The Bengal cat was originated by founder Jean Mills by outcrossing various domestic cat breeds with the wild Asian Leopard Cat (ALC). While hybridization of wild cats started earlier than Jean Mills, records have not been found to confirm of any outcrossing (History of the Bengal cat). The hybridization, for Jean, began with her beloved ALC "Malasia" that was imported from Southeast Asia in 1961 and her lovely black domestic tom cat (Bengal cats; Gilbert, 2013). Her intent wasn't to breed these cats, but was surprised to find that they did. And it all started from there.
At around the same time Jean Mills was hybridizing her ALCs, Dr. Willard Centerwall was crossing ALCs with domestic cats to research if the hybrid would be resistant to feline leukemia virus like their wild ancestor (Bengal cats; History of the Bengal cat). The research of the outcrossing did not produce the desired result of resistance, however it did contribute in developing the Bengal breed (Bengal cats; History of the Bengal cat). Because the experiment was not successful, Jean acquired some of Dr. Centerwall's hybrids and found suitable mates to match them with ((Bengal cats; Giblert, 2013; History of the Bengal cat).
The first cat association to recognize Bengals as a breed was The International Cat Association (TICA) in 1991.
The Bengal cat was bred for their wild appearance and are one of the most popular and recognized breeds. They are most associated with the leopard spots appearance. TICA describes the Bengal as a medium to large breed, ranging from around eight to fifteen pounds (or more). Bengals range in colors from three color points (also known as "snow") being seal lynx point, seal mink, and seal sepia to brown and silver and the occasional melanistic (black). They also range in spotted pattern from donut rosettes, clouded (like the clouded leopard), paw print rosettes, arrowhead rosettes, spots to marbled patterns. Then there are the color variants with charcoal and solid.
They are a very active and athletic breed that requires lots of play and stimulation. Bengals are muscular, lean, and well-balanced.
The Bengal cat is highly intelligent breed and very active. The like to climb to the highest point possible, jumping, running, playing, chasing, etc.. Bengals are known for having "dog-like" traits because they enjoy playing fetch, going on walks, and sticking to you like "velcro." Many Bengals want to be where their human is, even if that means joining them for a bath. Some Bengals actually enjoy the water and will willingly get into the shower or bath or just play in a bowl of water. You can also teach Bengals tricks.
Some Bengals can also be quite vocal, chirping, chattering, meowing, and yowling while others remain quiet. While they are adaptable with proper socialization and introductions, Bengals are a temperamental breed and can behave poorly to change. It is important that Bengals are properly socialized, introduced, on a balanced diet, and are stimulated through play.
Bengals are prone to the same illnesses as any other cat in their environment.
Bengals are also prone to deficiencies that not all other cats are vulnerable to, such as Erythrocyte Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency or PK Deficiency or PK Def, Progressive Retinal Atrophy or PRA-b, and Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM).
PK Def is the insufficiency of a regulatory enzyme and loss of red blood cells, resulting in hemolytic anemia. PRA-b is a genetic condition affecting the eyes, causing an autosomal recessive blindness in Bengal cats. While there is no guarantee in preventing these health conditions, a responsible breeder will genetically test their breeding cats for PK Def and PRA-b and avoid pairing carriers of these deficiencies with other carriers. HCM is a heart disease where the walls of the heart thicken and an overall enlargement of the heart that can lead to heart failure. There is absolutely no guarantee against HCM, as it can happen at any time in a cat's life, however responsible breeders will scan their cats via an echocardiogram from a certified veterinary cardiologist every 12-18 months for early detection.
Bengal cats are commonly associated as being hypoallergenic, however people seem to misinterpret the meaning of hypoallergenic. Hypoallergenic means "highly unlikely to cause an allergic reaction." Robyn Paterson of Solana Ranch (Quality Bengal Kittens) explains the process of the allergen, protein Fel d 1, being transferred from saliva to fur to surface (Are Bengal cats hypoallergenic?, 2018). She also notes Bengals being a single coated breed, shedding less than the average cat (Are Bengal cats hypoallergenic?, 2018). Short-haired Bengals are known for their extremely short, pelt like fur which requires less grooming (Are Bengal cats hypoallergenic?, 2018). These factors affect the Fel d 1 protein from being released, which reduces the amount of allergens floating in the air or transferring to other surfaces (Are Bengal cats hypoallergenic?, 2018). A proper balanced raw diet also affects the skin and fur of cat, reducing dander and shedding (Are Bengal cats hypoallergenic?, 2018). People with a lower sensitivity to the allergen may not be as severely affected as those with a higher sensitivity.
About bengals. (n.d.). Elysian Bengals. Retrieved from https://www.elysianbengals.com/about-bengals
Are Bengal cats hypoallergenic? (2018). Quality Bengal Kittens. Retrieved from https://www.quality-bengal-kittens.com/blog/blog/are-bengal-cats-hypoallergenic
Bengal breed. (2018). TICA. Retrieved from https://www.tica.org/breeds/browse-all-breeds?view=article&id=824:bengal-breed&catid=79
Bengal breed at a glance. (2019). The Bengal Breed. TICA. Retrieved from https://www.tica.org/breeds/browse-all-breeds?view=article&id=1521:the-bengal-breed&catid=48
Bengal Cats. (n.d.). Cat Time. Retrieved from https://cattime.com/cat-breeds/bengal-cats#/slide/1
Gilbert, B. (2013). Milestones @ Millwood. Millwood Bengals. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/notes/bengal-media-archives/millwood-bengals/418457131573538/
History of the Bengal cat. (n.d.). Quality Bengal Kittens. Retrieved from https://quality-bengal-kittens.com/bengal-cat-history