The Bengal cat is unique in more ways than just its coat. While all other domestic cats descend from the African Wild Cat (which sounds formidable, but looks pretty much like a regular tabby housecat), Bengals have both African Wild Cat and Asian Leopard Cats in their genes.
So they come with a pretty unique story, as well as an unusual (but beautiful) coat to go with their one-of-a-kind DNA. If you’re a sucker for these gorgeous felines, we can hardly blame you. It’s like having your very own exotic animal, but in cuddly pet form.
Thinking of adopting a Bengal cat? Best read on and find out a little more about them first.
History of the Bengal cat
You’d probably be surprised to hear the Bengal is actually quite a modern breed, unlike their Siamese counterparts. Hybrids of Asian Leopard Cats were reported as early as the 1800s. However, Bengals as we know them today were created by American geneticist Jean Mill in 1963.
Mill crossed Asian Leopard Cats with domestic cats to create a domestic pet with a unique coat. Her main aim was to try and deter people from supporting the fur trade, in the hopes that if the fur more closely resembled their own pets, people would stop buying it.
Physical traits of a Bengal cat
It’s easy to spot a Bengal thanks to their unique coats. You’ll notice they look like mini leopards! That’s due to their rosette markings, which are smaller spots around a larger centre spot that combine to look like a rose. They’re the only domestic cats who have this type of coat, and there’s no denying that they are seriously stunning.
Bengals are quite big (after all, they are basically part leopard!) at 33 to 40cm, and tend to have a slim build. They come in a variety of colours including brown spotted, seal lynx point (snow), sepia, silver, and mink spotted tabby. Basically, miniature leopards in all kinds of colours.
If their sleek coats and good looks weren’t enough, Bengal cats are also highly intelligent. They learn easily and can even perform cool tricks like rolling a ball around or closing doors. They’re not quite as playful as Maine Coons, who have been awarded the title of the dogs of the cat world. But they’re certainly clever.
The Bengal cat is known for being sociable and friendly. They’re likely to form a strong bond with their humans and love spending time being cuddled and played with.
Because of their sociable natures, they typically get along well with other pets too. Not just cats, even dogs! But of course, that relies on the pet parents helping by properly introducing your kitten and cat or nailing the puppy and cat introduction process.
They’re also energetic and inquisitive. Again, they’re basically miniature leopards. You’ll often find them exploring the garden, climbing your curtains (eeeek), or chasing a toy. Giving them plenty of playtime and making sure they have enough stimulation keeps them happy and content.
Bengal cat health
Bengals have an average lifespan of 9-15 years, so they’re relatively healthy cats. However, like many purebred cats, Bengals are predisposed to some specific health problems.
Some conditions Bengal cats can be prone to are:
- Metabolic disorders. Erythrocyte pyruvate kinase deficiency (PK deficiency) is an inherited metabolic disorder. PK deficiency can have several symptoms including anaemia, shortness of breath and fatigue.
- Heart conditions. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a thickening of the heart muscle which makes it harder to pump blood around the body.
- Vision loss. Bengal progressive retinal atrophy (PRA-b) is a genetic disease that causes degeneration of the retina. This leads to vision loss and blindness.
Pet insurance for Bengals and bitzers
Our online cat insurance is affordable and easy to use, with three plans to choose from in covering a myriad of medical bills.
Whether you’re adding a posh Bengal cat to your life or prefer an average housecat, pet insurance gives you peace of mind. With a policy in your back pocket, your cat can see the vet when they need to without you having to cough up all the costs yourself.