Is the leopard cat really a cat?

The leopard cat conceals in it a part of mystery due to its hybridization. Is he a feline wild or a beast domesticated ? Answers.

Origins of the leopard cat

For the leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) – often referred to as a Bengal cat or simply Bengal – the story begins in United States in 1963. At that time, the young geneticist Jean Sugden Mill dreamed of stroking wild animals by creating a domestic breed that would share certain traits of the leopard. Thus, the ancestor of the Bengal is a small wild feline ofAsia (Felis bengalensis), present from Nepal to Siberia via China. This Asian animal displays splendid fur and cut close to that of a cat. During the first mating, the geneticist obtained a small female named Kin-Kin. Various circumstances caused his offspring to fail and the breeding program ceased.

Birth of the leopard cat

In the seventies, the dream of Jean Sugden Mill joined the work of the Californian researcher William Centerwall on the leukosis feline (cat AIDS). As part of his studies, the doctor had already crossed a domestic cat with a leopard cat in order to verify if the immunity was transmitted genetically (which was not the case). When a vaccine was developed, the scientist abandoned his research and his employer, the University of Davis, agreed to cede eight females hybrids to the young geneticist. The latter proceeded to the mating of cats with individuals servants from different races, mainly Egyptian Maus, Abyssinians and Burmese. Thus was born the Bengal.

Official recognition of the leopard cat

When in 1985, Jean Sugden Mill presented his first specimens in exposure, the success was immediate. In 1986, the International Feline Association (TICA) registered the Bengal in the category “new breeds and colors” then accepted it in championship. However, it was not until 1991 that the breed gained recognition. official across the Atlantic. The very first Bengal cat (a female) was imported into thehexagon in 1989. That same year, the Association Nationale des Cercles Félins de France was the first federation to recognize Bengal in the championship (Brown spotted then Marbled and Snow in 1991). Its breeding began in 1993 on French territory. Today the leopard cat arrives at 3e rank of the breeds most represented in France according to the classification established by the Official Book of Feline Origins (LOOF).

Leopard cat: generations admitted

The little ones from a crossing between an Asian leopard cat and a classic breed still have a very wild behavior. This first generation hybrid is called F1. But to be called “domesticated”, The Bengal must belong to the 4e or the 5e generation. For this, the F1 must mate with a domestic specimen and that its offspring (F2) is also crossed with a domestic cat. The process continues until you get the 4e or 5e generations. From F4 and F5, a leopard cat is considered tamed and can be sold to an individual. LOOF only admits 5-up Bengalse generation and more during contest, exhibitions and presentations.

Description of the Bengal or leopard cat

The breed was developed in such a way that it maintains a resemblance physical strong with the wild ancestor while possessing a character nice and easy going. This very athletic feline sports a long body, powerful musculature and sturdy bones. The Bengal is a pretty feline tall : the male can be 30 cm tall and weigh up to 6 kg while a female weighs around 4 kg. The thick fur is soft and silky to the touch. The patterns sought and accepted are the “spotted”, the rosettes (paw print, arrowhead or ring) and the marbled.

Colors of the leopard cat

Three colors are recognized and admitted in exhibitions:

  • Brown. The most common color, it varies from reddish brown to ivory. The spots oscillate between brown and intense black. The eyes are green in the majority of cases but also exist in brown, copper and gold. The belly White is the most popular;
  • Snow. The light dress may display a cream-white tone. The eyes are blue, green, turquoise or gold;
  • Silver. The dress is characterized by an absence of color. The basic coat is white and the patterns dark gray and black. The eyes are green or golden.

Bengal or leopard cat character

The leopard cat having wild origins, the breeders took care to select the kittens closest to humans. Today the hybridizations are no longer justified because the breed is well established. The Bengal’s character traits inherit from his contrasting ancestry:

  • His side leopard expresses itself through a developed hunting instinct and a pronounced taste for the game. The feline needs activities playful and thrive in an environment where he can climb, jump and play. The energy he expends opens up hisappetite and he will eat more than other races. Unstimulated, a Bengal can be prone to overweight issues. His ancestors bequeathed him an attraction forwater in which it evolves with ease. Good fisherman, he will appreciate the aquatic spaces
  • His side domesticated gives it a gentle temperament and affectionate. Outside of playing moments, he will look for signs of affection and caresses. From his tamed ancestors, the Bengal has inherited a good socialization. If he needs company, this dynamic feline with a strong character will be able to make friends with other animals – cat or dog – provided they have been used to to their presence. Once sensitized to respectful gestures, children will represent perfect play partners for this very active.

Leopard cat well-being

The curiosity Leopard cats can encourage them to explore, search and experiment (garbage cans for example!). Care should be taken not to leave any object in their presence. On the other hand, the Bengal is not a cat of sofa, it will be necessary to devote time to play with it. Finally, access tooutside of the terrace or garden type is strongly recommended to promote well-being. Blossoming, the Bengal will be exciting to watch live!

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