In our first breed highlight we are going to be going into the specifics about the Bengal Cat. I am choosing this breed first mainly for two reasons. First 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. Second, 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.
So what is a Bengal cat? Where did this breed come from?
Well to keep the details to a minimum, because this information you can find correctly thrown about the internet. The Bengal cat is a cross breed between a domestic cat and an Asian leopard cat. As such the Bengal 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.
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. 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 that 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 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!
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. It 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. 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!