Bengals: Little Lap Leopards

You’ve seen them… shared in remarkable pictures across the internet. Perhaps you’ve seen them featured on television or in magazines. Their wild, leopard like spots are beautifully mesmerizing. Now you HAVE to have a little lap leopard of your own. Apart from the wild marbled, spotted, or rosetted attribute of the bengal’s pelt, some bengals also become heir to the “glitter gene”, which makes their pelt shimmer like they have been rolled ingild or crystal dust. This characteristic make bengals appear more luxurious as a pet.
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I admit it. I was this person. I HAD to have one of these beautiful, exotic looking cats. After over a year of breed research, then locating, contacting, and speaking with breeders, I found my very own bengal baby. I brought my kitten, Suri, home when she was only 10 weeks old. She was the runt of her litter, so she was TINY. I was armed and ready with the best grain and filler free dry kitten food, the best limited ingredient wet food, litter box, litter, bowls, collars, bed, tons of toys, pre-selected my veterinarian, and of course, LOTS of love.

I’m going to be brutally honest here: bengals are NOT for everyone. They can be a challenge for even the most experienced of cat owner. When considering bringing a bengal into your household, here are a few important things to keep in mind:

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Yes, Bengals Have Wild Heritage

The incredibly beautiful bengal is a fairly new hybrid breed originated from the crossbreeding of the Asian Leopard Cat with a domestic cat. Because of this wildcat heritage, early generation bengals (F1-F4) can present behavior problems such as aggression, shyness, litter box problems, etc. Many states and countries have even banned early generation bengals all together.  Expect to experience some wild behaviors though, even in later generation bengals. However, despite their wild genetics, bengals are WONDERFUL cats for an experienced owner. 

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A Bengal’s Temperament Depends On Its Heritage

There is a strong relationship between the temperament of bengals and the level of their development in terms of their generation.  The recommended generation for a pet is a fourth generation (referred to as an F4… Filial 4), which is believed to possess a better temperament compared to early generations (F1 – F3). The higher the development (F5, F6, F7, etc) the more removed from the Asian Leopard Cat they are. It is important to know about the development of any bengal you are thinking of bringing home.

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Bengals Are Quite Intelligent

This is one of the most important things you should know about bengals. These little lap leopards are exceptionally intelligent and they enjoy learning. They are even able to learn commands and tricks such as “sit” or “high five”. They also easily learn how to do naughty things such as open drawers, doors, cabinets, turn on water faucets, knock towels off towel racks, etc. Because bengals are intelligent, they require a lot of stimulation and attention to keep them from becoming destructive.

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Bengal Dietary Needs Differ From “Normal” Cats

Cats are obligate carnivores, not omnivores, not vegetarians. If you look at most store brand commercial pet foods, you can clearly see they contain very little clean meat and lots of corn, wheat, soy, rice, oats, potatoes, and other non-meat fillers. It is very important to feed the best available, top-quality, corn/grain/filler free foods you can find. There are also many minimal ingredient foods available. Raw feeding is an excellent diet for bengals when properly prepared. Maintaining a bengal’s optimal long term health through a high quality diet with meat protein is a must. Bengals tend to have somewhat sensitive stomachs, so to avoid gastric upset a high quality diet is crucial. 

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Bengals Bond VERY Closely To “Their” Person

Bengals are quite friendly natured and get along very well with their humans. It’s quite typical for them to be more loving, affectionate and loyal to one family member. That person will be their everything. Bengals want to be with their person as much as possible. The lucky human is selected by the bengal herself. (Suri is totally a Mama’s Girl…yay me!
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Bengals Need….No, DEMAND Attention

Bengals exhibit attention seeking behavior unlike most of the typical sluggish cats breeds. They desire LOTS of quality active play time with someone. These creatures need nonstop mental stimuli for which you need to buy them interactive and intelligent toys like puzzles. Another worrisome issue is they get bored easily and need new toys on a fairly regular basis. Bengals do best with large spaces to run, climb, jump and play. They have so much energy and need to utilize their energy in positive activities and will aid you to keep them away from being destructive. Suri’s favorite game is fetch!
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Even though bengals are mischievous, they are so incredibly enjoyable with their goofy and entertaining antics. Not only are they an exclusive and amazing breed in terms of their physical beauty, but also in terms of their nature. They are outgoing, sociable, gentle, intelligent, surprisingly hyperactive loyal creatures that cannot be resisted. If you decide you may like a lap leopard of your own, PLEASE research, research, research the breed prior to getting one. I cannot stress his enough. Proper knowledge of typical bengal behaviors and how to properly manage them are essential to a happy cat and happy home!

