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by Karin Donoyan (10-19-98)

ORIGIN: The Bengal breed is a relatively new breed. It was developed by crossing Leopard cats, or Asian Leopard Cats, Lat. Prionailurus bengalensis (or Felis bengalensis) with domestic cats, to arrive at the first generation of Bengal cats who are often referred to as F1 Bengals. F1 male Bengals proved to be infertile, but the fertile females could be bred to domestic male cats, such as E.Mau, Domestic Shorthair, Abyssinian, Ocicat, and unpedigreed cats, as well as later generation Bengal males. The second generation Bengals were named F2 Bengals, their offspring was called F3 Bengals, and so on. Normal fertility in males occurs in the F4 generation, while only in a relatively small percentage in the F3 generation, and is almost non-existent in the F2 generation. The terms: F1, F2, F3, etc. were coined by Bengal breeders and are not to be confused with the scientific terms F1, F2, F3, etc., denoting filial generations. Several people were involved at different times in hybridizing leopard cats and domestic cats. Jean Mill is credited with paving the way to the Bengals’ immense popularity by taking her early Bengals to cat shows and bringing them to the attention of the Cat Fancy.

When talking of Bengal cats, breeders make a distinction between the early generations, e.g. F1 through F3, by calling those Bengals "Foundation Bengals", and the three-generation Bengal to Bengal offspring, who is considered to be the truly domestic Bengal and is the only kind admitted in the show rings of most associations. The breed standards describe the latter kind.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: In conformation, the Bengal should closely resemble the leopard cat. The body is medium large, elegant, yet muscular. The head is somewhat small in relation to the body, ears are small, rounded, and set far back. The tail is medium long and substantial, but not bushy. The coat is shorthair and silky soft with a luxurious feel to it, preferably.

COLORS AND PATTERNS: The leopard spotted Bengal has black or dark brown spots and rosettes on a yellowish, orange, tan or light brown background. The sorrel spotted Bengal has medium brown spots and rosettes on beige or tan background. Both are based on the brown spotted tabby genotype.. Snow leopard is the popular name for light brown or gray spots and rosettes on an off-white background. The term also includes black spots and rosettes on a silvery background and is based on three different genetic make-ups. Instead of spotted or rosetted, the above color combinations may also occur in a marbled pattern. Regardless of details in color and pattern, what is most coveted by breeders is the "wild look". The Bengal is the domestic cat with an exotic flair. For a more thorough description, please obtain the Authentic Bengal breed standard from TCA, Inc.

TEMPERAMENT: Bengals are people cats. They bond strongly to their human companions and like to be involved in all activities. They are friendly, curious, and active, but not hyper, cats. They are also very intelligent and playful. Bengal cats are a lot of fun. They first attract people with their looks, but they captivate them with their personalities. It has been said: "Warning! Bengals are addictive - one can never have just one!!"

BREEDING: Same as other domestic breeds. Gestation averages 63 days and litter size could be 1 to 9 kittens, average 4 to 5. F1 queens tend to have smaller litters.

MAINTENANCE: Same as other domestic breeds. Bengals eat cat food and use the litter box.

SPECIAL NOTE: Bengals may be registered and shown in the New Breed and Color Class in TCA, Inc. since April 1994. They may also be registered with TICA (since 1985), ACFA, CFF, UFO, CCA (Canadian), and in various European associations. The breed standard varies with each association, but all agree that Bengals should be striking in appearance and spectacular in color and pattern.


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