If you are looking for a cat that has loads of character, endless energy yet is extremely affectionate too then consider a Bengal. These beautiful cats have fast become one of the most popular shorthaired breeds in the world, having only achieved Championship status with the GCCF in 2005.

Traces of the breed’s wild ancestry can still be found in their highly intelligent, alert and mischievous nature.

They are bouncy, boisterous and full of fun and definitely want to be noticed!

It is possible to tame their wilder instincts by teaching them clear boundaries and curbing unruly behavior while they are young. Any attempts to jump onto the kitchen worktop or climb your curtains should be met with a clear and firm “No!”. Bengal cats are intelligent cats and will soon learn not to do these things, leaving you with a playful, enthusiastic, yet well-behaved pet.

History of Bengal Cats

Bengal cats history

Bengal cats originate from Arizona, USA where, in 1963, Jean Mill was credited with the first mating between an Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) and a domestic cat.

She was hoping to produce a sweet natured pet cat that resembled a mini leopard so that people would be less tempted to keep a real wild cat as a pet or be tempted to wear their fur.

At the time it was believed that ALCs had partial immunity to feline leukemia and research was undertaken with the aim of genetically transferring this immunity to the resulting hybrid cats.

Sadly, this wasn’t the case but these hybrids formed the basis of the Bengal breed.

Breeding programs continued around the world and are responsible for bringing us the beautiful Bengal cat we know today. Although they are lively and can be full of mischief, most modern-day Bengals are far removed from their wild ancestors, but they still maintain the exotic look. Their coats can be spotted or marbled, are glossy, sleek and as smooth as satin. The appearance of being ‘dusted’ with gold or pearly glitter (stunning when caught in sunlight) is the result of a lack of pigment in the hair tips.

Bengal cats 101: The bold, bright and beautiful breed 1

Being a very active breed, they do need plenty of space – a cat-proof fence around your garden would be a worthwhile investment. They are quite vocal, ranging from a simple meow to a chirrup and a yowl. They have a more guttural, urgent-sounding noise to attract your attention when they want it.

Bengal cats have a fascination for water and will happily paddle in it and play for hours with a dripping tap so keep the toilet lid down!

As they are very intelligent animals, Bengal cats need communication with other creatures and with humans too – they aren’t very keen on being left alone.

In fact, they will follow you around the house and eagerly investigate whatever you are doing. A cat tower with platforms, scratching posts and activity toys are a must. Bengals are good at learning how to open doors, cupboards – even fridges! Yet when they are not being so mischievous, most will happily curl up next to you on the sofa and enjoy some affection.

Bengal Cat Coat Patterns

Bengal cats 101: The bold, bright and beautiful breed 2

Spotted pattern: Can be random with a tendency to flow horizontally with either spotted, arrowhead or rosetted patterns. The stomach must be spotted (except on Blue-eyed Snow kittens). There are also wide, distinctive necklets on the throat, together with a strong, bold chin strap that may go from jaw to jaw. Light-colored ‘spectacles’ should preferably extend into vertical streaks which may be outlined by an ‘M” marking on the forehead.

Broken streaks or spots extend over the head, either side of a complex scarab mark.

Marble pattern: Bengal cats have a unique pattern of random, horizontally aligned swirls that are not found on other breeds of cat. No other cat displays the gold or pearl dusting effect of the Bengal cat.

Bengals Breed standards

Bengal cats 101: The bold, bright and beautiful breed 3

Head & neck: A broad medium wedge with rounded contours, slightly longer than it is wide, with high cheekbones. The head should be rather small in proportion to the body but not taken to extremes. The profile has a gentle curve from the forehead to the bridge of the nose.

The line of the bridge of the nose extends to the nose leather, making a very slight concave curve. The nose is large and broad with a rounded, strong chin that aligns with the tip of the nose in profile, and pronounced whisker pads created by the widely set canine teeth. The neck should be thick, muscular and in proportion to the body. Allowance should be made for jowls in adult males.

Ears: Medium to small, short with a wide base and rounded tip. Set as much on the side as on the top of the head, following the contour of the face in the front view and pointing forward in profile. There may be a light Colored ‘thumbprint’ on the back of each ear. Light horizontal furnishings are acceptable but ear tufts are undesirable.

Eyes: Almost round, oval preferred, large but not bold. Set on a slight slant towards the base of the ear. Eye color is independent of coat color. The richer and more depth of color, the better.

Body: Long, sleek and muscular (one of the most distinguishing features, particularly in males). Large to medium and robust with hindquarters slightly higher than the shoulders, showing a depth of flank. The frame is sturdy and firm – never delicate.

Legs & paws: Legs should be of medium length, strong and muscular. The hind legs should be a little longer than the front and be more robust. Paws are large and rounded.

Tail: Medium length, thick and even, with a rounded tip; may be tapered towards the end