If you’ve ever had the pleasure of petting a Bengal cat. Chances are you’ll have felt how soft and gorgeous their coats are. And that might have led you to wonder whether Bengal cats have fur, pelts, or hair.
Do Bengal Cats Have Fur, Pelt, or Hair?
Bengal cats technically have pelts, and that’s partly why they have such sleek, glossy coats. They are short-haired, and although they do shed (like all cats), it is minimal compared with most other felines. Their pelts are different from a standard house cat’s fur for a couple of reasons, which we’ll explore.
Why Is It Called A Pelt?
A pelt is just a name for skin with fur (or even wool) still attached to it. So technically speaking, all cats have pelts.
However, we tend to refer to them as being furry or having fur coats instead. If you’ve noticed the difference, you might be wondering why it exists and what prompted us to refer to a Bengal’s “pelt” rather than its “fur.”
LapLeopardBengals tells us that Bengals only have a single layer of fur instead of the double layer of most domestic house cats. You may have noticed this when petting them.
The first layer, closest to the skin, is known as the undercoat, and the second is the topcoat.
These can also be called ground coat and guard hair. It is generally the topcoat that sheds when a cat is stroked or brushed – or just in their daily lives.
Bengal cats don’t have an undercoat and topcoat. Instead, they have a single layer of fur.
This seems to be the main distinction between domestic cats and Bengals. At least in terms of their coats. And it may be what led to the fur being called a pelt rather than fur or hair.
It is both fur and hair, but the single layer is differentiated from the double layers by the different names.
It is also thought that the habit of calling the Bengal’s coat a pelt-coat stems from their ancestry. After all, we use “pelt” to refer to the coats of tigers and lions and other big cats, rather than either fur or hair.
It, therefore, makes sense to transfer this term to the Bengal, which is descended from an Asian Leopard Cat.
The use of the word pelt is also perhaps in part because it makes the cat sound more exotic and interesting. By calling a Bengal’s coat a pelt, rather than its fur or hair, we make them appealing and unusual and set them apart from standard domestic cats.
How Does A Bengal’s Pelt Differ From A Domestic Cat’s Fur?
A Bengal’s pelt is a little different from a domestic cat’s fur. As you will know if you have ever had the pleasure of petting a Bengal. We’ll explore why below.
Reduced Shedding And Allergens
Firstly, some people say that Bengal cats don’t shed, and this means they are hypoallergenic. However, that is not strictly true. Bengal cats do shed. But they shed considerably less than many domestic cats because they do not have a double coat.
Less hair equals less shedding and less mess. But it also leads to another benefit (as far as allergy sufferers are concerned).
The protein responsible for the allergic reaction that some people suffer from when they contact cats is actually in the cat’s saliva. When the cat grooms, they spread this over their bodies and through their coats. And it is then transferred to people when we touch the cat or come into contact with loose fur.
However, a Bengal cat does not need to groom itself as thoroughly or frequently as a domestic cat. Because it has less fur to keep in order and a much thinner coat to tidy up. That means a lot less grooming overall, and therefore less saliva on the fur.
Furthermore, it’s possible that because they are hybrids, they have less of this protein in their saliva, to begin with; many big cats do not have it at all. Further testing is needed to confirm this, but it is possible.
These three things are great for anyone who suffers from allergies; the saliva may be less reactive, there is less saliva, and there is less fur around the house.
While a Bengal certainly can still trigger allergies, it is less likely to do so. So if you only suffer mildly, you may be able to own a Bengal cat without a problem.
However, remember that they are not hypoallergenic cats, and there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat. Bengals are simply less likely to cause an allergic reaction than most cats are.
The next way in which the coat differs is the texture. Bengals have extremely short and soft fur, making them lovely to stroke.
They feel like silk, especially when compared to a standard domestic cat, whose coat may feel much rougher.
Petting one is like petting a rabbit. And if you have ever done so, you’ll be familiar with just how pleasant an experience it is. This is partly due to the lack of an undercoat. Instead, it makes for silky fur that lies very close to the animal’s body and can be smoothed down to perfection.
Of course, the fur of domestic cats differs enormously between individuals. And you may notice that some are soft and silky, while others have very coarse fur.
However, a Bengal cat will always have a distinctively smooth, short coat. Because there is no lower layer to ruffle up the part that we see and touch.
The idea that a cat could sparkle might sound strange. But Bengal cats can sparkle – or glitter, as some people call it.
This is because the tip of each hair contains less pigment than the rest. And this allows more light to shine through the end of the hair. In bright light or sunshine, this can give the cat a sparkly appearance. Making Bengals even more magical than they already are!
They are known for the beauty of their pelts, too. Dark markings on a lighter-colored body are the norm. And they can have marbles, rosettes, or spots all over their bodies.
Their bellies are usually spotted. However, they can be similar to domestic tabbies in appearance, so they aren’t always distinguishable just by looking at them.
Bengals should not have any white on them, except on their chins or whiskers, or stomachs. Domestic cats can have white anywhere on their bodies, although these are common places for it to appear.
So, in answer to whether Bengal cats have pelts, fur, or hair. They are generally referred to as having pelts or pelt-coats rather than fur or hair.
However, it’s not clear if this is because of a hard distinction or if it is a habit that we have adopted because breeders use the term.
“Pelt” certainly sounds exotic and feels in keeping with their wild ancestors. But you would not be inaccurate if you said that they have fur or hair because they do.
The most significant difference lies in the lack of an undercoat. This lends the Bengal’s pelt an exceptionally sleek and shiny appearance. But their fur does not otherwise differ very notably from a domestic cat’s.