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The Bengal Kitten
Bengal Kittens represent a domestic breed, although their appearance can make anyone baffled as they portray a striking resemblance to wild cats such as ocelots and leopards. These cats are unique because they derive from the first cats, which were the result of crossbreeding selected domestic cats with Asian leopard cat hybrids. This complex crossing was done in the following direction: domestic cats were crossed with the aforementioned hybrid and then backcrossed twice. The aim was to get a truly domestic cat with a vivid wild coat. The name of the breed, Bengal, derives from the Latin name of the Asian leopard cat, P. b. bengalensis. The Asian leopard cat gave the breed its characteristic wild appearance with rosettes and large spots, alongside light-colored bellies and a body build resembling that of a wild feline. It took four generations after the initial crossing to produce a gentle temperament.
In 1889, the Asian leopard cat crossed with a domestic species was
depicted for the first time when Harrison Weir described the process and its offspring in his book, “Our Cats and All About Them.” In
1927, Mr. Boden-Kloss wrote to “Cat Gossip” magazine a message in which he spoke of hybrids between domestic and wild cats of Malaya: “I have never heard of hybrids between Bengalensis 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.”
None of today’s Bengal cat lines originate from his cats
The earliest confirmed mentioning of the cross between a leopard and a domestic cat dates back to 1934, when a note in a Belgian scientific journal was written. In 1941, in Japan, a publication on cats stated that one crossed offspring was kept as a pet. In 1946, Jean Mill submitted a term paper on the subject of crossbreeding cats for her genetics class at UC Davis. She had a great influence on the development of the Bengal breed, as we know it today.
In the 1970’s, Dr. William Centerwall bred domestic cats with Asian leopard cats within his studies in genetics. The leopard cat’s immunity to feline leukemia intrigued Jean Mill. At the same time, Bill Engler strived to save exotic cat’s genes by trying to cross them with house cats. None of today’s Bengal cat lines originate from his cats. Nevertheless, he is the person we owe it to for naming the breed “Bengal.” This name was accepted and proclaimed as official by the ACFA. After the new breed was accepted by TICA in 1983, Jean Mill considered the breed as truly domestic cats rather than hybrids. Elizabeth and Greg Kent developed their own Bengal line, crossing the Egyptian Mau with the leopard cat. This line was successful and part of all Bengals derive namely from these hybrid cats.
Temperament and Personality of Bengal Kittens
As we already know, the Bengal cat has a wild ancestor. This means
that no matter how many times the breed is crossed, its wild traits can’t be eradicated completely. Behavioral traits and aggression may be suppressed, but other traits will remain intact. What in particular can be said about the Bengals? People like their natural wild coloring and get baffled over their intelligence and affection.
Remnants of their previous wild temper remain intact. They have a constant desire to climb a wardrobe or a tree, and a big interest in water. If you have a pool in the backyard, your cat may sometimes practice dipping in order to freshen itself up. But what about the Bengal’s particularities? They tend to:
If you find your kitten hanging off the chandelier, don’t be surprised.
Be overwhelmingly active, which is the repercussion of their partially wild origin.
Be very alert. They do not allow a single noise to go unchecked.
Be playing a game of fetch and show extraordinary skill at learning commands and tricks.
Have unconventional habits such as turning switches on and off, throwing books down from the shelves, or putting their paws in a printer to try to pick out the paper.
Be fond of playing in water. They like bathing on their own, jumping into the tub, or even taking a shower with you.
Climb the highest points available in the home. If you find your kitten hanging off the chandelier, don’t be surprised.
Share the owner’s bed and steal the cover.
Investigate and meet your guests in person.
There are two traits of character that Bengals may surprise you with. The first one is that they deem only one person to be the boss and others are just friends. Unlike other cats that allow only one family member to be the boss, the Bengals are more loyal than other cats are. The Bengals are very talkative, which may be a problem. They have an array of sounds, with many of them reminiscent of wild jungle roars. Sometimes your kitten will announce its presence with a chirp, then meow loudly in a different way to ask for food or play.
Where to Buy
Buying a kitten at a pet store is not an option. Stores selling dozens of animals a day cannot afford great conditions that reputable breeders do. This is why you should seek out a kitten from a breeder.
Breeders spend hundreds of dollars on veterinary assistance, vaccines, food, and socializing
Why is a cat breeder the best choice?
They breed one or two breeds only, thus ensuring the genetic quality of each kitten born.
They keep cats and kittens in far better conditions than pet stores can ever provide.
Every kitten sold (especially expensive Bengals) has its health and vaccination history and a health certificate issued by a veterinarian after going through several tests.
Each kitten is already socialized and will fit easily into a new environment with other humans and animals.
Breeders spend hundreds of dollars on veterinary assistance, vaccines, food, and socializing. This is why they are interested not in making profit but in knowing that they are selling their kittens to the right person. They may require a proof of solvency – photos of the home to make sure you can provide the kitten with necessary conditions.
When searching for a breeder, visit the following sites:
TICA.org/find-a-breeder – official site of The International Cat Association
ACFAcat.com – The American Cat Fanciers Association
BengalClassifieds.com – a list of clubs and associations available
BengalCatWorld.com – another comprising net source
BengalBreed.com – everything about Bengals, including a list of breeders in your state
If you have made the decision to visit a breeder for a kitten, read the following guidelines on picking one:
Cats and kittens must be kept in great conditions. The conditions should be clean and spacey with an abundance of water, food, and toys. There should be a proper schedule that includes training, litter box acquaintance, and socializing. Don’t be afraid to ask the breeder about everything!
