Originally christened the Leopardette, the Bengal is a hybridisation of domestic cats and Asian Leopard Cats (a small wild cat). In 1963 Jean Sudgen of Yuma, Arizona purchased a female Asian Leopard cat (named Malaysia) from a pet store. Believing the cat to be lonely, she put a black domestic cat in her cage for company. The animals mated and produced two kittens, a male and a female called KinKin.
Sadly, the male was fatally mauled by Malaysia but KinKin was safely removed and raised by a Himalayan queen. Jean contacted Cornell University who predicted that KinKin would be sterile. This proved to be incorrect when KinKin was mated back to her father and delivered two kittens. A black female and a spotted male. Due to the sudden death of her husband this project was abandoned.
In 1980 Jean contacted geneticist Dr Willard Centerwall who was working on a breeding programme which involved crossing Leopard Cats with domestic cats. This was part of a study of Feline Leukaemia. Jean Sudgen (now living in California and remarried as Jean Mill) obtained several F1 (the F stands for Filial) hybrids from this programme.
While in India in 1982 Jean and her husband came across a tailless feral domestic male with markings similar to that of the leopard. He had been living in a rhino enclosure at Delhi zoo. Jean imported this cat (named Millwood Tory of Delhi) back to the United States and he was mated with the female hybrids. Other domestic breeds were used in the breeding programme including Ocicats, Egyptian Maus, Abyssinians, Bombays, Burmees, Himalayan and British Shorthairs. The breed obtained official recognition with TICA in 1984.
The longhair trait is a recissie gene that must be carried by both parents in order to manifest itself. Varied outcrosses were used in the breeds early develpoment and still these awesome look of a wildcat sometimes pop up.
In earlier days the longhaired Bengals where also called Pardino, in these days lovers, breeders and holders are calling them Cashmere.
A Cashmere is the longhaired version of the Bengal.
Cashmere cats are pure Bengal cats!
Recently there are more and more breeders of this beautifull longhaired version of Bengals!