The Bengal is a relatively new breed of cat, first bred in the United States as a cross between the Asian Leopard Cat and a variety of domestic breeds. They are known for their wild looking appearance, commonly sporting large rosettes, arrow head markings or spots on their coat and have athletic bodies.
These cats are vocal and friendly, punctuating the normal meowing with chirps and trills to get your attention! They love to play and can be rather a handful for first time pet owners; they can even learn to play games such as fetch!
Unusually, they are a breed of cat that loves water. Bengals can often be found staring in fascination at a running tap or tapping the surface of standing water.
It’s wise for owners to take precautions by closing toilet seats and the bathroom door before taking a bath or shower, or you could find your kitty joins in!
They are energetic and so if you’re looking for a cat to peacefully curl up next to you, this isn’t the breed for you. A highly intelligent and active cat they like lots of attention, someone to play with and they make wonderful family pets. As social animals, they will love the attention of children if it is supervised when small children are involved.
Bengals love nothing more than having access to the great outdoors but will adapt well to being kept as indoor pets. If they do live indoors, they will need lots of toys to keep themselves entertained while you are out, and they adapt well to other pets appreciating a playmate if left alone for long periods.
A fantastic cat for a family and multi-pet household, that can be kept indoors or allowed to roam.
- Medium sized cats, although some can be on the larger side.
- Typically weighing 5.5 to 10 kg, depending on build and feeding habits.
- 12 to 16 years life expectancy.
Exercise and nutrition
Bengals are an active breed of cat, with a strong hunting instinct and high energy levels. It’s advised to spend some time playing with your Bengal every day to keep them healthy and happy! They are certainly not lap cats and should be given lots of things to do when not playing with you, particularly when kept as an indoors pet.
Bengals should be groomed on a weekly basis. A quick brush once a week and more frequent grooming in the spring and autumn when they molt, should be enough!
If buy your Bengal from a breeder, they will usually give you a feeding schedule and recommend a type of food. It is important to stick to the same type of food and feeding schedule in the first few weeks to avoid upsetting the kitten’s tummy! As they grow your vet can advise you on how to move to adult food from kitten food.
When older, Bengals are not particularly fussy eaters, but should still be given a good quality, well rounded and nutritious diet, and be fed twice a day. You should also keep a close eye on your cat’s weight, as obesity can have a serious impact on their wellbeing.
Common health problems and illnesses
Hopefully your Bengal kitten will grow up to be healthy and hearty but there are a few conditions that can affect this breed. It is always a good idea to take our pet health insurance as soon as you get your kitten so you are covered should your cat develop any of these conditions.
A condition seen in Bengal kittens, FCKS is a lung collapse or a lung failing to inflate in the case of newborn kittens. This can have effects that range from a flattening of the chest, all the way to the entire upper torso of the kitten looking flat, as if “stepped on”. This condition can be fatal if left untreated but if tackled early on it can be treated with physical therapy and medication, depending on the cause and severity of the condition. If you believe your kitten to be suffering from this condition, it is advised that you consult your vet on the best course of treatment.
Patellar Luxation is also known as a dislocation of the patella, a small bone in the knee joint that is pulled up and down within a groove, acting as a pivot point for the knee. Dislocation of this bone results in the cat being unable to properly extend their legs. Pets at a particular risk of patellar luxation are those that walk in a bow-legged fashion, but it can also be a complication of aging, as well as a simple genetic predisposition towards the condition. If you suspect your pet is suffering from patellar luxation, watch for lameness. An awkward, skipping gait is a common sign, as well as the inability to properly extend the leg. In terms of treatment, the patella can usually be manually replaced inside the groove in which it should sit. Surgery should not be required except in severe cases. If you believe your cat to be suffering from this condition, it is advised that you consult your vet on the best course of treatment.
This condition is uncommon but occurs after abnormal development of the hip joint causes it to become dislocated. This can be down to environmental factors or a genetic disposition towards the condition, or a mix of the two.
The condition usually begins to show itself between the ages of 4 and 12 months, and watchful owners should be on the lookout for a “bunny-hopping” or swaying gait, or difficulty with one or both hind legs. General discomfort in movement, as well as a mild clicking noise from the hips are also symptoms.
There is no permanent cure but there are a variety of surgical and non-surgical treatment options, depending on the severity of the dysplasia, that aim to improve quality of life and lessen the effects of the condition. If you think your cat might be suffering from this condition, it is advised that you consult your vet on the best course of treatment.
Pyruvate kinase deficiency is a rare genetic disease that affects Bengal cats, among other breeds. It is the deficiency of an enzyme that is important in red blood cell energy metabolism. As a result of this condition, affected cats usually suffer from anaemia. The anaemia may occur intermittently or not develop until your cat is much older, but occasionally severe anaemia can suddenly develop. Before buying a Bengal, ask the breeder if they have tested the parent cats for this disease. If not, you might want to consult your vet on the best course of action. Note that this disease requires two inherited carrier genes, so it is possible for a cat to have a single carrier gene and not be affected by this disease! However, they could pass the disease on to their offspring.
While extremely rare in Bengals, PRA is a genetic disease caused by a mutation and causes the cat to produce a protein that causes blindness as the cat gets older. They will have normal vision at birth but may show signs of reduced sight at 1-2 years of age and can be blind by the time they are 3-5 years old. Before buying a Bengal, ask the breeder if they have tested the parent cats for this disease. If they haven’t it is advised that you consult your vet on the best course of action.
HCM is a condition that results in a thickening of the muscular walls of the heart, decreasing its efficiency. Many cats with this disease do not appear to be ill, while others with serious heart damage may show symptoms consistent with heart disease such as laboured or rapid breathing, lethargy, and open-mouthed breathing. HCM can be diagnosed by an echocardiogram as this scan will reveal the thickened walls and reduced capacity of the heart.
While the condition has no cure, care plans can be developed to help manage the clinical effects of the condition, such as controlling the heart rate and preventing blood clots. Medication to help manage HCM is also available. If you think your cat might be suffering from this condition, consult your vet on the best course of treatment.
- According to The International Cat Association (TICA), at the end of 2010 there were 6,369 registered cats across the globe making it the most popular purebred in the world.
- No two Bengal’s markings are the same! Each cat is an individual with a unique pattern on their beautiful coat.
- While documentation of the Bengal hybrid goes back as far as the 1800s, the breed wasn’t made official until the 1980s through the efforts of Jean Sugden Mill.
- Bengals adore water! They will gladly drink from the tap and play with water if allowed to. They may even follow their owner into the shower or bathtub!
- Bengals love heights! They can jump up to three times their own height and love to find a way to climb on your roof!