The Asian Leopard Cat (Felis Bengalensis)

The average size of the Asian Leopard Cat (A.L.C.) is similar to that of the normal domestic cat, but with slightly longer legs and a longer body. Their hind quarters are often higher than at the front due to having longer back legs. The A.L.C.s' heads are relatively small compared to their body size, with a narrow muzzle and large eyes, which are due to the nocturnal habits of the Asian Leopard Cat. Their tails are quite short thick, varying in length from about 11 to 14 inches. The A.L.C. is not a large cat like many people expect and weighs between 7 to 15 pounds. This depends a lot on which region they come from as there are around 10 different sub-species. Male Asian Leopard Cats are slightly larger and heavier than the females. The lifespan of the A.L.C. is about 10 to 15 years.

The coats and patterns of the Asian Leopard Cats can vary in colour from yellowy-grey to yellowy-brown to red-brown. Spots can be varying in size and shape, from fairly small, even spotting to quite large arrow-head or circular rosettes. There have also been marbled patterns seen in the A.L.C.'s. The Asian Leopard Cats' tails are ringed and can also be spotted, with the tip being black in colour. They will often have a broken (sometimes complete) 'necklace' going across the front of their chest. Facial markings on the A.L.C. can be quite striking, with pale/white markings around the dark eyes and flashes of white on the cheeks. There are white spots on the back of the Asian Leopard Cats' ears which are known as Ocelli. These are meant to distract other predatory animals and confuse them, making them think that they are being 'watched'. The undersides/tummies of A.L.C.'s are nearly always white, with clear spotting on the white background.

Asian Leopard Cats are shy and reclusive wild cats. They hunt by night and are carnivorous hunters, catching and eating small rodents, birds, squirrels, shrews and fish. They have even been known to hunt the young of small breeds of deer. A.L.C.'s are good swimmers and are adept at fishing. This love of water lives on in the Bengal cats, who can frequently be seen dabbling, paddling and playing in water. The Asian Leopard Cats make dens/beds in hollow trees, undergrowth, small caves and even up in the tree-tops, as they are excellent climbers. Due to their shy, reclusive nature, they do not make good pets and do not liked being touched or handled. Even A.L.C. kittens taken from their mum at birth, and bottle fed and hand reared completely by humans, will revert back to the original 'wild cat' at maturity.

Even though it is called the Asian Leopard Cat (or Felis Bengalensis), sub-species of these cats are found in many other places like China, India, Korea and Islands such as Bali, Java, Borneo, Taiwan, Sumatra and the Philippines. The A.L.C. is quite common around these parts of the world and are not in immediate danger of becoming extinct. Having said that, their habitat, like so many other wild animals, is constantly being destroyed to accommodate the increasing human population. Due to this, some sub-species of the Asian Leopard Cat have now been considered as an 'Endangered Species' by CITES (The International Trade in Endangered Species). Hopefully this will help protect this beautiful, shy, wild cat so we will be able to enjoy it's presence for many centuries to come.

From Asian Leopard Cat to Bengal Cat

Asian Leopard Cats were first used in a programme by Dr. Centerwall to try and discover whether there was any truth in the thought that A.L.C's (Asian Leopard Cats) were immune to the Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLv). It was discovered that although they were not totally immune to the FeLv, they did have some resistance to it. This resistance is not normally found in domestic cats. Some of the Asian Leopard Cat hybrids from this programme eventually ended up in the hands of Jean Mill of Millwood Bengals (founder of the Bengal breed). If you check back in our Bengal Cats' pedigrees today, you will see that they all have Millwood in their background, though some pedigrees may have to be researched past the normal four or five generations found in the standard pedigree certificates. Some of the early matings with Asian Leopard Cats were with domestic 'moggies', as well as breeds such as Egyptian Mau's, Abyssinians and Ocicats.

F1's, F2's, and F3's (Foundation or 'Filial' Bengals)

The first cross between an Asian Leopard Cat and a domestic cat is called an F1 (1st generation Foundation or 'Filial' Bengal). F1 males from these matings are always infertile, so the female F1 offspring are used to be mated with a male domestic cat (these days it would be a Bengal) to create the next generation, or F2, and so on. F2 and F3 males are frequently infertile, so again the female offspring would be used to reach the fourth generation, or F4. Once the cat has reached F4 or fourth generation it is considered to be a 'true' Bengal cat, and will have the loving, dependable and friendly nature necessary to become a beloved family pet. F4 Bengal Cats are the lowest generation that can be shown at GCCF shows.( The GCCF is the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy - the feline equivalent to the Kennel Club in the U.K.) Our own Bengal queen Anna (seen on our Bengal Queens page) is an F4 Bengal and has been shown very successfully at GCCF shows across the U.K. (see our Awards page).


The Bengal Cats of today come in a few different colours:
Brown (Black) Spotted Bengals
The 'Original' Brown (black) Spotted/Marbled. Brown (or black) spotted is the general term for Bengals displaying the spotted pattern rather than marbled. The 'Spotted' Bengal can actually be brown spotted, black spotted or even rosetted, but they all are classified as 'Spotted'. The GCCF colour/pattern code for Brown (black) spotted Bengal Cats is 76 30. This number can be seen on Bengal Cats' Pedigrees and GCCF Registration Certificates of Brown (black)spotted Bengals, and other Bengals' pedigrees with Brown (black) spotted Bengals in their background.

