The Bengal breed originated as a human-made hybrid of the Asian leopard cat and the domestic cat. The leopard cat looks very much like a miniature leopard. Breeder Jean Mill, credited with breeding the first Bengal in 1963, had a larger purpose in mind other than simply creating a new and different breed of cat. Mill was dismayed by the plight of orphaned leopard cat cubs that were taken by hunters and sold to American pet stores.
Unsuspecting cat lovers bought these cubs, mistakenly thinking that the cats would grow into docile pets. The cats generally ended up in zoos when the cubs grew to adulthood and reverted to their wild ways.Mill wanted to provide the American market with an acceptable spotted substitute, one that would make a good pet and still retain the beauty of the leopard cat.
Body Structure:The body type of the breed is feral, sleek and very muscular, as close as possible to the body type of the leopard cat.
Color:The Bengal’s spots are aligned horizontally across the back rather than in random or tabby configuration. Emphasis is put on the contrast between the spots and the background color; the edges should be sharp and pattern distinct for a show-quality cat. The spots can be black, brown,tan, chocolate or cinnamon, contrasting with the background that can appear in any of the brown spotted tabby colors.
The belly must be spotted and the tip of the tail and paw pads black. Two recessive coat variations
have been developed, identified as the “snow leopard” (ivory background with dark markings) and the “marbled” Bengal (brilliant streaks or patches of color). A third coat type called the “snow marbled” has just recently been developed.
The Bengal gives the impression of a wildcat while maintaining the disposition of a domestic. The standard for the Bengal, unlike other cat breeds, includes a description of the cat’s ideal temperament, describing them as confident, alert, curious and friendly. Any sign of definite challenge disqualifies the cat in order to prevent temperament problems from being perpetuated in the breeding stock.