Bengal cats are considered to be exotic pets by many. These hybrid kitties look like mini leopards and share genetics with both domestic felines and wildcats. The Bengal is a mighty breed, and though they are not for everyone, these kitties are both exquisite to look at and wonderful animals to own. Sometimes, owners will wonder if their cat is a Bengal Tabby mix.
All Bengal cats are Tabbies, but not all Tabbies are Bengals. Bengals are not a super common breed. Because they are hybrid animals, there are restrictions and bans in some places. Tabby cat does not refer to a breed; it instead is a term used to describe a particular type of marking and color pattern. Because if this is it possible to find cats of almost every breed that have Tabby coat patterns.
Anyone looking for a Bengal kitten must know beforehand the commitment they are making. These cats are certainly high maintenance. We dive into the details about Bengal Tabby mixes, what makes them unique, and what owners can expect regarding temperament, size, appearance, health, and care. Let’s get to know the Bengal Tabby mix.
In order to get to know a cat, especially one that may be a mixed breed, to learn about the parent breeds. In the case of a Tabby Bengal, both parents may be Bengals, or one might be, and one might be a different breed. Many different breeds can mix with a Bengal, and these mixes will have some traits from both parent breeds.
There is not really a documented history of where the Tabby coloration and patterning originated. We know that it is a naturally occurring pattern that has been seen for as long as people can remember in almost all feline breeds. All Bengals are Tabby cats. This does not mean that every cat with a Tabby coat is a Bengal or related to the breed. All Tabbies have a distinguishable M marking on the forehead. They also have thin lines along the face, notably around the eyes and on various parts of their bodies.
There are five distinct kinds of Tabby patterns. They all look similar, but each has very noticeable and distinctly different elements. Tabby patterns can come in stripes, blotches, spots, whorls, and rosettes.
Classic or Botched
The Classic or Botched Tabby has blotchy patches and patterns along the body. They have the classic Tabby facial markings with a very prominent M on the forehead. Classic Tabbies have circular, blotchy-like patterning along their bodies. This is sometimes described as marbling.
A Spotted Tabby has pronounced large and small spots covering their torsos and sides. Spots can be oval, round, or rosette and will not be uniform in shape or size. In some cases, the spots appear as if they are broken stripes.
The Mackerel Tabby is often described as looking like a tiger because it has noticeable parallel stripes along its sides. The stripes stand out very clearly, and all start at the same spot on the top of the cat’s spine. When one looks at these kitties from above, their stripes look like a fish skeleton, which is part of why this patterning is called the Mackerel.
A Ticked Tabby may not look like a Tabby cat at first. These kitties do not always have noticeable stripes, spots, whirls, or rosettes. They do have the distinguishable tabby M marking on the forehead. Rather than their coats having a distinctly evident pattern, they have something called agouti hairs, which refers to the hairs themselves having light and dark striped sections.
Patched Or Torbie
A Patched Tabby is a tortoiseshell Tabby. They often have red and brown tabby patches woven intermittently throughout their coats. These cats can have any of the other four Tabby patterns in addition to their tortoiseshell covered. These cats are often referred to as Torbies.
Tabby cats are sometimes solid colors, making it harder to see their tabby patterning. In some cases, owners may not discover that their cat is a tabby until they see them at a specific angle under bright sunlight. All Tabbies have some telltale markings, particularly the capital letter M right in the middle of their forehead.
The powerful and exotic Bengal is a cat many people may not understand. The breed is a true hybrid, a cross between domestic house cats and the Wild Asian Leopard cat. These hybrids were created in the name of research. A researcher and pediatrician named Dr. Willard Centerwall conducted leukemia research in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He created hybrid kittens in order to study their partial immunity to feline leukemia. When the research was done, the doctor gave the remaining kittens to a breeder. This breeder bred them with many other breeds creating the gorgeous feline we know today as the Bengal.
Other breeders soon grew interested in the exquisite-looking hybrid cat, and other lines were developed. The early bloodlines can still be found in the highest-pedigree Bengals around today. These kitties are nicknamed the “pet leopard” and Leopardette because of their muscular bodies and wild cat look. The pet leopard is an exquisite-looking, high-maintenance, relatively rare feline breed. Though many people have heard of them, very few have ever come to cross their path.
