The power and grace of a leopard
If one day the American geneticist Jane Mill did not get the idea to breed a domestic cat with the appearance of a leopard, we would not be able to admire this extraordinary breed.
The history of the breed is very unusual and complex. While traveling in Asia, Jane saw beautiful leopard cats (Felis Bengalensis), which, unfortunately, were exterminated by poachers, and cubs were sold to tourists on the market as living souvenirs. So in 1961, Jane had the first leopard cat named Malaysia. Then Jane hooked her domestic cat to her, and soon Malaysia gave birth to two kittens. One of them, unfortunately, did not survive, and the second was a cat, which after a while gave birth again to two kittens. And only the death of her husband stopped Jane’s work on raising a Bengal cat. Kittens were sent to the zoo, where they died from pneumonia.
Only after 15 years, Mill was able to return to the realization of his idea. Jane managed to acquire several hybrid cats at the University of California, where at that time genetic studies were conducted on the innate immunity of wild cats. She brought a chic spotted cat for them from the Delhi Zoo. Thus began a new history of breeding a Bengal cat. Jane had to go through many difficulties and failures, because the males of the first generations of hybrids were sterile. Finally, in 1983 the breed was officially registered, and in 1991 it was allowed to participate in exhibitions under the TICA system, but only after the fourth generation from an Asian leopard cat. Gradually, the Bengal breed conquered the whole world with its beauty and was recognized by most felinological systems (TICA, FIFE, WCF, CCA, GCCF, MFA).
By standard, Bengal cats can have several types of color and many forms of the so-called “outlet” (spot). There are two main types of patterns: this is spotted and marbled. The spot (socket) can be of various shapes: round, slightly elongated, in the form of an arrowhead, peaks or even similar to a footprint. The marble color differs in the pattern in the form of horizontally arranged stains. The colors of the bengals are brown (brown spotted tabby), silver (silver spotted), snow (sealspotted), blue (blue spotted). In the color, a good contrast of the picture is desirable. It is good if the “necklace” and “camouflage marks” are pronounced. The coat should be short, adjacent to the body, silky to the touch and have glitter (a special shine of the coat). It is worth noting that no one else possesses such soft, delicate to the touch and shiny hair, this is another feature of the bengal, except for the wild leopard color. A spotted pattern must be present on the stomach.
Bengals inherited “phasing” from the Asian Leopard Cat (ALC), the so-called camouflage period in wild cats, in order to protect the calves of the otter in the wild. During the “phasing” period, starting from approximately two to three weeks, the color may become dull and non-contrast. Bengal finally accepts its true color after 10-12 months.
The largest number of cattery Bengal cats, of course, in their historical homeland – in the United States. The breed came to Ukraine relatively recently, so there are not so many breeders professionally breeding purebred Bengal cats. A certain role here is played by the difficulty in breeding bengals, and the considerable cost of good breed producers. But despite this, every year a Bengal cat is becoming more popular.