About the Bengal Cat
With exotic looks to match its name, the Bengal cat originated as a cross between the Asian leopard cat and a domesticated cat. Often, Bengal cats have at least a little bit of Egyptian Mau in their background. These days, most members of the Bengal cat breed are the product of a cross between two purebred Bengal cats.
Playful and active, Bengal cats are excellent pets. Quite a bit less standoffish then some other wildcat hybrids, these incredible felines enjoy affection and develop close bonds with their family members. Even though they can be very friendly, don't mistake Bengal cats for couch potatoes: They’re anything but docile – once they've met their sleep quota, they are ready for action!
Bengal cats love to climb and like their wild, jungle dwelling cousins, they seek high vantage points from which to view their domain. They are curious too – they like to be in the middle of everything and they enjoy learning how things work.
Bengal cats are notorious for opening doors, activating light switches, flushing toilets, emptying cupboards, and more. They are eager to learn tricks, and thanks to their high level of intelligence, they’re very easy to train. Try "Sit," "Shake paw," and games like fetch.
Just like their wild cousins, Bengal cats need a diet that focuses on meat, particularly if they are members of the first three generations. Most commercial kibble is not really suitable for Bengals, as it is too high in carbohydrates.
While a diet of high-quality canned cat food can sustain these felines, the best diet for a Bengal cat is either a raw diet or a dehydrated raw diet.
While Bengal cats are perfectly capable of grooming themselves, they appreciate attention and will enjoy brushing on a regular basis.
You may want to teach your cat to accept nail trimming from a young age, and you might also want to brush their teeth daily.
Bengal cats need lots of exercise – far more than the average cat. While most cats do spend most of their time asleep, these frisky felines require several play sessions every day, particularly during their first few years of life.
When we say that Bengal cats are high-energy, we mean it. These cats have a reputation for zooming through the house, jumping on furniture, and not stopping until they've made several laps. Interactive play is absolutely essential to your cat's well-being and it'll help save your furnishings as well.
Teaser toys, lasers and battery-operated cat toys that encourage energetic play are absolute essentials. Make sure your cat has more than one scratching post and be sure to treat them to a tall cat tower that satisfies their natural need to climb. The more you catify your house, the better.
Bengals are often happy to walk on a leash, as they have a built-in need to explore. If you adopt a Bengal kitten, teach them how to walk on a leash from a young age if you’d like to enjoy this activity together. Safe outdoor exploration offers the ideal opportunity for exercise and stimulates your cat's inquisitive mind.
Like many cat breeds, Bengals do have the potential to develop some known health issues. Eye problems can develop as a Bengal cat ages; cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) are concerns. The hereditary form of PRA is not limited to older cats: it sometimes occurs in kittens with symptoms beginning at an age as young as 12 weeks. PRA causes blindness and there is no known cure.
Some Bengal kittens are born with flat-chested kitten syndrome. This is normally caught by the breeder and with treatment, these cats can go on to live healthy lives.
Bengals may develop patellar luxation, a joint disorder that causes the kneecaps to slip to one side. This affects mobility and may cause discomfort, particularly later in life.
A small percentage of Bengal cats develop a form of enlarged heart called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). It’s worth noting that this is a hereditary disease and while breeders can have their cats tested for heart murmurs, it is impossible to predict whether future generations will have HCM. There is no such thing as an HCM-free breeding line.
Cat fanciers began experimenting with Asian Leopard cat hybridization more than 200 years ago, but the Bengal cat we know and love today didn’t emerge until the 1960s, when Dr. Willard Centerwall of Loma Linda University began hybridizing Asian Leopard cats to see whether they would pass their immunity to feline leukemia on to hybrid offspring. While immunity wasn’t passed on, something great did result from those early experiments: The Bengal cat breed was created!
It took decades for Bengal cats to achieve popularity. In 1980, Dr. Centerwall sent some of his Bengal cats to Jean Sudgen Mill, who wanted to decrease the desire for fur as a fashion statement by popularizing domestic cats with exotic looks. At the same time, she hoped to reduce the demand for illegal trafficking in wild cats for the pet industry.
The breed was further developed with the addition of Tory of Delhi, a domestic street cat that was imported from India. Other breeders discovered that Egyptian Mau cats were excellent candidates for pairing with Asian Leopard cats, with the cross resulting in beautiful spotted Bengals.
TICA recognized Bengal cats as an experimental breed in 1983, and full recognition was gained in 1993. The Cat Fanciers Association granted the Bengal breed its official recognition in 2016. United Feline Organizations, the Canadian Cat Association, the American Cat Fanciers Association, and the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy recognize the breed as well.
Did You Know?
Bengal cats love to play in water, and will go to great lengths to get wet. They're famous for joining their owners in the shower, and if given the opportunity they'll jump right into a sink or bathtub full of water.
The Bengal cat is the only domestic cat breed CFA allows to display rosettes in its coat. These cat's coats bear a strong resemblance to jaguars, ocelots, and leopards coats.
The Bengal is one of just a handful of so-called hypoallergenic cat breeds. While there's no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic cat, Bengals are less likely to cause allergic reactions than most other cats.
The Breed Standard
Legs & Paws
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a Bengal cat cost?
Bengal cats cost between $1,500 - $3,000.
How big do Bengal cats get?
Bengal cats tend to be large in size. A fully grown Bengal cat might weigh between 12-22 pounds or more and range in height anywhere from about 14"-18" inches tall.
How long do Bengal cats live?
The Average lifespan for Bengal is 10-15 years.
Do Bengal cats shed?
Bengal are short-haired cats. Therefore, they do not shed as much as long-haired cat breeds.