01 of 08
All About Bengal Cats
It's extremely difficult–if not impossible–to purchase a wild jungle cat, like a cheetah or a ocelot, to keep as a pet. In fact, only five states in the United States don't have any laws regarding the private possession of exotic cats; the rest have full-on bans or require special permits.
So, what's the next best thing? Bengal cats have the look of their wild relatives, but the size and personality of a domestic kitty. Plus, they're cute and, unlike larger, exotic cats, they probably can't cause any super serious injuries to humans. Win-win.
Whether you're already a Bengal cat parent or are considering purchasing one, read on for some fascinating facts (and super cute photos!) of this domesticated, but wild looking kitty.Continue to 2 of 8 below.
02 of 08
Bengal Cats Have an Interesting Origin Story
Given their wild ancestry, Bengal cats haven't been around all that long–and they actually originated in America!
In the 1960s and 70s, a pediatrician named Dr. Willard Centerwall began breeding Asian Leopard Cats with domestic cats to study their genetics. According to his work, they were immune to feline leukemia; he hoped this research could eventually be applied to humans with compromised immune systems.
Centerwall became critically ill and gave his hybrid kitties to a woman named Jean Sudgen Mill. She had experimented with cross-breeding exotic cats and domestic cats in the early 1960s, but took a break from breeding when her husband passed away.
After receiving Centerwall's hybrids, Mill continued to mate the cats and promote the newly developed breed. She originally called the cats the "Leopardette," but their name was changed to Bengal in honor of their scientific name, Prionailurus bengalensis.
After years of work, Mill successfully had the Bengal recognized by The International Cat Association in 1983.Continue to 3 of 8 below.
03 of 08
They're Known for Their Distinct Appearance
Bengals are perhaps best known for their appearance–they look like tiny jungle cats, after all!
Bengals' coats are short, silky, and have an iridescent effect; if the light catches a Bengal cat's coat the right way, it can look glittery.
The most recognizable characteristic however, is likely their striking, distinct markings. Generally, their coats can be spotted (like a cheetah) or "marbled," which (you guessed it) looks like marble, with long, slightly wiggly stripes. Most Bengals are black and brown, but their coats can have a variety of colors, including silver, charcoal, and even blue.Continue to 4 of 8 below.
04 of 08
Bengal Cats Are Very Active
Although most of the wildcat has been bred out of Bengals, owners say their cats are extremely active, vocal, and highly intelligent. If you're looking for a kitty who just wants to curl up and chill in a sunny spot, then a Bengal cat probably isn't for you!Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
Bengals Can Be Large, Too
While a Bengal cat won't weigh as much as, say, a Maine Coon, they can get pretty big, too! A male Bengal cat can weigh between 10 and 15 pounds on average, while females weigh between 8 and 10 pounds.
There are some exceptions: Larger male Bengals may weigh as much as 20 to 22 pounds!Continue to 6 of 8 below.
06 of 08
Bengal Cats Have a Predatory Instinct
Bengal cats have an extremely strong predatory instinct, so it's important to keep bunnies, hamsters, mice, and other small pets away from them.
If you're squirmish–or just don't want to wake up to the occasional dead mouse or bird–a Bengal may not be the right kitty for you.Continue to 7 of 8 below.
07 of 08
Bengal Cats Can Be Extremely Expensive
If you want to purchase a Bengal cat, you better start counting your pennies now–they can cost some serious cash.
If you're looking for a non-show Bengal cat, you'll likely pay a few hundred dollars. But if you're hoping for a show-quality Bengal, the price tag can be in the thousands.
What was, perhaps, the highest price tag for a Bengal–or any domestic cat ever? According to some sources, an unnamed British woman paid a whopping $50,000 for a Bengal cat in 1990. That's more than a down payment on a house!Continue to 8 of 8 below.
08 of 08
Bengals Create a Spin-Off Breed Called the Cheetoh
No, we're not talking about the cheesy, clothes-staining snacks.
Cheetohs, a combination of a Bengal and Ocicat, also originated in the United States in 2001. They were originally bred by a woman named Carol Drymon, who wanted to develop a totally unique pedigree–and she accomplished her goal.
The Cheetoh looks like a tiny cheetah, but has the size, personality and temperament of a domestic cat.