How did bengal cats get their name

How Did Bengal Cats Get Their Name?

  • February 21, 2023

The origin of the Bengal cat’s name isn’t a simple answer. The lore behind the name, doesn’t only make sense, but it also hints back to the origins behind the breed. The lore behind the name and the origin of the breed come from the same sources and breed historical stories. The Bengal breed’s name has an interesting origin, so let’s look further into it with these topics:

  • Felis bengalensis
  • Bill Engler
  • Why does it matter?

Felis bengalensis

One origin behind the Bengal cat’s name is influenced by where the breed originates from. As we know, Bengals are produced by breeding together an Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) and a domestic cat. The name Bengal comes from the scientific name for the ALC, Felis bengalensis.

This origin for the Bengal cat’s name honors the Bengal’s origins as well as how the breed reflects the traits of the ALC from an F1 to an F5, since the ALC has such a heavy influence on the breed’s traits.

The Asian Leopard Cats influence on the breed doesn’t just influence the Bengal’s name, it also influences the scientific reason for breeding these cats, which again plays into the origin of the Bengal name. The ALC part of the Bengal cat brought about the scientific interest into the breed due to the ALC’s immunity to feline leukemia.

Dr. Willard Centerwall was breeding ALCs with domestic cats to see if the ALC’s feline leukemia immunity could be passed to the hybrid offspring litter produced in the breeding. It doesn’t get passed on, but it’s still an interesting historical and scientific fact for the Bengal breed.

It is the Asian Leopard Cats part of a Bengal cat’s ancestry that not only may have gotten Bengal’s their name, but also influenced how much their coat affects people with cat allergies. The pelt-like and allergen free coat of the ALC is, to a limit, passed down the Bengals produced from breeding. Because of this, Bengal cats are notorious for causing a non-existent to minimal allergic reaction in people who are normally allergic to cat dander.

This may be the more widely accepted origin for the Bengal name but just because it is the most accepted origin for the Bengal name doesn’t mean it’s the only one, or the most creative one.

Bill Engler

There’s a supposed origin for the Bengal name that doesn’t reflect as heavily on the Asian Leopard Cat’s influence on the breed. Bengals Illustrated explains this name origin through Dr. Centerwall’s statement in 1974 about Bill Engler’s importance to the publicizing and popularizing of these cats.

Since pinpointing the originator of the breed is so difficult considering its unspecified breeding in the 1800s, the importance in the origin of the breed falls heavily on those who made the breed more common and to Engler for bringing the breed into the spot light.

For this reason, it is thought that the name “Bengal” comes from Bill Engler’s name. In this origin idea, “Bengal” comes from taking the “B” from “Bill” and the “engle” from “Engler” and mixing them together. With a slight adjustment, “Bengal” is produced.

This origin to the Bengal name isn’t the more accepted one, but it’s still a kind and reminiscent tribute to Bill Engler’s influence in giving this breed the possibility at the popularity that it currently has.

Why does it matter?

The origin of the name “Bengal” is not only important because the origin stories are an interesting piece of information for the breed but also because the origin tells owners and admirers to the breed more about Bengals, their quirks, and their origins.

The “Felis Bengalensis” origin story tells us how close to and important the ALC ancestry is to the Bengal breed. But the “Bill Engler” origin story tells us the same thing, it shows the importance of the development of the breed, from the scientific research available into both feline and human leukemia to the unique pet cat production from the breeding of an ALC and a domestic cat.

Because of how heavily the name reflects on the breed, the origin of the Bengal name is a very important and interesting piece of information for this breed. And the multiple possible origins for the Bengal name just adds some extra pizzazz to the breed.

So, what do you think about how Bengals got their name?  Do you agree with what was said here?  Comment below to let us know!

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