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Bengal Cat Breed FAQ, Facts, Infos

Bengal Cat Breed Informations

What is a Bengal cat?

Bengal cats are a unique combination of crossbreeding an ordinary house cat (Felis sylvestris catus) with the Asian Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis).

Therefore, it made sense that this exotic-looking feline was named after the scientific name of the Asian Leopard; Felis bengalenis.

Photo of a bengal cat

The Bengal cat breed was the first attempt at creating a hybrid offspring that resembled a leopard or an ocelot with the laid-back nature of the domestic cat, which Jean S. Mill took into her hands back in 1963.

It is no secret that we humans have a profound fascination with the big, wild cats that inhabit the Earth.

The wild temperament of a Leopard won’t make for a very nice house cat.

Bengal cat origins

So why not make a miniature, domesticated version of those beautiful felines?

That was exactly Jean S. Mill’s dream, when she first bred an average house cat with a five pound, wild Asian Leopard cat.

Her goal for the Bengal breeding program was to create a domesticated Leopard-looking cat.

Consequently, this new breed would have all the distinctive characteristics of the small wild cats, paired with the loving and loyal temperament of the domestic house cat.

As a result, the Bengal was born and it is now one of the most exotic and tamest felines in the world.

Learn more about the history of the Bengal cat breed.

What are the characteristics of a Bengal cat?

Bengal cat appearance

The Bengal cat has the appearance of a miniature leopard. The Bengal cat looks like a domesticated leopard cat with its richly colored fur coat of vivid contrasting spots.

Bengal cat physical appearance
All images © 2019 Laurent Jaccard – Bengalcats.co

Body

The male Bengals are larger than the females with broad, muscular shoulders that allows the cat to easily prowl. All Bengal cats have solid, muscular bodies but the strongest portion of the Bengal’s body is its legs, which allows the feline to perform gazelle like leaps.

  • Body: Very muscular (especially males). Dense and sturdy boning.
  • Torso: Long and substantial. Medium to large.
  • Tail: Thick and medium in length, tapered at end with rounded tip.
  • Hind legs: Longer than front legs. Walks with raised rear and dropped tail.
  • Paws: Large, round paws with prominent knuckles.

Head

The broad head of the Bengal is longer than it is wide, coming into a shape of a modified wedge. Atop the head are short, medium-sized ears, equally spaced toward each size of the head. The large oval eyes of the Bengal are almost round and make the muzzle of this unique cat appear even smaller than it already is.

  • Head: Relatively small in comparison to body. Oval, almost round. Longer than it is wide. Wide nose and large oval, almost round eyes.
  • Ears: Medium to small. Relatively short with wide base and rounded tops.
  • Muzzle: Full and broad. Large, prominent whisker pads. High, pronounced cheekbones.

What color eyes do Bengal cats have?

Bengal cat eye colors

All images © 2019 Laurent Jaccard – Bengalcats.co

Bengal cats can have a variety of different eye colorations, but the traditional brown coated Bengal only has gold or green eyes.

Snow Bengal felines have blue eyes, with the exception of the Seal Mink Bengal.

The Mink Bengals are born with blue eyes, but then their eye color changes to amber, gold, green or aqua.

The Seal sepia Bengal cat usually has golden eyes, but this variation of snow coated cats can also be seen with green or brown colored eyes.

Coat

The pelt of the Bengal is short, thick and silky, soft to the touch. The fur coat can be several colors with horizontal or marbled spotted patterns. The spots can be black, chocolate, cinnamon or tan, and when the Bengal rolls on its back, you can see the fur of the underbelly is white.

Coat Colors and Patterns

Bengal cats, both spotted and marbled, come in a wide variety of colors.

The most common coat colors of the Bengal cat breed are brown, silver and snow.

However, breeders have brought new colors to the Bengal cat breed including; blue, black, cinnamon, charcoal and chocolate to meet popular demand.

