The pretty fur with a leopard pattern makes the elegant Bengal cat a real eye-catcher. The active cats are similar in appearance to a wild cats but have more of a domestic cat in character. Here you will learn everything about the history, keeping, and care of the exotic cat breed.
History and Origin of the Bengal Cat
Today’s Bengal cat was created by crossing a wild Asian leopard cat with a black domestic cat. A California geneticist mated the two in 1963 to combine the spotted coat pattern of the wild cat with the character of a domestic cat. She continued breeding and in 1972 took on some female hybrids from a feline leukemia research project. In the process of creating the breed, Burmese and Siamese cats were also crossed.
So she got a breed of cat that is reminiscent of the wild Bengal cats on the outside but is suitable as a house cat by nature. Today, breeders only cross pedigree cats homozygous and no other breeds are crossed in anymore. Also known as Leopardettes in Europe, they have only been bred since 1999. Today the breed is recognized by the Fédération Internationale Féline and is still rarely found as a domestic cat in Germany.
Essence and Character
Don’t be fooled by the wild appearance of the Bengal cat. The leopard-like cats are very affectionate and extremely communicative with their humans. Especially as an indoor cats, Leopardettes prefer to accompany their owners around the house and seek attention. Of course, every cat has its own character, which you can only find out by dealing with it. From the basic traits, all Bengal cats are fearless, intelligent, curious, and active well into old age. With a little patience, they can also be taught little tricks.
The Appearance of the Bengal Cat
The Bengal cat’s most distinctive feature is, of course, its distinctive leopard-print coat. The color variant in marbled or spotted brown, in particular, is reminiscent of a wild cat. But there are also cats that have brindle or spotted coat patterns. The cats have an elegant and slender build with a relatively large head and eyes. Unlike other cat breeds, they have a tail that is particularly thick at the base and ends in a rounded, thin tip. On average, the big cats reach a weight of four to five kilograms.
Attitude and Care
If you want to get a Bengal cat, you should be aware that the breed is one of the most expensive in the world. For a healthy kitten, you pay between 1000 and 1500€ from a reputable breeder. The price essentially depends on the characteristics of the leopard skin. In addition, breeders distinguish between the three categories of hobby animal, breeding animal, and show animal. As a hobby animal, you usually only get kittens that show small deviations from the breeding goals. In the purchase contract, you then have to commit yourself not to use the cat for breeding.
Outdoor cat or indoor cat?
Athletic Bengalis need a lot of exercises to feel good. The best thing to do is offer them a big house with a garden to roam around. If you decide to live in an apartment, you should also provide enough space and opportunities for playing and climbing in the house. The freedom-loving animals do not feel comfortable in small city apartments. A stable scratching post or a climbing course should definitely fit in the apartment. The leopard cats have a strong jumping ability and no increase is beyond their reach. You should definitely consider this before you bring a Bengal cat into your home. Especially when they are bored, the big cats tend to tear apart the apartment. In general, it is recommended to keep the Bengal cat as an outdoor cat and to offer it enough activity in the house. In the case of outdoor cats, you can be prepared for the fact that the otherwise clingy cats will sometimes go on a two-day hike.
How much activity does the Bengal cat need?
Due to their descent from wild cats alone, the Bengal cats are among the very active cat breeds. They are persistent climbers and need a lot of exercises. The best way for them to let off steam is on the scratching post, at hunting games, or ideally outdoors. Regular hunting games with a fishing rod, and playing with mice or balls together with their humans are also great activities. Mental stimulation with intelligence toys or learning little tricks is essential to keep cats from getting bored. If you are often away from home, the cats need company. They get along best with conspecifics. As one of the few cat breeds, the wild cats are real water rats and can also easily deal with a dripping faucet.