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Bengal Cat vs The Ocicat: The 5 Main Differences

With the all the different types of cat breeds out there it can be hard to understand the differences between all of them. While some differences are minor, there are others that distinguish one breed from another. Bengal cats and Ocicats appear very similar, but they have significant differences.

The 5 main differences between Bengal cats and Ocicats are:

  1. Hybrid vs non-hybrid
  2. Body shape and coat
  3. Patterns and colors
  4. Temperaments
  5. Cost

This article will focus mainly on describing the main differences between these two cat breeds, but we will touch on some similarities as well. Both breeds are great companions making them a great choice as pets, but knowing the differences between the two can help you choose the right cat for you.

The 5 Main Differences Between Bengal Cats And Ocicats

1. Hybrid vs Non-Hybrid

A major difference between Bengal cats and Ocicats is that one is a hybrid while the other is not. Bengals were created by crossing a wild Asian Leopard cat with a domestic cat. Because of their hybridization, Bengals still possess wild genes that influence certain traits, including their behavior and coat patterns. Bengals can be traced back hundreds of years, but didn’t become common until 1985.

Today the modern Bengal is considered to be a domestic breed by many because at this point most Bengals are bred only with other Bengals. Most breeders no longer use Asian Leopard cats. This is due to an ethical debate of whether or not Asian Leopard cats should be used in such a way, and the high costs of owning one.

Technically Still A Hybrid

However, despite the breed being accepted as a domesticated cat, genetically speaking they are still a hybrid with wild genetics. While these genetics do not have as big of an impact as is seen in other hybrids such as the Savannah cat, it does still factor into the Bengal’s overall appearance and behavioral traits.  

Ocicats on the other hand are a designated domestic breed with no wild genetic crossovers, despite their wild and exotic looks. This particular breed was made possible by crossing other domestic breeds, mainly Abyssinians and Siamese cats. However, some breeders have introduced other domestic short hairs into their program to add other colors and patterns.

An Older Breed

The Ocicat breed is also an older breed in the cat breeding world. While the Bengal can be traced back further, it wasn’t really a commonly bred cat and had no breed standard until 1985, whereas the Ocicat was an established breed by 1966.

Both of these cats are strikingly beautiful in their wild looks, but only one has truly wild roots. With that said, one does not outweigh the other based on genetics. Bengals may have wild genes but they are steadily making their way to being a fully incorporated domestic breed as each generation moves further away from their Asian Leopard cat roots.

2. Body Shape And Coat

At a glance, you may not find that the Bengal and Ocicat look that different. However, if you look closer you can see some minor differences. While minor, these differences can help distinguish one breed from the other. This can be helpful when you are in the market for either of the breeds and want to be sure of what you’re looking at without the use of expensive DNA testing kits.

Upon closer inspection you will notice that Bengals are built much stockier with a very defined muscle structure. Bengal cats are also structured very similarly to a tiger. They have longer back legs making them have a crouched appearance, and look like they are on the prowl when moving.

Bengals Are Heavier

Besides their muscles, their stockier build is also due to being big boned, or rather having much denser bones than some other cats. This contributes to their larger size and weight compared to an Ocicat. Bengals can average between 12-15 pounds (sometimes more), whereas an Ocicat ranges from 9-12 pounds. With that said, both breeds still look fairly lean and athletic.

A Bengal’s head shape is also quite different to that of an Ocicat and features a more rounded or oval shape. Additionally, they have fully developed whisker pads that are well pronounced and noticeably different from other breeds. Their ears are also shorter and don’t have ear tufts, which are the bit of fur that lines the inside of some cat breeds’ ears.

Ocicats Are Longer

When looking at an Ocicat, they are noticeably thinner in appearance when compared to Bengals. However, they still have a well-defined muscular build and are very athletic in nature. Their front and back legs are in proportion but are overall longer than that of a Bengal. In some cases, an Ocicat may seem longer than most Bengals as well since Bengals have a stocky appearance.

