The Bengal cat is a domesticated cat breed created from a hybrid of the Asian leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), with domestic cats, especially the spotted Egyptian Mau. It is then usually bred with a breed that demonstrates a friendlier personality, because after breeding a domesticated cat with a wildcat, its friendly personality may not manifest in the kitten. The breed's name derives from the leopard cat's taxonomic name.

Bengal Cat
A female Bengal Cat with tricolored rosettes and a clear coat.
OriginUnited States
Foundation bloodstockEgyptian Mau, Abyssinian, and others (domestic); Asian leopard cat (wild)
Breed standards
Feline hybrid (Felis catus × Prionailurus bengalensis bengalensis)

Bengals have a wild appearance; their golden shimmer comes from their leopard cat ancestry, and their coats may show spots, rosettes, arrowhead markings, or marbling. They are an energetic breed that needs much exercise and play.

History Edit

Early history Edit

The earliest mention of an Asian leopard cat × domestic cross was in 1889, when Harrison Weir wrote of them in Our Cats and All About Them.[1]

Bengals as a breed Edit

Jean Mill of California is given credit for the modern Bengal breed. She made the first known deliberate cross of an Asian leopard cat with a domestic cat (a black California tomcat).[2] Bengals as a breed did not really begin in earnest until much later.[3] In 1970, Mill resumed her breeding efforts and in 1975 she received a group of Bengal cats that had been bred for use in genetic testing at Loma Linda University by Willard Centerwall.[4] Others also began breeding Bengals.[who?]

Cat registries Edit

In 1983, the breed was officially accepted by The International Cat Association (TICA).[4] Bengals gained championship status in 1991.[5]

In 1997, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) accepted Bengal cats.[6]

In 1999, Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe) accepted Bengal cats into their registry.[7]

The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) was one of the last organizations to accept the Bengal cat into their registry. "The CFA board accepted the Bengal as Miscellaneous at the February 7, 2016 board meeting. In order for a Bengal cat to be registered with the CFA it must be F6 or later (6 generations removed from the Asian Leopard Cat or non-Bengal domestic cat ancestors)."[8]

In 1999, the Australian Cat Federation (ACF) accepted the Bengal cat into their registry.[9]

A charcoal Bengal kitten, with white "goggle" markings, and black rosettes.

Early generation Bengal cat Edit

Bengal cats from the first three generations of breeding (F1–G3) are considered "foundation" or "early-generation" Bengals. The Early generation (F1–G3) males are frequently infertile. Therefore, female early-generation Bengals of the F1, G2, and G3 are bred to fertile domestic Bengal males of later generations.[2][10][11] Nevertheless, as the term was used incorrectly for many years, many people and breeders still refer to the cats as F2, F3 and F4 even though the term is considered incorrect.[12]

Popularity Edit

The Bengal breed was more fully developed by the 1980s. "In 1992 The International Cat Association had 125 registered Bengal Breeders."[2] By the 2000s, Bengals had become a very popular breed. In 2019, there were nearly 2,500 Bengal breeders registered in TICA worldwide.[13]

The Growth of Bengal Breeding
Year TICA registered Bengal Breeders

     * The 2019 number only represents the breeders who use the word "Bengal" in their cattery name.

Appearance Edit

Markings Edit

A brown Bengal cat stalking. This cat displays rosettes and spotting typical of the breed. Bengals have longer rear legs and carry their tails low.

Colors Edit

Bengals come in a variety of coat colors.[14][15] The International Cat Association (TICA) recognizes several Bengal colors: brown spotted, seal lynx point (snow), sepia, silver, and mink spotted tabby.[16]

Spotted rosetted Edit

The Bengal cat is the only domestic breed of cat that has rosette markings.[citation needed]

People most often associate the Bengal with the most popular color: the Brown spotted/rosetted Bengal. Nonetheless, Bengals have a wide variety of markings and colors. Even within the Brown spotted/rosetted category a Bengal can be: red, brown, black, ticked, grey, spotted, rosetted, clouded. Many people are stunned by the Bengal Cat's resemblance to a leopard. Among domestic cats, the Bengal markings are perhaps the most varied and unique.

