Early Generation Bengals
What is an Early Generation and what do the abbreviations ALC, F1, F2, G2, F3, G3, and SBT mean?
ALC = Asian Leopard Cat
The Bengal breed originally started when domestic cats were bred to the wild Asian Leopard Cat (Prilonailarus Bengalensis). Asian Leopard Cats are a small, forest-dwelling wild cat native to South and East Asia. They vary in appearance and behavior across their various sub-species, but are much more similar in appearance to other small wild cats like the Ocelot and Margay than the commonly known Leopard. They are solitary, except during breeding, and females raise their kittens alone. They are most active during the night and are great climbers. They spend a lot of time in the trees and can swim, though they rarely do so. Asian Leopard Cats do not make good pets for most people since they will spray to mark their territory and prefer to avoid people. They are illegal to own in some places.
F1 = Filial, 1st generation hybrid
ALC X Domestic Cat or SBT Bengal
The first-generation Asian Leopard Cat and domestic cat hybrid is called an F1 (F meaning filial) and is 50% wild. These F1 Bengals are much wilder in appearance and temperament than the later generation SBT (Studbook Traditional) Bengals. They tend to be shy, often only bonding strongly with one person, dislike travel/change, and are sometimes not reliable with the litter box. They sometimes prefer to use their water bowl (or sink or tub!) instead of a litter box. There are always exceptions and occasionally they do make good house pets. However, anyone interested in an F1 as a pet needs to be prepared for all possibilities. F1s that are not reliable with the litter box and/or prefer not to be around people will need a large outdoor enclosure where they will have space and be safe and comfortable. F1s require a very committed owner because rehoming them once they are adults is especially hard on them and they are unlikely to bond with a new owner. We have an F1 female that we rescued at the age of 6.5 years old when her previous owner was no longer able to care for her. She has been with us over a year and has remained completely untouchable and is sometimes aggressive. We do not recommend F1s as pets for most people. Additionally, there are many locations that do not allow hybrid animals including F1, G2, and G3 Bengals.
G2 (commonly called F2) = Generation 2, 2nd generation hybrid
F1 Female X Domestic Male or SBT Bengal Male
F1 males are infertile, so in order to continue breeding, the female F1s are bred to a domestic male. Like the F1s, the resulting female G2s (Generation 2) are also bred to a domestic male to produce G3s. In the past, the abbreviation F2 and F3 was used for the 2nd and 3rd generation breedings, but this is incorrect. Genetically F2 would be an F1 bred to an F1 which would be impossible in this case since the male F1s are always infertile. I usually use the abbreviation G2/F2 and G3/F3 since the F2 and F3 abbreviations are still more commonly known and understood. But I hope that eventually the more correct G2 and G3 will be commonly understood. There are many locations that do not allow hybrid animals including F1, G2, and G3 Bengals.
The G2 Bengal is sometimes just as wild as an F1 and sometimes more domestic like a G3. Their personality and appearance can vary wildly according to the roll of the genetic dice and how they are raised. Some breeders take G2 kittens from their mother shortly after birth and hand-raise them. Some breeders take them for hand-raising once they are a few weeks old. Some breeders let the F1 mother raise her kittens and handle them once the mother is comfortable with that later on. The personality of the mother and the breeder's intentions for the kittens will determine how the kittens are best raised. Our G2 is much more wild than most. She was fully raised by her F1 mother with handling from her breeder. I believe that being raised by her mother, plus a long plane trip cross-country, and her individual genetics are various reasons she acts more wild. She loves other cats and when she was a kitten we could entice her to play and sometimes pet her if she was feeling relaxed. But she was never interested in being held and as an adult she prefers to have nothing to do with people. She has everything she needs and wants (as far as we know!) here with us. She loves her SBT Bengal friends and lives in an indoor/outdoor enclosure specifically designed for her. She eats a raw diet like our other Bengals, but her favorite foods are whole prey - chicks, mice, and quail so she gets them often. (Whole prey items are NOT fed live!)
***Photos of G2s coming soon!***
G3 (commonly called F3) = Generation 3 hybrid
G2 female to domestic or SBT Bengal male
G3 kittens are generally much closer in personality to the fully domestic SBT Bengals, but it depends on the individual breeding and how the kittens are raised. Some may have a wild or shy streak or take a little more time to warm up to strangers, particularly if they are raised by their G2 mothers and not well-socialized with people. But most G3s can be excellent pets. So far the G3 kittens we have raised here have been very friendly even with visitors. I would not recommend a G3 for a person or family that travelled a lot and would also not recommend a G3 for a home with young children. A G3 would most likely do well in a home with older children or teens who are able to fully understand and respect that a G3 may not tolerate as much attention handling as a regular cat. (As always, children's interactions with pets should be supervised as closely as necessary to ensure safety of both children and pets.) Our first litter of G3s has been raised since the age of 7 days old by one of our SBT females that had a same-age litter. Our second G3 litter was bottle-raised since we did not have a foster mom at that time. We plan to hand-raise or foster-raise all our G3 babies born to Sashi because she herself does not want to be around people. Some G3s can be raised by their mother and still be socialized with people and be good pets. It depends on the personality and people-friendliness of the mother. As with F1 and G2, it is important to check the laws in your area to make sure you can legally have a G3.