Cat Breed Close-Up: The Bengal

Domestic cats come in a plethora of shapes, colors, sizes and personalities. Each breed is so different from the other that at times it may be simpler to think of them as separate species.

Think about it: We recognize lions and tigers as separate species, so why don’t we view Persians and Siamese as different?

Since there are so many cool domestic cat breeds, we thought we would highlight individual breeds in individual posts. Let’s start today with the exotic-looking Bengal cat.

Bengal cats look more like their wild cousins than most other domestic cat breeds do. You can chalk that up to the fact that they are the only domestic cat with spots. There rosettes make you think of leopards and jaguars, margays and ocelots, and they are absolutely gorgeous.

However, there’s a more scientific reason for their wildness. Bengal cats are a relatively recent breed resulting from the pairing of domestic and wild cats. In fact, the catting world recognizes a true Bengal cat as one that is at least four generations removed from an Asian leopard cat/domestic cat coupling.

Such a hybrid first showed up when they were mentioned by an author in 1889. They were first officially recognized as a breed in 1983.

Bengals come in a variety of color combinations, from dark orange with black spots and rosettes to silvery-grey. Their marking are very wild, much more so than other domestic cat breeds. Their belly is white or lighter than the rest of their body, and their spots and rosettes are often combined with distinct striping on their legs and dark mascara on their faces.

While some cats appear spotty, others are marbled in appearance. Marbled Bengals are highly sought after and can be quite expensive. The breed is athletic and inquisitive, and likes to be at eye level with humans. Expect them to jump up onto counters and other high places, and don;t be surprised if they take to bodies of water and running faucets.


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