A Bengal cat with a large rosetted coat and a high contrast in coloring is referred to as a "clouded bengal".[17]

Marble Edit

A brown marble Bengal being judged at a TICA show (2013)

Domestic cats have four distinct and heritable coat patterns – ticked, mackerel, blotched, and spotted – these are collectively referred to as tabby markings.[18]

Christopher Kaelin, a Stanford University geneticist, has conducted research that has been used to identify the spotted gene and the marble gene in domestic Bengal cats. Kaelin studied the color and pattern variations of feral cats in Northern California, and was able to identify the gene responsible for the marble pattern in Bengal cats.[19]

A snow Bengal, with "mascara" markings (horizontal striping alongside the eyes)
A UC Davis Bengal DNA test showing a cat carrying three recessive colors

Glitter coat Edit

The glitter coat gets their name and unique appearance from a spontaneous genetic mutation that causes the tips of their hairs to express a sparkling sheen. When exposed to direct sunlight, these tips shimmer and glimmer like diamonds. This effect is similar to the way some fish reflect light, due to prism-like cells in their skin. In contrast, glitter Bengals have no extra cells in their skin; however, the way light reflects off of their fur is due to how each individual hair shaft is angled. [20]

Bengal size Edit

The Bengal is an average to large-sized, spotted cat breed.[21] Bengals are long and lean. Bengals are larger than the average house cat because of their muscular bodies. Breeders in recent years have begun selective breeding to breed a Bengal cat closer in size to the original Asian leopard cat.[22] The size of cashmere Bengal cats ranges from medium to giant, with males often being larger than females [23]

Legal restrictions Edit

In the United States, legal restrictions may be in place in cities and states. In New York City and the state of Hawaii, Bengal cats are prohibited by law (as are all wild cat species, and all other hybrids of domestic and wild cats).[24][25][26] In various other places, such as Seattle, Washington, and Denver, Colorado, there are limits on Bengal ownership.[27] Bengals of the F1-G4 generations are regulated in New York, Georgia, Massachusetts, Delaware, Connecticut, and Indiana. Except where noted above, Bengal cats with a generation of G5 and beyond are considered domestic, and are generally legal. In Alaska, Bengal cats must be four generations removed from the Asian Leopard cat. A permit and registered pedigree that indicates the previous four generations are required.[28] In California, the code of regulations Title 14, section K, Asian leopards are not specifically listed as a restricted species. In Connecticut, it is illegal to own any generation of Bengal cat.[29] In Delaware, a permit is required to own Bengal cats.[30]

Bengals were regulated in the United Kingdom. In 2007, however, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs removed the previous licensing requirements.[31]

In Australia G5 Bengals are not restricted, but their import is complex.[32]

Temperament Edit

Bengal cats are smart, energetic and playful (though in some rare cases they may be quite lazy). Many Bengal owners say that their Bengal naturally retrieves items, and they often enjoy playing in water.[33] Regular play sessions, interactive cat toys, and designated climbing areas can help prevent obesity and promote a healthy lifestyle. [34][unreliable source?]

Health Edit

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) Edit

Example of a completed HCM report

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a major concern in the Bengal cat breed. This is a disease in which the heart muscle (myocardium) becomes abnormally thick (hypertrophied). A thick heart muscle can make it harder for the cat's heart to pump blood.[35] The only way to determine the suitability of Bengal cats meant for breeding is to have the cat's heart scanned by a cardiologist.

HCM is a common genetic disease in Bengal cats and there is no genetic testing available as of 2018. In the United States, the current practice of screening for HCM involves bringing Bengal cats to a board certified veterinary cardiologist where an echocardiogram is completed. Bengal cats that are used for breeding should be screened annually to ensure that no hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is present. Currently North Carolina State University is attempting to identify genetic markers for HCM in the Bengal Cat.[36]

One study published in the Journal of Internal Veterinary Medicine has claimed the prevalence of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in Bengal cats is 16.7% (95% CI = 13.2–46.5%).[37]

Bengal progressive retinal atrophy (PRA-b) Edit

Bengal cats are known to be affected by several genetic diseases, one of which is Bengal progressive retinal atrophy, also known as Bengal PRA or PRA-b. Anyone breeding Bengal cats should carry out this test, since it is inexpensive, noninvasive, and easy to perform. A breeder stating their cats are "veterinarian tested" should not be taken to mean that this test has been performed by a vet: it is carried out by the breeder, outside of a vet office (rarely, if ever, by a vet). The test is then sent directly to the laboratory.

Erythrocyte pyruvate kinase deficiency (PK-deficiency or PK-def) Edit

PK deficiency is a common genetic diseases found in Bengal Cats. PK deficiency is another test that is administered by the breeder. Breeding Bengal Cats should be tested before breeding to ensure two PK deficiency carriers are not mated. This is a test that a breeder must do on their own. A breeder uses a cotton swab to rub the inside of the cat's mouth and then mails the swab to the laboratory.

