Skip to main page content
Pearl Dust Bengals Banner, Left. Pearl Dust Bengals Banner, Right.
© 2009 Pearl Dust Bengals

Bengal History, Types And Their Patterns

Brief History Of The Bengal Cat
Terminology Used By Bengal Breeders
The Bengal Physic
The Bengal Personality
Bengal Types Patterns & Colourings

Brief History Of The Bengal Cat
The Bengal cat is a distinct, unique breed of spotted domestic cat derived from the ancestral crossing of a domestic cat such as an Abyssinian, American Short hair, Burmese or Egyptian Mau with an Asian Leopard Cat. The name "Bengal" is derived from the Latin name of the Asian Leopard Cat, Feline Bengalensis. The domestic Bengal has inherited the exotic, stunningly wild spotted pattern from the Asian Leopard Cat, found in the wild in central Asia. This beautiful breed of cat is very loving, affectionate and friendly whilst retaining the uniqueness of its wild ancestors.

The main credit for this breed is given to Jean Sudgen of the USA. The Bengal Cat originated in Yuma Arizona in 1963 with the first documented crossing between an Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) and a shorthaired black domestic tomcat. Asian Leopard Cat Picture The result of this union was Kin Kin, who was then mated back to her father, resulting in the birth of a second generation (F2) litter.
Later in 1975, Jean Sudgen, now Mrs. Jean Mill, acquired eight female hybrids from a geneticist called Dr. Willard Centerwall, who had been involved in a breeding program where Asian Leopard Cats were crossed with domestic cats as part of a study for research into their apparent immunity to Feline Leukaemia that is evident in the ALC's. These eight cats, along with a rosetted bright orange feral cat from a zoo in Delhi, became the springboard from which were produced the foundation cats of the Bengal breed that we know today.
It was found that the males from the first generation (F1's) were always sterile as is common in inter-species matings but on the plus side it was found that some females were fertile and these were then crossed with affectionate domestic tomcats. The resulting kittens (F2’s) were far less aloof and more sociable with humans and some of the F2 males were found to be fertile.
As time went on, more bloodlines were being established by other breeders, notably Dr. Gregg Kent, whose hybridizations with an ALC was with an Egyptian Mau female. So the breed gathered momentum, and in 1985 the International Cat Association (TICA) allowed the breed to go on exhibition at their shows in the USA. This caused a tremendous amount of interest and people came from far and wide to view this first hybrid breed of cat. Then in 1992 TICA admitted the F4’s onwards (from this stage they were considered to be domestic cats), Championship status.
The breed has however, not been welcomed so openly by the GCCF, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy in the UK which is the feline equivalent of the Kennel Club. It was only in April of 2006 after years of pushing the breed forward that the Brown Spotted Bengals were eligible to compete at Championship level.
As of June 2008 the Brown Marbles and the Snow Spotted will have been elevated to Championship status and the Snow Marbles will be at Provisional status. Also from June 2008, the Silver Spotted and Silver Marbles have gone up from ‘Exhibition only’ to Preliminary status which is very exciting for the breed as the Silvers have become more popular over the past few years and are in many breeding lines and producing stunning variations in colour in the more traditional brown spotted and marbles.

Back To Contents

Terminology Used By Bengal Breeders
The first three generations resulting from crossing the Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) x Bengal are considered "Foundation Bengals".
F-1 refers to the first generation cross between the ALC and the domestic cat
F-2 is the second generation cross (the offspring of the F-1 and the domestic Bengal)
F-3 is the third generation (the offspring of the F-2 and a Bengal).
The International Cat Association (TICA) considers the fourth generation (F-4) to be a "SBT" (Studbook tradition) Bengal, eligible for competition in the show ring and is a fully accepted domestic cat. F4 Bengals and generations thereafter are fully domesticated and make excellent pets and companions.
Below please find a information clarifying the early generation terminology used by the Bengal world today (not including domestic out crosses):

  • F-1 ALC parent x domestic Bengal parent
  • F-2 F1 parent x domestic Bengal parent (has an ALC grandparent)
  • F-3 F2 parent x domestic Bengal parent (has an ALC great-grandparent)
  • F-4 F3 parent x domestic Bengal parent (has an ALC great-great-grandparent)
The first three 'Foundation' generations generally produce infertile male offspring and only female 'Foundation Bengals' have proven to be fertile.

