8 Striking Bengal Cats and Kittens

bengal cat
bobbyhiltz/Flickr
  • 01 of 08

    All About Bengal Cats

    bengal cat
    @leo_da_bengal/Instagram

    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...MORE 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. 

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  • 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...MORE 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. 

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  • 03 of 08

    They're Known for Their Distinct Appearance

    bengal cat
    @bengal_archie/Instagram

    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...MORE Bengals are black and brown, but their coats can have a variety of colors, including silver, charcoal, and even blue.   

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  • 04 of 08

    Bengal Cats Are Very Active

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    @joelkato/Instagram

    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!

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  • 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!

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  • 06 of 08

    Bengal Cats Have a Predatory Instinct

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    @anntherrien/Instagram

    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. 

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  • 07 of 08

    Bengal Cats Can Be Extremely Expensive

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    @medicatedhippie/Instagram

    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...MORE than a down payment on a house!

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  • 08 of 08

    Bengals Create a Spin-Off Breed Called the Cheetoh

    bengal cat
    @cheetohdex/Instagram

    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.