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Bengal

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Bengal cat breed.

From The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA)

Loved by those who appreciate its inquisitive and loving nature, the Bengal is a medium to large domestic cat most renowned for its richly colored, highly contrasted coat of vivid spots or distinctive marbling. The Bengal is the only domestic cat breed that can have rosettes like the markings on Leopards, Jaguars and Ocelots.

Bengals are generally confident and devoted companions. They get along well with other pets when properly introduced and enjoy being part of a family. Active and interactive, Bengals are curious and athletic and maintain a kitten-like energy and attitude well into their senior years. These affectionate cats engage their owners in play, learn tricks, learn house-rules, or just like to be close. Some Bengals are generally talkative while others prefer to wait for the right time to communicate. Many Bengal Cats have an affinity for water and will enjoy watching you brush your teeth, while others are keen to join you in the shower.

The charm of the Bengal personality may only be eclipsed by its beauty. While the most recognized color and pattern is the brown spotted or rosetted tabby (which is reminiscent of a Leopard-like color and pattern) Bengals come in two basic pattern flows: the spotted/rosetted and the marbled. The marbled pattern looks more like the extended blur of a Clouded Leopard’s markings.

Many people are captivated by the wild expression on a cuddly kitten that comes from the distinctive tabby facial markings and large oval, nocturnal eyes. The highly contrasted markings appear in all Bengals no matter the pattern and color, even in the seal lynx point or black silver tabby with their “snow leopard” appearances. While most Bengals have green, yellow or gold eyes, the lynx points have blue eyes and the minks have aqua eyes. Some Bengals have “glitter,” a sparkle at the tips of the hairs visible when the light catches them. To mimic the look of a wild cat, Bengals have wide noses with prominent nose leather (the skin on the tip of the nose), and the muzzle is completed with prominent whisker pads. With too many color and pattern combinations to fully describe here, it is safe to say that everyone will have their favorite and there are enough varieties to tickle each person’s fancy.

But wait until you feel a Bengal. First, you will encounter the pelt-like plush coat that is like the coat on no other domestic cat. Ranging from rabbit-like softness to the resilience of the densest hand-tied rug, the Bengal fur is an unexpected treat. Underneath that plush, patterned coat, Bengals are well-muscled-even the females, which are smaller than the males-with long bodies and thick tails to provide balance.

Observing the Bengal Cat in motion is the best way to appreciate its unique combination of strength and elegance. More like a basketball player than a gymnast, the grace of a Bengal cannot be denied when it is simply walking across the back of your sofa or getting ready to pounce on the teaser toy in interactive play. And yes, the Bengal can take a spectacular spill, just like that basketball player landing after an amazing dunk.

Like all domestic cats, the Bengal Cat traces its origins to non-domestic ancestors. However today’s domestic Bengal Cat comes only from breeding Bengals to other Bengals and requires no specialized care. You need only open a fashion or style magazine to appreciate that throughout history there are indications of a profound human fascination with the large and small wild felines that inhabit the jungles and forest of the world. In 1963, Jean S. Mill crossed the domestic cat with the Asian Leopard Cat, a spotted, five to twelve pound, shy non-domestic cat species from Asia. This was the first effort to use hybrid offspring to create a breed of domestic cat with the loving nature of the best fireside tabby and the striking look of Leopards, Ocelots and Jaguars. The modern Bengal breed traces to cats bred by Mrs. Mill in the early 1980’s.

When searching for your own Bengal companion, look for a breeder well versed in feline health, including genetic health, particularly as it applies to Bengals. Expect detailed questioning to help the breeder make a match between you and a Bengal cat or kitten. The breeder should expect your questions as well, and so do your breed research and approach breeders with your enthusiasm and thoughtful questions about the breed and feline care. Going to shows is a great way to see a variety of Bengal cats and meet breeders who can help you learn more. Breeders will usually allow their kittens to go to their new homes at between 12 and 16 weeks of age.

Information about other cat breeds:

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