Back To Contents

The Bengal Physic
Snow Bengal showing physic The Bengal cat is a medium to a relatively large shorthaired exotic cat. Bengals vary in size with the male between fourteen to twenty pounds and females slightly smaller at ten to twelve pounds. Bengals are very muscular cats with long bodies, thus appearing larger. They are also sturdy and substantial in appearance.
Heads should be wild looking and formidable. The face should have a feral expression with small rounded ears, intense facial markings, and pronounced whisker pads. Careful selection of breeding ensures that the Bengal remains loving and friendly with a superb temperament, whilst retaining a strong physical resemblance to its wild ancestor.
GCCF Standard Of Points for Bengals can be found, courtesy of The GCCF website.

Back To Contents

The Bengal Personality
The domestic Bengal cat is highly intelligent and affectionate cats. With their enchanting and strikingly beautiful wild appearance. They are really like having a tame piece of the wild in your own home, whilst still being so dependably sweet natured and delightfully loving. The Bengal can be very mischievous and boisterous. They are active cats always ready to play. You can easily leash train them and teach them to fetch and play other games. They are also very vocal cats, always eager for human companionship and approval. The Bengal mixes well with children and other animals. With their sleek, soft coat, this is more like a pelt than ordinary cat fur, sufferers of allergies claim that the Bengal brings out fewer reactions.
The Bengal is also unique in that these cats actually love and enjoy water. They will play for hours with a slightly running tap. The Bengal will delight children and adults alike with its playful antics with water. The Bengal cat will grace any home and be a loyal life companion. They are also very people oriented cats, so it may be worth considering obtaining two Bengals for company if you are likely to be out of the home all day. You will find that they are very "dog-like" in personality, following you from room to room in your home and always greeting you with a loving welcome. Whether male or female, this exotic, unique cat will hold a place in your heart forever like no cat as ever done before.

Back To Contents

Bengal Types, Patterns and Colouring
The coat of the Bengal is luxuriously soft to the touch and is often referred to as a 'pelt' coat. Bengal cats come in a variety of colours and patterns. A Bengal kitten begins to go through what is called the 'fuzzies' at around seven weeks of age, when it begins to grow longer guard hairs, which disguise the spots from the front view and would have provided the kittens with camouflage in the wild. The four main types of Bengal are listed below. The classifications and names may vary slightly.

Brown/Black or Leopard Spotted Bengal
arrowhead The brown or black spotted Bengal most resembles its wild ancestor and has dark spots on a lighter back ground colour, which can range from sandy, golden, deep orange (rufused) to mahogany. The spots come in a variety of shapes, sizes and patterns, which should be random or horizontal in alignment, avoiding joining up in obvious stripes. Arrow-head shaped spots or rosettes, which may vary from simple two-tone spots to full rosettes with high contrast, are very desirable. A very pale colour, preferably white is highly desirable on whisker pads and chins and may extend onto the chest, underside and inner legs. White or very light coloured spectacles encircling the eyes are desirable. The rims, lips and nose leather should be outlined in black and the centre of the nose leather should be brick red. The paw pads and tail tip must be black. The eye colour can range from gold, green or hazel.

Marbled Bengal
marble The marble pattern is not found in any other breed of cat and is unique and originated from the combination of the wild genes of the Asian Leopard Cat and the domestic tabby genes and emulates the pattern found on the clouded leopard. The marble pattern can be found in brown, snow and silver bengals and should have flowing, random, horizontally aligned swirls from the front to the back with strong contrasting colour. A tri-colour marble Bengal refers to a Bengal that has more colours than the two-tones found on some marbles. A spotted, virtually white belly and undersides is desirable. Vertical striping is undesirable.

Blue-Eyed Snow Bengal / AOC-Eyed Snow Bengal
Blue Eyed The ground colour should be ivory to cream and the pattern may vary in colour from charcoal to dark or light brown. The eye rims, lips and nose leather should be outlined in black and the centre of the nose should be brick red. Paw pads should be brown with rosy undertones. The tail tip must be dark brown or charcoal. The eye colour is blue and deep shades are preferred.
AOC-Eyed Snow Bengal The ground colour should be ivory to tan, with the pattern clearly visible. The pattern may be charcoal or shades of brown with light coloured spectacles, whisker pads and chin. The eye rims, lips and nose leather should be outlined in black and the centre of the nose should be brick red. Paw pads should be brown with rosy undertones. The tail tip must be dark brown or charcoal. The eye colour is gold, green or blue-green.

Glitter A unique ‘glitter’ effect can be found on some Bengals with a clear, non-ticked coat, which is a gold or pearl dusting effect and is highly desirable. The glitter gene is said to have come from a foundation cat called ‘Millwood Tory of Delhi’, which Jean Mill found in India.

There are a variety of other colours, such as blue, black, torbie etc. and characteristics such as long hair, flat face etc. of the Bengal cat, which are derived from the domestic genes, but do not meet the Bengal standard in TICA. These may be shown in UFO and other registries.

Back To Contents