Why the Thoughtfully Bred Bengal?

BENGALS, the domestic descendants of Asian Leopard Cat/domestic cat crosses, have been developed for a number of reasons:

1) Initially just to see if it were possible, and to explore scientific frontiers.

2) To study the apparent partial immunity to FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus) enjoyed by the leopard cat, and to attempt to isolate the gene or factor involved, perhaps with human leukemia implications.

3) To study the inheritance of temperament in hopes of shedding scientific light on the age-old debate over the parts played by genetics vs. environment in shaping our basic responses.

4) To experimentally study the genetic components in feline coat, color, pattern, and texture, especially of the exquisite rosette pattern found only in the wild species of feline.

5) To develop a "substitute" pet for cat lovers everywhere who long to adopt a wild feline for a pet. No wild animal domesticates satisfactorily, and attempts to do so are are almost always disastrous for humans and animals alike. Tragic stories of inhumane confinement and care abound when humans expect wild animals to confirm to stereotypes of "Gentle Ben". But long domesticated cats make loving pets even in tiny apartments. Millwood Bengals have been carefully selected through many generations to retain only the appearance genes of the wild ancestor. They are domestic cats with a fur coat reminiscent of the leopard pattern, and satisfy the human need for a wild cat that truly IS a pet, and delight in its beauty.

6) To attempt to replicate as closely as seems wise the beautiful wild coat against the day when the wild species of felines become extinct. (Only the shortsighted would have objected had there been efforts by ornithologists to breed common crows endowed with stunning plumage of the now almost extinct Bird of Paradise, had it been possible.)

7) To create new beauty for the world. Luther Burbank was maligned in his time for "fooling with Nature" but today we enjoy tangelos and nectarines. It did not harm the integrity of the grapefruit, tangerine, peach, or plum, to make use of their genes in these new creations. It just gave people additional pleasure. Bengals in no way threaten leopard cats, for Bengals cannot survive in the jungles of Asia. On the contrary, from their contented perches in high-rise apartments in Manhattan, they may help ease the pressure on the wild cats of the world.

-- From one of the first printings of The Bengal Bulletin, 1988

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