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Differences Between Bengal Cats and Leopard Cats

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: January 16, 2017
Differences Between Bengal Cats and Leopard Cats

Animal file: Bengal

The leopard cat is often confused with the Bengal cat because of their similar names and appearances. Both cats have reddish coats from gray to olive with spots or rosettes that remind us of those of leopards or ocelots. However, the leopard cat and the Bengal cat are not the same breed - they are not even the same species!

In this AnimalWised article we'll go over the differences between Bengal cats and leopard cats, including their character, diet and habits. Are you wondering if Bengal cats are wild or where can you find leopard cats? Read on!

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  1. What is the leopard cat like?
  2. What is the Bengal cat like?
  3. What do leopard cats eat?
  4. More about Bengal cats

What is the leopard cat like?

The most obvious difference between Bengal cats and leopard cats is their classification as species. Leopard cats, scientifically known as Prionailurus bengalensis, is a species of wild cat. It can be found in Asia, from the central part of eastern Russia to Korea. Leopard cats also live throughout Southeast Asia, the coastal area of India and East Indian islands. As you can see, they are quite widespread.

Leopard cats can live in many habitats, although they prefer dense forests and jungles. However, they can also be found in the endless steppes of Mongolia, or in the foothills of the mountains in Pakistan, or in the Himalayas themselves.

There are 12 subspecies of leopard cat. Depending on their habitat, leopard cats vary in terms of hair length and the definition of their specks. This helps them to disguise themselves in their environment; those leopard cats living in cold climates like Mongolia, Manchuria, Siberia or the Himalayas have longer hair and are heavier overall.

On the other hand, leopard cat subspecies living in continental mild forests and rainforests and large islands such as Borneo, Sumatra, Java and Indonesia have much shorter fur and more visible mottled spots. They are predators that hide among the thick foliage canopy lurking for their prey, and the spots help them camouflage.

Leopard cats are among the most beautiful types of wild cat around the world, which has caught the attention of domestic cat breeders. Some cat breeders have attempted to cross the two species to create exclusive new pets, which often leads to the question of whether leopard cats are wild cats at all. As you can see, the answer is yes.

You can't adopt or keep a leopard cat as a pet legally easily; it is a protected animal in most countries, and it's subject to conservation projects. In fact, it is illegal to import, export or transport leopard cats in the United States without a permit, and in most places you need a license to keep one as a pet.

Differences Between Bengal Cats and Leopard Cats - What is the leopard cat like?

What is the Bengal cat like?

The leopard cat is a wild cat species, but what is a Bengal cat, then? Unlike the former, Bengal cats are a breed of domestic cats (Felis catus), and you can have one as a pet legally. The differences between Bengal cats and leopard cats are often hard to tell because Bengal cats are deliberately bred to look like leopard cats.

When the leopard cat caught the eye of cat fanciers, they crossbred the small wild cat with the domestic cat with the aim of having a pet that looked like an ocelot or a jungle cat. These cross-breeds were in turn bred again with domestic cats, reducing the wild genes. Therefore, the Bengal cat is a hybrid breed. Here you can learn more about the origin of the Bengal cat; click here if you want to discover all about cat hybrids, including the liger and the tigon.

If you are thinking about adopting a Bengal cat and you are worried about their character or wild behavior, AnimalWised can help you with useful information.

  • Bengal cats are quite solitary animals, so a home with many other pets is not the most appropriate. However, if you adopt one when it is very small, it can get on wonderfully with dogs and cats.
  • You must be careful to protect pets such as birds and rodents.
  • Bengal cats can develop a nocturnal behavior, as wild leopard cats usually hunt at night.
  • Rural environments are well suited because there have more freedom of movement and are closer to a "natural" environment. In order to avoid any upset, AnimalWised recommends neutering your cat. If you do this, your Bengal cat will not leave during heat and you will prevent the occurrence of some diseases.
  • Bengal cats are excellent climbers, so you must be prepared for a possible broken curtain in your home.
  • Bengal cats are also amazing swimmers, as they love water.
  • As with all living things, every cat has its own personality. That's why some Bengal cats will enjoy human company more, and others will be more lonely, playful, calm or curious.
  • Bengal cats live for approximately 13 years in captivity. Remember that when you adopt one, you are responsible for the animal's life. If you are not going to be able to look after it during this time, it is best not to adopt one.

Bengal cats are not wild cats, although some may develop feral behavior. If your Bengal cat shows serious behavior problems you should contact a veterinarian or ethologist.

Differences Between Bengal Cats and Leopard Cats - What is the Bengal cat like?

What do leopard cats eat?

Leopard cats in the wild are predators that stalk their prey, camouflaged among the dense jungle or hidden in leafy branches. All of a sudden they surprise their victims with their sharp claws and bite until they are dead.

Leopard cats do not play with their prey like domestic cats do, a tendency that's passed on to their relatives, the Bengal cats. The fact that their natural diet comprises of a significant number of birds requires them to seize their victims without hesitation and prevent them from escaping. Besides birds, leopard cats also feed on rodents, reptiles, amphibians, insects, some herbs and eggs.

Differences Between Bengal Cats and Leopard Cats - What do leopard cats eat?

More about Bengal cats

Now that you know the differences between leopard cats and Bengal cats you can consider adopting one! If you really want to adopt a Bengal cat, AnimalWised advises you get well informed and learn all about this beautiful hybrid breed.

You may be interested in learning more about hybrids in our article on the differences between a donkey, a mule and an ass.

Differences Between Bengal Cats and Leopard Cats - More about Bengal cats

If you want to read similar articles to Differences Between Bengal Cats and Leopard Cats, we recommend you visit our What you need to know category.

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The article was informing of what to do with Bengal Cats, however less of Leopard Cats.
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Differences Between Bengal Cats and Leopard Cats