Bengal cats are not Bengal tigers. They are beautiful, wild looking cats who are growing in popularity due to their patterns and personalities but stay about the same size as a large domestic house cat.
What is a Bengal Cat?
A Bengal is an exotic or hybrid cat breed that has been developed by breeding an Asian Leopard Cat (Felis bengalensis - which is where the name "Bengal" was derived) with a domestic house cat such as an Abyssinian, Egyptian Mau, or the American Shorthair.
They are larger "house cats" with males growing up to weigh 18 pounds and females weighing up to 11 pounds. They are known to love water, a trait that most house cats don't possess.
What Colors and Patterns Do Bengals Come In?
Bengals are best loved for their wild looking markings. They were bred with the Asian Leopard Cat for a reason and that reason is the patterning. Rosettes, marbling, spots and stripes make up the leopard patterns that varying Bengals display but their official markings are only considered either spotted or marbled.
The patterns are always outlined in black, chocolate, or grey/silver. The coat colors are called Brown Tabby, Seal Sepia Tabby, Seal Mink Tabby, Seal Lynx Point, Black Silver Tabby, Seal Silver Sepia Tabby, Seal Silver Mink Tabby, and Seal Silver Lynx Point with the Brown Tabby being the most commonly seen color. All shades of brown to black make up the markings and the Brown Tabbies typically have white background fur on their whisker pads, chin, chest, abdomen, and inner legs.
Are Bengals Considered Domestic Cats?
A Bengal is considered a hybrid breed. Therefore, it is not recognized by the CFA (Cat Fanciers Association) as a pure breed but that doesn't mean it isn't a domestic cat. Bengals are not typically included in lists that exclude exotic or big cat breeds due to the fact that they are smaller, are accepted by several other organizations as a pure breed, and are bred consistently past three generations (the first three generations are the most wild looking and acting).
Bengals eat what other house cats eat - cat food. But this generalization can be tricky. Many people prefer to feed a grain free diet or raw diet to their Bengals, especially if they are of the first three generations. For most Bengal owners purchasing a formulated, grain-free diet is the most practical way to feed their cats.
What Diseases are Bengals Prone to Getting?
Purebred cat breeds are more prone to genetic diseases than mixed breed domestic cats due to the fact that the gene population that they come from is smaller. Bengals are thought to be prone to an autosomal recessive disorder that causes early blindness in young cats, entropian (the rolling in of the eyelids), and feline infectious peritonitis, to name a few.
Where Can I Get a Bengal Cat?
Bengal cats can be purchased from breeders around the world. In certain areas, there are Bengal rescues such as the Great Lakes Bengal Rescue which serves the Midwest United States. You most likely won't find a Bengal in a shelter but it doesn't hurt to keep checking.