If you are looking for an intelligent, high energy cat, then a Bengal cat might be what you need. Bengal cats are not lap cats, but rather prefer running, jumping and climbing to cuddling. As well, they tend to thrive when they have access to outdoor enclosures as they are avid bird-watchers. Read on to find out if this active cat breed is right for you.
Bengal cats are a crossbreed of a domestic cat with the Asian Leopard Cat. At one point, during the 1950s and early 60s, Asian Leopard Cats were available for purchase in pet stores.
The tale of how they became a recognized cat breed is quite interesting. A woman named Jean Miller owned a leopard cat whom that often socialized with a black tom cat in the 1960s. Unbeknownst the two mated and produced a litter of kittens from which she kept a spotted female. She then purposely bred the black tom cat with the kitten, resulting in a litter of solid and spotted kittens.
While Miller was conducting her unofficial experiments, Dr. Willard Centerwall, a pediatrician, was doing the same type of breeding to determine if the offspring would be resistance to Feline Leukemia in the hopes he could help treat humans with the same illness.
A few years into his research, Dr. Centerwall fell ill and Dr. Miller gladly stepped in and continued to breed this hybrid, with the hopes of producing a new breed of cat. Miller had taken to calling this breed “Leopardette” cats. However, the name was changed to “Prionailurus Bengalensis,” which is their scientific name.
Miller fought hard to have Bengals officially recognized as a breed. In 1983, they were recognized by the International Cat Association. Miller spent a great deal of time and money to promote Bengal cats as a worldwide domestic breed. It wasn’t until 1991 that Bengals were accepted by the Cat Fanciers Association.
Bengal cats are medium to large in size with a long torso and sturdy, muscular bone structure. Their medium size legs are slightly longer in the back, and they have large feet.
Bengals have a broad head that is a bit smaller in proportion to their body. They have a strong nose and chin, a full, broad muzzle and well-defined cheekbones. Their noses are wide and have a leathery appearance. Their medium to thick tapered tails are a bit rounded at the tip. Their ears are small and wide with rounded tops set on the side of the top of the head. They have oval shaped, large eyes that are set far apart.
Color and Patterns
- Black silver tabby
- Black silver tabby
- Brown tabby
- Seal lynx point
- Seal mink tabby
- Seal sepia tabby
- Seal silver lynx point
- Seal silver mink tabby
- Seal silver sepia tabby
The average weight range for a Bengal cat is 3.6 kg to 6.8kg. However, some have been recorded to weigh more than 6.8kg.
Bengal cats are great companions, but they are not for everyone. If you prefer a calm, gentle cat who will snuggle in your lap for hours, a Bengal cat is not for you, This breed requires a lot of interaction with their humans as they are highly intelligent, curious and extremely active.
Those who are not home for most of the day should consider getting a second Bengal cat, so they can entertain each other while you are not home. Bengals crave attention and get bored when left alone for long periods of time. They can even become destructive in their attempts to explore your home, opening cabinets and drawers in search of toys and entertainment.
As they can often be mischievous in their attempts to gain your attention, Bengals will often do the opposite of what they “permitted” to do. For instance, if you do not like them hopping on tables or countertops, they will do so to gain your attention, thus forcing you to play with them. Keep in mind that Bengals are also known for their thieving abilities. They have a love for shiny and sparkly items so hide your jewelry as they will steal it, claim it as their own and hide it.
Since they love to jump and climb, it is always wise to provide your Bengal cats with window seats, perches and high cat trees. Keep any valuable or breakable items out of their way as they tend to jump on shelves and tables. Additionally, they love to play in water and may even try to jump in the tub or shower with you. Keep an eye on any fish tanks or aquariums as they also like to hunt. They do have a fondness for birds, so they would love an enclosed catio if you have the space.
Given their intelligence level, Bengals can be trained similar to dogs. You can train them to do tricks such as fetching and so forth by rewarding them with treats. They love interactive toys and love to play with their owners. Bengal cats can even be leash-trained.
When they have finally tired themselves out, Bengal cats will cuddle in your lap or at your feet. They do enjoy sleeping with their humans and have been known to hog pillows and blankets at bedtime.
Bengal cats can be very talkative and are loyal to their human companions. They will follow you from room to room. They generally get along with other cats, dogs and children. They do best with older children due to their high energy level. As they are hunters, they cannot be trusted with smaller animals such as mice, guinea pigs, hamsters, and so forth.
Health and Lifespan
The average lifespan of a Bengal cat is 12 to 16 years. As with all cats, Bengal cats have the potential to develop a variety of diseases during their life. Even the healthiest kitten from the most reputable breeder can fall later in life. There is no guarantee of a perfect bill of health on any cat. Keep this in mind when you are considering adopting a pet.
Bengal cats may be susceptible to certain hereditary health issues such as polycystic kidney disease. There is an DNA test that predicts this, so most breeders are aware before they breed and thus do not breed cats that carry this DNA.
Another disease that is present among Bengals is Distal Nephropathy. This is a disease of the nervous system that causes weakness and lethargy. It can develop within the first year of life but most Bengals make a full recovery. There is some chance for relapse at a later age.
Overall, Bengal cats are generally healthy. They may develop some of the same diseases as do other cats, but many of these can be prevented by proper diet and regular veterinary care.
Weekly brushing is best for the soft, short Bengal coat to keep it shiny and healthy. However, since they love to be brushed, you can brush them as often as you like, which will help prevent hairballs and shedding. Their nails grow quickly and since they are so playful, it can be a nuisance, so it’s best to trim them every 1-2 weeks. Brush their teeth every few days to prevent future dental issues and clean their ears with a cotton ball and vet-approved cleanser as needed.
Care and Nutrition
Bengal cats are very picky about hygiene so make sure to keep their litter boxes spotlessly clean. Also, provide them with fresh water. Due to their love of playing with water, Bengal cats would benefit from an interactive drinking fountain as opposed to a regular water bowl. Don’t be surprised if you find them trying to drink out of your water faucets.
It is best to keep your Bengal cats indoors to protect them from injury; in addition to protecting wildlife such as birds and other small prey from falling victim to their attack. They would love an enclosed patio, so they can bird watch and enjoy the outdoors without being exposed to any danger.
Feed your Bengal kitten high quality kitten wet and dry food that is enriched with the proper nutrients they will need to support healthy growth and development. Adult Bengal cats should have a diet that is well-balanced, complete and full of protein to support their health and energetic nature.
Where to Find Bengal Cats
Bengal cats are one of the most expensive cat breeds as the cost of a Bengal kitten can be as much as $7,000 USD. Consider rescuing or adopting a Bengal instead as you will be saving a life. Rescue Bengals may cost around $150 and are usually fully vetted and micro chipped.
Fun Facts About Bengal Cats
- Bengal cats can have spots or rosettes that consist of multiple colours.
- Their coats may often have an almost iridescent glow resulting in a glitter-like effect.
- Bengal cats have superior memory skills.
- Bengal cats have the tendency to bite furniture or other objects if left unattended for too long. They do not, however, tend to bite humans as long as they have been properly socialised.
- In 1990, a woman from Great Britain paid well over $50,000 for a Bengal cat, or as she termed her new beloved pet the “Rolls Royce of Cats”.