Helping Guide Bengal Cat Owners

The Fascinating Similarities and Differences Between Asian Leopard Cats and Bengal Cats

Leopard cats and Bengals have a lot in common. They are both athletic cats with exotic coats and of pretty much the same size. However, that does not mean that these two animals are the same.

The Bengal breed has been created when the Asian leopard cat got crossed with domestic cat breeds. This means that even though Bengals do have wild ancestors, they are not wild cats.

What are the key differences between these gorgeous animals and can you keep them as pets? Let’s find out!

What Is an Asian Leopard Cat Like?

Asian leopard cats are among the most widely spread carnivores in Asia. They are wild cats that can live in a variety of different surroundings, starting from semi-desert regions and ending with tropical forests.

  • Asian leopard cats are relatively small for wild cats. They weigh 8-15 lbs and are quite similar in size to big domestic kitties.
  • They can have black rosettes, solid spots, or even stripes on different parts of their bodies. The color of the coat can vary depending on the region – in the south, it is more yellow, while in the north the coat can become grey.
  • These cats have small heads and rounded ears. The color of the eyes ranges from grey to golden brown.
  • Asian leopard cats are nocturnal animals. They typically hunt during the night and then rest during the day.
  • They are good swimmers and excellent climbers.
  • This carnivore eats mainly rodents, though it can snack on plant matter from time to time as well.

Read: How to Give Up a Cat for Adoption? Step by Step

What Is a Bengal Cat Like?

Bengal cats are considered to be a medium-to-large domestic cat breed. They are a hybrid cat breed that was created in the 1970s.

  • Some females can weigh only 6 lbs, but most of the Bengals will weigh more. In fact, it is not uncommon to encounter a male Bengal who weighs over 15 lbs.
  • The coat of a Bengal can have different patterns (spotted, marbled, etc.). The most widespread coat color is brown, but there are also silver, snow, blue, and even black cats out there.
  • Bengals have long hind legs, small round heads, and rounded ears.
  • The almond-shaped eyes of a Bengal can be hazel, brown, copper, or green. Those who have a unique coat color might also have rare blue eyes.
  • These kitties are friendly and loving, but they do require a lot of exercise and attention.

Read: Is Cat Sitting An Easy Job?

Asian Leopard Cat vs Bengal – Key Differences

If you take a look at this beautiful wild animal and a Bengal, you will notice that they have a lot in common, when it comes to their appearance. They are of pretty much the same size (though Bengals do tend to be a bit smaller), with exotic coats, round heads, and rounded ears.

They are active animals who are great climbers. These carnivores are also relatively skillful swimmers, though they do prefer to stay dry.

With that being said, there are a few key differences between these two animals:

  • A Bengal has been created by mating a species of a leopard cat with domestic cat breeds.
  • Asian Leopard cats are wild cats, while Bengals are a domestic breed.
  • Wild cats never play with their prey. An Asian leopard cat would have to kill quite a few rodents and birds to keep itself full, so they simply have no time to play with their food (unlike Bengal cats).
  • You can adopt a Bengal cat, but keeping a wild cat at home is illegal in quite a few places around the world.

Are Asian Leopard Cats and Bengal Cats the Same?

Asian leopard cats and Bengals are not the same.

A Bengal cat can have a mother who is an Asian leopard cat. But the more the kitty gets crossed, the lower the percentage of wild blood in its veins.

Read: Why Your Bengal Cat Is Crying?

The Filial Scale Explained

If you do your research on Bengal cats, you might find out that there are F1, F2, F3, etc. Bengals.

An F1 is, basically, a first-generation Bengal cat. This means that the kitty was born from a male domestic cat and a female Asian leopard cat.

F2 is a second-generation Bengal (an F1 female got mated with a domestic cat), and so on.

Fact: F1-F3 males are not fertile. That’s why only females can be used for cross-breeding in this particular case.

Can You Keep an Asian Leopard Cat as a Pet?

In some places, Asian leopard cats are allowed as pets, but they are subject to certain regulations and they do require permits.

We should not forget that these cats are wild animals who would prefer to stay in their natural habitat. Even though the cat is not endangered at the moment, the population of Asian leopard cats is declining.

Read: Do Cats Really Use Cat Wheels?

Can You Keep a Bengal as a Pet?

It might come as a surprise to some, but the truth is that not all Bengals can be kept as a pet.

F1-F3 generation Bengals are considered to be way too wild, that’s why it is advised to go for an F4 or further generation if you’re in search of a domestic kitty.

In some states, it is illegal to own an early-generation Bengal. These beautiful cats are completely banned in New York City, Hawaii, Seattle, and Connecticut.

What Two Cats Make a Bengal?

To ‘create’ a Bengal cat, an Asian leopard cat needs to be crossed with a domestic cat breed. But that does not mean that any breed would do.

To preserve the size of the animal and some of its other traits, the Asian leopard cat usually gets mated with the Egyptian Mau. It is one of the few naturally spotted breeds out there.

The wild cat can also get crossed with the Abyssinian and the American shorthair. The former has a ‘ticked’ tabby coat and the latter can come in a variety of patterns (including classic tabby, mackerel, and patched).

Read: What Should I Do If My Cat Keeps Sneezing?

More About Bengal History

The Asian leopard cat was first crossed with a domestic cat breed way back in 1889.

However, the first documented Bengal cat is attributed to Jean Mill, a breeder from California. The woman crossed the wild cat with a domestic shorthair breed in 1963.

William Egler is another contributor to the establishment of the breed. In 1970, he used his Asian leopard cat to produce two litters of Bengals.

For quite a few years, the Bengals were considered ‘a hybrid’. But in 1983, the breed was finally recognized by TICA. Starting from then, Bengals could get officially registered for show (but only those kitties that are at least four generations away from their wild ancestor).

This means that the earlier generations are still considered hybrids, even though it has been proven by experienced breeders that even early-generation Bengals can be sociable and friendly.  

Final Thoughts

An Asian leopard cat and a Bengal are not the same. The former are wild cats, while the Bengals are a domestic cat breed. With that being said, the Bengal breed has been ‘made out of’ an Asian leopard cat and a domestic cat. That’s exactly why there are so many similarities in the character of these animals and their appearance.

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