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HomeWhat Is a Bengal?

The Marvelous Bengal Cat


A touch of nature's beauty with the
loving disposition of the domestic cat


The Bengal is a medium-to-large domestic feline that originates from crossings of the small Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) to the domestic cat to create a companion with an "exotic" look but a domestic temperament. After four to five generations of Bengal-to-Bengal breeding, the breed is recognized for championship competition by most international domestic cat associations, including TICA, ACFA, GCCF, CFA, and FIFe.

The Bengal's beautiful coat makes it stand out in a crowd. Background coat colors range from white (snows and silvers) to cool pewter (charcoals and silvers) to warm (the mahogany and buff of the traditional brown cats). Markings are most striking when jet black, but colors like the snows and other varieties are also attractive with their more muted markings. Especially prized are those specimens that include traits such as white expression (white underside and facial accents, reminiscent of their ALC heritage), spotted legs and tails, ocelli (the light thumbprints on the backs of their ears), very large nocturnal eyes, and small, rounded ears. 

There are two main Bengal patterns. One is a spotted pattern which has been modified in this breed to exhibit two tones and dark outlines and shading, especially among the larger spots, called rosettes. The other pattern is called marble and is a modified version of the classic tabby. Instead of the stripes and bullseye which characterize classic patterns, the marble is more colorful, with a dramatic horizontal alignment and stained glass effect to the markings. Since the original purpose for breeding Bengal cats was to try to replicate the look of the exotic spotted ALC, the dominant spotted pattern is most common.


A third “pattern,” which is more accurately characterized as a pattern/color modifier, is charcoal. Charcoals are unique to the Bengal breed as they combine one ALC agouti gene with one non-agouti (solid) gene. The effect on pattern is an overall increase in melanin, including a dark cape extending from the top of the head down the dorsal side to the tail. On the face, charcoals should have a dark mask which includes the entire nose bridge and cheeks, as well as bright white encircling the eyes, giving the look of “goggles.”


The Bengal Cat has a happy, active, interactive, and extremely intelligent personality. Every domestic cat breed has its unique features, and the exotic heritage of the Bengal cat can be seen in their everyday activities. While Bengals will happily search out a lap or stretch out on the sofa next to you during naptime, they are very active during the rest of the day and benefit from interactive feeders, expansive cat trees, cat wheels, and dedicated playtime with their owners.

The energetic Bengal is not for people who just want a leopard-print cat for decoration. Whether they are fishing in the aquarium or playing in their water bowls, fetching balls for their families, taking walks on a leash, or climbing to the top of the highest cupboards, Bengals are constantly on the move and are perfect for anyone who wants to interact and play with their cat daily. The Bengal cat, like many other pets, demands a good deal of attention and affection and enjoys being an integral part of the family.

TIBCS is an all-volunteer society of Bengal enthusiasts. We are proud to bring this exotic feline, its enthusiasts, and its breeders to the web. We hope you will share our excitement over this newer, amazing breed.