Bengal cats come in two classifications. The hybrid F1 to F4 cats and F5 and below. The F1 to F4 generations are closer to wild cats, meaning they have a higher prey drive, are less likely to want to cuddle up to humans, and physically resemble their wild counterparts more closely. Only the first-generation offspring are considered half-wild cats. These true hybrids will be much larger than the average house cat. They will retain some feral-like behavior and have incredibly high prey drives. These earlier generations are not suitable to be kept as pets in most situations.
The F5 and further generations are more like house cats than wild cats. Further removed generations are more agreeable but may still retain a higher prey drive than most domestic felines. These cats are not considered half-wild, though there is a widespread misconception that all Bengals are half-wild or are deemed true hybrids.
Bengal Cat Bans
Owning a Bengal is not as easy as owning other feline breeds due to their hybrid nature. The breed is restricted and banned in some areas. Some states completely ban ownership of the breed. Others restrict ownership of early generations. Many states allow ownership of the fifth generation and beyond. All states allow ownership of the fifth generation and beyond in the United States, except for Hawaii. Hawaii is one of the few states that actively enforces regulations and bans on all generations of Bengal cats.
Some cities, like Seattle, Washington, and New York City, New York, also have bans on owning any generation of Bengals. Denver, Colorado, has a ban allowing only fifth-generation and beyond. States with bans or strict regulations on F1 to F4 kitties include Alaska, California (on F1 and F2), Connecticut, Delaware (permit only), Georgia (permit only), Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, and New York State.
Because bans vary by location and generation, prospective owners must check all state and city regulations before adopting one.
Bengal Tabby Breed Info
While Bengal cats are Tabbies, not every cat with a Tabby coat that looks similar to a leopard is a Bengal. There are some ways to tell. Bengals are larger physically and do not have white in their coats other than a little on the stomach and paws. They have shorter coats with a bit of a shimmer. These ferocious felines are highly vocal, more so than most other breeds, and are impressively strong.
The Bengal is a feline known for its high intelligence. These cats are inquisitive, as well as have increased energy. They have a remarkably high prey drive and love to chase smaller animals like rodents, birds, and even smaller pets. Not every kitty will have an exceptionally high prey drive, but it is a trait prevalent among the breed. This is a very physically active cat, and they need owners that understand that. These kitties need lots of entertainment, interactive toys, plenty of exercise, and lots of room.
Pet leopards are quite affectionate, and they do enjoy bonding with humans. They appreciate playtime and are more than happy to spend hours playing the day away. They can become quite clingy and always like to be around their humans. These kitties love to climb and will do so at every opportunity. For this reason, it is crucial only to let them outside in enclosed spaces or on a leash.
They have a reputation for being chatty cats. This is because sometimes they make a chattering noise. Chattering happens a lot when they get excited. Sometimes this chatty sound is referred to as a chirp.
This breed must be socialized young in order to have a good relationship with other cats and pets. It can be extremely tough to bring a new pet into the home where a Leopardette already resides. Sometimes, this breed does better as an only pet. They are very territorial with their space, playthings, and special humans. They retain a kitten-like attitude and mentality long into their adult years.
Size & Appearance
The pet leopard is a muscular kitty. These purr babies are medium to large when fully grown. Adults can reach between 8 and 20 pounds or more, with most ranging between 12 and 15 pounds. Males are larger, but both males and females are muscular, agile, and extremely athletic. They can reach between 16 and 22 inches long, not measuring the tail. This muscular feline stands between 13 and 16 inches tall at the shoulder.
One pronounced physical feature that stands out with this feline is that their back legs are longer than their front ones. They also have large, prominent paws. This breed grows for quite a long time and does not reach full size until about two years old or even older.
Bengals have round to oval-shaped eyes that are quite large and set widely apart. Their eyes can be many colors, though Lynx point kitties have blue eyes. Heads are strong and broad, in a wedge type of shape. They have high cheekbones, and their heads do not seem too large for their bodies. Their ears have wide bases and rounded tips. Ears are far apart, with a slight forward tilt.
Coat & Colors
The Bengal coat has a very exotic and intriguing look. They look remarkably similar to small wild cats. There are three standard colors The International Cat Association (TICA) recognizes. These are silver, brown, and snow. Bengals come in several other colors, including solid black, charcoal, blue, and black and gold. They can be spotted, marbled, or both, a coloration called sparbled.
- Brown Bengals are incredibly popular and have many variations. They can be a range of colors, including golden brown, caramel, honey, red, orange, brownish-orange, and several other shades. Browns generally have darker brown to black markings, including marbling or solid rosettes.
