Bengal Cat Type and Wild Essence
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.
In simplistic terms, the more type a cat has, the more 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 Bengal standard was written to describe a F1 Bengal Cat; therefore, good Bengal kittens should all be moving in that direction.
There are many different aspects of the Bengal cat that put together type. However, for clarity, I'll address them individually.
Perhaps the biggest impact of type is the eyes. So what type of eyes make a Bengal cat look typey - big eyes set wide on the outer edge of the skull. A wild cat needs large, wide set eyes to hunt. The domestic cat no longer depends on hunting for survival; therefore, domestication of the cat led to smaller, close set eyes.
The ears make a huge impact on the wild look of a cat. Many domestic cats have large, triangular ears, set on the top of its skull. The Asian Leopard cat has rounded, cupped ears set lower on the skull so that they angle out, not up. The rounded cupped shape is critical to the wild cat's survival as is captures sound waves better than the flatter, triangular domestic cat's ear. When rounded, cupped ears are achieved on a Bengal cat, they add to the cat's type.
It is hard to separate skull from ears because the placement of the ears has an effect on the appearance of the skull. The Asian Leopard cat has more rounded shape to the top of its skull. Therefore, when looking at a Bengal cat's head in profile, one should see a dome shape both in front of and behind the ears. Having this fore skull and back skull adds to a Bengal's type.
The whisker pads and the chin on a typey Bengal cat are always pronounced. Once again, one can turn to the needs of a wild cat for a rationale. The chin on an ALC would have to be large and strong to rip through its prey. With domestication, a cat no longer has to rip through prey, so the strong chin is lost. A Bengal with typey whisker pads and chin will have a three leaf clover effect; each whisker pad and the chin are well pronounced.
The Asian Leopard cat has one more vertebrae than the domestic cat, more muscle mass than a domestic cat, and longer hind legs than a domestic cat. Therefore, when you watch a typey Bengal cat walk, it will be long, muscular with a higher rear end. These structural differences are obvious when one sees the cat in motion.
For a wild cat, the tail actually serves the purpose of balance; therefore, the Asian Leopard cat's tail is strong, short, and thick. Some of our domestic out crosses have long, thin, whippy tails. Bengal cats with type will have a tail more like an ALC and less like a domestic cat.
Look at a wild cat's feet and you will be moved by the sheer size of them in comparison to the body. The knuckling is massive; the feet are powerful and strong. A Bengal that retains the structure of its ALC heritage will have feet with substance.
Wild Essence is almost like a first impression. When a cat or kitten first looks at you, does it look wild? That is wild essence. It is achieved on the Bengal cat's face by combining enough characteristics of type with enough characteristics of the ideal facial coat pattern.
SBT Solana Ranch Declaration, pictured in the center, has the head type of an ALC. She simply needs the paint. White around the eyes combined with jet black mascara is the ultimate goal for the Bengal face.
Wild essence is difficult to put into words, but when you see a cat with it, you'll know what I'm talking about. Our goal is for all of our cats and Bengal kittens for sale to exhibit wild essence.