I wrote an article for Bengals Illustrated a few years back. I have to give credit to
Brigitte M. for her editing. She made me sound good. lol This is kind of a shorten version
of that same article.
Wildly exotic, breathtakingly beautiful, totally domesticated! Jean Mills created a cat that to
this day takes our breath away. Her vision for a domestic cat as special as an Asian Leopard
Cat and her hard work, produced our wonderful Bengals.
Breeding a domestic with a spotted wild cat started back in 1871. A shorthhaired cat and a
leopard were originally crossed according to some records. Japan in 1941 was recorded as
breeding a hybrid to look like a pet Leopard in a Cat Fancy publication. In the 60's Jean
Sugden (now Mills) bought a female Asian Leopard Cat from a pet store. Jean decided to
give her a black domestic shorthair tabby male as a playmate. Jean produced a kitten after
being told she wouldn't be able to. This is documented with U.C. Davis. This kitten was
fertile. After a personal break, she resumed her goal of producing a leopard like domestic
cat. In 1983, the Bengal cat was succesfully recognized by TICA.
I choose to continue working with Asian Leopard Cats and Early Generation Hybrids. That's
where my passion lies. I still see a great need to get those small rounded ears and big round
eyes in the lower generations.
A little info on Asian Leopard Cats in the wild.
An ALC is one of the smaller wild cats found in Asia and surrounding islands. They weigh
approximately 6 lbs to 12 lbs. Like most breeds, females are usually smaller. ALCs have
a whited stomach area. All have ocelli on their ears. Their coats are spotted with black
solid spots to rosettes. The back legs are slightly taller than the front. They have small
rounded ears, big round eyes, on a smallish head. Their tail is thick and their bodies are
approximately 25 to 32 inches long.
In their natural habitat, ALCs are fairly solitary except during mating season. They usually
have 2 to 3 babies. Both parents raise them. In captivity, normal would be 1 or 2 kittens.
The fathers are not left with them. Most of the time, not always, the father will eat the
kittens in captivity. Mothers have been known to do this also. Believe it or not, it is their
way of protecting their babies.
Their natural habitat consists of forests, mountains, semi deserts as well as farmlands.
They usually build their homes near water. Sometimes high in trees and other times hollowed
out logs. They are great swimmers so dont be surprised if they join you in your shower,
bath or pool.
If you have an ALC as a pet, their diets are very important. It can mean life or death for these
beautiful cats. I feed mine whole prey and raw food twice a day. You also must socialize
them very well. If not you won't be able to handle them and will have a hard time at the vet's
office. These cats are not for everyone. They will spray eventually. They usually bond with
only one person. You cannot let them outside to roam freely. Much of this is true for early
generation hybrids, too. The best advice I can give you is to do your homework before
purchasing an ALC or an Early Generation Bengal.