Selecting for the Ideal Bengal Body Shape

Last week we wrote about the Bengal Body and explained what the ideal adult Bengal body should be, but as a breeder, how do you select a Bengal kitten with this great body shape?

One can start to see the general ideal shape of a Bengal body quite young.  Since we don't have a Leopard cat ourselves, finding pictures can be a challenge, but you can typically see the ideal body shape even in a less than an ideal picture.  In the picture of two Leopard cat kittens, one can already see the arc in the back and the depth in the latter half of the body on the kitten on the right. You can start to look for this ideal shape at a young age on your SBT Bengal too.

The collage on the right shows the development - or rather simply the existence because it doesn't really develop or change - of the ideal body shape on an SBT Bengal at 3, 5, 8, and 14 weeks.  Notice that in all the pictures - despite the different poses and different angles - the arc in the back is always present, as is the body's depth at the back end.

When selecting a Bengal body, one should look at multiple pictures from multiple angles or video the kitten and watch the video carefully.  All cats can arch their back, and when pulling the back leg forward, most cats can have the appearance of a depth to the back of their body. Don't allow your eye to be misled by the positioning of the body or the back legs. Specifically, look for depth when the back leg is stretched out backward and look to see that there is still an arc in the spine when the cat's body is fully extended.

Thanks to Warren Photography's free photosharing site, I was able to find quality pictures of kittens walking that show body shapes that Bengal breeders should try to select away from.  As was explained in the Body Shape blog, most domestic cats have torsos that are either equal in depth from front to back or are deeper in the front than in the back. Because the Bengal Standard encourages breeders to select for distinct features of the small forest-dwelling wildcats, it is best to avoid torsos equal in depth from front to back or deeper at the front end. 

Notice none of these kittens have the arc in the spine. Their backs are all flat.  This is not simply because they have an extended back leg - therefore stretching their body - because when compared to the Bengal kitten in the previous collage, she is also pictured with an extended back leg, yet the arc in the back remains. Now, look at a depth of the body in all of these kittens.  They are all either equal from front to back, or their body is shallow at the back end.  Yet, even in the three-week-old picture of the Bengal in the previous collage, one can see the depth to the read end of the torso.

So what about the primordial pouches?  If they are going to exist, they will exist on young kittens as well.  And, you can get an idea of how big they will be by sticking your fingers behind that loose flap of skin and feeling the size of the pouch.  Pictured to the right are two five-week-old littermates.  One can see the guy on top has a bit more loose skin than the guy on the bottom, which tells us his primordial pouches are larger, and he could slow down a downward jump just a wee bit longer to get further if jumping from a tree branch to tree branch in an Asian forest.

When selecting for a Bengal body shape that replicates the small forest-dwelling cats of Asia, breeders have the advantage of the shape existing on kittens at a very young age.  Once the kittens start walking, watch for the arc in the back that is even present when the body is fully extended and make sure the torso's depth is at the rear end of the cat.

These Blogs are written by Robyn Paterson, with much of the content coming from the mind of Jon Paterson.  We intend to help other Bengal breeders notice and select for features that are distinct to small forest-dwelling wildcats to better the breed together.

Read More. . . 
Rule of Thirds - The Front Third                                                                  
Rule of Thirds - The Middle Third
Rules of Thirds - The Back Third

Bengal Nose Set
Bengal Nose Size
Bengal Nose Shape

The Bengal Body
Selecting the Ideal Body in Bengal Kittens

Bengal Tail Set