Marbled Bengals
The marbling pattern gene originates from the tabby domestic cats that were used in the early crosses to Asian Leopards Cats. The marble gene can be carried by spotted cats, and reproduced if two cats carrying the marble gene are mated together. Two marbled cats mated together can only produce marbled kittens (no spotted). Like the spotted pattern, the marbled can vary in colour and pattern shape. It is desirable to have horizontal flowing, irregular, swirling patterns with two or three shades of brown, gold and/or red (the red colouring is referred to as 'rufous' colouring in Bengals), rather than the more undesirable 'bulls-eye' symmetrical pattern on both sides of the cat. The GCCF colour/pattern code for the Brown (black) marbled Bengal is 76 20.

Snow Spotted/Marbled Bengals
Snow spotted Bengals come in 2 recognised variations, the Blue-Eyed snow and the Any Other Colour-eyed snow (or A.O.C.).
The Blue-Eyed Snow Bengal kittens are born almost or completely white, their pattern developing quite quickly as the kitten grows. The pattern can be evident at birth (albeit very faint) or may take a couple of weeks to appear, and gets stronger as the kitten matures. The Blue-Eyed snow pattern can keep developing until the cat is fully mature at around 18 months old. Kittens are born with the normal kitten bluey/grey eye colour, which will become more obviously blue as the kitten grows. The blue eye colour can vary from a pale, cool blue to a very desirable vivid deep blue. The GCCF colour/pattern code for Blue-Eyed Snow Spotted Bengals is 76b 30, the Blue-Eyed Snow Marble Bengal code is 76b 20.

Any Other Colour-eyed Snow Bengal

The Any Other Colour-eyed Snow Bengal (or A.O.C.) kittens are born with their pattern, either spotted or marbled. The pattern is quite clear from birth, so it is evident that the kitten will not have blue eyes, but will probably have green or aqua coloured eyes. Some AOC-eyed snow kittens/cats have been seen with gold eyes, but this is rare. Like the Blue-eyed snow Bengals, the pattern continues to strengthen in colour and some AOC snows can end up looking quite brown in colour when fully mature. The GCCF colour/pattern code for Any Other Colour-eyed Snow Spotted Bengals is 76a 30, and the Marbleds are coded as 76a 20.

Black Silver Spotted and Marbled Bengals
THE BLACK SILVER SPOTTED AND MARBLED BENGALS FROM IMPORTED SILVER LINES WERE ACCEPTED FOR REGISTRATION BY THE GCCF, AS FROM 21st FEBRUARY 2007. This is great news, and means that Silver Bengals from imported lines whose pedigrees comply with the revised GCCF Bengal registration policy can now be registered with the GCCF, and hopefully will be able to be shown within the next 12 months!
The Silver colour comes from out-crossing the Brown Bengal to a Silver American Shorthair. This is a recognised out-cross, and has given the Bengal breed a completely new and exciting 'colour'. In actual fact, the silver is not a colour, it is created by the 'I' or 'Inhibitor' gene which removes the brown colouring form the coats of the Bengal cat. So you actually have a Brown Bengal cat with the colour removed. Many of the Silver Bengals in the U.K today are not glittered, as the American Shorthair cat is not glittered, so it may take a while for the majority of Silver Bengals in the U.K. to become glittered as it works it's way in through the generations by mating the un-glittered Silvers to glittered Bengal cats. The glitter in the Silver Bengal cat is described as a 'diamond' glitter and is truly spectacular! We here at Suntouched Bengals have our own super Silver Rosetted Bengal Stud cat (Troy), who actually is glittered (see our Bengal Studs page). We were very fortunate to find him.

Blue Bengal
The Blue Bengal is quite unusual and is not recognised by the GCCF, along with other colours such as the Blue Snow, Silver Snow, Blue Silver Snow, Cinnamon and Cinnamon Snow Bengals . The Blue Bengal can only be registered on the Reference register at the moment (GCCF), and all progeny from Blue Bengals will also be registered on the Reference register until such time comes that the Blues are recognised for showing at GCCF shows. The Blue gene can be carried by all other colour Bengals, and can be reproduced only if both parents are carrying the blue gene. Blue Bengals can currently be exhibited and shown at TICA (The International Cat Association) under the title of 'New Traits', where they can gain 'Merits' if they conform to the Bengal Standard of Points for Blue Bengals. These 'Merits' will help promote the Blue Bengal to Championship status sometime in the future.

Today's Bengal.
The Bengal Cat of today is a clean, friendly, intelligent, bright cat with a dependable temperament. They express themselves quite openly vocally and will tell you if you have picked them up at the wrong time, though are nothing like as noisy as Siamese. This vocal expression which can range from a mild 'whinge' to a low 'growl' is known amongst breeders as Bengal 'chatter' or Bengal 'talk' and is perfectly harmless and is part of what makes this breed such a fascinating and exciting cat to own! Bengals love to sit on laps...when they are ready, and will wriggle out of your hold if they are not ready and still want to play. Once play time is over, they will seek to curl up on your lap purring and go to sleep. They love human company and will follow you around like a dog. Bengals are very intelligent and can be taught to 'retrieve' small soft balls. They also have a liking for water, and will be found dabbling in any water available (including the loo if the seat is up!!), and often seen 'skimming' the surface of the water bowl with their paws before drinking. Bengals are very clean and it has been known for them to use your toilet for the intended purpose too!

All in all, the Bengal Cat of today makes a great family pet and is normally suitable for families with children of all ages, especially if they are born and reared in the family home. They are also known for getting along well with dogs, once they get to know them. If you are interested in purchasing a Bengal Cat or Kitten, please do take a look on our AVAILABLE KITTENS or our REHOME page for current availability, or CONTACT US for further details.

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