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                          Asian Leopard Cat - Ancestor of a Bengal Kitten

       Asian Leopard Cat - ancestor of Bengal Kittens  
 

Asian Leopard Cats and American Wild Cats

 

There are approximately 37 species of wild cat in the world today.  Among them are the Ocelot, Margay, Sand Cat, Fishing Cat, Pallas Cat and of course the Asian Leopard Cat.  We will focus our look on the most commonly encountered wild cats with the spotted or rosetted pattern.  The Asian Leopard Cat is a common name for many subspecies of cat.  We will endeavor to shed some light on what those subspecies individual traits are and what they have added to the Bengal Breed as a whole.

The Wild Cat influences in this breed are varied.  We are placing pictures here of the various types of coat patterns and physical traits and will explain their influence in the breeds development.  We are also listing some information about cats with the spotted or rosetted pattern that have the America's as a home range. 

.Please note that all of the cats listed on this page are wild animals.  They are not suitable for pets and require very expensive habitats and diets to remain alive. 

 

Amur Leopard Cat - Bengalensis Prionailurus euptilura

    Amur Leopard Cat - Ancestor of some Bengals    Amur Leopard Cat - Ancestor of some Bengals   Amur Leopard Cat - Ancestor of some Bengals

Amur Leopard Cat - Ancestor of some Bengals        Amur Leopard Cat - Ancestor of some Bengals

As you can see, the Amur has a bit longer coat and a bit wider cheek area than the other Asian Leopard Cats. Its longer coat is necessary due to its very northern range and colder climate conditions of Northern Korea through northern regions of China, Russia and Siberia.  

It has the familiar striping from just above the eyes over the back skull and down the neck.  It has a more often rosetted coat than just a spotted one.  It has a wide nose leather and whited chin, tummy, spectacles and black or dark brown outlined rosetting.  Its eyes are "hooded" rather than completely round and very deeply set. They have a dark brown to black rim, set against the white of the spectacles makes a striking picture.   It has a larger bone structure and is a substantial cat.  Its ears  are also bell shaped but slightly wider across than the Asian Leopard Cat.  These cats are also used in some Bengal Breeding programs. 

this is the Bengal kitten ancestor

Fishing Cat  - Prionailurus Viverrinus

   Fishing Cat - Another Asian Cat not use in Bengal Kittens       Fishing Cat - Another Asian Cat not use in Bengal Kittens       Fishing Cat - kitten

Fishing Cat - Another Asian Cat not use in Bengal Kittens           Fishing Cat - Another Asian Cat not use in Bengal Kittens 

Fishing Cat - Another Asian Cat not use in Bengal Kittens

These cats show some similarities to the Amur Leopard Cat.  The same vertical markings above the eyes and over the back skull.  The same white and black markings (mascara) coming from the edges of the eyes back over the cheeks. However, many differences as well.  A deep set to the eyes with an almond shape and a wide nose leather in a deep brick color.   Their coat appears much more spotted than rosetted.  Their tail is a just a bit longer and their ears are smaller in relation to their head size as well as well as more on the sides of the head than the top.  The are also a larger cat than the Margay, Amur Leopard Cat or Asian Leopard Cat.  They are midway between the Amur or Asian Leopard Cat and the Ocelot in size.  they are between 15-26 pounds, about 16 inches tall and are a very stocky powerful cat.    Their coat is typically an olive gray with horizontal, parallel black spots.

They are found in India, Sri-Lanka, Himalayas, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, Indo-China and Indonesia in forested and watery habitats up to 5000 feet elevation.  Their principal diet is fish.  They have a gestation of 63 days after which they produce 1-4 offspring.  Although not used directly in the Bengal Breed program, the fishing cat's wild type, horizontal pattern and stocky build have contributed as a model for some Bengal Programs.

this is the Bengal kitten ancestor

 

Asian Leopard Cat  - Felis Bengalensis

    Asian Leopard Cat - used in the Bengal Breeder Program       Asian Leopard Cat - used in the Bengal Breeder Program        Asian Leopard Cat - used in the Bengal Breeder Program

Asian Leopard Cat - used in the Bengal Breeder Program      Asian Leopard Cat - used in the Bengal Breeder Program    Asian Leopard Cat - used in the Bengal Breeder Program

Asian Leopard Cat  - Taro of Bundas - used in the Bengal Breeder Program  Asian Leopard Cat - used in the Bengal Breeder Program   Asian Leopard Cat - Rajah Singh - used in the Bengal Breeder Program

Asian Leopard Cat - used in the Bengal Breeder Program   Asian Leopard Cat Centerwall Project- used in the Bengal Breeder Program

   Asian Leopard Cat - used in the Bengal Breeder Program  Asian Leopard Cat - used in the Bengal Breeder Program

The commonly named Asian Leopard Cat also has the deep set very dark brown eyes.  They are more round than almond shaped.  They have a whited underside and white ocelli (spots on the back of their ears).  They share some traits with the remainder of the Asian Wild Cat populations.  Some have a rosette to the coat, although many are covered with small to medium spots.  Their pattern is very much a horizontal or angular pattern of spots or rosettes as opposed to a vertical pattern in the typical domestic cat.  Their coat is very tight to the body and Extremely soft as opposed to the Amur Leopard Cat which has a longer soft coat.  A VERY short THICK tail as exhibited by the cat in the middle pictures.

They have the small ears set as much on the side as the top of the head and very rounded at the tips and characterized as bell shaped..   They also are strongly identified by the specific profile demonstrated by most of the pictures above.  From the side you notice a very slight curve from up over the back of the neck over the back skull, flowing gently into the forehead with no break between forehead and nose bridge.  This nose bridge extends well above the eye from the side and continues to the nose leather.  There should be a deep side profile from the nose level down to the point of the chin denoting a strong  mouth and jaw and the ability to catch and kill prey effectively.

It can be found across India, China, Korea, and on islands such as Sumatra, Philippines, Taiwan, Borneo, Bali and Java.  The fur trade caused this cat to be placed on the Endangered Species list.    It is primarily nocturnal in behavior and prefer brush and forested habitats.  They are excellent swimmers and tree climbers.  They are solitary and reclusive.  They weight between 7 to 15 pounds with males being substantially larger than females.  With around 10 subspecies, there is great variety in subspecies coloration and pattern depending on habitat, climate and elevation.  The Asian Leopard Cats continue to be introduced into the Bengal Breed.  The most famous Asian Leopard Cats to be part of the Bengal Breed genetic pool are: Taro, Phantom, Centerwall, Rajah Singh and a number of others.  All Bengals can trace their origins back to one of these Asian Leopard Cats.  With the introduction of other Asian Leopard Cats into the gene pool, we will continue to see some diversity in type in the early generation cats.  Due to this, there is not a worry at this time of a small gene pool for our Bengals.

this is the Bengal kitten ancestor

 

Margay Cat  - Leopardus Wiedii

       Margay Cat - Used as model for head and pattern but not used directly as Bengal Ancestor      Margay Cat - Used as model for head and pattern but not used directly as Bengal Ancestor      Margay Cat - Used as model for head and pattern but not used directly as Bengal Ancestor

Margay Cat - Used as model for head and pattern but not used directly as Bengal Ancestor  Margay Cat - Used as model for head and pattern but not used directly as Bengal Ancestor

First, like the Ocelot and Oncilla, its range is not in the Asian countries at all.  Its home ranges from Southern Texas to Argentina.  It is noted by researchers by its agility as a climber.  It has been seen racing up and down tree trunks in the manner of squirrels, that is head first.  It lives most of its life in the trees.

As is evident from these photos, the head style and type of the Margay has some real differences from the previous Asian Cat species.   It has a more pronounced muzzle and wider eyes with really dark black eye rims and "cheetah tear stains" from the inner eye down the sides of the muzzle.  They also have a single black strip vertically above each eye up over the back skull.  They can have a darker rimmed nose with either a stripe or fuller area of pink in the center.  The coat is much more richly colored and much more striking markings than the Asian Leopard Cats .  The coat color and very black contrasted markings are highly prized in today's Bengals.  It also has the very whited undersides of the other varieties and the very horizontal flow to the markings.  It also has a slightly wider and less length vertically than some other varieties of Leopard Cat.  Ears seem to be shorter and very wide from base to tip. with no tendency to narrow. 

