In this breed highlight we are going to be going into the specifics about the Bengal Cat. I have owned two Bengal cats over the years and so I have a lot I can discuss regarding temperament, health and the breed as a whole. Another reason that this is a much needed guide is there is a TON of misinformation about this cat across the internet.
The top page of google is littered with either breeders or sites that make absolutely false claims about this cats behaviors and what it takes to successfully raise a happy and healthy Bengal cat. I hope this article will help anyone who is interested in owning this breed of cat and provide some insight into what to expect.
Bengal Cat History and Background
So what is a Bengal cat? Where did this breed come from?
The Bengal cat is a cross breed between a domestic cat and an Asian leopard cat.
It wasn’t however until 1960’s where the Bengal Cat really came about as a breed. This was in most part due to their apparent immunity to feline leukemia.
“In the early 1960s, a breeder cross bred a black domestic shorthair cat with a wild female Asian Leopard Cat. The resulting F1 generation (50 percent Asian Leopard Cat and 50 percent domestic cat) was named a Bengal cat, and the breed became marketed as “toy leopards.”” Via onegreenplanet.org
Since the Bengal is rooted in a wild cat, the Asian leopard cat, the Bengal cat retains some unique variants that you will not see on your everyday cat that make the Bengal stand out from a crowd, both in looks and personality.
Bengal Cat Personality
So lets get down to the core issue behind Bengal cats. This is a LOT of cat!
I am not stating this purely from a size aspect, although they do tend to be a little larger than your average cat. What I mean by this is a lot of cat is that Bengal cats have a very high energy level. Do you have kids? Do you want one? Because if you answered no then a Bengal cat is NOT for you. Because Bengal cats have a lot of personality!
As a specific example to this, my cats always lead very spoiled lives. They always have a cat tree of some kind in every room of my house, shelving on the walls, multiple interactive toys (tubes you can dig in, automatic mice, ball tracks etc…) as well as your normal balls and feather toys. The average routine for my Bengal cat (in BOTH instances) was climb a tree in room A, jump down, smack some toys around, haul ass down the hallway to room B, climb a tree in room B, jump down, smack some toys around and repeat…mixing in climbing on shelves and furniture.
Think a Bengal cat sounds fun?
Does it sound fun in the middle of the night? If you answered Yes than a Bengal cat might be for you, but if you answered no I would consider a breed with a lot less energy.
I played with my Bengal cats constantly, and it was super fun! He would do flips in the air, jump in and out of the shower, he played fetch (didn’t teach him he just did it) but he never would run out of gas… and would come wake me up in the middle of the night for more playtime. If this all sounds good then keep reading because you are well on your way to being a Bengal cat owner! If you do not want a fuzzy two year old in your house or are not prepared for this kind of attention he WILL require then there are tons of more docile breeds out there for you!
Bengal cats also bring a rare cat trait with them! They have an affinity to water!
One of my favorite things with the species overall! I mean we all know cats are clean animals. But come on!
A cat that willingly goes in the bath and hangs out! Fantastic!
Bengal cats are also very talkative. Which as I have said in other posts and breed highlights is something you will either love or hate.
I for one, love a talkative bengal cat! I always feel like my cat is sharing his day with me, or trying to hold a conversation in his own cat like way. If you are not for sitting down for breakfast and your bengal cat describing his night to you then again, there are better cat options.
If you want a cat that will share your morning routine with you, have a cat talk over breakfast, hop in the shower with you and walk you to the door you are on the right track with a Bengal cat!
4 Main Types of Bengal Cat
So that didn’t scare you away huh?
All set for your Bengal cat adventure! Then let’s dive into a few types of Bengal cats, so you can better explore your Bengal options! Each Bengal cat is basically described by the “type” of wild cat it represents. Does this mean your Snow Bengal cats personality is going to be different from your Marble Bengal cats personality, no! They are both Bengals and will act as such, minus a few factors, such as how far out of the F-scale they are and the parents. Does this mean its not fun to know the different appearances? Of course not
So lets get on with the slide show cause who wouldn’t want a mini snow leopard!
Snow Bengal Cat
There is no personality difference with snow bengal cats as I mentioned. The only difference is that snow bengal cats have a white base coat of fur with black spots or rosettes, as they will call them in the Bengal cat world. But they are spots!
Very pretty cat, this is what mine was and it is like having a mini snow leopard around!
Marble Bengal Cats and Silver Marble Bengal Cats
There are two kinds of marble Bengal cats, silver marble Bengal cats and brown or tan marble Bengal cats.
