The Bengal breed originates as
a hybrid resulting from crossing an Asian Leopard Cat (Felis Bengalensis)
with a domestic cat. Bengal Cats were first exhibited in shows in 1985.
Public reaction was overwelming, filled with awe of this magnificent new
breed. The name "Bengal" is derived from the Latin name of the Asian Leopard
Cat, Felis bengalensis.
In the 1970s, the domestic cat population was seriously threatened by Feline Leukemia. At that time, there was no vaccine or cure. It was discovered that Asian Leopard Cats did not get the disease. A study was started to find out if this immunity would be passed on to the hybrid kittens of the Leopard Cat bred to domestics. The first female domestic cats used in the study were obtained from animal shelters. Because of these mixed heritage domestic mothers, the first Bengals were a pretty motly lot. Much time and effort resulted in the beautiful cats we have today.
The Bengal cat was first registered
with T.I.C.A.-The International Cat Association-in 1983. Since then their
popularity has grown tremendously. In 1997, Bengals ranked as the 3rd highest
breed in T.I.C.A.ís show standings. Yet only approximately 18-20,000 are
registered in the United States today. Other feline organizations have
recently recognized the Bengal: UFO (United Feline Organization) and AFCA.