If wild and playful are the traits you look for in your cat, the Bengal cat is your go-to in the feline category. With its striking bold spots, muscular body and stealthy grace – pet owners often take home the Bengal cat for their uncanny resemblance to their bigger cousin, the leopard.
Bengal cat breed at a glance
Average lifespan: 10 to 15 years
Temperament: Friendly, affectionate and playful
Weight: 4.5 to 9 kilograms
Colours: Distinctively brown spotted, brown marbled and snow spotted
Much has been said about the Bengal cat - about their origin, personality and unique characteristics. But here are a few features that make this playful furry the most sought after feline in the market.
1. Wild, wild origin
The only successful pairing of a wildcat with a domestic cat, the Bengal cat is singular among the cat elitists. The Bengal cat was first developed in the United Stated in the 1960s by Dr. Willard Centerwall who bred several Leopard cat hybrids in the course of his studies in human congenital diseases and comparative gene mapping of cats and humans.
William Engler, a zookeeper who had been involved with exotic cats for many years is another name that has played a major role in the origins of the Bengal cat. His purpose of having two litters of kittens sired by his Leopard cat was to produce “a small exotic cat that was beautiful and that had the disposition that was suitable for a pet house cat". Bill’s cats eventually reached the third generation and it was he who created the name ‘Bengal.’
It was Jean Mill Sudgen who established the Bengal as a domestic cat thanks to the enormous amount of time and energy she devoted to publicize the breed all round the world.
Apart from their inquisitive and active nature, what makes the Bengal cat stand out is its soft, silky coat. The variety of coat patterns, a range of which includes Brown (Black) Tabby, Seal Sepia Tabby, Seal Mink Tabby, Seal Lynx Point, Black Silver Tabby, Seal Silver Sepia Tabby, Seal Silver Mink Tabby, Seal Silver Lynx Point Spotted or Marbled Patterns only adds to their distinct appearance.
What distinguishes this cat from the pack, are their long, muscular; never delicate structure. Their broad head, strong chin, full muzzle, pronounced cheekbones, wide nose, oval eyes and medium to small rounded ears are the attributes that emphasise the Bengal’s wildcat appearance.
3. Aqua-playful and hyper-energetic persona
If you are expecting a lap cat, the Bengal cat is anything but that. Easily tamed and extremely affectionate, the Bengal enjoys human company, likes to stay in the middle of all the action (with its family members) and is particularly fond of playing games.
Because of its wild ancestry, the Bengal retains a hunting instinct – for small land and water-dwelling creatures. Quite unlike the myth where it’s believed that cats dislike water, the Bengal actually enjoys water activities – and you will often find your cat swimming alongside you, taking a shower or bath, or just playing in the sink.
To keep your Bengal cat healthy and happy, ensure you invest in plenty of play time. Athletic cats as these love jumping to high locations – so lock up your breakables in closed shelves, even when it comes to your topmost ledge.