The Bengal: an energetic house tiger.

The Bengal: an energetic house tiger.

This friendly house cat looks like it belongs in the jungle. If you think so, you are not completely wrong, as the Bengal came into being after crossing a domestic cat with a wild leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis). This energetic hunter distinguishes itself with a unique temperament and appearance. Of course, not every Bengal is the same, but in this blog we describe some of the characteristics that make this cat breed special.

The wild Asian Leopard Cat

The Asian Leopard Cat has the widest geographical distribution of all felines. They are spread over a large part of Asia and are mainly found in forests. They are about the size of an average house cat, but their size and colour can vary greatly. Although this animal is about the size of a domestic cat, it stands out because of its long legs and long, slender body with a narrow head with very large eyes. This hunter is mainly active at night and prefers to be alone. Many characteristics of the Asian Leopard Cat can be recognised in Bengals, especially in F1 and F2 crosses (see: “Differences between generations”).

A wild Asian leopard cat laying down on a rock

Origin and history

Although wild leopard cats are mainly found in Southeast Asia, the Bengal originated in the United States. Jean Mill, a geneticist and founder of the modern Bengal, crossed a domestic cat with the wild leopard cat in 1963 and thus created a new cat breed. However, Mill was not the first to have the idea of crossing a wild cat with a domestic cat. Even as early as the 19th century these cats were reported by the British journalist Harrison William Weir. Finally, the breed was recognised by the CFA (Cat Fanciers’ Association) in 1996. 

Differences between generations

As with other crossbreeds (such as the Savannah cat), there are large differences between the various generations of the Bengal cat. An F1 Bengal is a direct cross with a wild cat, and with each generation the breed becomes ‘tamer’. See below the differences:

F1: A first generation Bengal has a domesticated house cat and a wild Asian Leopard cat as parents. A direct descendant of a wild cat. Because this generation of cats is a direct descendant of a wild cat, they are not considered ‘domesticated’. Therefore, in many places it is illegal to keep an F1 Bengal. In general, these cats are not suitable as pets. This is reflected in the character: F1 Bengals are very wild and energetic/

F2: A second generation cat is already a lot tamer than an F1, but still illegal to adopt in many places. Raising this energetic cat is still not an easy job, although they do like to fetch toys!

F3: If you cross an F2 with a domestic cat, you get a third generation Bengal. In this generation, these cats start to get more character traits of domesticated house cats, but still retain the unique appearance of the wild Leopard Cat.

F4: Fourth generation Bengal cats are a lot more social and tame than first or second generation. This is logical, because the wild temperament of the Asian Leopard Cat is almost completely bred out. But fortunately, traces of this behaviour can still be found in this beautiful companion. Read more about this in the heading below.

4 different Bengals using Petrebels products
Bengal Zena in a cave of the Charlotte 180 – Two Bengals on our Ragdoll 200 – A Bengal chilling in a Luxury Sleeper XL hangmat

Character

Ever wanted to play fetch at 3 a.m.? Then this pedigree cat is for you! Bengals are known for their restless temperament and endless energy. No curtain is safe from this climber. This is of course because the ancestors of this breed were night hunters. It helps to have a high scratching post (like this one: Diana 260) in the house so they can climb, but that does not mean you can leave them alone all day. This panther demands a lot of personal attention! The Bengal is a smart and curious breed that needs a lot of stimulation. No vase is safe for this Rebel. These cats are even used to water. There are many Bengals that will jump into the shower or the bath without hesitation.

Although the Asian Leopard Cat often wants to be left alone, the Bengal is very affectionate. If you leave them alone, make sure they have enough to do. Many Bengals like to have another cat for company, as long as that cat is not too territorial and dominant.

This breed loves to go on adventures outside. If you have or want a Bengal, make sure that the cat can go outside responsibly. Bengals are often very expensive and a popular target for thieves. To give your cat a taste of the great outdoors, make sure your garden is cat-proofed, you have a cat run, a secure balcony and/or plenty of resting places inside in front of the window so your cat can look out.

What many owners will tell you is that these cats love to make noise. Meowing, chirping and singing among other things. Also, these cats are very good at telling you exactly what they want. Marylin Krieger, a cat expert, often sings with her loyal Bengal herself. “Of course not all Bengals are loud, but mine makes a lot of different sounds,” she says.

