When a couple in Kortenberg, Belgium, went to a breeder to buy a cat, they immediately fell in love with Thor—a Bengal that has taken the internet by storm.
"I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior." – H. Taine
Thor has a dazzling (and unique) fur pattern; he has stripes on his head and legs like a tiger but spots on his torso just like a leopard. Add in his brilliant orange-and-black coloring, and he looks like a digital artist’s finest creation; according to his owners, they’re constantly asked if he’s real.
His owner, Rani Cucicov, explained to HuffPost that she immediately fell in love when she saw him at the cattery in the Netherlands in 2013. But even though the pictures she takes of him have taken the world by storm, she doesn’t want all the attention he gets to be used to encourage more people to contact breeders about Bengals; in fact, she’s hoping to use his fame to promote the opposite option.
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Bengals are what are known as hybrid breeds, and are the offspring and descendants of domestic cats and Asian leopard cats. The crossbreeding is what gives them their distinctive and alluring look, but it can cause significant problems as well.
According to the Wild Cat Sanctuary in Minnesota, Bengals can struggle with the demands of being domestic house cats. They can have problems with aggression and being overly active, and sometimes have problems being properly house-trained. This leads to families surrendering their Bengals to sanctuaries when they realize that the cat they purchased for their appearance is much more difficult to take care of than they had imagined.
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL CAT DAY! Therefore it’s baby picture time! Sorry for the bad quality… this was before my modelling days ofc 😹 I would love to see some pictures of your catkings and queens! 👸🏼
There have also been widespread problems with cat breeders trying to capitalize on the allure of Bengals.
“We absolutely hate ‘puppy mills’ and ‘cat farms’ … where you can buy more than 50 different races, and where the cat and dog mothers are ‘abused’ and need to be pregnant as many times as possible,” said Cucicov in an interview with The Dodo.
As a result, Cucicov hopes that Thor’s fame can be used as a way to promote animal adoption; although Thor himself hadn’t been purchased from a shelter, his owner wants to encourage others to embrace the thousands of loving animals waiting for forever homes instead of simply trying to go out and find a cat that looks like hers.
YUMYUM SHRIMPIETIME 🤤🎉 Happy Friyay, furriends! ❤️
“Maybe this popularity of Thor is a chance to give more attention to animal rescues and shelters and give them a share in it,” she said. “Because although we have not adopted Thor from an animal shelter, I have lots and lots of respect for the people who open their heart for the animals that are not wanted and who try to help them find their forever home!”
For those who have their hearts set on a Bengal, cat behaviorist Marilyn Krieger suggested to HuffPost that the option to search for breed-specific adoptions and rescues is a great alternative to seeking out a breeder. And for those who just want to take a look at the adorable pics of the fantastically wild feline roaming around his Belgian home, Thor is always delighted to have more followers on social media.