Bengal Cat vs Tabby Cat
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Bengal Cat vs Tabby Cat [how to tell the difference with pictures]

To the untrained eye, Bengal cats and Tabby cats appear to be very similar. In reality, they can be very different. Bengal cats are a breed and Tabby is simply a coat pattern. While they have a similar appearance, Bengal cats have different temperaments and personalities as well as different energy levels and general care requirements.

I will explain everything you need to know about how to tell the difference between a Bengal cat and just Tabby cats including differences in their appearance, temperament, size, and more. 

Is My Cat a Tabby or a Bengal
Is My Cat a Tabby or a Bengal?

Keep reading to learn more about the mystical Bengal cat!

Bengal Cat History

The Bengal breed was first created by a cat breeder in California named Jean Sugden Mill.

In the early 1960s, she had a wild Asian Leopard Cat as one of her house pets. Jean bred this cat to a domestic house cat a few years later. 

This resulted in the first purebred Bengal cat. Jean Mill is widely credited with being the founder of the Bengal cat breed.

Bengal Cat History
Bengal Cat History

In the 1970s it was discovered that Bengal cats cannot get feline Leukemia. This was discovered by the geneticist Dr. Willard Centerwall, who began breeding Bengal cats himself. 

Asian Leopard Cats

Considering that small Asian Leopard Cats are wild cats and not domestic cats, they do not make the best house pets. 

As a result, the breeding that was necessary to create a domestic cat that looks like a Bengal tiger is not without controversy. 

The very existence of Bengal cats is still controversial in some people’s eyes. However, they have grown in popularity over the years and are definitely a beautiful cat breed. 

Tabby Cat History

Unlike the origins of the Bengal breed, Tabby cats have a much longer history because so many breeds can be Tabby. 

Tabby cats can be found everywhere around the entire world. They date back to the very beginnings of domestic cats.

As the story goes, the Tabby cat’s origins came about in Egypt hundreds or even thousands of years ago. It is said Tabbies get their distinctive markings from wild cats.

Tabby Cat History
Tabby Cat History

Some say the name Tabby comes from the French word “tabis” for striped silk taffeta. Comparing the beautiful silk-like coat and striped markings of a Tabby cat to silk taffeta.

Cat Breeds with the Tabby Coat Pattern 

  • Abyssinian
  • American Curl
  • American Bobtail 
  • American Shorthair 
  • British Shorthair
  • Cornish Rex
  • Devon Rex
  • Domestic Shorthair 
  • Domestic Longhair
  • Egyptian Mau
  • Maine Coon
  • Munchkin
  • Norwegian Forest Cat
  • Persian Cat
  • Ragdoll
  • Scotish Fold
  • Turkish Van

And this is not even a complete list of Tabby cat breeds!

Most Common Tabby Cat Breeds

Among these breeds, the most common Tabby cats probably are:

  • American Shorthair
  • Domestic Shorthairs
  • Domestic Longhairs
  • Maine Coon

Tabby Mix Cats

The Tabby coat pattern can also appear in cats that are a mix of these breeds. As a result, Tabby cats are a very common occurrence, and they have a long and varied history. 

One thing is for certain though, Tabby cats have been around for centuries and they are very popular for their amazing looks!

Did You Know the famous cartoon cat, Garfield, was a Tabby cat!

Bengal vs Tabby Cat Appearance 

Although multiple cat breeds can have the Tabby coat pattern and common characteristics, there are many differences between the Bengal cat and the general Tabby cat’s appearance.

What Does a Bengal Cat Look Like?

What Does a Bengal Cat Look Like
What Does a Bengal Cat Look Like?

Most noticeable for Bengal cats are their distinctive tiger/leopard-like spotted coats. They also have a strong and sleek well defined body shape.

What Does a Tabby Cat Look Like?

The Tabby cat is probably most famous for its unique “M” shape on its forehead with stripes across its body, face, and legs.

What Does a Tabby Cat Look Like
What Does a Tabby Cat Look Like?

Tabby Cat vs Bengal Cat Appearance Differences 

To keep things simple with our comparison, we will be comparing a Bengal cat to the Tabby Domestic Shorthair and Longhair because they are among the most common Tabby cats. 

Bengal Cat Size

On average a full-grown Bengal cat will weigh 10 to 15 pounds. When it comes to height and length Bengal cats should be 16 to 18 inches long and 13 to 15 inches tall at the shoulder. 

