The Bengal is a cat that comes from a cross between a wild cat and a domesticated cat. Because of this cross the cat has external characteristics that are very common with wild cats. For example, the coat is very similar to that of a leopard or a jaguar. Despite this wild appearance the Bengal is very suitable as a pet because of its beautiful character. Curious about this character? Then read on!
Ancestry: a cross between a domesticated cat and a wild cat
The Bengal Cat knows his ancestry from non-domesticated ancestors. From the earliest times man has had a great interest in special animals that live in the Jungle. These wild animals have a very beautiful wild appearance which makes a lot of people very interested in them. Because a lot of people like this wild appearance they tried in the 50’s and 60’s of the last century to create a breed of cat with a wild appearance and the interior of a domesticated cat.
This succeeded in 1963 when Jean S. Mill crossed a short-haired domesticated cat with the Asian Leopard cat. This is a wild cat from Asia with a rather wild appearance. The cat that came out of this cross became a separate breed and this breed was called Bengal. This name comes from the scientific name of the Asian Leopard cat. The scientific name for this cat is Prionailurus Bengalensis.
The cats resulting from this hybrid cross – those of a wild cat and a domesticated cat – are named on the basis of the Foundation. The first generation cat from this cross is called F1. Eventually, breeding continues without the wild cat being involved. The second generation is called F2, the third generation F3 and so on.
Today’s Bengal Cat can be traced back to the cats that were bred by Mrs. Mill in the early 80s. Today’s Bengal descends from this cat and no wild Asian Leopard cat is used in the breeding of this breed.1
The character: a self-assured cat who does like a game
The Bengal Cat has a very nice character. The cat gives a lot of love and loves human contact. It is an active and interactive cat which means it demands a lot of attention. The Bengal is very playful and continues to behave like a kitten until old age. The cat loves to play with its owner and is also very intelligent. In this way it is possible to teach the cat tricks and the cat quickly understands how something works. For example, it may happen that the cat finds out how an endurance stool works and can open the door on its own. Because the cat is so active you can also teach the cat very well what the house rules are. By appealing to the cat in case of undesirable behaviour, the cat will quickly realise that it has to behave differently.
Besides the fact that the Bengal loves to play very much, the cat is also very confident. When you have a lot of people on the floor, the cat will not hide in a corner but will come around and demands a lot of attention. Because the cat is so self-confident it also goes well with other animals. When you already have a large dog in the house it is possible to have a Bengal in the house as well. The cat doesn’t shrink from animals that are a bit bigger. It is important that you let both animals get used to each other in a quiet way.
What makes this cat very special compared to other cats is that it loves water very much. The cat loves to play with water and can jump under the shower just like that. If you prefer not to have this, it is therefore wise to keep the bathroom door tightly closed. All in all, the Bengal is a very sweet and curious cat that can be a real addition to your household.2
Appearance: very wild with many similarities to certain wild animals
The Bengal Cat is medium to large in size and is known for its wild appearance. The cat is rich in colours and has a coat with very lively spots. The Bengal is the only domesticated cat with the same markings as leopards and jaguars. The cat also has a very wide nose with nose leather that is prominent and also very large whisker pads. This contributes to the wild appearance of this cat. This wild look together with the domesticated interior of the cat makes this cat very popular. The cat is well muscled and usually weighs between 4 and 7 kilograms. Male cats are a bit bigger than females and therefore weigh a bit heavier.
The body of the Bengal is quite long. The cat is quite muscular which is even more visible in males than in females. The hips of the cat are a bit higher than the shoulders so the cat stands a bit forward. This is because the hind legs are a bit longer than the front legs. The cat stands further on rather long legs which are also quite muscular. The paws of the cat are big and a bit round. The cat has prominent knuckles on his legs. The tail is quite thick and has a rounded top. The tail is medium in length and is nicely in proportion to the rest of the body.
The head of the Bengal Cat is in the shape of a wedge and quite wide. The head is characterized by its round contours and is a bit small in proportion to the body. The cat has high cheekbones which are often more visible in males than females. The forehead of the cat descends to a nicely rounded nose which is also quite wide. The bridge of the nose rises above the eyes. The chin is very strong and also very visible. The chin is in the same lines as the nose. The muzzle is also full and broad and is characterized by very present whisker pads. This gives the Bengal a very wild appearance. The ears are normally large, have a broad base and are rounded. They stand quite far apart and follow the contours of the face forward. The eyes are also quite far apart and are slightly oblique towards the ears. The eyes are a bit round / oval in shape. The eye colour of the cat is independent of the coat, except when the cat has a Lynx pattern
The coat of the Bengal Cat
The coat of the Bengal is very short and light close to the body. The coat feels very soft and almost like silk. The coat also shines and therefore has a bit of a luxurious look. What makes the Bengal’s coat so special is that it is the only coat of a domesticated cat with the same markings as wild animals like a leopard or a jaguar.
The Bengal Cat actually occurs in two basic patterns. The cat occurs in a spotted/rosetted pattern and in a marbled pattern. You will see the cat most often in a brown spotted pattern or a rosetted tabby pattern. Whatever pattern a Bengal has, the markings are always in high contrast to the basic coat.
For more information about the appearance or coat of the Bengal Cat you can take a look at the breed standard of this cat.3
The upbringing: devote sufficient time to socialisation
It is very important for the development of a kitten to grow up in the presence of the mother cat and the litter. This is a trusted environment for a kitten, where the kitten can get used to life in a quiet way, as it were. When a kitten is taken away from the mother cat and the litter after birth, there is a good chance that the kitten will eventually develop anxiety disorders. This can have major consequences.
In addition, it is very important that sufficient time is spent on the socialisation of a kitten. Kittens have a so-called socialisation period which lasts until a kitten is about 14 weeks old. During this period a kitten gets used to strange sounds, other animals but also human touches. As owner or breeder it is important to touch your kitten from a young age so the cat gets used to it. By teaching a kitten, for example, that it is not so scary to be lifted at all, the later care of a kitten also becomes a lot easier.
Breeders often give a kitten from 13 weeks onwards to a new owner. Because the socialisation period lasts until a kitten is about 14 weeks old, a kitten will spend almost this whole period with the breeder. When you get a kitten from a breeder it is wise to check if the breeder has paid enough attention to this and if the kittens are not shy. It can also be wise to look at the mother cat. Kittens often take over a lot from their mother cat so you can clearly see what kind of cat you get in the house.
In addition to the socialisation of a cat, you, as the owner, also have an important role to play in the upbringing of your cat. When your cat comes into your home it is important that you teach the cat the rules that apply in your home. For example, you probably don’t want your cat scratching your sofa or curtains. The best way to learn the rules is to punish or reward your cat.
If your cat shows undesirable behaviour, for example, you can hold him severely to account for this. If, for example, your cat is scratching the sofa, you can make it clear in a strict tone that this is not the intention. By doing this immediately after the action, the cat will recognise a negative relationship. The cat will recognise that its owner speaks to him harshly in this particular action and will show this behaviour less often.
The opposite is the case when you reward your cat. If your cat shows good behaviour, for example by scratching the scratching post, you can reward him by, for example, petting his ball. By doing this immediately after a certain action, the cat will recognise a positive relationship and will show this behaviour more often.
Care: ensure sufficient exercise
For good health it is important that you take good care of your cat. Contrary to many other cats, the Bengal’s coat needs almost no care. This is because the coat is very short and the Bengal Cat already looks after his own coat naturally. In many cases it is even not recommended to comb through the coat.
However, it is important to pay attention to the care of the cat’s nails, among other things. Cats naturally scratch in order to keep the dirt under their nails away and to demarcate their territory. When you have a Bengal Cat in the house it is wise for this reason to also have a scratching post in the house. This way your couch and curtains will not be scratched. It is also important that you cut your cat’s nails once in a while. Doing this every now and then will prevent your cat’s nails from growing together. It is often sufficient to cut the nails 2 to 3 times a year.
