Breed Introduction: Bengal Cat

Bengal cat is a charming exotic-looking cat breed!

Bengal Cat Breed Introduction

Love cats with exotic look, but without the size and danger of a wild cat? Bengal was developed with you in mind! Created by crossing small Asian Leopard Cats with domestic cats, this large-boned, shorthaired cat stands out for his spotted or marbled coat of many colours. The intelligent, curious Bengal is highly active. Constantly on the move, he loves climbing to high places, enjoys playing fetch and going for walks on leash, and thrives best when he has access to a large outdoor enclosure where he can indulge in the favourite feline hobby of bird-watching.

Some Bengals Cats are fond of playing in water, and you may find yours fishing out of the aquarium if you are not careful. This is a happy and entertaining cat who wants lots of attention. He does best with a person who spends a lot of time at home and will enjoy playing and interacting with him. Some Bengal coats have striking rosettes or spots made up of more than one colour, usually a secondary colour forming a dark outlining to the spot. Bengal coats also come in a marbled pattern: one or more colour swirled into the background colour. While most commonly seen in the brown spotted tabby pattern, they may also be found in the marbled pattern (classic tabby).

Bengal Cat Origin

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Bengals take their name from the Asian leopard cat’s scientific name, Felis bengalensis. They were created through crosses between an Asian leopard cat — which in the 1950s and into the 1960s could be purchased at pet stores — and domestic shorthairs. Jean Mill, a breeder in California, was the first to make such a cross, but not because she wanted to create a new breed. She had acquired a leopard cat and allowed her to keep company with a black tom cat so she wouldn’t be lonely. To her surprise, since she hadn’t thought the two species would mate, kittens resulted, and Mill kept a spotted female. Breeding her back to her father produced a litter of spotted and solid kittens.

Bengal Cat Characteristics

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1. Size

This is a large cat. Bengals weigh 8 to 15 pounds or more.

2.  Personality

The Bengal is highly active and highly intelligent. This makes him fun to live with, but he can sometimes be challenging. On the whole, the Bengal is a confident, talkative, friendly cat who is always alert. Nothing escapes his eyes. He likes to play games, including fetch, and he is a whiz at learning tricks. His nimble paws are almost as good as hands, and it’s a good thing he doesn’t have opposable thumbs or he would probably rule the world. Bored Bengal cats can also adopt some unconventional (and slightly destructive) habits, including: turning light switches on and off.

3. Health

Both pedigreed cats and mixed-breed cats have varying incidences of health problems that may be genetic in nature. Bengals are generally healthy, but the following diseases have been seen in the breed:

Distal neuropathy, a nervous system disorder that causes weakness. It can occur in Bengals as early as 1 year of age. Fortunately, many cats recover on their own, although a few relapse.

Flat-chested kitten syndrome, a deformity that can range from mild to severe. Kittens who survive to adulthood usually show no signs once they reach maturity.

Hip dysplasia, which in severe cases can cause lameness

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a form of heart disease that is heritable in some breeds.

Patellar luxation, a hereditary dislocation of the kneecap that can range from mild to severe. Severe cases can be alleviated with surgery.

4. Care

The short, thick coat of the Bengal is easily cared for with weekly combing to remove dead hair and distribute skin oils. A bath is rarely necessary.

Brush the teeth to prevent periodontal disease. Daily dental hygiene is best, but weekly brushing is better than nothing. Trim the nails every couple of weeks. Wipe the corners of the eyes with a soft, damp cloth to remove any discharge. Use a separate area of the cloth for each eye so you don’t run the risk of spreading any infection. Check the ears weekly. If they look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball or soft damp cloth moistened with a 50-50 mixture of cider vinegar and warm water. Avoid using cotton swabs, which can damage the interior of the ear.

Updated: September 24, 2017.

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