The Bengal Cat – always under construction
The bengal cat as we know it was developed originally by Jean Sugden Mill by breeding Indonesian Asian Leopard Cats with domestic Abbysinians. The ALC’s were being used by geneticists at U.C. Davis who were studying leukemia. ALC’s do not develop leukemia, and the question was if they would be able to pass that protection from disease on to hybrid progeny and to learn how they had developed this immunity. Jean, who had friends in the program managed to obtain several ALC cats from the program and began her own breeding program in the hopes of taking the wild beauty of the ALC and combining it with the loving temperament of the domestic housecat so everyone could have a tiny leopard living with them in their home. During the next tweny years, overcoming many hurdles, Jean developed what she called the Bengal Cat (from the scientific name of the ALC which is Felis Bengalisis). Many domestics were brought into the program including Abbysinians, Siamese, Burmese, Maine Coons, American Short Hairs, and a very special cat from the streets of New Delhi, India whose name was Tory. It was Tory who brought the wonderful glitter gene to the bengal breed.
Bengals have incredible coloration ranging from warm red golds to sharply contrasted golds and blacks and to beautiful silvers and ivory snows. They can be spotted, rosetted, marbled or sparbled (a combination of spots and marbling). Bengals have incredible pelts which are very different from other cats. Their coats feel like shaved beaver fur or rabbit and once you begin to pet one, you simply don’t want to stop. The texture of their coat is a very special part of being a bengal cat. In addition, because the texture and structure of the coat is different from domestic cats, Bengal’s don’t usually shed as much as other breeds of cats. They will ‘blow’ out their coats twice a year as the seasons change, but we have known alot of people who are normally allergic to cats who seem to do fine with purebred bengals. It may be that the genetic inheritance of the Asian Leopard Cat somehow changes the components in their saliva as well as the hair of their pelted coat. Either way, people who are normally allergic to cats seem to do well with bengals. Actually I am allergic to long haired cats – but I have never had a reaction to our bengals.