Cat Breeds: The Bengal Cat

Cat Breeds: The Bengal Cat

The Bengal Cat is a newer breed of domestic cat especially here in the UK. What we call the Bengal cat today was first bred in the US in the 1960s but didn’t come to British shores until the 1990s and this stunning breed has made itself well and truly at home over here.

This highly intelligent, highly inquisitive cat loves an active lifestyle and is not the breed for you if you’re after a docile lap cat. If you’re after a playful pet who can learn tricks and ‘chat’ to you, this could be your perfect cat.

Where does the Bengal cat come from?

This breed originally came about after researchers were looking into the leopard cat’s resistance to the feline leukaemia virus. A doctor at Loyola University in Chicago was curious to know if this trait could be passed to a more domesticated hybrid offspring.

At the same time, a Californian breeder named Jean Mill introduced a black tom cat to her recently acquired leopard cat for company not thinking they’d be compatible mates. After the leopard cat produced a litter, she kept a spotted female and bred it back with its father and most Bengal cats around the world can trace their lineage back to this pair.

What should a Bengal cat look like?

The Bengal cat is incredibly distinctive as it looks like a mini version of a wild cat, you can really see its leopard cat ancestor in their spotted or marble tabby coat. Although the most common coat colour is brown, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) also recognises white, silver and blue Bengal coats.

A Bengal cat will have a strong and muscular body and when you see them leaping, you’ll see a sleek and powerful body. Their short, easy to maintain coat will shimmer in the light giving it a luminescent sheen.

What sort of personality does the Bengal cat have?

A typical Bengal cat will be incredibly playful and quick to learn. If left to their own devices, this could result in them learning to relieve their own boredom by becoming destructive. If you’ve got the time and patience, the Bengal cat will love to play and can even learn to fetch and recall.

As they’re direct descendants of the leopard cat, who are excellent swimmers, the Bengal cat is partial to water play. They love splashing about and pawing at streams of water and they’ve even been known to help themselves to their owner’s bath.

All these qualities mean the Bengal is the perfect family cat and will quite happily live with children and cat friendly dogs. It’s important to set boundaries though as their intelligent nature combined with their natural cat proclivities mean they’re more than capable of establishing themselves at the top of any household hierarchy.

At the end of a busy day of investigation and domain surveying, a content Bengal will be more than happy to curl up on their human’s lap.

What health problems are common with Bengal Cats?

Due to their inquisitive but active nature, these cats need plenty of mental stimulation but in a safe environment. Whilst they don’t always suit being an indoor cat, when left to roam they can find themselves in dangerous situations they don’t understand.

Like any distinctive looking pedigree pet, their appearance can make them more susceptible to theft, especially post Covid.

There are no specific illnesses that Bengal cats are more predisposed to than any other breed of cat. However, it’s very important to thoroughly research any breeder you might be thinking of buying a Bengal cat from. To be considered a true Bengal, the cat must be at least four generations or more from the original leopard cat and a responsible breeder will always be able to show you the kittens lineage.