These dominant coat colors of the Bengal cat can then be broken down further into the following colors:

  • Brown: This color has many descriptive terms such as; Red, caramel, beige, tan, buff, taupe, honey, tawny, cream or golden. The spotted or marble pattern of a brown Bengal cat will be black.
  • Silver: This color is almost white with a black spotted or marbled coat pattern.
  • Snow: This color refers to a group of three distinctive variations; the Seal Sepia, the Seal Mink and the Seal Lynx Point. The Seal Sepia is the darkest of the snow group with distinctive brown pattern. The Seal Mink is a caramel-chocolate toned pattern with a cream or ivory background coat color. The Seal Lynx point is the lightest coloration of the snow group with brownish-grey to tan marbling or spotted patterns.
Bengal cat coat colors: Spotted vs Marbled

All images © 2019 Laurent Jaccard – Bengalcats.co

Check out our Bengal cat colors and patterns guide to learn more!

What is a Spotted/Rosetted Bengal?

A Bengal cat can have one of two different patterns of spots on their fur; spotted/rosetted or marbled.

A rosette is a group of small spots that form oval shaped patterns, which are usually darker in color than the surrounding fur.

These unique patterns are called rosettes because the clusters of spots resemble the appearance of small orange or brown flowers.

The rosettes are two toned and are characterized into four major types: cloud, donut, paw print and arrow.

The rosette simply gets is name based on what the coat marking looks like, an arrow, paw print, donut or cloud.

Some Bengal cats have a unique rosette pattern called chaining.

Chaining is the connection of donut rosettes running down the length of the spine.

Different types of rosettes on a Bengal cat

All images © 2019 Laurent Jaccard – Bengalcats.co

What is a Marbled Bengal?
The term “marbled” is a word breeders use to describe a coat marking of swirling color, running horizontally down the cat’s body.

In an addition to hearing the cat characterized as a marbled Bengal, the breeder will also use descriptive terms to further specify the type of marble pattern the cat might have.

A Bengal cat can have one of six different types of marbling patterns including; the Bull’s eye pattern, sheet marble or closed pattern, Chaos pattern marble, reduced pattern horizontal flowing marble and horizontal flowing marble.

The Bull’s eye marbling pattern is not desired by Bengal cat breeders, but is a fun fur pattern for Bengals not intended for show purposes.

Coat Characteristics

What is glitter on Bengal cats?
When talking about the Bengal cats, the term “glitter” is referring to the metallic appearance on the feline’s fur.

When the sunlight hits the soft, silky coat of the Bengal cat, the translucent hair picks up the rays, making the cat look as though he or she is sparkling with glitter.

This unique genetic trait is derived from the Egyptian Mau, one of the first domesticated felines used to create the Bengal cat breed.

The Egyptian Mau was not the only foundation Bengals uses to create the Bengal breed and it is for this reason that not all present day Bengals possess this Glittering effect.

What are Bengal fuzzies?
Fuzzies on a Bengal are the longer guard hairs that protrude from an infant Bengal cat’s coat.

Starting at the time the kitten is four weeks old and lasting about 16 weeks of age, these guard hairs make the kitten look fuzzy just like a wild, baby leopard.

The guard hairs are one of nature’s natural defenses, as in the wild, these fuzzies would help the kitten to camouflage and hide from predators.

The fuzzies are usually a dull, white color and will be replaced with sleek adult Bengal hair when the kitten reaches 4-9 months of age.

What does a Bengal’s coat feel like?
The Bengal cat has a fur coat that is not only beautiful, but absolutely lovey to the touch.

The best word to describe the way a Bengal cat’s coat feels is silk.

The smooth, soft feel of silk fabric is comparably similar to that of the Bengal’s short hair coat.

Do Bengals shed a lot?
The Bengal cat does shed, but very little.

In comparison to the average domestic cat, a Bengal cat will only leave a few hairs on the furniture, whereas the typical house cat will fill the couch or chair with hair.