- Silver Bengals look incredibly striking with light-colored, almost white base coats with various silver shades. They have gray and black patterning. Base coat colors can range from silver to charcoal or blue.
- Snow Bengals have creamy white to tan or light brown base coats with seal markings and a range of brown to tan markings. They can be spotted or marbled.
- Blue Bengals are super rare and massively pricey. They have a range of blue-colored base coats, sometimes with cream tones. This blue base coat may have dark grayish-blue patterns of spots or marble.
- A Black Bengal is also called a melanistic-colored cat and has quite a unique look. They have dark base coats with spotted or marble patterns. The markings will be almost as dark as their coats and may be extremely hard to make out. Sometimes these darker-hued kitties are referred to as “ghost cats” because their markings are only visible when in very intense sunlight.
Bengal coats often have a shimmery-like look due to the translucent hair over the coats. Though it is rare, some have white stomachs. These kitties are highly desirable. Most have short, fine, silky hair. There is a longer-haired variety bred through crossbreeding with long-haired felines. These longer-haired kitties are Cashmere Bengals. This breed is not hypoallergenic.
These kitties are highly skilled at self-grooming but require assistance from their humans. They are not as high shedding as some breeds. Bengals need brushing once or twice a week. This is a suitable time to inspect their body for any injury and look at their skin for any abrasions, irritants, or other issues. Regular brushing removes extra hair, debris, and allergens from their coats. Grooming is also a particularly fun time to bond with a pet, and making this a regular routine helps your pet tolerate grooming more and look forward to it. During these sessions, it is important to look them over, including their ears, eyes, mouths, and paws.
This breed enjoys playing in the water and will not protest a bath occasionally. Bathing should not be something owners do every week or even every month, but it can be a good thing to do here and there. Additionally, owners should regularly clip their cat’s nails and brush their teeth.
A Bengal cat is a wonderful animal but may not be the right pet for everyone. They are high maintenance and require more energy and effort from owners than some other, less active breeds. Because these kitties are remarkably high-energy, this purr baby constantly needs mental and physical stimulation. Owners need to make time every day for interactive play, ensure their cat has plenty of time to exercise, and provide them with a variety and rotation of engaging toys.
These big kitties must have plenty of room to run around, places to climb, and places to hide. Like any cat, they need a space to call their own and plenty of hiding spots where they can safely curl up and rest. These kitties can get anxious when left home alone for too long. Owners must offer plenty of entertainment so they do not bore and become destructive.
Physical exercise and activity will always be a priority for this kitty from their days as incredibly young kittens through their senior years. They take longer than many other felines to grow to their full adult size, as well as to mature mentally. This breed needs physical activity every single day. Bengals are very smart and can learn to play games and walk on leashes and harnesses. Owners must always be careful and keep complete control when this formidable feline is outside. They are clever and escape easily. If left unsupervised outside, they will start to hunt wildlife and other small animals.
The pet leopard is highly intelligent and highly curious. Training must start early, which is the same with most highly intelligent felines. Basic things like socialization with other felines, dogs, and humans, as well as litter box training, should begin when they are only a few weeks old. Though they are extremely intelligent, these kitties can be very stubborn. They need owners who can set and enforce strict behavior boundaries. This is true throughout the cat’s life.
Training is extremely important with a breed that is intelligent, athletic, and has a high prey drive. These cats can tend to have a stubborn, markedly independent streak. For this reason, many owners seek professional cat trainers to assist them in setting these initial behavior expectations properly.
Common Training For Cats:
- Do not scratch furniture.
- No scratching or biting of people.
- Do not attack other pets.
- Not to eat household plants.
- Do not urinate outside the litter box.
- Be friendly to new people.
- Do not eat people’s food.
Overall, this is a very healthy feline breed, and they live, on average, between 9 and 16 years. They can be prone to some health issues throughout their lives. Reputable breeders test for and screen for common genetic defects and diseases. Some health concerns for pet leopards are:
- Heart disease, including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The heart muscle thickens when this happens, causing congestive heart failure, blood clots, and other serious issues.
- The pet leopard is at high risk for feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), which includes several urinary tract conditions. These include bladder stones, infection, and idiopathic cystitis. These conditions are quite painful and are quite common among the breed. Urinary tract conditions are often a result of anxiety. These big kitties are also at risk of kidney disease, including chronic renal failure.
- Bengals are at substantial risk for eye disease, including progressive retinal atrophy, a progressive condition that can cause eventual blindness.