Want to see more? Check out the Facebook page of this adorable little bengal.

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46 thoughts on “Bengals: Little Lap Leopards

  1. Thanks for the information on Bengals. They sound positively enchanting for people with very active personalities and the money to buy the toys and cat havens to keep a Bengal busy.

    My coon cats are laid-back and a bit aloof, which is perfect for the writer who doesn’t want to constantly play with an active cat. 🙂

  2. very kewl missi this was an awesome read, such a beautiful Kat ya gotz there also,
    totally one of a kind! :_ 🙂 eyes even match those of the owners very Kewl yes indeed! 2 say the least!

  3. What a great text. I enjoyed reading it and got a lot of information about this fascinating breed. We are happy with our Norwegian girls here but it’s always nice to learn something new. Beautiful pictures as well 🙂

  4. SHE’S BEAUTIFUL!!! And what a brilliant informative post about exotic cat breeds, really important info because they’re not for everyone and people need to be aware of that. I love my four girls dearly and I’d like to think they love me too…

  5. Thank you, KatzenWorld for posting my article! And thank you for the kind comments everyone! I am very glad you all enjoyed this piece about such an amazing exotic breed.

    You are all more than welcome to stop by and like Suri’s facebook page to enjoy beautiful daily photos, cute videos, and links to my other published work!

    https://m.facebook.com/Lil-Miss-Suri-1654872544782065/

  6. I have a Bengal. She was rescued from a parking lot outside the gym where I work out, where she had been living “wild” over the winter after escaping from her former owner’s house. She was chipped, so I returned her. Two months later the owner was on the phone begging me to take her, as I had said I was ready to do if she hadn’t been chipped, because her wild traits had set so much during her outdoor time that she urinated everywhere and hated every other animal in the house. When I arrived to pick her up she had been confined to a tiny carrier and had litter gummed in her fur. They didn’t know how else to handle her.

    It took me eighteen months to rehabilitate her conduct towards other animals and longer to stop her habit of peeing on the guest bed (which I had to wrap in plastic). Fortunately I have a big house and could give her time-out space. She has now bonded to one of my other cats and can get along with another, but starts a fight with the fourth almost every morning. It’s more noise than actual fighting, but disconcerting. She still takes a dump on the (washable) rug in front of my dresser once or twice a week.

    I hate to rain on anyone’s parade, but people should know that Bengals are disproportionately surrendered to shelters for uncontrolled soiling, and a cat in that predicament is almost always euthanized. If you buy a Bengal you are supporting the breeding practice that leads to this tragedy. I love, love my Nickel Catmium, who in addition to her past and present problems does possess all the endearing traits mentioned in this article, but I do not think it is ethical for breeders to continue crossing wild with domestic cats in this way (also including Savannah cats and Chaussies). For a perspective from people who deal with the difficult side of this situation please read:
    http://www.wildcatsanctuary.org/education/species/hybrid-domestic/what-is-a-hybrid-domestic/

    1. Wow, what a nightmare. Bengals with this type of personality are generally not the result of breeding, but of poor early socialization, poor interaction with its family, and likely abuse. Many many many bengal owners rush to buy one without bothering to research the breed at all. They quickly find they have a very demanding cat that they dont want to be bothered with. The end result is a cat with horrible behavior issues. Please keep in mind that not all bengals are the result of an Asian Leopard Cat directly. The vast majority of breeders do not own an ALC or even an EG bengal. Early generations (F1-F4) DO tend to have more behavior issues including timidness, aggression, and toileting problems. (Not always, but it does absolutely happen) Later generation bengals, (F5 and above) which is what is recommended to normal cat owners, do not typically display these same negative traits and are as domestic as any other breed. Suri, pictured in this article, is an F7. She has ZERO of these traits.

      I always recommend to ANYONE interested in bengals to please thouroughly research the breed before buying one.

  7. Suri is beautiful. This is great information for anyone seeking to get a Bengal cat. Whether it is a cat or a dog, people need to do their research before adopting.

  8. Suri is gorgeous! My first thought was ‘I WANT!’. After reading your post, I decided I’d stick with my 22 feline ‘mutts’. They take all my time and attention right now. Just went and liked Suri’s facebook page.
    Thanks for an excellent and informative post.

  9. Beautiful cat! Love that you can handle her. I saw one of these half-wild cats on “My Cat From Hell” and decided right then and there that regular domestic cats are wild enough for me. Anyone wanting such a cat should probably foster one first to be absolutely, positively sure you can handle it. It is just too sad to see these beautiful cats go to a shelter, not because there is anything wrong with them, but because there is something wrong with humans who try to adopt half-wild animals and treat them like housecats.

    1. To be fair, bengals are NOT considered wild animals. They are a hybrid, yes…but they are just as domesticated as any other breed. Early generations may exhibit more wild behaviors, but anything past an F4 is just a cat. Suri, the bengal pictured, is an F7. She is quite removed from her Asian leopard cat heritage.

      The bengals you see in shows like that most likely were poorly socialized as kittens or mishandled and ignored by the family. They ARE high energy and can act out. I got lucky…Suri is a dream. Shes incredibly sweet, loving, calm, quiet, never marks, doesnt bite, claw, destroy things…NOTHING. I absolutely adore her!

    1. I really truly do! She is amazing!

      Should you consider a bengal, please please please spend a considerable amount of time researching the breed!!

    1. You know, depending on the foundation lines, some DO have Aby! Others like Suri have foundation lines with the Egyptian Mau.

  10. I’ve had two Bengals for going on ten years. Everything you said is definitely on target. The one thing mine don’t fit, though, is “lap leopard” since neither is a lap sitter like a “normal” cat, which curl up on your lap and sleep. My male will snuggle on my lap but only if under a blanket as “the undercover cat” and the other one will sit on my lap when I’m on the computer, but that’s it. My little female loves to open cabinets and play fetch. Her half-brother loves laser pointers and feather wands. If he feels neglected he will sit at my feet and meow to demand my attention. They are definitely unique and not for everyone. They are nearly as demanding as a toddler.

  11. I learned to never play rough with them, their strength is phenomenal compared to their size. The few I’ve seen still have a wild look to them and are very chatty.

    1. Agreed. Rough play with cats is frowned on as it can lead to play aggression (biting, scratching, etc). With bengals this is even more likely. My Suri girl LOVES wand toys. Da Bird wand feather toy is her absolute favorite. She goes full jungle cat for it!

      The more wild appearing bengals are probably early generations, as they retain some of the Asian leopard cat features. Suri, the bengal featured in this piece, is an F7. While she has a bit of a wild look, shes very far removed from her ALC heritage.

  12. Lovely article about the awesome Bengal. I have been owned by my sweet Bengal girl, Sarabi, for almost 14 years. This grand old dame is as you have described. She used to love playing “fetch” with her favourite mouse and will call you with her special vocalization that means, “drop everything you’re doing, I want you to throw this for hours for me”. Bengal cats seem to be very robust health wise. Sarabi has kept her weight down and is the same size now as she was when a youngster. I agree they don’t do well on corn and grain based foods. Sarabi throws up anything that is grain based, and she thrives on a good animal protein based wet food diet. She is also definitely a lap cat who has chosen her favourite human and has reserved a special vocalization just for calling us. A very chatty cat, beware of doing conference calls in the kitchen with your Bengal motor-mouth supercharged parkour expert. 😹

  13. Suri’s beautiful! Sounds like her personality is gorgeous too. How lucky you are to be “her human”. I had to give my cat to my fiance’s mother half a year ago. I think she missed me for maybe an hour.

    1. Thank you! As beautiful as she is to look at, her personality is FAR more beautiful!

      Awwwww, sad!! If I leave the room Suri has an absolute conniption. Shes very very clingy. (Currently sound asleep in my lap)

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