The Bengal is the result of a cross between the small, forest-dwelling Asian Leopard Cat and a domesic shorthair. A fully registered Bengal must be at least four generations removed from its wild ancestor.
The goal of the breeding programme has been to produce a cat with a loving, dependable temperament, while keeping physical features distinctive to the Asian Leopard Cat.
The Bengal is a sleek, medium to large cat, with a long, heavily-boned, solid body that is very muscular. The hindquarters are slightly higher than the shoulders with a thick tail that is carried low. The female is generally smaller than the male. Prominent whisker pads and large oval, almost round eyes in a fairly small head, enhance the wild appearance and expressive nocturnal look. The very slight concave profile and relatively short ears with wide base and rounded tips, add to the Bengal’s distinctive appearance.
The coat,which is one of the most distinguishing features of the Bengal cat, should be short and dense, displaying clarity and extreme contrast, with either a spotted or marbled pattern that is often rosetted and has a distinctive silky soft feel. No other domestic breed of cat displays the unique ‘leopard-like’ rosetting, which is two distinct colours or shades, sometimes giving the appearance of smudged spotting or a third colour within the marble pattern. The belly should always be spotted and coat may be ‘glittered’ (also unique to the breed).
There are four colours recognised in the Bengal breed; Brown Tabby being the dominant colour that varies from warm beige to rich mahogany tones with gold, bronze, brown or hazel eye colour; Seal Lynxpoint which should be ivory to cream with blue eye colour; Seal Mink tabby (aqua, green or green-gold eye colour) and Seal Sepia tabby (gold or gold-green eye colour) which should vary in colour from ivory or cream to light tan. Markings should be clearly visible.
The Bengal is an athletic cat which has agility, balance and grace. It is also strong, confident and alert to its surroundings. As well as being curious, it has a very engaging and loving personality, with a dependable character, often preferring the company of humans to other cats. One trait inherited from its wild forbear is the Bengal’s habit of playing with water. Your Bengal may surprise you by joining you in the shower!
Annette Norris of Tigerland has imported a US line male from Australia and a Llandar line female from the UK, while Stephanie Boyd-Dunlop of Imprints is constantly importing from internationally renowned catteries in the US and UK to improve the breed in Australasia.