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Bengal Cat Breed:

The Bengal cat is a crossbreed.

It is a spotted cat that is a comparatively new breed of cats. It is the product of crossing an Asian Leopard Cat with a domesticated feline. Although it does bear a striking resemblance to a young leopard, the Bengal cat is a truly domesticated cat and is in fact a rather popular pet.

The confusion is understandable as it has an exotic looking coat of fur that give it a wild and undomesticated appearance. It has a white belly and its body structure also bears a close resemblance of that of a leopard.

The Bengal cat is an excellent mix of gentle temperament and wild looks.

It is a popular misconception that the name Bengal Cat has been derived from the Bengal Tiger. The truth is that the word Bengal has been taken from the taxonomic name of the Asian Leopard Cat. The earliest cross of a domesticated feline with a leopard cat was mentioned in 1934. Later, due to the interest it piqued, many pet lovers decided to explore the possibility of such a crossbreed. This was also the time when the feline leukemia virus was prevalent. As a result many cats were affected and succumbed to it. Conversely, it was also found that the natural immunity of many wild felines to this virus was something that could be passed down the line when they were crossed with domesticated cats.

Since the Asian Leopard cat is genetically superior to most other cats, the early breeders didn’t want to breed it with local cats. In search for another feral cat species which could be potentially bred with these leopard cats, the breeders arrived in India, where they bred the Asian Leopard cat with the Indian Mau. Immediately after the first cats were bred, they became popular because of their distinct appearance and behavior. Though not naturally spotted, the close resemblance to leopards made the Bengal cats an exotic and revered pet. Soon after, many alliances of Bengal breeders were formed to encourage good and safe breeding practices to produce high quality Bengal cats.

In the fourth generation of the initial crossing, the breed becomes gentle enough to be kept as a pet. However, the Bengal cat is not recommended for a first time pet owner. They can behave instinctively and be quite wild if they imbibe their leopard ancestry.
  Submitted on February 9, 2010