Bengal Cat History
The Asian Leopard cat, the ancestor of the Bengal cats, is known by more than one name because it is seen in many different parts of the world. Some of those; Javan Cat, Wagati Cat, and Chinese Cat. Since the spots on it are likened to a coin, it is also referred to as “money cat” instead of the Chinese Cat.
I thought you might find interesting what I found as the first articles mentioning the Bengal cat in history.
The earliest evidence of crossbreeding of a domestic breed with the Asian Leopard cat was mentioned in 1889 by British artist and journalist Harrison Weir in his book Our Cats and All About Them.
The Asian Leopard cat and domestic cat hybrid were mentioned in a Belgian scientific journal in 1934.
In 1941, a wild cat hybrid was mentioned in a Japanese cat magazine.
Early production processes were stopped after the first generation.
In the 1960s, Jean Mill thought that if he could create a breed similar to these cats, the fur trade could decline and survive extinction.
In this way, which started with the aim of producing a domestic cat with wild cat fur patterns, Mill has been accepted as the breeder of Bengal cats in the modern period. In California, he bought a female leopard cat that was legally sold at the pet shop at the time, and a few years later, he thought his cat was very lonely and bought a domestic male cat with him.
The first hybrid offspring was a female named Kin-Kin. In 1946, he started researching and started writing articles on hybrid species. In 1963, Mill, a psychologist, and geneticist attempted the first deliberate crossbreeding of the Leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) from South Asia with a black domestic male cat.
However, the process of producing a serious Bengal cat did not begin for a long time.
In 1970, Mill continued his experiments, and in 1975 bought female hybrid cats from scientist William Centerwall. Centerwall has mated leopard cats with domestic cats, studying their immune systems and susceptibility to feline leukemia. He thought that this study would shed light on diseases related to the immune system in humans.
Another person who contributed the most to the Bengal cat breed was William Engler. He started breeding from these hybrids in the 1970s and 1975 acquired more than sixty Bengal cats and enabled them to breed for more than two generations.
However, none of today’s Bengal cats have their roots in the Engler-bred cats. What he did for this breed is still considered very precious. He also made history as the person who presented the name “Bengal” for cat registries.
Breeds such as the Abyssinian (Abyssinian Cat), Egyptian Mau, and American Shorthair were included in the gene pool to make Bengal cats their current state.
For the Bengal cat to be considered as a domestic cat, at least four generations (F4) had to pass over the Asian Leopard cat.
It was accepted by The International Cat Association (TICA) in 1983 and won its first championship in 1991. More than 60,000 Bengal cats are currently registered.
In 1997, it was accepted as a breed by The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF).
They were recognized by the Federation Internationale Feline (FIFe) and The Australian Cat Federation (ACF) in 1999.
The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) was the latest to accept the breed on February 7, 2016. It took six generations (F6) to accept Bengal cats.
Since 1980, the characteristics of the Bengal race have been established. In 1992, The International Cat Association registered 125 Bengal breeders. The Bengals became a very popular breed in the 2000s, and as of 2019, it is known that there are more than 1000 Bengal breeds worldwide.
Cashmere Bengals have not yet made a place in the cat breed registry, but in 2013, they were pre-selected by the New Zealand Cat Fancy (NZCF).