Bengal Cat vs Tabby Cat: A Comparison of Two Popular Cat Breeds

Written by

Amy Sawy

Veterinarian. DVM


Joseph M. Plummer

Veterinarian, DVM, MVZ

Bengal Cat vs Tabby Cat

Bengal and tabby cats can look very similar. So, it’s common to see people mistaking one breed for another. I also thought they are different breeds. But, the tabby cat is only a fur coat pattern!

In this article, Bengal cat vs tabby cat, we will dive deep into their unique differences and also similarities – from their cat size to their potential health risks.

Here’s a quick comparison of key characteristics of the two breeds tabby vs bengal:


Features Bengal cat Tabby cat
Height 14 to 18 inches 10 to 16 inches
Weight 8 to 12 pounds 12 to 15 pounds
Lifespan 9 to 13 years Up to 15 years
Energy level High Moderate compared to the Bengals
Friendliness Very friendly Friendly
Trainability Easy to train Sometimes easy to train
Caring Needs Moderate Moderate

What is a Bengal Cat?


The Bengal cat is a unique and fascinating breed that has gained popularity in recent years due to its striking appearance and playful nature.

This hybrid breed originated in the United States in the 1960s when a domestic cat was bred with an Asian Leopard cat, resulting in a unique and stunning breed that was named after the scientific name for the Leopard cat.

The Bengal’s heritage as a hybrid means that they have a high energy level and prefer to be active and outdoors.

They enjoy running, climbing, and exploring their surroundings, so they are not suited for apartment living. Owners should ensure that their Bengals have ample space to play and exercise to keep them happy and healthy.

What is a Tabby Cat?


Far from what the majority of people know, the term “tabby” refers to a coat pattern rather than a cat breed and is derived from the middle eastern word “Atabi” meaning striped silk.

One distinguishable trait of Tabby cats is that they have an “m” shape on their head. Same to Bengal, Tabby cats are known for their high energy level and intelligence.

They come in various colors such as ginger, spotted, black, and mackerel.

Bengal vs Tabby Cat Differences

1. Physical Characteristics

  • Bengal Cat Coat, Pattern, and Body Shape


Bengals have a unique and exotic look that sets them apart from other domestic cat breeds which came from their Asian leopard ancestry.

That’s why Bengal cats usually look like feral cats. This is especially true for brown Bengal cats.

Bengals also have a muscular and athletic build, with a sleek and streamlined appearance that gives them an air of grace and elegance. Their striking facial markings, large eyes, and small round heads only add to their distinctive Bengal cat face look.

If you are wondering which breed are cats with spots on the belly, the answer might be a Bengal cat!

Bengal cats are known for their rosettes, which look like leopard marks or spots. You may see this in a striped Bengal cat where the coats are usually long and striped-pattern.

Common colors of these leopard-looking spots are:

  • Rust
  • Brown
  • Black

In fact, out of all domestic cat breeds, only the Bengal cat has rosettes resembling jaguar and leopard’s markings.

The coats, however, have a wide array of colors, mainly ivory, orange, brown, and golden.

What is more interesting about Bengals are their cat fur that looks like shining in the light with glitters.

  • Tabby Cat Coat, Pattern, and Body Shape


Tabby cats can have both shorthair and longhair coats in a wide range of colors such as brown and black silver, blue, blue silver, and various charcoal patterns.

They tend to be fluffier and have a wide variety of coat pattern types and colors, including orange, brown, and gray.

Tabby cats typically have a shorter and stockier build compared to the sleek and muscular build of Bengal cats.

There are five main coat pattern types for tabbies, including the classic striped pattern, spotted pattern, mackerel pattern, ticked pattern, and patched pattern.

2. Temperament and Personality

  • Bengal Cat


Bengal cats have a reputation for being curious, playful, and full of energy.

Thus, it’s important to keep in mind that they need plenty of stimulation to stay happy and healthy. This means providing them with plenty of toys and opportunities to explore their environment.

