Silver Bengal cats are a type of Bengal cat with silver markings. These markings were introduced into some lines of the Bengal through interbreeding with American Shorthairs. They act much like Bengal cats, but they have silver tabby markings. Because of their unique coat, these cats are rare and extremely expensive.
Much of their history is shared with the Bengal cat, which is a relatively newer breed.
The Earliest Records of the Bengal Cat in History
A Bengal is a mix between a domestic cat and an Asian Leopard cat. Silver Bengals occur when just the right American Shorthair is bred with a Bengal. However, even then, these cats do not always occur with the proper pairing. It is all a matter of what traits the kittens inherit, which is all a game of chance.
Silvers are created by an inhibitor gene known as “I”. This is a dominant gene that inhibits (but does not fully eliminate) warm pigment or yellow pigment in the cat’s hair while leaving black pigment. One copy of the gene can cause the loss of pigment, but a cat with two copies of the mutation will have less yellow/red pigment and less color overall.
The Bengal was first mentioned in 1889. However, we do not know how long they existed before that. There is some possibility that Asian Leopard Cats and Domestic cats were bred together throughout history as soon as domestic felines were common enough. Just like random crossing between wolves and domestic dogs occurs, wild cats and domestic cats may occasionally breed as well.
However, there was not much purposeful breeding during the early years. In fact, all early accounts stopped after only a generation or two. It seems that the Bengal breed did not catch on until much later.
How the Silver Bengal Gained Popularity
Jean Mill was the first known American to deliberately cross an Asian leopard cat with a domestic cat. However, this feline was a black tomcat, so that first crossing would not have produced a Silver Bengal. She bred cats together off and on for a number of years. However, the breed did not begin gaining in popularity until much later.
In 1970, Jean Mill began another attempt at creating the Bengal cat. She received a group of Bengal cats that had been used in genetic testing studies. She used these cats as the basis for her population. However, at this time, other breeders began creating these mixed cats as well.
Formal Recognition of the Silver Bengal
The Silver Bengal is not recognized as its own breed of cat. Instead, it is mixed in with all other Bengal cats.
Bengals were accepted by The International Cat Association in 1986. However, they did not gain championship status until 1991. In 1997, they were accepted by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy.
Many other cat clubs followed these first two. Today, most associations have this breed on their registry. However, some have very strict guidelines regarding what cats can be registered. Usually, they have to be later-generation felines, as “early generation” cats are typically prone to infertility.
Top 4 Unique Facts About the Silver Bengal
1. Silver Bengal cats don’t meow. Instead, they have a raspy voice that sounds closer to a bark. It isn’t exactly a roar either, which is what many people expect from a cat with wild ancestry!
2. Bengals are extremely agile. They are known for turning light switches on and off and turning on faucets. Therefore, they have to be watched a bit closer than your average cat.
3. They are extremely expensive. A Silver Bengal can easily cost $10,000. Regular Bengals are plenty expensive, but Silver Bengals are typically even more so.
4. The breed was started many times. Over the years, many people attempted to start this breed. However, it only recently took off. Therefore, there are many older Bengal cats that the modern breed is no longer related to.
Does a Silver Bengal Make a Good Pet?
Many people covet Silver Bengals due to their wild and unforgettable look. However, these cats are not necessarily the easiest to own. They are extremely intelligent, which means that they require more stimulation and tend to cause more trouble. They are known for figuring out do and other household gadgets. Therefore, they usually need to be supervised a bit more closely. Many people describe them as athletic 3-year-olds!
They are also extremely energetic. Therefore, you have to purchase many climbing structures to keep them happy. Without the proper care, they can be a bit more destructive. They will climb just about anything, including your curtains. For this reason, they are often considered high maintenance.
Silver Bengals are a subset of the Bengal cat, which is a modern crossbreed between an Asian leopard cat and a domestic feline. Typically, the domestic cat is a male, since many male Bengals are infertile. These cats are extremely expensive due to their rarity. Because a wild cat is used to create the breed, it usually costs breeders quite a bit to produce kittens, which contributes to the high price.
Silver Bengals are even more expensive. Therefore, they cost quite a bit more money.
Featured Image Credit: Velari Pavljuk, Shutterstock