Bengal cats are a beautiful hybrid mix of Asian Leopard Cats and various domestic cat breeds. Identifying your Bengal cat can be a challenge due to this generality. Still, the wild Asian Leopard Cat’s consistency in their bloodline gives them plenty of typical characteristics that you can use.
The Bengal cat breed is one of the most popular throughout the world and is adored by cat enthusiasts.
What Are Bengal Cats?
What makes a Bengal cat so special if they are just another cat breed?
They stand out from most other cats because of their physical characteristics and their personality. They are beautiful with their spotted, leopard-like coats, alert and thin faces, and erect kitty ears.
Unlike other cats’ relatively unfriendly and inactive personalities, Bengals are highly active and love to play. They want attention from you and typically enjoy being around their owners as much as possible.
Beyond their great personalities, they are also one of the few hypoallergenic breeds and won’t cause allergic reactions among most people. They do not shed much and produce little dandruff, so they only require minimal amounts of grooming.
All of this comes from their parents. Typically, the Egyptian Mau is used in the cross, although not always. The other half of them is entirely wild, giving the cat an interesting instinctual flair. This hybrid mix is newer and was done to obtain a cat with the beauty of the feral Asian Leopard Cat and a domestic breed’s easier temperament.
Them having spots isn’t enough to know if your cat has a bit of the wild in their nature, though. If you want to understand the origin behind your cat’s genetics, you can examine them physically and watch their personalities to know for sure.
1. Examine their coat
The reason that a Bengal cat is considered a highly hypoallergenic breed comes down to their coat. They have a pelt instead of fur across their bodies.
The difference is quite significant because it means that they have a thin coat, and the pelt can even be considered part of the animal’s skin instead of a fur that covers the skin.
Their typical appearance should be overall striking. Bengals should always have some sort of spotting across their main body and up their neck. Often, their legs will have strips of darker fur instead of spots, but not always. The patterns for their coats can include:
All of these look similar to spotting, but the primary difference is the shape and layout of the spots. For example, the most desirable coat in a Bengal is a Rosette pattern. The rosettes are still spots all over their body, but each spot contains two different colors.
What’s more, beyond their coat pattern, particular Bengal cats can inherit a glittery gene. Their coat takes on a special kind of sheen that is more obvious in photographs. As they move through different lighting, their coats catch it and glitter. They seem to have a spotlight on them.
2. Check their coloring
Now you need to take stock of their coloring. There is a small variation in the color types that Bengal cats can have, the most common being the brown and tan variety. They will be primarily covered in a tan and gold color, and their spots and stripes will take on deeper shades of brown.
The other colors that are currently recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA) include:
Although these are not common, they are highly sought after and will be much more expensive in typical markets.
The Snow Bengal is the rarest of the cats, and their base color tends to be a stark white with spots on their bodies that can range in color from light brown to chocolate. They often have incredible eyes that are a stunning blue or green.
The Silver Bengal has a gene that completely inhibits them from having dark colors appearing as a base color. That means that their base color can range from white to a steel shade. Since their markings are always dark, the contrast is dramatic and beautiful.
Several colors have not been recognized by any cat associations yet. These include:
These are typically quite rare and are not recognized officially as part of the Bengal breed.
3. Look at their build
A Bengal cat isn’t going to eventually turn into a large, overly fluffy cat hauling their weight around. They are known for their lean and athletic build, looking more like the cat world’s sleek sports car.
Bengals are smaller cats that sometimes seem larger because their weight of 8-15 pounds goes into their length and height more than chunkiness. They have a strong body and a somewhat stocky build.
Combined with their energetic personality, even the way they carry themselves sets them apart.
Their overall build also depends on which domestic cat is used for breeding them. If they are bred with the Egyptian Mau, they will be especially lean, with thin bodies and angular faces. Breeding them with a British Shorthair will often produce bigger Bengals, although their energy still keeps them slim.
