The earliest mention of an ALC/domestic cross was in 1889, when Harrison Weir
wrote in Our Cats and All About Them.
However in 1927, Mr Boden-Kloss wrote to the magazine Cat Gossip regarding
hybrids between wild and domestic cats in Malaya:
I have never heard of hybrids between bengalensis (the Leopard Cat) and domestic
cats. One of the wild tribes of the Malay Peninsula has domesticated cats, and I
have seen the woman suckling bengalensis kittens, but I do not know whether the
latter survive and breed with the others!
The earliest mention of a confirmed ALC/domestic cross was in 1934 in a Belgian
scientific journal, and in 1941, a Japanese cat publication printed an article
about one that was kept as a pet. Jean Mill (née Sugden), the person who was
later a great influence of the development of the modern Bengal breed, submitted
a term paper for her genetics class at UC Davis on the subject of crossbreeding
cats in 1946.
Bengal cats have "wild-looking" markings, such as large spots, rosettes, and a
light/white belly, and a body structure reminiscent of the leopard cat. A
Bengal's rosetted spots occur only on the back and sides, with stripes elsewhere.
The breed typically also features "mascara" (horizontal striping alongside the
eyes), and foreleg striping.
The Bengal cat is usually either classed as brown-spotted or snow-spotted (although
there are more colours, brown and snow are the only colours of Bengal that the
Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (UK) recognize). Within brown Bengals, there
are either marble or spotted markings. Included in the spotted variation is
rosetted, which consists of a spot with a dark line surrounding it. Snow Bengals
are also either marble or spotted, but are also divided into blue-eyed or Any
Other Colour eyes.
The International Cat Association recognizes several Bengal colours (brown, seal
lynx point, mink, sepia, silver) and patterns (spotted and marbled) for
competition. In the New Traits class, other colours may be shown, as well as
Temperament and health
Temperament and health:
After three generations from the original crossing, the breed usually acquires a
gentle domestic cat temperament; however, for the typical pet owner, a Bengal
cat kept as a pet should be at least four generations (F4) removed from the
leopard cat. The so-called "foundation cats" from the first three filial
generations of breeding (F1–F3) are usually reserved for breeding purposes or
the specialty pet home environment.
Since the late 1960s—when the Bengal cat was developed through hybridization of
Asian Leopard cats and domestic cats—it has gained huge popularity. However, in
recent years, a novel early-onset autosomal recessive disorder was described in
this breed. This disease appears to be an early-onset primary photoreceptor
disorder, leading to blindness within the first year of age.
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