Bengal Cat

Bengal Cat Breeders Seattle

The Bengal breed originated as a hybrid of a domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus) and a leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis). The leopard cat looks very much like a domestic cat, except for the larger, snapping eyes, pronounced whisker pads, longer legs, and brilliant leopard-style markings. It looks, in fact, like a miniature leopard.

The Bengal breed began when a female leopard cat was purchased from a pet store. Unlike today, at the time leopard cats could be purchased at pet stores in the United States. This is no longer the case due these cat’s special needs and state requirements. The intent of purchasing the leopard cat was not to create a new breed of cat, the individual, Jean Mill, simply wanted a unique pet.

After several years, Mill thought her little leopard cat looked lonely, so she obtained male domestic cat to keep her company. While completely unintended and to her surprise, in 1965, her leopard cat produced a litter. Only one kitten survived, a female hybrid named Kin-Kin. Mill contacted Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca, New York, for advice on how to handle the hybrid, and was told that Kin-Kin was probably sterile. That proved to be not the case, since Kin-Kin grew up, mixed with her domestic father, and produced two kittens. One of the kittens inherited the sweet domestic disposition of his father.

After some consideration, Mill decided that creating a crossbred breed would benefit the plight of the leopard cats, while providing the American market with an acceptable and domesticated spotted substitute. And she set about trying to do just that. Later, it was learned that only after the cats were four generations away from the leopard cat that the Bengal’s temperament became more predictably domestic.

Still, many obstacles had to be overcome along the way. The first hybrid kittens (first generation cats are called F1s) often grew up to be nervous, shy cats similar to their wild relatives. Only after the cats were several generations away from the leopard cat that the temperament became sweet and predictable. Another factor that slowed the breed’s progress was that for several generations the breed could only develop via the female kittens born, since the male kittens are sterile, as is true of many hybrids. Second generation males (F2s) are sterile as well, and only about 50% of the third generation males (F3s) are fertile.

In 1985, she had sufficient generations who have become today’s Bengal. Current standards require that Bengals must be at least four generations (F4 or more) to ensure a mild, docile temperament and a happy, healthy pet cat. All associations other than the CFA have fully accepted the Bengal. Bengals have proven to their satisfaction that the they are fully domestic in temperament and no danger to anyone in the household. Today, the exotic look and lively personality have won the Bengal an enthusiastic following.

Physical Attributes


Torso long and substantial, not oriental or foreign. Medium to large, but not quite as large as the largest domestic breed. Boning is sturdy and firm; never delicate. Very muscular, especially in the males; one of the most distinguishing features.


Broad modified wedge with rounded contours. Longer than it is wide. Slightly small in proportion to body, but not to be taken to extreme. Skull behind the ears makes a gentle curve and flows into neck. Overall look of head is often distinct from the domestic cat. Strong chin, aligns with tip of nose in profile. Muzzle full and broad, with large, prominent whisker pads and high, pronounced cheekbones. Slight muzzle break at the whisker pads. Nose large and wide; slightly puffed nose leather.


Medium to small, relatively short, with wide base and rounded tops. Set as much on side as top of head, following the contour of the face in the frontal view, and pointing forward in the profile view. Light horizontal furnishings are sometimes seen.


Oval, almost round. Large, but not bugged. Set wide apart, back into face, and on slight bias toward base of ear. Eye color independent of coat color except in the lynx points. The more richness and depth of color the better.


Legs medium length, slightly longer in the back than in the front. Feet large, round, with prominent knuckles.


Medium length, thick, tapered at end with rounded tip.


Length short to medium. Texture dense and luxurious, close-lying, unusually soft and silky to the touch. Patterns spotted or marbled. Spots are usually random, or aligned horizontally. Rosettes showing two distinct colors or shades. Contrast with ground color is often extreme, giving distinct pattern and sharp edges. Belly is often spotted.


Brown tabby, seal sepia tabby, seal mink tabby, seal lynx point, black silver tabby, seal silver sepia tabby, seal silver mink tabby, seal silver lynx point. Spotted or marbled patterns.