Bengal cats are smart, alert, and confident, and they need an abundance of mental and physical stimulation.

That said, Bengal cats can be a bit of a handful. They’re not always the best choice for first-time cat owners, as they require a lot of attention and can get into trouble if they don’t have enough outlets for their energy.

Regarding their personality, Bengals are actually loving and charming just like any other cat breeds. Despite looking unique and stoic, Bengals are very friendly and loyal pets.

  • Tabby Cat Temperament


Compared to Bengal cats, Tabbies have more disparate personalities.

However, the majority of cat owners agree that tabby cats are known for their intelligence and liveliness.

Tabbies have the same energy level as the Bengal cats or less energy than them. Just like Bengal cats, they need some outlet to release their energy.

One of their favorite hobbies is exploring too. So, they are most happy when they get to go outside and play around.

But, once they have burned their energy off, they can be indoor cats that are very loving and cuddly at home.

Tabby cats are known for being friendly and welcoming as pets. Just like Bengal cats, they are also intelligent cats but more social than the former.

They are also affectionate and loving pets. From time to time, they might require your attention and cuddle.

3. Health and Care

  • Health Issues

Below is a list of common diseases found in Bengal and tabby cats.


Bengal Cats Tabby Cats
  • Lymphoma
  • Thyroid problems
  • Kidney disease
  • Gastrointestinal tract diseases
  • Eye problems
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Obesity / Weight loss
  • Urinary problems
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Caring Needs

In terms of grooming, Tabbies might need more care in this area than Bengal cats. Since Bengals groom themselves more often than Tabbies, Bengals less need the grooming part. Instead, you might focus on frequently brushing their fur coat to keep it in shape.

Aside from this, you might need to focus on their exercise and play. Since both cats are more on being energetic and playful, there is a need to give them enough space and time to play and release their energies.

4. Cost

Usually, the price of Bengal cats ranges from $500 to $5,000 in the United States while Tabbies cost around $70 to $400.

Which is Right for You?


If you are looking for a Bengal tabby kitten, the Bengal cat breed might be perfect for you!

Bengals is one of the cat breeds that has a tabby fur coat. He is definitely more active than other domesticated cat breeds and requires frequent play.

However, you can expect a very loyal fur baby and a loving one as well! Despite its fierce look, Bengals are softies on the inside too.

Here’s a quick take on what you may or may not like about Bengal cats and tabby cats:

Pros Cons
Bengal cat
  • Loyal and loving
  • Unique-looking appearance
  • Intelligent
  • Cute entertainer
  • Extreme high energy
  • Strong predatory instinct
  • Chatty
  • Expensive
Tabby cat
  • Friendly
  • Affectionate
  • Independent
  • Easy to find
  • Cheaper than Bengals
  • Smart
  • Beautiful appearance
  • Diversified health risks
  • Sometimes loud
  • Varied attitudes and personalities


Which breed is better with children?

Bengal cats are good around family and children. With its playful nature, kids might also love playing with a Bengal cat.

Do Bengal cats require a special diet?

No, Bengal cats do not need a special diet. In fact, they would appreciate some toys they can play with more!

How can you tell if you have a Bengal tabby mix?

If you’re wondering if your cat is a half Bengal half-tabby cat, you can assess if it is a Bengal tabby cat if it possesses Bengal traits with a Tabby coating.

Since Tabbies can be of any breed, it could be that your Bengal might be mixed because it has a Tabby fur coat.

You can examine this by following the information I provided in the beginning or checking with your trusted vet.

Is a Bengal cat gray purebred?

Yes, a Bengal cat with gray markings on their fur is considered either Blue or Silver Bengal.


I hope that this article, “Bengal cat vs Tabby cat” has clarified to you their big difference despite looking similar in appearance.

Both cats – despite their differences – are unique in their own ways. What is important is how we love and take care of them as their cat owners.

Whichever cat you will choose between the two is either way, the best for your fur parent journey.

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