Ask the breeder about the kittens. Reputable cat breeders track the history of every cat from its very birth and will have the following information available: its size at birth, its coloring, its behavior, a vaccination list, his feeding preferences, and a health certificate.
You may visit the cattery as many times as you want. When visiting the cattery for the first time, take a close look at the particular kitten you want and track his behavior for some time. Visit the kitten several times in order to bond with him, and pick him up so that he gets used to you. Don’t be noisy or make any sharp movements – be gentle and try to tickle the kitten’s fancy.
Pay attention to the kitten’s behavior and condition. A cat may be scared to get out of its corner and evade contacting you, but that doesn’t mean it’s defective. It may just take you more time to get acquainted with the kitten and present yourself in a more favorable way.
When deciding to purchase a kitten, the breeder must present you with a health certificate which will stand as an insurance of your kitten’s good health.
Colors and Patterns of Bengal Kittens
The color intensity within the Bengals follows the same wild cat trend, which means that the variance may be of high degree but all the shades fit the same pattern. Thus, the ground color can be anywhere from grey to sand, but the spotting, resetting, and marbling will not range dramatically.
Combine them with different rosettes and you get a unique kitten as the result.
Two-toned markings – rosettes. They may be arrows, pawprints, donuts, or donuts with chaining and cloud.
Marble patterns that look like veins of different rocks kept in a marble block. There are four patterns: closed pattern, chaos pattern, reduced horizontal flowing, and horizontal flowing marble.
Glitter, which can be best described as a translucent hair shaft. This is an inherited trait from a recessive gene that may be seen in the gold, snow, and silver Bengals only.
Patina – any color and pattern that has dark tipped hairs that dominates the pattern, thus making it look “blurry,” as if the patina washed over the shoulders and the back.
Ticking is the same as patina, but ticking blurs markings all over the coat. Ticking shows slight contrast between the base ground color and the markings.
There are also beige, gold, sorrel, tawny, charcoal, snow, silver, solid black, and blue colors. Combine them with different rosettes/marble markings, add some patina, and you get a unique kitten as the result.
Care Tips and Recommendations
Arriving home: When arriving home, put your kitten in a room where he will feel safe. It may be any room other than the bathroom or kitchen, as these are the most visited rooms in the house. A bedroom is always the best choice. Prepare a sleeping place, a crate, a litter box, and two bowls for water and food. When the kitten is ready to go out and explore the rest of the house, you will hear it meowing.
Water and food: Before bringing a kitten home, you should
visityour local pet store and purchase kitten food. Ask the staff about what food is the best for your particular breed and get some dry and wet chow. It is also possible to give your kitten some boiled beef/chicken/turkey cut into small cubes, but the eating habit starts with special kitten food from well-known brands like Purina. Feed your kitten three times a day, giving him small portions of food. All kittens are active and show a tremendous appetite, but you should not overfeed them. Stick to a feeding schedule at all times. As for water, put a bowl out and change it every time the bowl gets half-empty. It is best for the bowl to be made of stainless steel, as plastic tends to harbor bacteria (read more about healthy kitten food).
Litter: Kittens prefer digging, so any filler will be just fine. However, scooping it away may be not a simple thing to do. This is why clumping clay litter is the best option. Cats do not like using dirty litter boxes, so you should clean it every time your kitten relieves himself in it. Every two weeks, you should clean the box with bleach mixed with 10 parts water. If your kitten likes the current litter brand, there is no necessity in changing it.
Trimming claws: Trimming your cat’s claws is not a necessary thing, providing you have a scratching post.
Brushing and grooming depends on the breed of your kitten
Vaccinating: Before bringing a kitten home, make sure you have it dully vaccinated against Rhino, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia (FVRCP vaccination). A rabies vaccination may not be needed if your cat stays indoors at all times.
Safety precautions: Do not allow your kitten to go outdoors, as it may be stolen, hit by a car, pick up diseases from other animals, or even become the prey of a wild coyote. Also, many house plants are poisonous, so don’t allow your kitten to chew them. Keep them out
of your kittens’ reach. Chewing plants is a way for cats to clean their stomachs which is why they normally chew them. Get some cat grass, put in in a dish with soil, and let your cat chew on it whenever he wants.
Brushing and grooming: Brushing and grooming depends on the breed of your kitten. If it has smooth coat and doesn’t shed much, there is no necessity in grooming at all other than brushing once a week. However, if you keep a Ragdoll or Scottish Fold, it may require you to groom systematically, from twice a week to daily. Ragdolls, for instance, have a long coat that must be trimmed to prevent them from getting furballs.
Bathing: Bathing is completely optional. House cats don’t have to be bathed, as they lick their coat. However, you can bathe them to wash away excessive hair when they’re shedding. If you have a Bengal, it will happily splash water and dip in the tub without being forced.
As a short conclusion to this big article, we would like to say that every cat is a unique soul with its own peculiarities. You may expect certain behaviors, common and exemplary, from a certain breed, but get the opposite. Kittens grow into different adult cats that, nonetheless, can easily baffle their owners and puzzle guests as well as other animals at home. Provide your kitten with proper environment, food, and opportunities for development, and maybe one day you will hear your cat say “Thank you.” Maybe even literally.
Learn about other kitten breeds reading the following articles: