Where did Bengal cats originate from?

Bengals as a breed

In 1963 in California, Jean Sudgen Mill made the first recorded deliberate cross of a black tomcat with a wild Asian leopard cat, first sighted by Westerners near the Bengal River in India. Mrs. Mill feared the possible extinction of the Asian leopard cat, which is one-tenth the size of the African leopard. The real beginning of the Bengal breed began in the 1970s, when amateur breeder Jean Sudgen Mill, of California, became the recipient of a group of cats that had been bred for use in genetic testing. Dr. Willard Centerwall of Loyola University had been testing Asian Leopards for their partial immunity to feline leukemia, and began cross breeding them with domestic cats for possible genetic viability in immunization development.

Rather than destroy the cats after the program was completed, Dr. Centerwall searched for appropriate homes for his cats. Because Ms. Sudgen had an actual interest in breeding Asian leopard hybrids, she chose not to take all of the cats, instead focusing on those cats that were showing a predilection for domestic temperament along with the desired spotting patterns.

Jean Sudgen Mill had begun her first experiments in cat hybridization while studying genetics at UC Davis in the 1940s. When presented with the opportunity to work with Dr. Centerwall's Asian leopards and their hybrids, she took to it with enthusiasm. In 1982, Mill's patience paid off when a curator for the New Delhi Zoo, in India, pointed her to a leopard-like street cat that was living on its own in the rhinoceros' exhibit at the zoo. Although the cat was feral, it proved to be an excellent mate for her hybrid females, and within years Ms. Mill had her successful, though still fledgling, breeding program well underway.


Legal developments

Bengal cats with a generation of F5 and beyond are considered domestic: they are generally legal in the United States with the exception of New York City and the state of Hawaii. New York state, Georgia, Massachusetts, Delaware, Connecticut, and Indiana all regulate or ban Early Generation Bengals (Bengals of the F1-F4 generation). In addition Seattle Washington and Denver Colorado have placed limits on Bengal ownership.

Bengal cats are illegal in the US State of Hawaii as they threaten native Hawaiian birds and are known to carry a parasite that can kill Hawaiian monk seals. In 2018 A Seattle couple who were trying to bring three of their Bengal cats to Hawaii were denied. The country of Australia also bans Bengals from the F1-4 Generations.

 
Read the full article at:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bengal_cat

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