The domestic Bengal cat is beautifully unique because it is a direct descendent from the Asian Leopard Cat (aka Felis Bengalensis).
Asian Leopard Cat - Feline Bengalensis
The domestic Bengal must be at least four generations or more from the Asian Leopard Cat before it can be registered with any governing body (such as the GCCF or TICA). Earlier generations/hybrids known as F1, F2 & F3 are considered to be experimental and can be somewhat
in nature although nobody can deny they are equally beautiful.
Asian Leopard Cats (ALC) are small wild cats found in southern and eastern Asia. ALC's often get mistaken for being the same size as other large cats such as the snow and clouded leopard but this is not the case. ALC's are not big and range from 6 to 14 lbs. They do appear larger than a domestic cat due to the length of their body.
The Bengal cat is the result of work undertaken by Jean Mill of the USA. In 1963 Jean crossed a black shorthaired domestic cat with a female Asian Leopard Cat. One of the spotted female offspring was then mated back to the father and the resulting litter had spotted kittens. This was the beginning of the Bengal cat; however, due to personal reasons Jean had to suspend the progress of the breed.
Later in 1975, Jean acquired eight female hybrids from a geneticist called Dr. Willard Centerwall, and she began again to further the new breed. Finally in 1984, the domestic Bengal we know today became recognised by the International Cat Association.
The aim of the breed is to reproduce the wild look of the ALC within the loving temperament of the domestic cat. The domestic Bengal cat is Not a wild animal. It is a friendly, loving, cheeky, wild looking domestic pet!
Picured right is Jean Mill of Millwood Bengals. She retired from breeding in 2008.