More on Bengal cats
Breeding for the Bengal from Foundation Cats
Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) x pedigreed domestic shorthair=F1-1st generation babies with 50% wild blood/males are sterile/generally won't fit into the normal household
F1 x domestic or backcrossed to parent or SBT Bengal=F2-2nd generation 25% wild blood/less shy/males are sterile
F2 x domestic or backcrossed to parent or SBT Bengal=F3-3rd generation 15-18% wild blood/more outgoing and loving/sterility in males diminish
F3 x domestic or backcrossed to parent or SBT Bengal=F4-1st generation SBT (Stud Book Tradition Bengal)/10-12% wild blood/outgoing, loving pets
From this point forward, SBT means only Bengal to Bengal breeding to retain its origin and purpose.
Bengals have been hybridized from the small, shy, forest dwelling Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) or precisely Felis Bengalensis. These cats are mainly found in SE Asia. The idea was to create a domestic that retained the appearance of its feral ancestor while developing a sweet natured pet. This was partially done to discourage the slaughter of the timid cat. Their pelt was admired and in demand for making into clothing accessories. The fur was used for ladies' fashion articles. If people could own a wild looking but domestic cat with a stunning pelt they may be less apt to trap the ALC and wear their pelts. The recent CITES treaty now protects these wonderful felines from such a fate.
Years later in 1961, Jean Mill of Arizona had acquired an ALC that bred with a domestic shorthair tomcat. One female survived which was then bred back to the father. Through misfortune with the early breeding program, it was abandoned until 1980 when she married Bob Mill and moved to California. When looking for new ALC's she was directed to Dr. Willard Centerwall at Loma Linda University who was doing leukemia research on ALC's and F1 kittens. The ALC seemed to have somewhat of a natural immunity to this dreaded disease. Once he obtained blood samples for research he was happy to place the kittens he had. A few years later Ms. Mill instigated the assistance of a stud she found in Delhi. Millwood Tory of Delhi developed into the king of all studs for Bengals today. Thus the new breed began.
It was not an easy breeding program for Jean Mill, E.G., setbacks with the cats, opposing standard cat breeders and legislation was emerging (we're still fighting it) to stop the international and domestic importation, breeding and ownership of Bengals because of their feral lineage. MYTH- A Bengal may revert back to it roots and be dangerous. TRUTH-the ALC was never a dangerous feline. It had to be shy and aloof to avoid humans.
Appearance (color & patterns) (click to enlarge)
Bengal Cats and Kittens resemble a spotted African leopard but do not grow larger than any other household cat. The overall appearance of a Bengal consists of a pelt-like coat, contrasting dark spots amidst a lighter background color, uniquely striking head markings or crown, small wide-set ears, black lipstick, eye liner and paw pads. (click to enlarge) Sometimes, the dark spots will open up and shine through with a variation of color. These are called rosettes and can be seen on some breeds of feral cats. This rarity is a bonus on a Bengal and can be very expensive. Another rare find is glitter. Although these cats do not have ticking, it will remind you of it. The end of the hairs will be tipped in gold which glistens in the sun. It is quite attractive. The body is long and sleek with higher hind legs. They eyes are round or almond highlighted with gold, green or blue. Variations in color exist in Bengals: brown, seal lynx point, mink, sepia with new ones being evaluated and patterns consist of spotted and marbled.
Bengals are a new breed that have soared to high demand in the last few years. People are recognizing the unique desirable differences compared to a common domestic. Gone are the days when you only see your cat when it wants food or attention. Bengal Cats and Kittens want to be part of the family at all times and are very loyal pets. Their intelligence and ability to reason are uncanny. They can figure out what would be almost impossible tasks for a normal cat. The athletic abilities of these cats are a sight to behold. I won't make unwarranted claims but from personal experience my cats have leaped onto my pot/plant shelves which are approximately nine feet up (click to enlarge) then it's off to the next pot shelf. They love high places to asses the activity below.
A Bengal is always entertaining you and will follow you from room to room. Most love to cuddle once the energy wears down and all will sleep on the bed at night if allowed. My kitten contract stipulates that any animal adopted will remain an indoor cat obviously for the safety and longevity of the pet. However, these animals are very easy to leash train. My crew accompanies me outdoors daily. Simba runs laps around the outside of the pool with me. He always climbs down to the first step in the pool and now and then goes for a quick swim. The love of water is inherent as the Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) hunted for food in the water. Ziggy bats and plays in the water while keeping an eye out on the bird feeder.
Another consideration in choosing a Bengal is that Bengals seem to be more easily tolerated by people suffering from allergies. It is a dried saliva protein that causes dander and allergic reactions in people. The cats are not allergen-free but some find relief owning a Bengal compared to other domestics.
Bengals require lots of human attention and exercise. If you are gone for 10-12 hours a day then it would not be a wise idea to add a Bengal Cat to your family. They will become bored and destructive if left alone for long periods. Being the athletes that they are, a high quality diet is of vital importance. High protein foods are necessary as they should eat the same as their wild ancestors. You can supplement by sharing a piece of chicken, fish or beef with your cat at dinner. If you want something more than just a "looks" cat then a Bengal is for you.