LOOF statistics (french official registration bok) about Bengal cats in FRance , a success story:
2010: 1153 kitten born, 8th ranking amongst French preferred cat.
2016 : over 3000 kitten born and now 3rd French preferred cat !
A BIT OF HISTORY, from the early days until now… It all started in 1963, in Arizona, when a young cat lover geneticist named Jean Mills bred her first hybrid female kitten « Kin-Kin » from a leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalesis) and domestic one mating. See below a picture of a felis bengalesis : Jean Mills then stood still for a few years…until the 70s. At that time she met doctor William Centerwall who was studying the asian leopard cat and its alleged immune status against FeLV (feline leukaemia). During the course of his work he had done some matings between this small wild cat and domestic ones to check if the immune status was passed on by genetic transmission, and concluded by the negative. His work was then put to an end when a vaccine against FeLV was discovered, and he gave Jean Mill his 8 female hybrid cats in 1980. Those 8 cats, then mated to various breeds (egyptian mau, abyssinians, burmese) were the foundation cats for the Bengal breed. In 1986, F2 hybrid female Penny Ante became the flag for this new breed when participating in more than 30 cat shows where the public was astonished by her beauty and leopard-like wild look.
The first french bengal litter was born in 1993 from Benji with 3 kitten named Iaka, Indira and Ibernatus (“Le petit poucet” cattery).
If the bengal breeders main focus at that time was to secure the coat look with its wild markings, they are now working on their cats morphology to make it as close as possible to the felis bengalesis, notably his typical head.
BACK TO HYBRIDIZATION :
First generations of bengals are biologically categorized as follows :
-Prionailurus bengalesis x Bengal domestic cat = F1 hybrid Bengal
- F1 hybrid bengal x Bengal domestic cat = F2 Bengal
- F2 Bengal x Bengal domestic cat = F3 Bengal
- F3 Bengal x Bengal domestic cat = F4 Bengal = domestic Bengal (SBT)
F1, F2 and F3 Bengals, genetically close to their Prionailurus bengalesis ancestor, are the ones who have kept a truly wild initial look, even though softened by consecutive blood mixing with domestic Bengals.
We are facing small animals whose look is not as wild as the bengalensis ones, but still wilder than the one of a pure domestic cat.
They are exceptionally smart, thanks to their wild ancestors and if breeded and socialized properly can become wonderful pet companions. However, mating successfully those first hybrid generation animals is not an easy task:
Males are usually sterile and females are not that productive either, making it quite difficult to reach the fourth generation on one blood line (first SBT domestic Bengal accepted) while keeping as much as possible initial characteristics of the Prionailurus bengalesis.
After that, mating of F4 and beyond tends to be similar to any other domestic cat even though sometimes more difficult than for longer established breeds where the best breeding females were kept generation after generation.
ITS LOOK: The bengal is a very athletic cat, with a head that must be as different as possible from the domestic cat. Body shape should be long, almost tubular, powerful without the slightest hint of coarseness. The tail starts thick and gets thinner with a rounded end. The coat is thick and short while exceptionally smooth to the touch and sometimes glittering (shining under the sun).
Undoubtedly, one of the most remarkable features of bengal cats is their amazing coat which can take two forms:
First is called “spotted”, with two different types of markings, one with plain dark spots, the other with “rosettes” which are rounded spots with dark color on the outside and tan-leather on the inside as you can see below on this 3 month female kitten from our cattery (Asian Safari Glory) Second is called marble, with long shaped rosettes that make it look almost like a Neofelis Nebulosa : Another kitten snow mink marble born at home in 2017 : (Asian Safari Night Fiever, 1 month & half) Different coat colours range from brown (most common and appreciated since looking like a leopard) to snow, silver, charcoal, blue or melanistic (black) but all colours are not yet recognized by all cat associations.
They are truly domestic cats who only keep from their wild ancestors a strong interest in hunting games (insects in the house for example), running water (playing in the bathtub…) and an impressive liveliness. They are smart, curious, love to play all the time, independent but very close to their human family at the same time. They love having other animals around and go along very well with dogs for example. They become a very active and charming part of the family in a heartbeat… Males are usually easygoing when females tend to be dominant. Both love to be up in their cat-tree or whatever high spot they can find in the house, the highest the better…. Even if you work all day outside your home its crucial to spend some time every day with your Bengal, not only to feed him or clean the litterbox but more importantly to play and show him attention since they don’t like being alone. If you are spending lots of time outside the house, you might want to think about getting a second cat to partner with your Bengal. Is he going to get along with other animals living in the house? There should not be any problem, bengals liking human beings and other animals’s company. However they might sometimes be somewhat dominant and lively and therefore trouble the tranquility of older cats used to live alone for example. Are bengals aggressive given their wild ancestors ? You might think so when having a look at him but bengal cats are not aggressive if properly socialized by their breeders.
It is even the only cat breed for which the absence of aggressivity and ability to live peacefully besides humans is part of the Breed official standard !
Moreover, with its wild lineage, breeders have made sure, generation after generation, to only keep and select the nicest and closest to humans kitten.
Even if athletic and very lively, bengals are hugely affectionate cats if properly bred in a caring family (and not in a cage…). Having followed cats and dogs behaviourist studies myself, I will be in a position to advise you on those questions when acquiring your Bengal cats at Asian Safari.
To cut a long story short, when thinking of adopting a bengal cat you need to first carefully select the cattery…Make sure the kitten are properly socialized, visit the cattery to see if it is truly a “family” one, see your kitten’s parents, check that all health checks (HCM, PKDef…) are regularly performed on all breeding cats (and ask for certificates).
A picture of our star Walker, the most famou cat of our cattery!