To say that Bengal cats are a unique breed with an interesting breeding history is an understatement. Bengal cats have not been around
for all that long but have, in that time, developed a remarkable following and reputation. Named for the Asian Leopard Cat (ALC), and
not the Tiger, the Bengal cat started its journey toward recognition only in recent times.
Generally, accepted as the original beginner of the breed, Jean Mill (California USA) began the process of developing Bengal cats in the
1970's. Beginning with three generations of Filial cats (or foundation/F1), coming from parents that were ALC cats, a base was developed
up to F4 with domestic male cats. Past the F4 the cat is considered a domestic cat and can be shown as such. One may think this an easy
task but it was not. For the first three generations Bengal male cats are infertile, meaning that the females needed to use differing
generations to continue the gene pool line.
The variety of domestic cats used for the breeding process was large. Generally, these cats included: Egyptian Maus, American shorthair,
Abyssinian, Ocicat and domestic shorthair. The process is an ongoing one to better exhibit the remarkable markings and colors of Bengal
cats along with general standards. Due to the linkage with the wild cat the Cat Fanciers Association does not recognize the Bengal cat.
Outside of the personality of Bengal cats the markings found on them are the real draw of the cat. On the face of the cat there are horizontal
lines, referred to as mascara, which run from the eyes to the back of the neck. The back and sides of the cat are usually spotted to resemble
a Jaguar. The markings then return to a stripped pattern on the legs and tail. Bengal cats are a walking visual fiesta.
In many respects, a family that lets Bengal cats into their home should be ready for the equivalent of a very smart human toddler. The Bengal
cat is high energy and needs to be played with and paid attention to. If the owner is going to be away from home for any length of time they
should have something, like a female Bengal cat around to keep it busy or suffer the consequences.
The cat is not necessarily a "lap" cat but does like to give attention to its humans. The intelligence level rises to a point where the cat will
enjoy a game of hide and seek or playing "fetch." Much as dogs do, the owner of a Bengal cat can expect to have it right on their heels as the
day's chores around the house are being done.
Additionally, the Bengal cat has an interest in water. For what reasons are anybodies guess but playing with a faucet or taking a planned or
unplanned dip into a basin or tub is not unheard of. Two last pieces of advice are often heard; keep jar tops and lids securely on the jar
or container (one report makes this abundantly clear with regards to flour and sugar containers) and understand that this cat can get very
jealous if their chosen human neglects them or is shown affection to by another (they are also thought to be vengeful.)
Although the cat can be a handful they are just so smart and fun that they are worth the effort. If a person is not sure about the two energy
spectrums required for owning a pet the Bengal may be right in the middle. They do not require as much attention as a hyper Labrador retriever
dog but not as little as a sedentary "lap cat." The only caveat regarding the Bengal cat is that they are sneaky.