Besides the nails it is important that you keep the cat clean. Especially at the ears and eyes some dirt will build up. A cat can’t get to these places very well by itself, so this dirt can stay there for a longer period of time. By carefully checking your cat for this and removing this dirt on time, you can prevent the development of infections.
Last but not least, it is very important that you, as the owner, make sure your cat gets enough exercise. Because cats are naturally very active they have an increased predisposition to overweight if they move less. By letting your cat get enough exercise and adjusting the food to the energy consumption you can prevent overweight. You can get your cat to get enough exercise by playing with him on a daily basis and also by getting enough active toys in the house.
The food: give your cat sufficient natural protein
Cats are true carnivores by nature. It is not for nothing that cats always hunt mice. As a result, a cat gets most of its nutrients from meat. Natural proteins and fats are very important for a cat. It doesn’t make much sense to feed your cat a diet of vegetables and grains. A cat doesn’t get really useful nutrients from this.
In the search for suitable food for your Bengal Cat you can choose from both wet and dry food. For example, wet food means raw meat. Raw meat actually contains all the nutrients a cat needs and is also very similar to a cat’s natural food. It is also good for a cat because raw meat often contains quite a lot of moisture. Cats don’t drink very much by nature so this fluid can help a cat absorb enough water. Wet food only has the disadvantage that it doesn’t keep as long and it gives a lot of mess.
Besides wet food you can also get dry food. Dry food includes dog food. This has the advantage that it has a long shelf life and gives little mess. A disadvantage is that it doesn’t really look like the cat’s natural food and often contains a lot of carbohydrates. This while a cat has difficulty processing carbohydrates.
It is important that your cat has a well-balanced diet. Many owners choose from a combination of both dry and wet food. It’s important to look carefully at the ingredients of the food so that you know what you’re giving your cat.
Purebred cats are often known to cause hereditary diseases by breeding them. With Bengal this is no different. Bengal also have diseases that are typical for the type of cat. Because Bengal is a big cat, he can quickly get problems with his hips in the form of hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia can cause pain when walking and is therefore very annoying for the cat. Another hereditary disease that can be very common in Bengal is PRA, or progressive retina atrophy. This is a disease of the eyes which can even cause the cat to become blind at a young age. Finally, the cat may suffer more quickly from bladder stones or urinary tract stones. With a Bengal Cat, just like with any other breed of cat, it is very important that you buy the cat from a good breeder who is also reliable.
How old can this cat get?
A Bengal Cat usually becomes between 12 and 16 years old. Exactly how old your Bengal Cat becomes depends on several factors. For example, the owner can increase the life expectancy of his cat by taking good care of it. On the other hand, the unexpected development of a disease can shorten the life expectancy of a cat considerably.
What you need to know before you take the cat into your home
Before you take in a Bengal Cat, it is important that you read carefully what is involved in having a cat. Check with yourself if you can spend enough time on the cat, but also if you can manage financially to have a cat in the house. For example, in addition to buying a cat, you will need to get a litter tray, cat basket and toys in the house. Also the food and veterinary costs should not be forgotten.
Besides getting the good stuff in the house, it is important to get your cat from a good breeder. Good breeders can often be found through breed clubs. A breed club is a club that is committed to a certain breed of cat and the owners of these cats. Through such a club it is often easy to get in contact with breeders and you can often get on a waiting list for certain kittens.
What price to think of?
For a Bengal Cat you quickly pay something like $1200. It is a real pedigree cat and because of its special appearance it is very popular. The price can differ between different breeders and also between different kittens. Some markings and coat patterns are more popular than others which makes them a bit more expensive. There is also a distinction made between cats of show quality, breeding quality or regular house cats.
Share your experiences with the Bengal Cat
Do you also have a Bengal Cat in the house and do you have a nice story to tell about your cat? Or do you have a good tip for grooming? We are very curious. Let us know by leaving a comment on this article!
 Source: The International Cat Association: Bengal Breed.
 Source: Cat Franciers’ Association: The Bengal.
 More information about the coat colours can be found at the breed standard on https://cfa.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/bengal-standard.pdf, which can be found on the official website of the Cat Franciers’ Association.