Bengal cats are extremely intelligent, and alert to anything new in their environment. Because of this, bengals can learn simple dog-like tricks, and to walk on a leash. Bengals are also natural retrievers of soft balls and cat toys. They love to climb to high places and seem to enjoy riding around on their owner’s shoulder. Most love to be cuddled, and because they have different fur than normal cats, people with cat allergies don’t seem to have trouble cuddling a bengal cat.
Bengal cats are also fascinated with water. Anywhere there is a bowl, sink, or even bathtub of water, the cat will play in it. Many bengal cats will even get in the shower with their owners.
History of the Breed
The bengal breed was started by Jean Sugden in 1963, when she bred an Asian leopard cat (felis bengalensis) with a solid black domestic tomcat (felis catus). The line was discontinued in 1966 due to a death in Jean’s family.
Later, other people who owned Asian leopard cats, produced some of these hybrids, including Dr. Willard Centerwall, who was working with Loma Linda University. He was studying the components of the Asian leopard cat’s immune system that seemed to give it immunity to feline leukemia. He was hoping that there could be something to help human leukemia research.
Jean Sugden Mill, who was now remarried, got some of Centerwall’s first generation kittens, and continued her breeding of these beautiful new domestic cats. Most of the bengals in the world today trace back to the original Centerwall crossbreeds.
A few second generation kittens were shown in cat shows. The most famous of these was Millwood Penny Ante. In 1985, The International Cat Association welcomed Penny Ante and other bengal kittens into their shows with exhibition-only status. Later, bengals were able to compete in the new breed and color classes. A standard was written for the bengal, and the new breed was official. The bengal cat was accepted into Championship status in 1992, and 4th generation or later bengals were considered domestic cats, competing against other breeds on equal status.
Bengal cats vary in size, but most males weigh between 11 and 18 pounds (they appear larger because they are long and muscular), and females weigh between 7 and 11 pounds.
*History and information on the Bengal cat obtained from “The Guide to Owning a Bengal Cat” by Jean Mill.