What is a Bengal Cat?
Ever want a wildcat as a pet?
The Bengal cat is a cross between the wild Asian Leopard and the domestic shorthair. Bengal cats can weigh from eight to fifteen pounds. They have long, muscular bodies with broad muzzles and heads. Their whisker pads are pronounced, and they have high cheekbones. The have small, rounded ears and wide eyes.
Bengal cats are stealthy. Their front legs are shorter than their back legs, which makes their back ends a little higher than their shoulders. Their coats are lush and incredibly soft. You’ll recognize them by their leopard-like spots, which could be aligned horizontally in a half-circled pattern, marbled, or totally random. They could be brown or black spotted, brown or black marbled. Some breeders have even engineered Bengals which are snow marbled or snow spotted.
You might notice on that a Bengal cat’s coat looks as if it’s been dusted with pearl or gold. This is called glittering, and is a naturally occurring trait.
Personality and Temperament
The Bengal is often thought to be a difficult cat to handle because of its feral lineage. Don’t expect them to be lap cats, although they do enjoy human company. These cats are incredibly energetic. They retain the hunting nature of their wild ancestors, hunting small animals and even fish. Bengal cats are considered to have a high prey drive, so smaller animals like rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters would be treated as prey.
Bengal cats might play in the sink, jump into the bathtub or shower with you, or even swim. Nothing really scares them, not even dogs. Since this breed is high energy, they will need a lot of playtime. Bengal cats love to climb – the higher the area, the better they’ll like it. If you don’t give Bengal cats enough attention, they’ll misbehave. They are prone to marking their territory, and thrive in an outdoor environment. For a first-time cat owner, a Bengal probably isn’t a good choice!
Finding a Bengal Cat
If you do want to bring home a Bengal cat, do your research. Read first-hand accounts of people who own this breed, because they are not the easiest to get along with! Look for a breeder that had a code of ethics, and also who raises the kittens in their home. Kittens that are raised in a home environment are more social than ones who are raised in isolation.
Depending on what specific kitten you’re looking for, (markings, patterns, sex, etc.) you could wait a while to find the right one. A reputable breeder won’t let a kitten be bought until they are between the ages of 12 to 16 weeks. Before you invest in a kitten, consider an adult Bengal. Kittens are destructive until they reach adulthood. If you decide to adopt a cat instead of a kitten, ask the breeder if they know of anyone selling a retired breeding cat or show cat. Or if they know of any adult cats that need new homes.
While it’s more likely that you’d find a Bengal cat through a breeder, sometimes you can find one in a shelter or rescue.
Questions to Ask Before Adopting from a Cat Breeder
If you’re thinking of adopting a Bengal cat, here are some good questions to ask before you take them home:
- What are their energy levels and personality like?
- How do they interact with visitors, children and shelter workers?
- Have they ever bitten anyone?
- Are they litter box trained?
- Do they have any known health issues?
- How old are they?
- Why were they given up?
Once you bring your new Bengal cat home, be sure to find a veterinarian and get an initial wellness checkup!