The Bengal cat breed comes from crosses between domestic cats (felis catus) and Asian Leopard Cats (felis bengalensis), also called ALCs, a feline species of similar size to domestic cats with a spotted coat, very extended in Asia. Throughout China, Japan and other Asian countries crosses between both species have occurred spontaneously for a long time.
In 1963 Jean Sugden (Jean Mill after a later marriage) made the cross and brought it to the attention of Cornell University in California. In the 1970s Bill Engle, Dr. Centerwall, Ethel Hauser and others made numerous crosses. These first crosses were also showed in CFA and ACFA. Of these first shown cats there is no registered descent.
In 1983 Jean Mill (Millwood cattery), in the USA, started to register them with TICA. Soon other breeders also did so, such as Dr. Kent. The first bloodlines include cats from Dr. Centerwall, Gordon Meredith and others. Other ALC bloodlines were later introduced. The two ALCs of Dr. Centerwall are very present in the Bengal cat gene pool, having been the cats initially used for breeding.
The goal was to obtain a breed with the look of a wild spotted species, but with the character of domestic cats, putting a special emphasis in obtaining the temperament of a loving pet. The further the generation is from the ALC, the higher the number is, being subsequently called F1, F2 and F3. The F4 is considered a domestic bengal cat (SBT in TICA, LO in FIFe). Some registries such as FIFe or ACFA require F5 cats.
Further on in time, the marbled pattern, which comes from the blotched (or classic) tabby gene present in the domestic cats, was accepted. At first the creation of a different breed had been considered, however, in the end the pattern was accepted as another of the Bengal breed.
Afterwards the "snow" Bengals, with its origins coming from the Siamese or colourpoint gene present in domestic cats was accepted. The Burmese gene was introduced on purpose through outcrosses.
Bengals are beautiful cats, strong and agile, have an extremely soft coat, and are intelligent, active and loving cats. They like water and play with it. They form strong emotional bonds with their human friends and become loving loyal companions. They are easy to care for and lose less dead hair than other breeds.
Nowadays the breed is accepted in the most important international cat organizations, such as FIFe, TICA, WCF, etc.