Tabby Cat Size

The Shorthair Tabby cat can vary greatly from six to 16 pounds when fully grown. This is because so many different cat breeds can have the Tabby coat pattern.

Tabby cats can be anywhere from eight to 10 inches tall at the shoulder on average. 

Bengal cats tend to be taller than Tabby cats. Although some Tabby cats can weigh about the same as Bengal cats, there can also be some Tabby cats that weigh a lot less than the typical Bengal. 

Bengal Cat Coat

Although Bengal cats are technically a type of Tabby cat, there tend to be many coat differences between Bengal cats and the average Tabby. 

Bengal cats have a strict set of breed standards concerning coat color and patterns.

When it comes to texture, the Bengal cat is famous for its short, thick, silky coat that lies close to their bodies.

Bengal Cats are famous for their bold coat patterns and having a thick tail!

The Bengal cat can come in the following Tabby coat patterns:

  • The spotted or rosetted Tabby pattern 
  • The marble Tabby pattern
  • The snow Tabby pattern 

Some Bengal coat colors are only possible for certain types of Tabby patterns. 

Tabby Cat Coat

Tabby cats tend to be fluffier and can come in both shorthair and longhair coat types with a broad range of colors

The most common Tabby colors are brown and black silver. However, blue, blue silver and a variety of charcoal patterns are possible. 

There are a wide variety of coat pattern types and colors that Tabby cats can have including orange, brown, and gray. 

Did You Know? The only Bengal cats that have blue eyes are seal lynx bengal cats. These are a type of snow bengal cat.

Tabby Cat Patterns

There are five general types of Tabby patterns in Tabby cats, and they include: 

  • Classic Tabby pattern – The stripes Tabby cats are famous for
  • Spotted Tabby pattern 
  • Mackerel Tabby pattern – Has thinner strips
  • Ticked Tabby pattern – Only have the Tabby markings on their face
  • Patched Tabby pattern – Have a Tabby patterned coat in different colors

Bengal Cat Body Shape 

Bengal cats have long, sleek, and muscular bodies with long legs and a wild appearance. This makes them adept at activities like running, climbing, and jumping. 

Tabby Cat Body Shape

Tabby cats do not usually appear to be as sleek and muscular as Bengal cats, and they tend to be shorter and stockier looking on average. Some Tabby cats appear to be more petite than Bengals. 

Bengal vs Tabby Cat Temperament 

Bengal Cat Temperament

The temperament of the Bengal cat breed is known to be curious and playful, and there is truly never a dull moment when they are around. As a result, these cats love to play, climb, and explore.

It is suggested that you have plenty of climbing outlets and toys for your Bengal cat. This will keep them busy and make it less likely that they are going to get themselves into trouble. 

The American Cat Fanciers Association states that the Bengal cat is, “the only domestic cat breed that can have rosettes like the markings on Leopards, Jaguars and Ocelots.”

Tabby Cat Temperament

Due to the fact that there are many different kinds of Tabby cats out there, they can have a wide range of personality traits. 

However, most of the time Tabby cats are pretty friendly and make great family pets. 

Bengal vs Tabby Cat Trainability 

Bengal cats are known to be extremely trainable cats. Many people claim that their Bengal cat is dog-like they are so easily trained. 

As a result, many Bengal cat owners have trained their cats to do some simple tricks, and many even train their Bengal cats to walk on a leash. 

Walking your Bengal can be a great way to get some of their energy out as well!

As for Tabby cats, they are also known to be very smart. However, their trainability tends to vary from cat to cat. 

Bengal vs Tabby Cat Care Requirements 

When it comes to grooming, Tabby cats tend to need more maintenance than Bengal cats do, especially if the Tabby cat has long hair.

As for food, both cats should do well on good quality cat food. 

Both Bengals and Tabby cats tend to be energetic and playful. However, Bengal cats tend to be a bit more high energy than the average Tabby cat. 

As a result, both cats need a decent amount of daily exercise, but you may need to help a Tabby cat get started with their exercise through play. 

Bengal cats tend to be self-starters and need no help with getting moving. 

Bengal vs Tabby Cat Health Issues

Both Tabby cats and Bengal cats tend to be pretty healthy cat breeds. Some say the Bengal may be more prone to some health issues because of the wild cat genetics.

