About Bengal Cats


God made the cat
in order to give man the pleasure of
caressing the tiger.

Fernand Mery


Origin of the Bengal Cat

The Bengal Cat breed originated from the hybridization or crossing of the wild Asian Leopard Cat and the domestic cat. The breed derives its name from the Latin name for the Leopard Cat, Felis or Prionailurus bengalensis.* The result is a "tame toy leopard cat", in the words of Jean Mill, who registered the first Bengal Cat with The International Cat Association (TICA) in 1983.

The first three generations of cats produced after the original leopard cat/domestic cat cross are foundation Bengals and are referred to as F1's, F2's, and F3's. "F" stands for filial. This is a genetic term applied to any hybridization, including pea plants. Bengals, four generations and beyond from the Asian Leopard Cat, are registered as SBT Bengals. SBT stands for "Stud Book Tradition". It is at this generation that Bengals may be shown in cat shows.

The first generation hybrid is called a F1. The F1 cat has an Asian Leopard Cat parent and a domestic parent. It is one generation from the Asian Leopard Cat. The F2 has a F1 mother and a SBT Bengal sire. It is two generations from the Asian Leopard Cat. The F3 has a F2 mother and a SBT Bengal sire. It is three generations from the Asian Leopard Cat. Fourth generation and beyond SBT Bengal sires are used because F1 to F3 males are usually infertile. In fact, only about fifty percent of F4 or SBT males are fertile.

This is an F2 Bengal.



Bengal Patterns and Color

Bengal Cats may be leopard spotted, rosetted, or marbled. A cat is registered as a "spotted tabby", even if it has rosettes.

This is a brown leopard spotted female in front,
and a brown rosetted male behind her.


This is a brown marble female Bengal.


Accepted Bengal colors are: brown tabby, snow, silver, and silver snow. The snow Bengal colors are seal lynx point, seal sepia tabby, and seal mink tabby.


This is a seal mink spotted female pushing the baby buggy.


This is a silver spotted Bengal.


There are also melanistic Bengals. These cats appear black, like a black leopard. In the right light, however, you can see their spots, just like those on a black panther. Although beautiful, melanistic Bengals are not eligible for Championship status in the show hall. There are a few blue Bengals, but this is not an officially accepted color for Bengals either.

The fur, when exceptionally soft to touch, is often referred to as pelted. Bengals may be glittered, meaning, when in the sunlight, it looks like the cat was sprinkled with golden sparkly glitter. I like to say that my cat, Miss Tinker Belle, was sprinkled with golden pixie dust.

Bengal kittens are born with their full markings, but like their wild ancestor in the jungle, may go through a camouflage stage at about three to twelve weeks when the markings fade. We affectionately call this stage the fuzzy uglies! Kittens can take five months to a year to develop their full color and pattern. Visit my Kitten to Cat pages to see a spotted, rosetted, and marble kitten mature.

See my Links page for the TICA Bengal Breed Standards.



Bengal Size

Bengal cats are about the same size as most domestic cats. Male Bengal cats are typically larger than the females. A mature male typically weighs between 12 to 15 pounds. I did have a Bengal male who weighs 20 pounds! He is the exception though.  Females typically weigh between 8 and 12 pounds.

This is EnchantedTails Buster.
Not even full grown yet, he is looking like quite a big boy!




Bengal Temperament

What I find so desirable about Bengal Cats, in addition to their exotic wild look, is their wonderful temperament. Bengals are affectionate, attentive, outgoing, playful, quick, intelligent, confident, and inquisitive about everything..............even airline baggage returns!!!

My Bengals meet me at the door when I come home. They follow me around the house, anxious to participate in whatever I am doing. They are eager to create games and are quick to train me to play the game of the moment with them. The Bengals are extremely curious about anything new I bring home, whether it's the groceries, the grocery bags, a new plant, or even a picture.

Bengal cats get along wonderfully with regular domestic cats and dogs.

This is a young female Bengal with my pet, Peter Pan.


You can see that the cats curl right up with the dog.
The only problem is.........where is the person supposed to sleep?!!!


My Bengals love little toy mice, frequently finding a new mouse in a bag from the pet store before I have time to unpack the bag. My Bengals also love to chase teaser toys. They are fast, fast, fast! Some of my Bengals jump at least three feet high trying to catch a teaser toy! When they catch the teaser, many will hold onto it and have a tug 'o war game with you like a dog. You will probably get tired of moving the teaser toy around before a Bengal will get tired of playing with it!

Holding onto the teaser toy like a dog does!


Ambush, stalking, escape, and pursuit are skills young cats perfect during play. A cat in the wild, would later use these skills to hunt for prey. Many breeds of cats tend to play less as they grow older. Bengals continue to play the games of young cats into their adulthoods.

Turn up the volume on your computer and enjoy watching Boulder play with a mouse! Thank you Cole and Jules for sharing your videos of Boulder!


Water Games

The Asian Leopard Cat is an accomplished swimmer. Therefore, Bengal Cats tend to be infatuated with water.

My Bengals love to watch the water coming from the faucet and going down the drain, sometimes sticking their heads right under the running faucet. Most Bengals will splash around in any bowl of water, especially the toilet bowl, if the seat is left up! Some Bengals LOVE jump in the shower or the bathtub with you. My Aurora once took a 20 minute shower with me. She was soaking wet and loving every minute of it!


You've got to see this video of Boulder in the bathtub!


Chatty Cats

Bengal Cats tend to have an extensive vocabulary. In addition to a cat's meow, my Bengals use a variety of chirps, peeps, and bleats, as well as the usual growls and hisses. When I say hello to Miss Tinkerbelle, or ask her a question, more times than not, she will respond vocally, (especially if I ask her if she wants to have dinner!). Alice Through the Looking Glass always responds with a series of chirps and bleats when I pet her. Perhaps Bengal Cats have such as extensive vocabulary due to their wild ancestry and the need for effective communication in the wild.


Written by Holly Erickson -

* According to The Cat Survival Trust, Leopard Cats are usually classified in the genus Felis, but in a 1993 review of cat taxonomy, Wozencraft put them in the genus Prionailurus.


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St. Helens, Oregon
Columbia County

We are near Portland, OR and Vancouver, WA

(503) 396-5448


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This page last updated 01/02/10


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