Walk on the Wild Side: Facts about Bengal Cats

Few cat breeds spark the imagination like the Bengal. This exotic kitty has been bred to look like their larger wild cousins the Leopard and the Ocelot. Though you rarely see them prowling through anything other than a living room, there’s still a certain something that invokes visions of the jungle whenever you look at them. Here are some facts about the Bengal cat to get to know them a little better.

Bengal Cat Facts: What You Need to Know

Bengal cat on a blue background looking at camera

Where Did Bengal Cats Come From?

Bengals, contrary to myth, are not at all related to the Bengal tiger. Bengals are the result of a cross between domestic housecats and Asian Leopard Cats (ALC). They get their name from the Latin name for Asian Leopard Cat: prionailurus bengalensis. The first housecat X Asian Leopard Cat crossings were to try to breed a cat that was immune to feline leukemia. Some researchers believed the ALC had an immunity, and the hope was we could breed that immunity into domestic cats. Unfortunately, it was later proven that the Asian Leopard Cat possesses no such immunity. But they did help found a cool looking new breed of cat!

The Bengal is not accepted by all cat registries, including one of the largest, the CFA or Cat Fancier’s Association. They are growing in popularity, however, and The International Cat Association (TICA) has over 60,000 registered Bengals.

The Wild Bengal Appearance

bengal cat outdoors looking at camera

Bengals were purposefully bred to look like wild cats. They are large cats, with long and lean features. Bengals have sturdy, sleek bodies with powerful back legs that are slightly longer than their front legs. They also have a smallish head, and small ears. Female Bengals range from 8 to 12 pounds, with the males about 10 to 15 pounds.

The most striking feature of any Bengal cat is their coat and markings. The Bengal comes in several colors, and all have spots (“rosettes”) as well as stripes. Some Bengals also have a trait referred to as the “glitter gene” where their fur is said to have almost an iridescent appearance that shines in the sunlight. Not every cat who has a spotted coat or marbled tabby markings is a Bengal, but all Bengals have one of these patterns.

Bengal Cats Have a Distinct Personality

close-up Bengal cat

Typically, Bengals you meet are 4th generation or higher. Hybrids that are 1st through 3rd generation are generally only kept by breeders. But even 4th and higher generation cats possess some of the same traits as their wild counterparts. Bengals are typically very “dog-like”. They are easily leash trained and enjoy going on outdoor adventures with their owners. They also often love water. Bengal owners occasionally report having uninvited special guests joining them in the shower or tub! These cats also like to play in running water such as from the faucet.

The Bengal is vocal and opinionated. They are the cat that will announce when he desires something, as well as engage his human companions in back and forth banter. A highly intelligent breed, the Bengal requires lots of interactive play and benefits from puzzle type toys. They can even be trained to do tricks with the necessary patience.

Being so smart, if Bengals are left to their own devices, they will find ways to entertain themselves. Some of those entertainment methods are less than desirable! Bengals are notorious thieves. The sofa of any Bengal owner probably has a hidden trinket or two beneath it at any given time.

Bengal Cat in the Sun

The Bengal is not a cat for the timid cat owner. They are outgoing, dominant, and often mischievous. They are also a lot of fun! For those who enjoy a quirky, different type of cat, what better way to take a little walk on the wild side than with a Bengal?