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Asian Leopard Cats (ALC / Felis Bengalensis) are small wild cats found in southern and eastern Asia. They often get mistaken for being the same size as an Asian leopard, but they are not big ranging from 5- 15 lbs. They have a variable background colour but usually it is a golden to
tawny brown. The belly should be a very stark white with spots (one of the hardest traits to carry over into the Bengals). The tail is normally spotted with the spots forming rings towards the tip. Rosettes are not found in all subspecies of leopard cats, many just have small solid spots.
The leopard cat head is small with small rounded ears. The leopard cat is extremely shy and reclusive, not aggressive they would back off and hide instead of attacking.
The Bengal Cat originates from a domestic cat (Abyssinian, American Shorthair, Burmese, or Egyptian Mau) and an ALC. During the 1960's researchers noted that wild cat types such as the lion and tiger were immune to some diseases. The Asian Leopard Cat was bred to the common house cat in an effort to study the immune defences of the wild cat family to some diseases. In 1963 Jean Sugden (Mills) crossed a female ALC and a male black domestic cat, the results were a mixture of solid and spotted kittens. One of the spotted female offspring was then mated
back to the father and the resulting litter had spotted kittens. This was the beginning of the Bengal.
The early generations and foundation cats were nothing like the Bengal kittens you see today, whom have been bred and mixed with the very beautiful marble cats to produce the wonderful rosetting. Here at WijldeStoirm, we have an example of a foundation cat, Cherokee, who shows very subtle spotting. If you are lucky enough to come across a marbled kitten, take a second look. Their pelt is ultra soft, mush more so than the rosetted kittens, which are in turn usually softer than the silvers and some of the snows. Marble kittens are precious and rarer than the spotted variety, so have a look when you get the chance.
In the 1970's Jean Sugden acquired 8 female ALC/Domestic offspring from the University of California. The cats were the result of a project to investigate the ALC's natural immunity to Feline Leukaemia which had ceased. It was from this moment on that the Bengal was established and the Bengal Breed was finally registered with the TICA (The International Cat Association) in 1983, with the first to be shown in 1985 in the New Breed/Colour Class. The Bengal is an unique breed of cat in that it is the only spotted breed which is directly descended from a wild ancestor. This gorgeous ancestor is the Asian Leopard Cat (ALC). The goal in producing the Bengal is to recreate the look of its wild ancestor the ALC in a domestic cat.
Asian Leopard Cats
The “F” refers to Foundation Generation, or Filial. This indicated the number of crosses between ALC & Domestic. The F number is used for quick reference.
F1 - Is the 1st generation cross, meaning one parent is an ALC with 50% or higher wild blood
F2 - Is the 2nd generation there will be a grandparent who is an ALC
F3 - Is the 3rd generation
F4 - Is the last generation before a cat is recognised as a domesticated animal & a true Bengal