Young Bengal cat with yellow green eyes staring at the camera with a head tilt

Appearance: coat and build

Bengals are muscular, athletic slim cats with a relatively small head. They are on average a bit bigger than the average house cat and usually weigh between 3.5 and 7 kilograms. Like the ancestor of this beautiful cat, the Bengal has long muscular legs and large eyes. The beauty of this lovely breed is difficult to translate into pictures or text. Thanks to its special build, this panther is at its most beautiful in motion. Few cats move as effortlessly and vainly as the Bengal.

The fur is the most recognizable feature of this breed. With this beautiful pattern, it looks like you have a panther in your house! But this fur is not only beautiful, but also very practical. Because the fur of the Bengal cat is very short, it needs little care. Weekly brushing is recommended, but of course a short-haired cat needs to be brushed less often than a medium or long-haired cat such as a Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest Cat. Some owners even say that the coat of this cat feels like that of a rabbit, so super soft! But this soft coat has even more advantages: it is hypoallergenic, water-repellent and hardly shaggy at all! 

This breed comes in many different colours and patterns. A comprehensive documentation of the colours and patterns of this cat can be found here: https://bengalcats.co/bengal-cat-colors-patterns/

Diseases and disorders

This is a relatively healthy breed, with a lifespan of up to 16 years on average. Most of the health problems of this breed are caused by inaccurate breeding. So always get your cat (not just Bengals, but any cat) from a respectable breeder or shelter where the parents have been scanned for health problems.

This breed is sensitive to anaesthetics, so be careful with any operations such as spaying and neutering. Furthermore, like many other breeds (such as the British Shorthair), they can suffer from a heart disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy when older. Bengals can also get an eye disease that slowly blinds them (progressive retinal atrophy).

And of course, this breed, like any cat, needs some basic tracking. Think of a good diet to prevent over- or underweight, multiple litter boxes, fresh water every day, enough distractions like a nice scratching post, and a yearly check-up at the vet.

Bengal on the Ragdoll 200

Facts and Figures

– Some celebrities that have a Bengal are Bruce Springsteen, Jerry Seinfield, and Kirsten Stewart.

– The “Rolls Royce of cats” was a $50,000 Bengal.

– Bengals are relatively easy to train. They can learn tricks and get used to a harness quickly.

– Some Bengals have a gene that makes their fur glitter.

Disclaimer

Petrebels is not a vet or a behaviourist: all content, information and tips on this blog are meant to inspire you and are of an informative nature. Does your cat have complaints or problems? Or do you have doubts about your cat’s health? Always go to the vet or a behaviourist.

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DE LUIE REBEL

Katten slapen gemiddeld 16 uur per dag en doen dat vol overgave: er wordt gerekt, gestrekt en schaamteloos gegaapt. Heerlijk. De Luie Rebel is er wel héél goed in. Die laat rennen en spelen liever aan een ander over en ploft met gemak overal neer voor een overheerlijk dutje. Maar het liefst ligt deze Rebel in een lekker zacht mandje of hangmatje.


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DE KRABBEL REBEL

Katten hebben van nature de behoefte om hun nagels te scherpen. Ze markeren daarmee hun territorium en worden er ontspannen en blij van. De Krabbel Rebel weet van geen ophouden als het om krabbelen gaat. Maak van je huis daarom een feestje voor deze Rebel en zet één (of meer) goede krabpalen neer.


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DE OUTDOOR REBEL

Buitenkatten houden van hun vrijheid en van avontuur. Ze verstoppen zich vaak in struiken en houden de hele buurt in de gaten. Ze kunnen zich uren vermaken met rondvliegende insecten en nemen – als het even meezit – een echte muis voor je mee naar huis. De Outdoor Rebel komt thuis om gezellig met de baasjes te kroelen en rustig te eten. En stelt het op prijs als er een fijn plekje is om uit te rusten voor het volgende avontuur.


