The Bengal Cat - A Brief Introduction

Throughout the ages people have aspired to bring a little of the wild animal kingdom into their homes. The idea of an exciting exotically marked cat is very appealing and to this end many people have kept wild felines as pets with variable degrees of success.

There are of course a number of spotted domestic breeds which already exist, and many non pedigree cats have spotted patterns but the truth is, they just didn’t have the exotic look that people dreamed of .

Then along came Jean Mill in the mid 1970s. She began a breeding programme in the USA which crossed Asian leopard Cats with domestic cats. (She had already enjoyed some initial success in the 1960s with these crosses) At this time research was on-going in the medical world exploring the immunity that Asian Leopard Cats have to feline Leukaemia . It was hope that this immunity could be genetically transferable to the resulting hybrids of Asian Leopard cats mated to domestic cats. Sadly this prove not to be the case, but fortunately for cat lovers throughout the world Jean Mill took these hybrids to form the basis of the Bengal breed which has literally taken the world by storm.

It is very difficult to breed and raise kittens from early generation parents. Males of the first two generations are infertile and females are also very unreliable breeders, and those that do have kittens successfully often have very poor or non-existent parental instincts. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the pioneer breeders in the USA who persevered with their breeding programmes. This unique, intriguing and genuinely exotic and beautiful breed has become one of the most popular breeds of cats throughout the world and are currently the number one breed registered with TICA worldwide.

From the fourth generation away from the original outcrosses (F4) we have cats which are recognised as gorgeous dependable domestic cats with the exotic look and coat patterns derived from their wild ancestors. They are equally at home as family pets as they are on the show bench. The quality of their coats has improved beyond recognition over the years and they are now among the most popular pedigree cats in the UK.

The Bengal Cat Club of Great Britain has played a major role in the promotion, education and acceptance of the breed in the UK and there were even instances of some owners having problems because a few local authorities just didn’t understand what a Bengal was/is! It is not so many years ago that technically a Bengal required a Wild Animal License (Low Generations F1 & F2 still do) When the GCCF (at that point the main registering body in the UK) dragged their heels in awarding Bengals Championship status the BCCGB became the first cat club to disaffiliate from the GCCF and become a TICA chartered club. Allowing us to hold TICA shows, with Bengals achieving titles in the UK for the first time.

And so the story continues. Bengals are now an established breed, with that establishment there are new challenges to meet, and the BCCGB will always be at the forefront of promoting and working with the breed in the UK.

 

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