The name “Bengal cat” was derived from the taxonomic name of the Asian leopard cat (P. b. bengalensis), and not from the more distantly related Bengal tiger. They have a “wild” appearance with large spots, rosettes, and a light/white belly, and a body structure reminiscent of the ALC, but once separated by at least four generations from the original crossing possess a gentle domestic cat temperament.
Bengal cats have “wild-looking” markings, such as large spots, rosettes, and a light/white belly, and a body structure reminiscent of the leopard cat. A Bengal’s rosetted spots occur only on the back and sides, with stripes elsewhere. The breed typically also features “mascara” (horizontal striping alongside the eyes), and foreleg striping.
The Bengal cat is usually either classed as brown-spotted or snow-spotted (although there are more colours, brown and snow are the only colours of Bengal that the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (UK) recognize). Within brown Bengals, there are either marble or spotted markings. Included in the spotted variation is rosetted, which consists of a spot with a dark line surrounding it. Snow Bengals are also either marble or spotted, but are also divided into blue-eyed or any other colour eyes.
The International Cat Association recognizes several Bengal colors (brown, seal lynx point, mink, sepia, silver) and patterns (spotted and marbled) for competition and shows. In the New Traits class, other colors may be shown, as well as longhairs.
After three generations from the original crossing, the breed usually acquires a gentle domestic cat temperament; however, for the typical pet owner, a Bengal cat kept as a pet should be at least four generations (F4) removed from the leopard cat. The so-called “foundation cats” from the first three filial generations of breeding (F1–F3) are usually reserved for breeding purposes or the specialty pet home environment.
The Bengal’s beautiful coat makes it stand out in a crowd. Numerous shades make up the background color of the Bengal, ranging from golden, rust, brown and orange, to sand, buff, or even ivory. Bengal spots also vary in color, from rust or cocoa and chocolate brown to charcoal or black. Some Bengal patterns have inherited striking rosettes or spots made up of more than one color, usually a secondary color forming a dark outlining to the spot.
Brown and Snow Marbles
The second Bengal pattern is called marble. This is created by the combination of rosettes from the Asian Leopard Cat and the domestic classic tabby pattern to produce a “marbleized” look, one or more colors swirled into the base colors. Ideally, both the spotted and marbled patterns should have a horizontal flow rather than a vertical appearance. Since the original purpose for breeding Bengal cats was to try to replicate the look of the exotic spotted Asian Leopard Cat, the dominant spotted pattern is most common.
The Bengal Cat has a happy, active, interactive and extremely intelligent personality. Every domestic cat breed has its unique features, and the exotic heritage of the Bengal cat can be seen in their every day activities. While Bengals will happily search out a lap or stretch out on the sofa next to you during naptime, they are very active during the rest of the day.
The energetic Bengal is not for people who just want a leopard print cat for decoration. Whether they are fishing in the aquarium or playing in their water-bowls, fetching balls for their families, taking walks on a leash or climbing to the top of the highest cupboards, Bengals are constantly on the move and are perfect for anyone who wants to interact and play with their cat daily. The Bengal cat, like many other pets, demands a good deal of attention and affection and enjoys being an integral part of the family.