The Ocicat’s head is more of a triangular shape versus the Bengal’s more oval shaped head. You will also notice that their ears are much larger and come with ear tufts, which can help quickly distinguish them from Bengals. Additionally, their whisker pads, while not flat, are not always as pronounced as a Bengal’s, but some do have more pronounced whisker pads depending on their genetics. 

3. Patterns And Colors

It can be easy to confuse Bengals and Ocicats if they are not standing right next to each other for you to physically see the difference. Both cats are generally seen in the same mixture of colors and both have spotted and sometimes striped patterns. However, if you see one next to the other in their standard color and pattern, there are distinct differences.

Bengals are known for their leopard-like pattern that results in rosettes throughout their torso. Rosettes are circular markings that appear similar to a rose, thought to be useful for camouflage and stalking prey. Of course, for the Bengal it just adds to their exotic look that is highly sought-after in the pet world. Additionally, they have tiger-like stripes along their legs, chest, and tail.

The “M”

The face of a Bengal will often have traditional tabby markings with multiple vertical stripes on the forehead. These stripes also tend to form an “M” on a Bengal’s forehead, just above the bridge of the nose. These stripes, like the rest of their pattern, are most often black or dark brown in color depending on which color coat they have. This is important as Ocicats have a similar face pattern but in a different color.

Bengals come in three standard colors: brown, snow, and silver. Each of these colors also have different shade variations but are still accepted as standard. Brown Bengals have the most shades including grey, sandy, tawny, brown, and sorrel. The sorrel Bengal, although not very common, is the color that most closely resembles an Ocicat. The sorrel color highlights red and orange colors.

The Genetics Of Color

Snow and silver Bengals also have different shades,but far fewer than brown coats. Both of these colors are also harder to achieve compared to brown variations. Both have more recessive genes than dominant genes, meaning you need to ensure both parents have the gene to make such colors.

Ocicats on the other hand come in a wide variety of colors that areaccepted as the breed standard. Colors include tawny, cinnamon, chocolate, ebony silver spotted, cinnamon silver spotted, chocolate silver spotted, blue silver, fawn silver, lavender silver, blue, fawn, and lavender. The two you’ll see most often are usually cinnamon and fawn.

Facial Markings

The pattern of an Ocicat is also different from a Bengal as described by its breed standard. Ocicats have a distinctive tabby “M” pattern similar to the Bengal, but it extends up over the head and breaks away into tiny spots as it reaches the shoulder blades. They also have mascara markings around their eyes and cheeks.

An Ocicat’s torso is covered in much smaller spots and speckling,unlike the Bengal’s distinctively larger rosette markings. Additionally, they do have similar stripes that run along their legs and rings on their tail, but they tend to be thinner than a Bengal’s stripes. Spot and stripe colors will change depending on what color of Ocicat you have, but in Bengals they are almost always black.

4. Temperaments

Generally speaking, both breeds are known to have good temperaments that are desirable in a pet. However, there are some differences, mainly due to a difference in breed genetics. Bengals are still technically hybrids and exhibit some wild behaviors, whereas Ocicats are a true domestic breed with mellower behavioral patterns.

Bengals are known to be great companions, but they also have a high energy drive that can sometimes seem overwhelming. They need lots of toys, cat furniture, and exercise to help maintain that energy and prevent boredom. Many have noted that their Bengals maintain their kitten-like personalities and energy well into their senior years.

Swimming

Similar to a Savannah cat, Bengals tend to also enjoy water, as their wild Asian Leopard cat relatives are excellent swimmers. This means your kitty might try and jump into your shower or bathtub for some quality time while splashing around. For some this may be a bit too much, and you may want to consider letting your Bengal have some solo tub time.

While they are very independent and enjoy their time alone or with other pets, Bengals are still known to be very loyal and attached to their human companions. This means if you have a busy schedule and are out often, a Bengal may not be for you. They tend to get lonely and bored when they are left alone for long periods of time.

Lastly, Bengals are highly intelligent cats and are capable of learning many things, including walking on a leash and harness. You can also train them to do other tricks or listen to certain commands. However, while capable of learning these skills, it doesn’t mean they will automatically bend to your will. Bengals can be stubborn when in early training and can take patience and dedication.