Ulcerative nasal dermatitis Edit

A unique form of ulcerative dermatitis affecting the nasal planum (rhinarium or nose leather) of Bengal cats was first reported in 2004.[38] The condition first presents between the ages of 4-12 months, beginning as a dry scale and progressing to crusts and fissures typical of hyperkeratosis.[39] The exact cause remains unclear; it is considered hereditary and incurable, but can respond favorably to topical steroid treatments such as prednisolone and tacrolimus ointment.[40]

Bengal blood type Edit

The UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory has studied domestic cat blood types. They conclude that most domestic cats fall within the AB system. The common blood types are A and B and some cats have the rare AB blood type. There is a lack of sufficient samples from Bengals, so the genetics of the AB blood group in Bengal cats is not well understood.[41]

One Bengal blood type study that took place in the U.K. tested 100 Bengal cats. They concluded that all 100 of the Bengal cats tested had type A blood.[42]

Shedding and grooming Edit

Bengals are often claimed by breeders[43] and pet adoption agencies[44] to be a hypoallergenic breed – one less likely to cause an allergic reaction. The Bengal cat is said to produce lower than average levels of allergens,[44][better source needed] though this has not been scientifically proven as of 2020.

Cat geneticist Leslie Lyons, who runs the University of Missouri's Feline and Comparative Genetics Laboratory, discounts such claims, observing that there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat. Alleged hypoallergenic breeds thus may still produce a reaction among those who have severe allergies.[45]

Bengal Longhair (Cashmere Bengal) Edit

Bengal longhair kitten

Some long-haired Bengals (more properly, semi-long-haired) have always occurred in Bengal breeding. Many different domestic cats were used to create the Bengal breed, and it is theorized that the gene for long hair came from one of these backcrossings. UC Davis has developed a genetic test for long hair so that Bengal breeders could select Bengal cats with a recessive long-hair gene for their breeding programs.[46]

Some Bengal cats used in breeding can carry a recessive gene for long-haired. When a male and female Bengal each carry a copy of the recessive long hair gene, and those two Bengals are mated with each other, they can produce long-haired Bengals. (See Cat coat genetics#Genes involved in fur length and texture.) In the past, long-haired offspring of Bengal matings were spayed or neutered until some breeders chose to develop the long-haired Bengal (which are sometimes called a Cashmere Bengal)

Long-haired Bengals are starting to gain more recognition in some cat breed registries but are not widely accepted. Since 2013, they have "preliminary" breed status in the New Zealand Cat Fancy (NZCF) registry, under the breed name Cashmere Bengal.[47][48] Since 2017 The International Cat Association (TICA) has accepted the Bengal Longhair[49] in competitions.

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ Weir, Harrison William (1889). Our Cats and All About Them: Their Varieties, Habits, and Management. Houghton, Mifflin & Co. p. 55.
  2. ^ a b c d Jones, Joyce (September 20, 1992). "The Pet Cat That Evokes the Leopard". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 21, 2019. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  3. ^ Hamilton, Denise (March 10, 1994). "A Little Cat Feat: A Covina woman's efforts at cross-breeding wild and domestic felines are paying off handsomely". Los Angeles Times. p. 2. Archived from the original on April 17, 2022. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Meet The Bengal: The Miniature Leopard of the Cat World". Archived from the original on February 19, 2019. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  5. ^ "Bengal Breed". The International Cat Association. August 13, 2018. Archived from the original on July 26, 2020. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  6. ^ "The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy". Gccfcats. GCCF. Archived from the original on April 11, 2019. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  7. ^ "Breed standards". FIFe. Archived from the original on December 20, 2015. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
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  9. ^ "Moments in History of ACF". Archived from the original on February 24, 2018. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  10. ^ Davis, Brian W.; Seabury, Christopher M.; Brashear, Wesley A.; Li, Gang; Roelke-Parker, Melody; Murphy, William J. (2015). "Creation of Interspecies Domestic Cat Hybrids". Molecular Biology and Evolution. 32 (10): 2534–2546. doi:10.1093/molbev/msv124. PMC 4592343. PMID 26006188.
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  12. ^ "Asian Leopard Cat Cross to Bengal, Prionailurus Bengalensis". June 4, 2018. Archived from the original on April 30, 2020. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  13. ^ a b "TICA Registered Cattery Names". The International Cat Association. Archived from the original on February 2, 2019. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  14. ^ "Bengal Breed". The International Cat Association. Archived from the original on September 27, 2017. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
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  17. ^ "Bengal Cat Breeder - Los Angeles , California and Miami Florida". Bengal Cat Breeder - Los Angeles , California and Miami Florida. Archived from the original on January 30, 2022. Retrieved January 30, 2022.
  18. ^ Barsh, Greg; Kaelin, Christopher (2010). "Tabby pattern genetics – a whole new breed of cat". Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 23 (4): 514–516. doi:10.1111/j.1755-148X.2010.00723.x. PMID 20518859. S2CID 7082692.
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  22. ^ Bengal, Cats. "Giant Bengal Cats".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
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