The Bengal Cat is a unique and exciting breed of domestic cat. The Bengal breed was started by Jean Sugden Mill in 1963 and originated from a cross between a domestic cat and the wild Asian Leopard Cat (ALC). The name "Bengal" comes from the scientific name of the ALC (Felis bengalensis), not from the Bengal Tiger as many believe. Because of the crossing of the domestic cat with the ALC, the Bengal possesses the desirable wild, exotic appearance of the Asian Leopard Cat with the more loving, affectionate and gentle temperament of the domestic cat.
Bengals have a very athletic muscular form, relatively small rounded ears, huge oval eyes, pronounced whisker pads, thick tails, and spotted bellies. Their coats are either leopard spotted or marbled. Most have the "mascara look" around the eyes. Their sleek and silky coat is more like a pelt than ordinary cat fur. Also, they may have gold tipped hairs throughout the coat which is unique to the Bengal breed. This is referred to as "glitter". The average Bengal female weighs between 7-12 lbs, with the slightly larger male typically weighing between 11-20 lbs.
Like their wild cat ancestors, Bengal kittens go through what is called the fuzzy stage. The "Ugly Fuzzies" start at around 5 weeks of age. The kittens' coat changes color and texture, becoming grayish and fuzzy looking, obscuring the pattern. This is nature's way of protecting the young from predators. Their coat starts to become sleeker and more colorful again at around 12 to 16 weeks of age. However, it may take up to a year, or even longer, for the coat to stop developing in color, clarity and contrast of markings.
Bengals are absolutely gorgeous cats but do require a lot of attention and stimulation. They are extremely intelligent and LOVE interacting with their families. Bengals are also very vocal and love playing in the water. Don't be surprised to find them playing in the kitchen sink or jumping in the bathtub with you! They are energetic, social, extroverted cats with a dog-like personality. You can easily leash train them and teach them to fetch. Bengals love human companionship and get along well with children and other animals. This exotic, unique cat will hold a place in your heart forever! BEWARE! They are highly addictive!