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About Our Kittens

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About Our Kittens

When you start calling around to Bengal breeders, you will often hear them say a cat is very "typey." What exactly does that mean? This diagram of the Bengal cat explains the body.

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Diagram

Cute Bengal Kittens

In simplistic terms, the more type a cat has, the more structurally similar its appearance is to the wild cat. Therefore, the more structural attributes a Bengal cat has to the ALC, the more type it has. The more structural aspects the Bengal cat has to the domestic Tabby, the less type it has. Each time you look at a Bengal, try to imagine it with a black coat. Then ask yourself, would this cat still look wild? If the answer is yes, then you are looking at a typey cat.

The TICA Bengal standard states that the overall goal of a Bengal breeding program is to create a domestic cat which has physical features distinctive to the small forest-dwelling wildcats. At times, however, the descriptions of the individual features of the Bengal are not described in accordance with those features on a small forest-dwelling wildcat. Please note, that we use forest-dwelling wildcats as our model above and beyond the TICA Bengal standard. At times the standard is vague and does not offer enough guidance. In other instances, the standard has been purposely altered to make the elements instantly achievable to allow the Bengal to compete against long-established breeds. Therefore, we determine how typey a cat is by how closely its features match that of a small forest-dwelling wildcat. Because different breeders strive for different wild looks, the definition of type will not be the same from breeder to breeder. It is important to know what wild look a breeder is trying to achieve when discussing type.

There are many different aspects of the Bengal cat that put together type. However, for clarity, they are addressed individually. All domestic breeds descends from the African Wildcat, so we find it very educational to place our Bengals between an African Wildcat and an Asian Leopard cat. On this page, you will see and African Wildcat of the left, one of our Bengals in the middle, and the Asian Leopard cat Elias of Callista on the right. While the cat in the diagram above is an early generation cat, all cats used in the pictures below are SBTs apart from the cat used to demonstrate profile who is an F3.

I am very appreciative of Julie Calderon of Callista who granted me permission to use pictures of Elias as I could not create this page without him. Thank you Julie.

Shape is a tough one. Fully rounded eyes have a huge, positive effect on the look of the Bengal, and they certainly beat the slanted look of the African Wildcat eye shape. You'll find many cats, including ours, with a very round, open eye. However, when studying ALCs, one will see a round bottom line, a round outer edge, but a slight flattening to the inner top line of the eye. Getting an outer rounded corner can be a challenge as it requires the right boning around the eye to prevent the eye from slanting back and pulling into a slight almond shaped tip. Ideally, the widest part of the eye should be on the outer half of the eye, not the inner half; this is a difficult shape to achieve as it is so unlike most other breeds of cats, so it must be pulled down from the Asian Leopard cat.

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Eye size, when it is correct, has a great impact on the first impression of a Bengal face. A pair of large eyes will draw you in to look closer regardless of the shape and placement. Notice how much space the eye takes up on the ALC's face - quite a bit. If you contrast the proportion of eye to face size of the small forest-dwelling wildcats to the ground dwelling wildcats, you'll conclude that these cats have proportionately very large eyes. Nocturnal hunters must have a large surface space on their eyes in order to catch the slightest movement in the dark, so size is critical to species survival and critical to creating a distinguished look to the Bengal cat.  

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The side view of a cat's head is its profile. For many people the word profile means the nose line. A bad profile would be a dippy one like the one on the left. There is so much more to the profile view of a Bengal than simply the nose line. I use the profile view to check not only the skull shape, but also the proportions. The skull shape of a Bengal should be egg-like in its shape. The more smoothly the lines runs, the better the skull shape. For a typey Bengal, try to avoid any flat planes and any distinct changes of direction.

When looking at a profile view of a Bengal, the most important element to study to determine the quality of type is the proportions. From front to back, check for the following elements of type: the nose leather should protrude beyond the whisker pads and chin; the eyes should be placed on the front third of the skull; the eyes should be closer to the nose than the ears, and they should not be deeply sunken into the skull; the ears should have a considerable amount of skull behind them, and the back skull should flow gracefully into the neck.

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