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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bengals Bond VERY Closely To “Their” Person
Bengals Need….No, DEMAND Attention
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.
Shayla Tucker, a former criminal patrol deputy sheriff, is a wife, mother to four young kids, and mom to her bengal fur baby Suri. Shayla has had a life-long love for animals, and has owned, raised, trained, and worked with many different species… both large and small….her entire life. She was a very active member of both 4-H and FFA, competing at a National level. Shayla also served as an Oregon State Agriculture Ambassador, representing the State of Oregon at congressional agriculture meetings and events. Shayla has a soft spot in her heart for cats, and as a hobby enjoys writing both fun and educational articles about them… with the help of Suri of course!