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The Origin of Domestic Bengal Cat - Asian Leopard Cat

Updated: Aug 2, 2020


The Bengal cat's ancestry derives from a spotted domestic cat and a small spotted wild feline named the Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) or Prionailurus bengalensis (scientific name).


Being small animals, they are right in the centre of the food chain and are

shy, nocturnal and terrified of people and bigger animals that have been pursuing them for centuries. The infographic below explains the domestic bengal cat heritage in detail.


Habitat and distribution


Leopard cats are native to a wide portion of southern Asia.


They can be found across Myanmar, Burma, Thailand , Malaysia, China, Korea and into the Far East of Russia in rural areas, deep jungles and woodland environments from southern India to the east.


Recently, Leopard cats in Sunda Island such as Sumatra, Borneo, Bali, Indonesia, and the

Philippines have been recognized as a separate species named the Prionailurus javanensis (Sunda leopard cat).


Tentatively, two subspecies of the Mainland leopard cat are recognized based on genetic studies:




Diet and Hunting


Asian Leopard Cat - Prionailurus Bengalensis mostly catch small birds, rodents, amphibians, eptiles, fish and insects. Many of the cats venture into farmyards sometimes to prey on domestic chickens.


It has been said that when ALCs strike and kill their victims, instead of playing with their prey as if they were toys, they go straight into for the kill.


Hunting is typically done at night, and their climbing skills allow them to spend the days relaxing in hollows of trees.


Anatomy and Characteristics


The general structure of an Asian leopard cat is somewhat similar to a house cat, except its neck is long and robust, and its legs and body are much longer than typical cats (25 to 32 inches from head to tail).


Hind legs are much lengthier than forelegs. The tail is thick and medium in length with a pointed tip (11 to 14).


Paws are wide and have prominent knuckles.


Colours and marks

  • Head: Four vertical black streaks run from the front or inner corners of the eye to the back of the neck, breaking up into short irregular rows of dark marks and elongated patches on the neck and arms, although often one stripe runs the entire body length. Two thin streaks of black cheek extend from the corners of the outer eye, enclosing a white patch on the ear. With the exception of a white triangular shaped spot, their ears are black at back.


  • Coat: It is mainly the "leopard" spotted coat that suggests ALCs have well-defined, dark spots that can be solid or rosetted and often marbled all over their bodies. Based on the geographical areas of origin of the animal, the base coat varies in color and ranges from varying shades of tan (beige to golden), grey or tawny brown. The chin, throat, belly and inside legs are white with black spots.


  • Pads: Their toe pads range in color from dark purple to dark brown. The carpal pads, located on the forelegs, are pink and very soft.


  • Tail: Most Asian Leopard Cats have a ringed or striped tail with black tips.



Domestic Bengal Cat & Asian Leopard Cat


Bengal breed history began in 1963 when, for the first time, Jean Sugden Mill reported hybridization between Prionailurus bengalensis and Felis catus (house cat).


It has been found that the mainland leopard cat is the perfect candidate for hybridization

to give rise to the exotic breed of wild-looking house pet known as the Bengal cat.

To read Bengal Cat Buying Guide please click here.

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