Ocicats Tend To Be Less Energetic

Ocicats on the other hand are a domestic breed and have a milder temperament in comparison to a Bengal. They tend to be calmer and less erratic, opting to lounge on the couch or sleep on a sunny windowsill. With that said, it doesn’t mean they don’t still enjoy playtime and getting some exercise, but they just have a lower energy drive.

While a Bengal can play for extended periods, your Ocicat may get bored sooner or just run out of steam and be ready for a nap.They love to cuddle up in your lap or at the foot of the bed and just be content most of their day in this state. However, exercise is still important, especially for an indoor cat, to maintain your cat’s health, regardless of breed.

They Won’t Get As Lonely

Ocicats can also be left alone for longer periods without worrying if they will become bored and potentially get into something they shouldn’t. However, even though they can go longer without you around, it is still your responsibility to make sure you have the time to dedicate to any pet. Bonding time, whether its playing, lounging, or grooming, is still important.

As a domestic cat the Ocicat is not going to be naturally excited by water like a Bengal and will be more apprehensive like most house cats. So, you may not have to worry about them joining you for your evening shower! However, there are always exceptions with any breed of cat, as they are all different with their own preferences and personalities.

In terms of intelligence, Ocicats are pretty similar to Bengals, but unlike a Bengal, an Ocicat tends to be more receptive to training. They tend to be easier to train because of their mellower nature, whereas a Bengal can be defiant and independent. Ocicats can be more tolerant of being physically handled and wearing a harness.

5. Cost

The cost of both of these cats can vary depending on where you purchase or adopt them from, but in general you will almost always pay more for a Bengal cat. Bengals are considered to be rarer even with their popularity and they are more expensive to breed.

With Ocicats you do not necessarily need to breed with just Ocicats, as breeders can still breed new generations using Abyssinians and Siamese cats. These domestic breeds are more common and cost less to purchase for a breeding program than another Ocicat. This can significantly lower the cost of breeding, allowing breeders to sell at a cheaper price.

The Cost Of Wild Genes

Bengals are also hybrids, and while almost no breeders use the Asian Leopard cat anymore to produce them, their wild genes still drive up the price. This has more to do with the appeal of owning a cat with wild and exotic genes than it does with the cost of breeding. There are also fewer Bengal breeders and Bengals registered than there are Ocicats.

On average you can expect to pay between $1,500 and $3,000 for a Bengal from a reputable breeder with the proper certification and up to date health checks and inspections. If you have a breeder selling below this price it is best you ask for several references and to see their facility. There are people who will try to pass off other breeds as Bengals, so it is important to do your research.

Rescues And Shelters

While you will not see it often, you can still find Bengals through rescues and shelters. There are cases of people surrendering their Bengal for whatever reason and they can end up being put up for adoption. There are other cases where they may have simply escaped their home and never found their way back. In either case, these Bengals will usually be available at a lower price.

When adopting from a rescue or shelter there is no guarantee that you are purchasing a true Bengal, unless of course the surrendering owner provided their registration papers. If you are in the market for a Bengal purely as a companion and their beautiful looks, ensuring they are a true Bengal may not be of concern. If you want one as a show cat, then you will want to buy from a breeder.

Ocicats Tend To Be Cheaper

Ocicats in comparison can cost between $800 and $1,200 from a reputable breeder, specifically for kittens. Adults may cost a little less depending on their age and situation, as some breeders will retire studs or queens and adopt them out at a lower price.

The difference in price stems from there being a lot more Ocicat breeders available versus Bengal breeders. The cost to breed Ocicats is also lower since they are purchasing domestics breeds at a lower cost than that of breeding pairs of hybrid Bengals.

Ocicats can also be found at shelters and rescues similarly to Bengals, but you may not always know that they are an Ocicat. This is similar to Bengals because you cannot always be certain without papers or a DNA test.

Final Thoughts

The main differences between Bengals and Ocicats are their hybrid versus non-hybrid status, and the way they look. While both cats are fairly expensive when compared to domestic breeds, Bengals are usually the most expensive. However, both Bengal cats and Ocicats make excellent pets!