The Bengal cat is an excellent self-groomer and shares a similar shedding patter as their predecessors the Asian Leopard. That being said, some seasonal shedding should be expected and at times of high stress.

What is a long haired Bengal?
Longhaired Bengals are a variety of the Bengal cat breed, but were not recognized as a true Bengal cat until 2013 by the New Zealand Cat Fancy (NZCF) registry.

The long haired Bengal has actually been a member of the Bengal cat breed since the beginning, as long haired domestic cats were used as Foundation felines to breed with the Asian leopard cat.

Due to the fact that the longhaired Bengals did not share similar coat colorations as the standard Bengal, all offspring carrying this long haired trait were either spayed or neutered.

The recessive long haired trait is still carried in the Bengal bloodline and if both parents carry the genetic makeup, the offspring can be a longhaired Bengal cat.

Today, longhaired Bengal cats are called, “Cashmeres” with hair so fine and incredibly silky, it doesn’t require grooming.

Size

How big do Bengal cats get?

Bengal cats and kittens size chart

All images © 2019 Laurent Jaccard – Bengalcats.co

These cats are medium to large in size compared to other domestic cats, weighing between 7-15 pounds (3-7kgs) on average.

The female Bengal cat weighs about seven to ten pounds (3-5kg) at maturity and the males grow slightly bigger, reaching weights of ten to fifteen pounds (5-7kg).

The Bengal cat is considered to be a medium-large domesticated cat and some Bengals can weight nearly 22 pounds (10kg), but it is rather rare. Female Bengal cats are generally three feet tall (90 cm) and the male Bengals are four feet tall (110 cm).

Bengal cat personality

These cats are very intelligent and there are certain aspects of Bengal cat behavior that prove just that.

Bengal cat behaviors & personality traits

The temperament and personality of the Bengal cat is unlike any other housecat.

Whereas most indoor felines lazily sleep all day, hide from guests and could care less about the world around them, the Bengal cat is an active, social and alert feline.

Bengal cats are excellent family cats, as they enjoy playing with children and are known for their kind, gentle behavior.

Different from all other feline behavior, the Bengal cat has a strong love for water and has been known to join his/her owners in the shower or bathtub.

These cats are extremely intelligent and clever, which brings a whimsical sense of humor to the home.

In short, the Bengal cat is fun to live with and there is literally no other domestic cat in the world like the Bengal.

How is a Bengal cat as a pet?

Bengal cats are naturally dominant, which means even a young Bengal will be the boss of all your other household pets from day one.

Although the Bengal puts himself/herself as the head of the household, these felines get along well with the company of another cat and/or dog.

The Bengal cat may actually get along better with a dog, than a cat due to the Bengal’s love of fetch and high energy levels.

The Bengal cat enjoys human interaction and will need constant entertainment to stay out of mischief.

Bengal cat adoption FAQ

How much do Bengal cats cost?

Depending on the Bengal kitten selected, the estimated price range for a Bengal cat is:

  • $500 – $1500 for a household pet
  • $1500 – $2000 for a show or top quality pet
  • $2000 – $3000 for a breeder cat destined for reproduction

Each Bengal kitten is sold individually and the price is determined by a number of factors. The price of a kitten will be decided by the breeder based on the following factors:

  • The feline is of show quality, meaning the cat meets the established breed standards suitable for breeding programs and show competitions
  • The feline is pet quality, meaning the cat may have imperfections that are not recognized by the Bengal breed standards.
  • The age (kitten or retired breeder/show Bengal)
  • The overall beauty of the animal
  • His pedigree

Bengal kittens sold as pets are generally less expensive than the show quality ones. They are not destined to be bred.

Pets considered as “top quality” are either spayed before going to their new homes, or a signed contract will be required from the buyer stating that the feline will be spayed/neutered at 6 – 8 months old.