Both can be seen here.
The only difference between these two is the base coat. The brown or tan marble Bengal cat pictured here to the left has a brown or tan base coat. The marbling on both cats will be a dark black and the pattern will vary from cat to cat.
The silver marble Bengal cat pictured to the left here.
Has a silver coat that is his base coat with the same type of dark black pattern variation over the top of him.
Both are beautiful fur variations and I feel the most fun part about picking out a marble Bengal cat is being able to look at all the pattern differences that can occur! Pick something cool and unique that appeals to you!
Snow Lynx Bengal cats
Lastly we have the snow lynx Bengal cat.
This is one of the rarer Bengal cats I find. He will have very light spotting over him and the dark parts are just around the eyes, feet, tail and ears as pictured here to the left.
A very cool and unique Bengal cat for sure!
Bengal cats and the Filial scale
Another thing you should be armed with before going Bengal cat shopping is the Filial scale or the “F” Scale. You will see a lot of breeders talk about the F1 Bengal cat or F5 Bengal cat and to someone new to the species and Bengals in general this means nothing. So what is it?
The Filial scale or F scale is how many generations removed from the wild your Bengal cat is! So for instance:
- F1 – 1st generation Bengal cat (Asian Leopard Cat x domestic Bengal cat)
- F2 – 2nd generation Bengal cat (F1 parent x domestic Bengal cat) so the Asian Leopard cat is his grandparent
- F3 – 3rd generation Bengal cat (F2 parent x domestic Bengal cat) so the Asian Leopard cat is his great-grandparent
- F4 – 4th generation Bengal cat (F3 parent x domestic Bengal cat) so the Asian Leopard cat is his great-great-grandparent
- F5 – 5th generation Bengal cat (F4 parent x domestic Bengal cat) so the Asian Leopard cat is his great-great-great-grandparent
I think you get the picture from here.
The rule of thumb is that the closer you are to F1, the more WILD cat you are going to get. The further you get away from F1 the more of a house cat you are going to get. This is great in that if you want a Bengal cat but were scared to death of my Bengal cat personality story well I have news for you! My Bengal cat was an F2, which means if you go more to an F4-5 you can enjoy the markings and style of a Bengal with a little less of the Bengal cat personality that comes with the F1-2 generations.
Bengal Cat Health issues
Bengal cats on a whole are a very healthy breed. They possess an apparent natural immunity to feline leukemia; they shed very little and are dubbed a hypoallergenic breed as well.
The main caveat that must be said for Bengal cats comes not from the cat itself but from the people that are breeding them. I have had two Bengal cats as I stated before both were several years apart and from different states, and both of them I lost to Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). While this absolutely terrible disease is an article all on its own, and believe me it will be, the condition comes from the poor cats being bred in non-sanitary breeding conditions.
In short the cat catches the coronavirus when it is a kitten either from their litter box or from their mother, and once a kitten has this coronavirus it will have it for life! Stressing factors, like getting moved to a new home, now make the virus mutate to FIP and at that stage it is fatal.
So while I am not saying that all Bengal cats have this, as I have friends whom have very healthy ones, I am saying you need to look closely into the conditions and where you are buying your Bengal cat from and do your research as this is a growing issue in getting cats from breeders!
As a follow up to this, I have seen many Bengal cats available via rescue searches such as petfinder.
So please do a search there for a Bengal if you are interested before looking for a local Bengal source!
Bengal Cat Grooming
As mentioned in the above video, which you should really check out if you are interested in the breed, and also in the content of the Bengal cat personality and health issues. Bengal Cats love water and are hypoallergenic! What does this mean for Bengal cat grooming?
You guessed it! You have one grooming friendly Bengal!
Bengals require little to no grooming. With my two Bengal cats I took a brush across them before the summer season to get off any long winter fur but otherwise I left them be. Keep in mind my Bengal cat was in the shower almost daily so he was a very clean cat!
Bengal cats overall
All in all the Bengal cat is a fun cat to own, if you have the time. They are very much like having a kid. Bengals will want your attention, it will throw tantrums when it doesn’t get its way but in the end it will cuddle up with you if you can manage to tire it out.
The biggest downside of the breed is not the breed itself but the fact that they normally can only be obtained through a breeder, and are rarely found in shelters.
But keep looking! I got my Savannah through a shelter with patience!
The fact that there are thousands of homeless pets in shelters that desperately need good homes, is more than enough reason to look into buying a different breed of cat, or if you have your heart set on a Bengal keep your eye on shelters in your area for ones that were rescued from bad breeder situations!