DonaMae Cattery  Phoenix, Arizona  623-582-1015

Bengal Cat Origins       Cell Phone 623-203-1274

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ATTENTION: This site will remain up for some time,but we will be unable to update it after June 1, 2015. Enjoy it as it is our history, then visit our new site for updates and new kittens. It is a work in progress

New site

Also eventually

Thank you, Donamae and Jim Dougherty



The Bengal cat was originally christened the "leopardette" and referred to by some authors as the "Bengali." It originated from a cross between a wild Asian Leopard Cat (felis bengalensis) and a domestic cat. It is therefore a hybrid cat, and one would expect all the offspring to be infertile. Surprisingly, although the first male offspring did prove to be infertile, the females did not, and it was possible to use them in a planned breeding program to develop the new breed.

In the late 70's Dr. Willard Centerwall, a geneticist working at the University of California, began a breeding program that involved crossing Leopard Cats with short-haired domestic cats as part of a study of feline leukemia. Mrs. Jean Mill, also a geneticist, acquired eight female hybrids from Dr. Centerwall in 1981 and used these as the foundation stock for a new Bengal Cat project.  As before, it was her aim to combine the markings of a wild Leopard Cat with the friendly temperament of a tame domestic cat.  The female hybrids were mated with a red feral domestic cat that had been found living rough in the rhinoceros enclosure of Delhi Zoo, and a brown spotted tabby found in a Los Angeles cat shelter. From these unlikely beginnings, the new breed of domesticated Bengal Cats was developed. 

Several other American breeders worked on the Bengal breed. Dr. Gregg Kent was successful in producing crosses between a male Leopard Cat and a female Egyptian Mau. Other domestic breeds used from time to time include the Ocicat, the Abyssinian, the Bombay, and the British Shorthair. In 1983 TICA accepted the domesticated Bengal Cat for registration as a new breed and it achieved National Championship status in 1990-91. 

EXPENSIVE: By 1989 there were estimated to be about 200 Bengal cats in existence. According to the Cat World Encyclopedia by Morris, in the early 1990's some were imported into Britain, where their value was put at 2,500 lbs, or about 3,750 dollars each, making them the most expensive domestic cats in the country at that time. One British owner who spent about 150,000 dollars assembling his family of Bengals, claimed to have refused an offer of 18,000 for one particular animal. 

PERSONALITY: Terms used to describe this breed include intelligent, agile, alert, active, athletic, cunning, curious, busy, powerful, determined, outgoing, social, loving, affectionate, confident and independent. They are fond of WATER and have been known to jump into bathtubs to join their owners. They also love climbing and indulge in endless bouts of play-hunting. 

VOICE: Their vocalizations differ from the ordinary domestic cat, containing several "wild" elements. An odd raspy noise is unique to the Bengal.  When given a treat or toy, you will think you are at the Zoo with their growling. The growling doesn't mean they will harm you. I have one unusually "growley" female I have held as long as an hour to see if she would quit. Sheba finally fell asleep in my arms, but she never scratched or bit me.

HEALTH: the health of the Bengal cats is excellent!  No other breed has as healthy cats as the Bengal breed.  The wild blood in the Bengal likely has given the Bengal cat his good health.

Patterns: Spotted and Marble. All Bengals should show a well defined color pattern by the time they are four weeks old. The belly must be spotted. Clear colors and sharp contrast are desirable. 


Brown Tabby: 

Seal Lynx Point 

Snow Marble; 

Sorrel (Golden); 


Rufus (red).

Blue Marble.

SIZE: Bengals are  A large cat, with the females weighing 7-10 lb, and the males as much as 18 lb. It has a powerful, muscular body with high hindquarters, large feet, and a characteristically spotted coat. Even the belly is spotted. The black spots are usually solid, but occasionally they appear as dark rosettes. The tail-tip is black. The main difference between the coat of the wild cat and this new domestic hybrid is found on the ear and the tail. The ear of the domestic animal lacks the vivid white patch ringed with black that is seen in the wild ancestor, and the domestic tail lacks the wild cat spotting. It must have at least 3 rings,  however, to be classified as a Bengal. .


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Telephone  623-582-1015    Cell  623-203-1274  Dona Mae Cattery

Mailing address 35040 N. 14th St., Phoenix Az., 85086

Dona Mae Dougherty,  James J Dougherty, Jamie Joe Dougherty