4. Identify the Bengal’s temperament
The Bengal cat has characteristics typical of their appearance and stand-out personalities. They always have a great deal of energy and need plenty of playtime and attention. Their close ancestors got to wander the forests and hunt for their food. This need for activity carries on to their close progeny.
In other words, don’t get a Bengal cat if you are looking for a cuddly lovebug that will want to sit in the sun for hours or spend their evenings watching TV with you.
They are almost always going to want to be up and active, ready for the next most interesting thing to come their way rather than sleeping through it. When they finally get all their wiggles out, they can be cuddly; you will just have to wait.
Most cats are known for being independent creatures, but Bengal cats are not like most cats.
This breed loves to socialize and is never known as shy — something or someone new means that they get to explore something different. Maybe whatever it is will even want to play with them!
Bengal cats are not only friendly and expressive with other cats and humans. They also tend to get along with dogs. Some owners have found that a Bengal cat will identify more and play with their dogs than other cats that live in the house.
6. Do the dunk test
Most cats hate water, but Bengals love water and enjoy splashing around in it, getting their feet wet, and taking deep pleasure in bath time. Their thin coat makes it easier for them to dry off, and they won’t feel as heavy when they get soaked.
Some Bengals can even figure out how to turn on the bathroom faucet by themselves!
7. Figure out how high can they go (re: jumping and heights)
Bengals are practically spring-loaded and are always on the lookout for their next jump. They are known for being excellent jumpers, getting up to three times their extended height.
They will use just about anything as an excuse to jump. They will jump from one couch to another or up onto the countertop, even if they could have walked over.
Since they love to jump on things and climb, you will notice that Bengals are relatively fearless. Most cats are afraid of heights and freeze once they realize how high they are. A Bengal loves relaxing on high branches or narrow windowsills and has no problem getting down — on their own time, that is.
8. Listen for chatter
Along with your cat’s love for socializing, playtime, and companionship is their tendency to vocalize their emotions.
Listen to your cat and how they use their voices to communicate. A quiet cat is unlikely to be a Bengal cat.
They use a wide range of sounds to communicate. For example, when they meow, it often means that they want attention. Purring means they are relaxed and happy. If they get angry or scared, they often will hiss, and if a situation is dire or they are genuinely annoyed, they will yowl.
9. Consult an expert
If all else fails, you can ask an expert about your cat’s genetics and whether they think that your cat is a Bengal or not.
● Talk to a breeder
Start by talking to a Bengal cat breeder if you have access to one. Perhaps you adopted your cat from a breeder and want to know exactly what domestic animal was used in the hybrid.
Getting a second opinion from another breeder is also extremely helpful in figuring out your cat’s mix. Another breeder won’t need to lie about selling a cat that wasn’t actually a Bengal breed.
Breeders of individual breeds spend a great deal of time with the cats and get to know their characteristics very well. They know just where to look and how to observe the cat to determine their breed.
● Ask your vet
If you want to get testing done to prove the cat’s genetics with more certainty, you can talk to your veterinarian. They might be able to tell you for sure without doing any extra tests, but if you want to know beyond a doubt, they can take blood tests to have a look at your cat’s DNA.
● Reach out to a Bengal breed organization
If you don’t have ready access to a Bengal breeder or want to take your cat in for an extra vet appointment, then consider looking into a Bengal breed organization.
These cats have developed quite a following throughout the world, especially in Europe and North America. There are many groups on Facebook and the general web created for Bengal owners or questions about the breed.
Some of these groups will not answer individual queries, but you might be able to glean additional information to help you finalize the identification of your Bengal.
Featured Image: Alexander_Evgenyevich, Shutterstock
- What Are Bengal Cats?
- 1. Examine their coat
- 2. Check their coloring
- 3. Look at their build
- 4. Identify the Bengal’s temperament
- 5. Figure out if they are social (and like dogs)
- 6. Do the dunk test
- 7. Figure out how high can they go (re: jumping and heights)
- 8. Listen for chatter
- 9. Consult an expert