Meet Cleo a Bagral cat – please see the large format photograph below – it is unique. I am rewriting a short article on this extremely rare wild cat hybrid because I am delighted to say that Helmi Flick has photographed one – a first, as far as I know. I think Cleo is the only one, although I am not sure. Cleo lives with Pat Harbert (as at 2010) and Pat brought her to Helmi to be photographed. You can see Pat at the end of this video on Abyssinian kittens. You can see Helmi’s post about this cat on her blog below. Note: this article was first published in about 2010.
The Bagral. Helmi says that Cleo was well behaved but active during the photo session. She was keen to explore. She head butted a lot. Wild cat hybrids do and they usually head butt hard (see Titan, an F1 Savannah head butting Kathrin Stucki).
The Machbagral or Bagral cat is an experimental breed of wildcat hybrid. I am told that it is bred in North America. This, in fact, is pretty much were all the exotic wild cat hybrids are created.
“Experimental breed” means what it says and this cat is not recognized by the cat associations. The Machbagral cat is a cross between the Asian Fishing cat and a melanistic tabby spotted domestic cat. A melanistic cat has a black coat and faint, ghost, markings. In this case faint spots. In the case of Cleo, the melanistic domestic cat parent was a Bengal cat.
Below is another version of the photo – a bit larger and lighter. Please click on the image to see it full size.
In the breeding of the Bagral cat or Machbagral cat, the objective is the same as for the other wildcat hybrids (such as the Bengal and Savannah), which is to allow people to live with a cat that behaves like a domestic cat but that has the appearance of an exotic wild cat. I don’t know if this breed is meant to be melanistic (black) in appearance. I don’t think so. This hybrid cat has a nice dense coat and is apparently very friendly, intelligent and likes water. This mirrors other wildcat/domestic hybrids very accurately. Cleo looks very much like they are half fishing cat. The fishing cat is a small wild cat species and quite rare or becoming rarer by the year.
See for example Bengal cat behavior or Bengal cat and Savannah cat behavior. I think the name Bagral or Machbagral comes from an alternative name for the Fishing cat, which is also called the Bengali Mach-Bagral.(src: www.coolquiz.com).
The fur will be dense and I suspect coarse. Cleo is not truly melanistic as I understand the word, but has a silvery background coloration and black or charcoal-colored spots and markings. There are white markings around the eyes. The head is extremely solid looking, what the cat fancy might call, ‘massive’. The ears are relatively small and the body conformation is cobby and substantial or stocky.
There is low fertility in F1 hybrids. Hybrid cats are smart and active (Helmi called Cleo, ‘busy’). The Machbagral or Bagral cat likes water the obvious reason the Asian Fishing cat fishes in it!
Below are some more articles on wild cat hybrids.