Breeder: Priscilla South
Location: Cave Spring, Georgia
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Bengal domestic cats trace back to experimental crosses between common domestic cats and the
Asian Leopard Cat (ALC), felis bengalensis (from which the name "Bengal" derives). Often sold in
pet stores in the early 20th century, these beautiful leopard-cat kittens looked like tiny leopards but
grew into untouchable, non-tamable cats unsuitable as pets. In the early 1960's, Jean Mill owned a
female ALC and gave her a solid black, domestic male as a companion. To everyone's surprise, the
two produced a tiny, hybrid kitten which a year later produced a second-generation hybrid. This
line died out, but encouraged by the success, and dreaming of a tiny domestic leopard breed, in
1980 Jean Mill obtained several first-generation kittens from Dr. Willard Centerwall at Loma Linda
University who had hybridized the two species in his studies of apparent leukemia protection
enjoyed by the ALC. Two of these female hybrids, Praline and Pennybank, became the first
foundation cats in early Bengal history. The newly formed, genetics oriented International Cat
Association (TICA) welcomed Bengals into their registry, and into their New Breed classes at
gigantic INCAT shows all over the country. Exhibitors and visitors crowded around Jean Mill's
cages to delight in viewing this stunning new breed. TICA judges were fascinated by the genetic
possibilities of working with heretofore unknown gene components.
The genetics was indeed challenging! Early domestic partners of the original ALC males were of
unknown heritage and brought a wide range of recessive genes to the crosses, such as long hair,
dilute colors, solids, colour point pattern, and the classic tabby pattern. But when the latter met
with the leopard spots, the result was a dramatic "smearing" of the spots into odd, startling patterns
of black, rust, and light tan combinations. Kittens looked like richly colored Easter eggs! And each
kitten was unique! They were called "marbles", were included in the Bengal registry, and were given
their own classes at the shows. One of the early genetic contributors to the new breed was a young
domestic male from New Delhi, India (Millwood Tory of Delhi), who brought gorgeous emerald
green eyes, a spotted coat without stripes, glistening, thick fur (now called "glittered pelt:), and a
"hot" orange colour. These characteristics were unknown in the American cat gene pool before that.
Early Bengals were carefully bred for sweet temperaments and also exhibited intelligence and
unique behaviors tracing back to the wild ancestor.
The possibility of developing a friendly, people-oriented, domestic cat, uniquely beautiful and
leopard-like, inspired and challenged creative breeders world-wide to join the effort. Bengals are
still very much "under construction" and still offer the challenge of adding spectacular beauty to the
|A Living Domestic Masterpiece With A Wild Heritage
Imagine having a beautiful rosetted and luxuriously coated leopard cat with a loving personality in
a size that is practical for your lap and living room! A cat with the loving, dependable temperament
of the domestic cat and the physical features distinctive to a small born free jungle creature. The
Bengal cat visibly appears different from other domestic cats. Alert to its surroundings; very loving
and friendly, curious, and a very muscular and solid build. A wide nose with prominent whisker
pads and large oval, almost round eyes in a slightly small head give the Bengal a wild appearance
and expressive nocturnal look. Relatively short ears with wide base and rounded tips add to its
distinctive and unique appearance. The coat area is one of the most distinguishing features of the
Bengal cat. It is short and dense, displaying either a randomly spotted or marbled pattern, and has
a uniquely soft and silky feel. Its thick, low-set, medium-length tail adds balance and a wild look to
the cat's appearance.
The original foundation cats used to develop the domestic Bengal were created by crossing Asian
Leopard Cats with domestic cats. The Asian Leopard Cat is a very small species, timid and
non-threatening by nature, with genetic similarity to domestic cats. After four generations of
domestic breeding, a breed of cat is developed that has the temperament of the nicest of house cats,
and a stunningly beautiful coat.
|Purrsonality and Temperament
The temperament of this remarkable cat is unique and incredibly captivating. Bengal kittens
present themselves as very self confident, outgoing, intelligent, loving and quick to learn. They bond
well with humans of all ages and a wide variety of family pets, such as cats, dogs, rabbits, ferrets
(seemingly, anything that is friendly and will play with them). Easily amused, they consider
anything and everything a potential toy. Most will instinctively do such things as play fetch, hide and
seek, and entertain themselves playing some form of soccer with an endless variety of items, such
as, your favorite pen, pencils, straws and anything they can carry from place to place. Essentially,
they think of their world as a big playground. Favourite TV programs are sports, such as football or
golf, which provide a ball to chase on the screen. Bengals claim the best seats in the house and the
most comfortable place on your bed. Friendly and ready to show off, they will greet guests at the
door. With proper discipline (e.g., water pistols and oral commands), they are quick learners and
soon know the parameters of their living environment. Be warned, however, ... if allowed, they will
train their people when and how to feed them, to turn water on at the faucets when thirsty, and
move over in the shower to allow them to have "their" rightful share of space.