Adult Bengal cats that have retired from competition and breeding are also less expensive than a show quality kitten. A retired cat has all the beauty of a show Bengal without the high-energy antics of a pet or show quality kitten.

Are Bengal cats hypoallergenic?

Bengal cats are not known to cause an allergic response to people with cat allergies.

In contrary to common belief, it is not a feline’s fur that causes cat based allergies.

The feline’s saliva and dander is the cause of human allergies to cats.

The reason a low shedding cat is considered “hypoallergenic” is because that feline will groom himself less and, therefore, less saliva coated fur is in the environment.

“Pet” and “Show/Breeder” Bengals difference

In general, a Bengal cat will be classified as “Pet” because they would either (1) not do well in a show ring or (2) the cat does not have the necessary traits recognized by the International Cat Association (TICA).

Despite the obvious beauty of a Bengal that has been classified as Pet quality, a Bengal could be considered Pet quality for a number of reasons.

A few examples of why a Bengal cat would be classified as Pet quality are given below:

  1. The tail is slightly kinked.
  2. Not all paw pads (the underside of the feet) are black.
  3. The spots on the cat’s fur coat are in a regular pattern. The regularity of these spots are simply not unique enough to stand out against its competitors.
  4. The cat’s genetic background suggests that, although the individual cat is of Show/Breeder quality, the kittens that the feline produces will most likely be of Pet quality.

What does “F1, F2, F3 and F4” mean?

The abbreviations F1-F4 are the abbreviations Bengal Cat breeders use to differentiate one generation of offspring from another.

However, there are no F2, no F3 and no F4 Bengal Cats, using the accepted definitions of science and law.

The “F” in the abbreviation stands for “Foundation” or “Filial,” and the following number represents the generation in which the feline belongs to.

Therefore, if a Bengal Cat breeder says a kitten is an F1, then that son is the first generation of an Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) crossed with a domestic Bengal cat parent.

It is appropriate to either use the existing scientific nomenclature or a naming system developed by TICA’s Bengal Cat Breed Committee that prevents confusion and accurately describes the pedigree. TICA’s Bengal Cat breed committee agreed to use 2G and 3G to more precisely identify the generations removed from a non-domestic feline of any cat. Thus, the correct terms in the breeding strategy for producing an SBT Bengal Cat becomes:

  • Asian Leopard Cat X domestic cat = F1
  • F1 X domestic cat (B, C or SBT Bengal) = 2G
  • 2G X domestic cat (B, C or SBT Bengal) = 3G
  • 3G X domestic cat (C or SBT Bengal) = SBT

Infographic Bengal cat generations: filial and foundation

What does “Filial” or “Foundation” mean for Bengals?

The terms “Filial” and “Foundation” are words commonly used when referring to a specific group of genes in the hybridizing process.

Hybridizing is the act of taking two similar species and crossbreeding them to create a hybrid species, with the hopes that both genetic variables with be present in the offspring.

The two different species that were paired together in the hybridizing process are referred to as the Foundation generation.

So when we look at the Bengal cat breed, the Foundation generation would be the Asian Leopard Cat and the domestic cat.

The offspring that these “Foundation Bengals” produce are then characterized as the “filial” generation, as filial derives from the Latin word filius, which means “son.”

In other words, the sons or generation following the parents, and all generations to come are to be referred to as the “Filial Bengal Generation.”

The foundation and first three generations of filial Bengals are not true Bengal cats, therefore, these felines are not technically classified as Bengal cats.

The first three filial generations, abbreviated F1, F2, and F3, result in infertile males paired with an entire litter of felines that are more Asian Leopard than domesticated cat.

The F1-F3 generations also require specialized care as health problems affect these primary generations more than the true Bengal cat, which is generation F4 and later.

The fourth hybrid generation is recognized by the International Cat Association (TICA) as a true domestic Bengal Cat, studbook tradition (SBT) and deemed show ring eligible.

Bengal cat breed Infographic

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