- This kitty often has a sensitive stomach and suffers from gastrointestinal pain and distress.
- Bengals are at risk for pancreatitis and certain cancers like lymphosarcoma, a cancer of the lymphoid tissues. Older cats may develop hypothyroidism and type 2 diabetes, especially if they are overweight.
- This kitty is extremely sensitive to anesthesia and can even have a severe allergic reaction.
Owners may want to consider cat insurance for the Bengal. Though insurance does not usually cover regular care, it can help in emergencies. Some companies offer Wellness plans, which can help with routine care.
Nutrition is particularly important regardless of the feline breed. These kitties are natural predators as well as obligate carnivores. They need to eat a meat-based diet and need high-quality animal proteins to survive. These proteins provide them with the energy to develop and function properly. Nutrition is especially important for them. If they are not fed properly, they can get sick, impacting their long-term health.
Owners should look for high-quality foods that list whole meat as the first ingredient. Natural animal proteins like beef, chicken, turkey, fish, lamb, and even bison provide high-quality proteins that sustain them long-term. Felines also need healthy fats like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which help with skin, coat, and joint health.
These felines can eat kibble, wet food, fresh food, or raw food, as well as a combination. They may tire of eating the same thing repeatedly, so variety is key. They can have occasional raw or cooked meat treats added to their regular food. Be careful not to feed these kitties food prepared for humans as it often contains ingredients that are not safe for them and is high in fat and salt.
Breeders & Kitten Costs
Bengals are pricier kittens due to their purebred and hybrid status. They are one of the most expensive felines around. A high-quality bloodline can cost anywhere from $1,500 to over $3,000. It is essential to always look for a high-quality, reputable breeder when adopting a Bengal kitten. Ask many questions, inquire about the parents and previous litters, and about health screenings. Cats intended for breeding will be much higher than companion animals. These animals can cost up to and over $5000.
Owners should expect to spend an additional $500 to $1,000 after the adoption fee to get their Bengal kitten comfortably set up at home. They will need supplies, collars, leashes, toys, blankets, treats, crates, towers, and more. In the first year of a kitten’s life, they will need more veterinary care. They will require vaccinations, as well as a spay and neuter procedure.
Rescues & Shelters
It would be improbable to find a purebred Bengal in a shelter, but as they say, anything is possible. There are some groups dedicated to rescuing and rehoming these little wildish-looking kitties. Owners looking to adopt a shelter cat should remember that even though their cat may be a tabby, that alone does not mean they are a Bengal. Shelter kitties will be much less expensive than purebred kittens through a breeder. Adoption fees from shelters can range anywhere from $25 to a couple of hundred dollars.
There are always many cats and dogs in shelters that need good homes. Owners can ask at their local animal shelters, national and local humane societies, as well as different rescue groups. Talk to your veterinarian for recommendations. Though you may not find a purebred pet leopard, plenty of Tabby kitties are likely looking for a loving home.
As Family Pets
The mighty Bengal can make a wonderful family cat in the right family. They are high-maintenance, high-energy felines and are not going to do well with just anyone. This is not a great breed for inexperienced or first-time cat owners. Owners who already have a house full of pets may want to reconsider if bringing a pet leopard home is the best idea. However, these exotic beauties are quite loving, affectionate, and unforgettable family pets in the right situation.
They need a lot of attention and can be destructive or aggressive if they do not have enough room, are not being fed right, do not get enough exercise, or do not feel like they have enough attention. Pet leopards are high-energy, curious, and always on the go, even as seniors. These big kitties need an owner that is highly available to them.
There are several mixes and variations of this breed that are extremely popular. This includes the Snow, Silver, Bengal Maine Coon, Bengal Siamese, Bengal Ragdoll (Bengdoll), Toyager, Bengal Savannah, Bengal Abyssinian, Bengal Siberian, Cheetoh, and Serengeti. This is not a complete list, and there are several more fantastic pet leopard mixes to learn about.
Though it is sometimes referred to as a mixed or independent breed, a Bengal Tabby is not a unique or new breed. Bengals are Tabbies, but not all Tabbies are Bengals. The Leopardette is an exotic, true hybrid feline. Though the breed is younger than most, they are highly intriguing and spark interest from feline lovers worldwide. Although this fierce feline is not for everyone, they are amazing animals who make wonderful pets. They need homes with highly attentive owners with plenty of space and time to give them. This is one cat that will leave a big impression on every person they meet, even if it is just for a little while.