However, there are some health issues that could potentially occur in both types of cats. Consult your vet for concerns about your specific cat.

Bengal Cat Health Issues

Bengal Cat Health Issues
Bengal Cat Health Issues

In Bengal cats, the following medical conditions could occur. All Bengal cat owners should be aware of these conditions and look out for them. 

  • Hip dysplasia 
  • Diabetes 
  • Dental issues 
  • A variety of eye conditions 
  • Thyroid issues 
  • Kidney disease 
  • Liver disease 
  • GI tract issues 
  • Allergies 
  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (common cat heart disease) 

Tabby Cat Health Issues

Considering that Tabby cats are not just one cat breed, their potential health problems are broader. If you know your cat’s breed we recommend looking into their health considerations. 

However, there are some general health concerns that the average Tabby cat owner should look out for and be aware of. 

The medical conditions that can occur in Tabby cats include but are not limited to: 

  • Obesity 
  • Diabetes 
  • Kidney issues
  • Urinary issues 
  • Conjunctivitis 

Bengal Cat vs Tabby Cat. Which Cat is Right For You? 

At this point, you may be wondering if you should get a Bengal cat or a Tabby cat? Well, there are pros and cons to each type of cat that you should consider before making your choice. 

Are Bengal Cats Good Pets?

Bengal cats love to be around people and other animals, and they tend to do best when they have another Bengal cat as a playmate. 

The more time you have to spend with your Bengals the better. Quality time with their owners tends to keep the Bengal entertained and out of trouble. 

The Bengal cat is best for those who have plenty of time to spend with their cat and play with them. 

They also tend to do well in a home that is active and gives them plenty of opportunities to play, explore, and let their energy out.

Are Tabby Cats Good Pets?

Tabby cats are a bit more versatile, and they tend to be a bit more suitable for the average person or family. 

Tabbies tend to be a bit more affectionate and low maintenance than Bengal cats are. 

If your home is suitable for a cat then a Tabby cat will be right at home. Tabby cats are good with children and other pets so they usually make a great family pet. 

Bengal Cat Names

For a special animal like the Bengal cat, you need a special name! Here are some of the most popular Bengal cat names.

  • Amber
  • Ayla
  • Blaze
  • Cheetah
  • Ginger
  • Onyx
  • Periwinkle
  • Sunset
  • Tiger
  • Zane

Tabby Cat Names

If you have a Tabby cat you need a great name for them! Here are some of the most popular Tabby cat names.

  • Alvin
  • Azrael
  • Coco
  • Dash
  • Garfield
  • Jafar
  • Leopard
  • Milo
  • Sable
  • Tabby

Related Questions 

How Much Does A Bengal Cat Cost? 

The price of a Bengal kitten can vary a lot depending on where you get them from. They can cost anywhere between $500 and $5,000 in the United States. 

As a rule of thumb, the more reputable the breeder, the more expensive the Bengal cat will be.

How Can I Tell If My Cat Is A Bengal Mix? 

Although sometimes things like appearance and temperament can give clues as to if you have a Bengal cat mix, the only way to tell for sure is to use a DNA kit for cats. 

Remember though, Tabby is a coat pattern and not a breed. Look for characteristics of the Bengal breed to give you some idea.

Can You Buy A Bengal Cat At A Pet Store?

It is unlikely that you will be able to find a Bengal cat for purchase at a pet store. This is because of the relative rarity of the breed. If you want a purebred Bengal cat you will probably need to seek out a professional Bengal cat breeder.

What Should I Look For In A Bengal Cat Breeder? 

If you are purchasing a cat from a cat breeder, it is crucial that you do your research on them to ensure that they are ethical and reputable. 

Responsible breeders will ensure that your kitten is healthy, has sound genetics, and is the purebred cat that you are looking for. 

You can find a list of Bengal cat breeders on the International Cat Association website.


Although Bengal cats and other kinds of Tabby cats can seem similar at first glance, they are very different cats. 

This is especially true when it comes to their temperaments and personalities. Plus, if you take notice, Bengal cats definitely have an exotic look compared to a Tabby.

Due to their stark differences, it is recommended that you do your research on both cats before welcoming one into your home. 

Take the time to ensure that you choose the best cat for your lifestyle and family.

bengal cat vs tabby cat

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