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DE INDOOR REBEL

Sommige katten blijven liever binnen. Of het baasje wil dit graag. Indoor Rebels vinden het heerlijk om naar buiten te kijken – naar al het spannends wat zich daar afspeelt. Je maakt deze katten blij door het binnen net zo spannend te maken als buiten. Prikkel hun instincten met speeltjes en krabmeubels waar ze lekker in kunnen klimmen, want dan blijven ze gelukkig en gezond.


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THE LAZY REBEL

Cats sleep up to 16 hours a day with full commitment: lots of stretching and shameless yawning… Mhmm, delicious. The lazy Rebel masters this trait like no other and prefers to leave the running and playing to someone else. This lazy napper is able to lie down anywhere to take a well-deserved rest, but they prefer a nice and soft hammock or basket.


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THE SCRATCHING REBEL

Cats naturally have the need to sharpen their nails. This way they mark their territory. It also makes them relaxed and happy. The scratching Rebel will never stop when it comes to this. Transform your house into a “scratching paradise” for this Rebel and supply it with one or several good cat trees.


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THE OUTDOOR REBEL

Outdoor cats love adventure and freedom. They often hide in bushes to keep an eye on their surroundings. They can entertain themselves for hours with bugs flying around and they might even take home a real mouse for you! The outdoor Rebel will come home to cuddle with its owner and to eat peacefully. This adventurer would appreciate it if there is a nice spot in your house to rest before the next adventure.


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THE INDOOR REBEL

Some cats prefer to stay inside, this can also be a decision made by the owner. Indoor Rebels enjoy watching the outside world – and everything exciting that happens there. You can make these cats happy by making the indoor world just as exciting as the outdoor world. Stimulate their senses with toys and cat furniture in which they can climb. This way they remain healthy and happy.


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DER FAULE REBELL

Katzen schlafen durchschnittlich 16 Stunden pro Tag und tun dies voller Hingabe. Sie strecken sich, dehnen sich und gähnen unverhohlen. Herrlich! Der faule Rebell ist sehr gut darin. Er überlässt das Toben und Spielen am liebsten jemand anderem und macht stattdessen lieber ein kleines Nickerchen. Am liebsten bevorzugt dieser Schläfer ein weiches Sofa oder ein gepolsterte Liegefläche.


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DER KRATZENDE REBELL

Katzen haben von Natur aus das Bedürfnis, ihre Nägel zu schärfen. Damit markieren sie zum einen ihr Territorium und verhindern zum anderen, dass die Nägel zu lang werden und einwachsen. Kratzen, wetzen und schärfen macht sie entspannt und glücklich. Der Kratz-Rebell kennt dann auch kein Halten mehr, wenn es ums Wetzen und Kratzen geht. Mach dein Zuhause also zu einer Partyzone für diesen Rebellen und stelle einen (oder mehrere) gute Kratzbäume mit viel Wetzmöglichkeiten auf.


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DER OUTDOOR-REBELL

Freigängerkatzen lieben die Freiheit und das Abenteuer. Oft verstecken sie sich im Gebüsch und behalten die ganze Nachbarschaft im Auge. Sie können sich stundenlang mit fliegenden Insekten vergnügen, streunen herum und bringen im schlimmsten Fall eine Maus als Geschenk mit nach Hause. Der Outdoor-Rebell kommt nur nach Hause, um mit den Besitzern eventuell zu kuscheln und sich sein Fressen servieren zu lassen. Und er schätzt es über alle Maßen, wenn er einen schönen, gemütlichen Platz am liebsten auf einem Kratzbaum zum Ausruhen für das nächste Abenteuer angeboten bekommt.


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DER INDOOR-REBELL

Einige Katzen sind reine Indoor-Rebellen. Entweder, weil sie es vorziehen in einem warmen und gefahrlosen Zuhause zu leben oder weil der Besitzer dies so möchte. Indoor-Rebellen lieben es nach draußen zu schauen – und das aufregende Leben draußen aus sicherer Entfernung zu beobachten. Diese Katzen sind glücklich, wenn man drinnen die gleichen Abenteuer simuliert, die sie draußen beobachten können. Stimuliere deren Instinkte mit Spielzeug und Kratzmöbeln, in denen sie herumklettern und toben können, damit sie gesund, agil und glücklich bleiben.


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