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The Bengal is a relatively new hybrid breed of cat developed to have a gentle and friendly temperament, while exhibiting the markings (such as large spots, rosettes, and a light/white belly), and body structure reminiscent of the wild Asian Leopard Cat (Prionailurus
bengalensis). In other words, a Bengal cat has a desirable "wild" appearance with a gentle domestic cat temperament, provided it is separated by at least 3 generations from the original crossing between a domestic and Asian Leopard
The Bengal Breed was created by geneticist Jean S. Mill who wanted to produce a "tame toy leopard". She started by hybridizing Asian Leopard cats from as early as 1963 but, modern Bengal cat originated from Jean’s breeding programme of 1975. The first Bengal Cat was registered with The International Cat Association (TICA) in 1983. The Bengal has been welcomed as a pedigreed breed by several cat associations — most notably TICA, Fédération Internationale Féline and the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy — but has been refused acceptance by the more traditional Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) of the USA, the world's largest registry of pedigreed cats. The CFA is reluctant to accept wild/domestic hybrids, as stated in its position on its website.  American registries which accepts the Bengal includes the American Cat Fanciers Association (ACFA) and the American Association of Cat Enthusiasts (AACE).
The Bengal is a large breed - weighing
between 7 to 20 pounds (lb) (3.2 kg to 9.1 kg). Male cats are generally
larger than females.
Bengals can have either spotted or marbled coat patterns. Spots with at least two colors present (rosettes) are particularly desirable. The following colors and patterns are recognized and eligible for competition: Brown Spotted Tabby, Brown Marbled Tabby, Seal Sepia Spotted Tabby, Seal Sepia Marbled Tabby, Seal Mink Spotted Tabby, Seal Mink Marbled Tabby, Seal Spotted Lynx Point and Seal Marbled Lynx Point. Silver was also recently accepted as a color variation eligible for championship status. Blue and Melanistic (black) are additional colors that occur, but are not yet recognized by most associations that accept the Bengal breed.
Bengal cats are the only breed of cat which displays the gold or pearl dusting effect usually called glitter. Its pelt has a rich smooth satin or silk feel. Even the voice of the Bengal is different from that of other domestic cats. Males and females are extremely vocal. Life expectancy is 12-16 years.
Bengal cats are a hybrid breed developed over several generations through a program of selectively crossbreeding domestic cats, possessing desired features, with Asian Leopard Cats and ALC hybrids. In the first three generations, males are almost always infertile (by Haldane's rule), though there have been the occasional, but rare F3 studs capable of reproduction. Early generation females are typically fertile, and responsible for continuing the genetic contributions of the ALC to the next generation.
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