In 1961 J. Sugden (who later became Jean Mill of Millwood cattery) bought, in Arizona where she lived, Malasia, an A.L.C. (Prionailurus bengalensis) or an Asian leopard cat.
Hence the dream of the S.ra Mill: the peculiarity of this coat and the wild appearance of this cat kicked off the selection project. Malaysia was mated with her pet cat giving birth to two kittens, one with a coat like hers and one, no.
This was the starting point for an important selection project but, due to family problems, Mrs. Mill had to interrupt this short but intense dream.
In 1973, Dr. Centerwall discovered that A.L.C. was immune to the feline leukemia virus, so he tried to hybridize it in hopes of transmitting this genetic trait. In reality, he set aside this project as he discovered the exact opposite: the newborns had the same problem as domestic cats, becoming infected, not remaining immune to it.
J. Mill in the meantime has not disappeared from our history of the Bengal breed, after fixing the family problems that had made her put aside a dream and learning about these Centerwall project kittens, she was able to recover the females of the first generation, since the males hybridized are sterile until the 3rd generation at least.
Jean's dream was finally coming true and over the years he introduced the rosette coat gene and began working on the selection of the coat and on the wild type of this fantastic breed, obtaining not only an appearance similar to the ALC but, by combining the characteristics. meek and cooperative temperaments of domestic cats.
In 1985 the Bengal was inserted by TICA as a new, experimental breed: naturally the A.L.C (the Bengal breed did not officially exist yet) were crossed with different breeds of domestic cats (mau, abyssinian, bombay, burmese, etc.).
In 1991 it was officially recognized as a breed, first by TICA and from the other feline federations thereafter. Jean's dream (and all the breeders he collaborated with) had come true and the Bengal breed is now one of the most widespread in America.
From the official recognition of the breed in Italy, for obvious reasons, it is no longer possible to hybridize Bengal cats with the ancestor A.L.C.
Abroad there are still some breeders who, being able to keep it, hybridize the two species in order to expand the breed's genetic pool.