This cat has contributed much in its appearance as a model for the Bengal Program.  Although none of its genes have become part of our pool, nonethess it has become an ideal for some bengal breeding programs in its markings, head and ear size and shape.

this is the Bengal kitten ancestor

 

Oncilla - Leopardus Tigrinus

    Oncilla - some features used as a model for Bengal Kittens, but not used directly in the Bengal breeding program      Oncilla - some features used as a model for Bengal Kittens, but not used directly in the Bengal breeding program     Oncilla - some features used as a model for Bengal Kittens, but not used directly in the Bengal breeding program 

     Oncilla - some features used as a model for Bengal Kittens, but not used directly in the Bengal breeding program     melanistic oncilla cat

The Oncilla is a much smaller cat weighing on average 5.5 pounds.  It has similar characteristics to the Margay and can be difficult to distinguish in the field.  It's coat tends to be not nearly as dark and blotchy as the Margay and its tail is not as long.  Its fur is not as thick and its body is more slender.  The notable exception to its resemblance to other Leopard Cat populations is that the Oncilla produces a melanistic version or black with black spots in the wild.  The other Asian Leopard Cats do not produce a melanistic variety in their wild populations.  Gestation periods run 75-78 days.  It is found most often in cloud forests at much higher elevations of Central and South America than the Margay or Ocelot.

this is the Bengal kitten ancestor

 

Ocelot - Leopardus Pardalis

      Ocelot - used as model for pattern only in Bengal Kittens        Ocelot - used as model for pattern only in Bengal Kittens     Ocelot - used as model for pattern only in Bengal Kittens

Ocelot - used as model for pattern only in Bengal Kittens Ocelot - used as model for pattern only in Bengal Kittens Ocelot - used as model for pattern only in Bengal Kittens

    The Ocelot is not an Asian cat at all.  It's range is in North, Central and South America.  They are a much larger cat that the Asian wildcats pictured above.  They are listed here as reference only.  Their coat patterns have inspired some Bengal Breeders to attempt to produce this very spectacular black outlined rosetted coat.  This cat is much larger than the Asian versions listed above.  They are usually 3'2" long excluding the tail which can range another 1.5 feet in length.  Much longer tails than in the tree dwelling Asian Leopard Cats.  It weighs 20-33 pounds.  It eats small mammals, birds, fish and snakes and monkeys and are good swimmers.  They prefer to hunt on the ground but will take to the trees to hunt if no prey is found below.

It is mostly nocturnal and very territorial.  It will often have heated fights to the death over territory.  It is most often solitary, meeting only to mate.  It's gestation period is estimated to be 70 days.  1-4 cubs are born in each litter.  Mothers raise the cubs alone.  Due to territory destruction, there are only a few dense thickets which are known to be inhabited by Ocelots in Southern Texas and Arizona.  Male Ocelots are sometimes killed on highways in this area searching for new territory.  They have been found as far away as the Caribbean islands but are found in largest numbers in the Rainforests of the Amazon.

This beautiful cat has an exquisite pattern on its coat.  It has become an ideal of horizontal rosetting for many in the Bengal Breed.  It, along with the clouded leopard, lend their flowing pattern to that Bengal sub group (see above picture lower right).

 

Clouded Leopard and King Cheetah

Clouded Leopard - used as model for patterns in marble Bengal Kittens King Cheetah - pattern used as a model for marble bengal breeding programs

These two cats are neither American Wild Cats nor are they small.  But they do lend an ideal to the Marble Bengal Breeder in terms of pattern.  We attempt to take our inspiration with the Bengal from nature.  The above two breeds lend their design as an ideal of exotic horizontal flowing pattern desired in the Marble Bengal breeding program.  It is to keep our patterns as far away from a typical domestic cat as we can.  We use these as our ideals in that effort.
 

Bengal Kitten

this is the Bengal kitten ancestor

The early generations of Bengal were developed by crossing  the Basic Asian Leopard Cat (Prionailurus Bengalensis) with quite a variety of domestic cats.  Among them were:

Abyssinian

Egyptian Mau

Bombay

Ocicat

British Shorthair

A Black domestic shorthaired tomcat

A number of Indian Mau's imported for the early breedings

And a number of other domestics of all kinds and shapes.

It is due to this huge diversity in the early generations of the breed and the continued introduction of new Asian Leopard Cats into the gene pool, that we have huge diversity available.  It is consistency that we are striving for currently.  To balance diversity with consistent type and to breed for healthy cats is the desire of every good Bengal Breeder

 

 

Bengal Kitten

Bengal Breed Seminar Available Here!

 

If you wish to really understand what makes a Bengal a Bengal vs. any other breed, please take the time to go through the following PowerPoint presentation.  It was presented by Breeder/Judges, Jeff and Heather Roberts and moderated by Judge, Al Walbrun.  We thank everyone who contributed to it for allowing us to have it here. 

 

Get the PowerPoint Viewer Here Free!

 

Bengal Breed Seminar PowerPoint !

 

(takes 5 min to load- but worth it- download it to your PC for faster viewing)

 

 

 
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Asian Leopard Cat, Amur Leopard Cat,  Oncilla, Margay, Fishing Cat