Bengal was recognized as a separate breed by the International Breed Tax Association FIFe.
The Bengal is an extremely intelligent, active and curious cat. It is fun to live with, but whoever gets a Bengal must be aware that it needs a lot of activation and stimulation. Therefore, the Bengal is not a cat that suits everyone, and it is less suitable for an owner who has never had a cat before. If, on the other hand, you have experience and knowledge of cats and are ready for the challenge, the Bengal can become a wonderful family cat.
Bengal loves to climb, so it needs plenty of space to move in height. Unlike many other cats, it often likes water games. Therefore, do not be surprised if it accompanies you in the shower or bath.
The cat’s intelligence makes it well suited for clicker training, and it really likes the attention it gets in connection with training.
With commitment and a certain amount of patience on your part, it can learn various tricks. It also appreciates interactive toys. It simply has a very great need for activation – which can largely be attributed to its origin.
In Bengal, you get an independent, talkative and personal cat who is always on the alert. It loves the attention of the immediate family and often gets along well with other animals, such as dogs.
Appearance, size and weight
This is a medium to large cat breed. Adult males weigh between 4.5 and 7 kg and females weigh about 3.5–4.5 kg. Bengals are athletic cats with a strong and muscular body, medium legs and large, round paws. The head is broad and wedge-shaped with rounded contours, with small to medium-sized ears and large, oval eyes. The tail is thick with a rounded, black tail tip.
Perhaps the most peculiar thing about Bengal is its color. It should resemble the little wild Asian leopard cat and is available in two different color patterns – spotted (spotted / spotted) and marble (marbled). The patterns in black and / or brown clearly contrast with the base color, which is often a shade of yellow, brown, reddish brown or orange. There are also cats with cream to ivory white background color and silver variants.
Bengal is known for its glittering or shimmering fur – it does not occur in all cats but it is common. The effect is most evident on reddish-brown cats and varies depending on how the light falls on the coat. Bengal is one of the few domestic cats that exhibits this fur effect, which is incredibly beautiful!
Bengal’s fur is short, velvety and easy to care for. A brushing a week is all that is needed. An extra plus is that the Bengal loves the attention it gets during brushing.
Bengals are generally healthy cats, but some inherited diseases occur in the breed, for example:
Pyruvate kinase deficiency
The enzyme pyruvate kinase is needed for the red blood cells to function normally.
Lack of the enzyme shortens the life of the red blood cells and they break down, leading to a so-called hemolytic anemia.
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
A retinal disease that eventually leads to blindness. There is no treatment for the disease.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
HCM is a heart muscle disease that means that the heart muscle thickens and the heart’s pumping ability deteriorates.
The disease often leads to heart failure with fluid leakage to the lungs or to blood clot formation which can cause acute hind leg paralysis.
The feeding should be adapted to the cat’s age, size and activity level. Talk to your veterinarian if you have questions or are unsure about the type of food you should give your cat. Bengals are also good hunters and are happy to catch their own prey, if you leave it out.
5 fun facts about Bengal cats
- Bengal as a breed was developed in a cross-breeding project between Asian feral cats and domestic cats. The goal was to produce a cat breed that resembled a wild cat in appearance but with the same characteristics as a companion cat.
- Bengal’s fur can have a very special shine – almost as if it were powdered with glitter or gold dust.
- Do you have an aquarium? Be careful! Bengals like to try to fish with their paws.
- Bengals are very active cats who love attention.
- In 1990, a British woman paid over 50,000 USD for a Bengal. No wonder they are sometimes called “cats’ Rolls Royce”!