Although long-haired Bengal cats may be a new and exotic breed, Bengal kittens with long, soft coats have existed since the Bengal breeding program's inception.
Every now and then, among the traditional, short-haired Bengal kittens, a baby with long hair would be born in a litter of Bengal kittens. Because their coats were deemed atypical for breeding standards, they were spayed or neutered when they reached maturity.
However, some breeders saw the beauty and uniqueness of these fluffy Bengals and decided to breed this unusual trait into them.
The Bengal Longhair also goes by the name Cashmere cat. It is essentially a longhaired version of the modern Bengal, a popular breed developed in the 1980s and recognized as a breed by The International Cat Association (TICA) in 1986. Although longhaired Bengal cats had been bred for the entire time, TICA did not recognize them for Championship status until 2017.
Cashmere cats, or longhaired Bengals, are also known as semi-longhaired Bengals. They were always included in the Bengal cat breeding program as the Bengal cats evolved. However, because longer hair was once thought to be an undesirable trait, it took some time before these cats were accepted not only as a variation of the Bengal cat breed but also as a new breed in their own right. The name “Cashmere” was given to the longhaired Bengal in 2013 when it was granted preliminary breed status in the NZCF (New Zealand Cat Fancy) registry. Damian Vaughan, a breeder, requested that the Cashmere name be used to register these cats.
Cat Breed Characteristics
The Bengal Longhair is a medium to large cat with a richly colored, highly contrasted coat. The Bengal breed is the only domestic cat that can have rosettes, like the markings on Leopards, Jaguars, and Ocelots. It was developed from crosses between domestic cats and the Asian Leopard Cat. Here are the most dominant traits of the Bengal Longhair.
Bengal Longhair cats are distinguished by their long, velvety coats. Breeders named these cats Cashmere after the silkiness and softness of their fur reminded them of this luxurious fiber. Because this is a natural variation, there is no standard length of hair that can be expected. The coat can be similar to that of a Turkish Angora cat, or it can be longer and fluffier, like that of Maine Coon cats.
In terms of color and markings, Bengal Longhair cats are just as beautiful and diverse as Bengal cats. Their coat can be spotted or rosetted, resembling a small, fluffy leopard, or marbled, with dark swirls contrasting against their light, silky fur. Bengal Longhair coats come in various colors, ranging from brown and gold to snow varieties with milky, ivory hair accented by two-toned spots or a dark marble pattern.
These cats are medium-to-large in size. The majority weigh 8 to 15 pounds and measure 17 to 22 inches in length. They are very muscular and agile, with a well-balanced build.
Bengal Longhair cats have the same personality traits as their short-haired counterparts. They are extremely intelligent and curious and are frequently compared to dogs due to their trainability. Cashmere cats, like their short-haired relatives, can learn tricks and walk on a leash.
Because Bengal Longhair cats are playful and energetic, you can expect this fluffy furball to jump around and climb all over your home. One of the characteristics of Bengal cats is also true of Cashmere cats, so don't be surprised if you notice small objects mysteriously disappearing from where you left them.
Another critical factor for the Bengal Longhair breed is their overall health. Like all purebred cats, Bengal Longhair cats can be prone to specific health issues. They are generally healthy, but owners and veterinarians have noticed the following common issues in this breed:
- Progressive retinal atrophy - An eye condition that worsens over time and can impair the cat's vision.
- Hip dysplasia - A skeletal development problem that can affect the development and function of the cat's hips.
- Distal neuropathy - A nervous system disorder that causes overall weakness in the cat’s body.
- Flat-chested kitten syndrome - A mild to severe developmental deformity.
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy - A genetic disease that causes the heart of a cat to enlarge.
- Patellar luxation - A hereditary dislocation of the kneecap. It can range from mild to severe.
World Cat Finder Team