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All About Bengal Cats

Bengal Cat sitting on table

 

Proud parents of a Bengal cat appear to have a miniature leopard slinking around their home. These pets are undoubtedly beautiful felines with an exotic flair that gives them a dash of intrigue. If you’re thinking about getting a cat, or want to learn more about your Bengal, here’s everything you need to know about Bengal cats.

Quick Facts About Bengal Cats

Anytime you’re considering adopting a new pet, it’s essential to have an accurate understanding of the breed. Various factors like size, temperament, and intelligence significantly determine if a specific pet is right for you. It’s also worth noting how easy a pet is to train and groom and how much they cost.

Of course, you’ll find variations and exceptions to the standard within every breed. But if you’re considering bringing home a Bengal cat, here are the highlights.

Average Full-Grown Height: 

13” to 15”

Average Full-Grown Length:

16” to 18”

Average Full-Grown Weight:

8 to 15 lbs

Estimated Lifespan:

9 to 15 years

Coat Length:

Shorthair

Coat Colors:

Three primary colors are brown, silver, and snow

Coat Patterns:

Spotted or Marbled

Shedding:

Low to Normal

Grooming:

Minimal

Intelligence:

High

Activity Level:

High

Temperament:

Energetic, playful, confident, alert, affectionate, sociable, good with children and pets

Cost:

$1,500 to $10,000 if purchasing from a reputable breeder

 

A Closer Look at Bengals

The distinguishing aspects of most Bengals are the beautiful rosette markings on their soft, velvety coats. The pattern showcases this domestic cat’s heritage. As with many domestic felines, you can trace Bengal cats’ roots to wild animals, namely wild Asian leopards.

Many people desiring to add a cat to the family seek out Bengals for their exotic appearance yet friendly, playful personalities. A Bengal could be the perfect fit if you already have a pet at home or have young children. 

The breed tends to be friendly toward kids and other dogs and cats, especially if introduced to them early (as a kitten). On the flip side, if you already have a Bengal at home and decide to bring home a new pet, your established Bengal might have something to say about it.

How Much Do Bengal Cats Cost?

If you’re looking for a Bengal, you have several options. You can find a reputable breeder specializing in Bengal cats, knowing that purchasing from a breeder could cost between $1,500 and $4,000. If you’re holding out for a Bengal kitten, you could spend over $10,000.

But with so many animals flooding shelters and rescues, it would be worth it on multiple levels to check these sources first. Contacting an organization like Bengal Rescue can help you find the Bengal companion you’re looking for and help you rescue an animal in need.

Beyond the initial cost of acquiring your new friendly feline, you can expect to pay the same average costs to own a cat. On average, pet ownership costs between $350 to $1,200 a year for things like food, vet visits, toys, litter supplies, grooming, etc.

History of Bengal Cats

You can trace the lineage of Bengal cats back to 1963 in California. Breeder Jean Mill crossed an Asian Leopard Cat with a domestic shorthair cat. Asian leopard cats are small wild cats similar in size to domestic cats. Jean Mill abandoned her project when she was widowed.

In 1980, Dr. Willard Centerwall was working on research involving the Asian leopard cat’s potential immunity to Feline Leukemia. He gave the first-generation (F1) of hybrids to Jean Mill, who picked up with her breeding. She laid the foundation of the Bengal breed we know and love today. 

Over the years, glittering entered the equation, giving the Bengal’s coat its luster. The breed continued to develop with the addition of the marbled pattern and started garnering more and more attention.

In 2016, the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) recognized Bengals in its Miscellaneous Class but specified they must be six generations removed to register and participate in exhibitions. (This requirement stemmed primarily from the Bengal’s wild ancestry.) In 2018, the CFA recognized Bengal cats as a championship breed.

Bengal cat laying on ground

Are Bengal Cats Good House Pets?

Despite their uncanny resemblance to a leopard you’d find in the jungle, Bengals make fabulous house pets. However, be ready to put in the time and effort this highly active and inquisitive cat requires. 

Bengals are very active and have lots of energy. They need adequate mental and physical stimulation to stay focused, happy, and out of trouble. In other words, if you don’t have the time to devote to these needs, rethink getting a Bengal. Otherwise, you’ll likely return home to shredded curtains and piles of couch cushion fluff.

But if you have the time and willingness to meet these all-important needs, a Bengal will make a wonderful companion and housemate. They’re friendly and love to be sociable and around their humans. Bengals are also highly intelligent and adaptive. You might find as the first year passes, your Bengal adapts more to your family’s lifestyle.

Bengal cats also love water to the point of obsession. Therefore, you could end up with a furry guest in the shower at any given moment or perched on the tub ledge. If you have aquarium fish, be aware and take precautions. The Bengal’s high prey drive also means you should be wary if you have small pets in the home, like rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs.

Are Bengal Cats High Maintenance?

Bengals could be considered high maintenance in terms of their activity needs. As previously mentioned, they require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and to avoid destructive behavior. They also love attention and would happily be with their humans 24/7.

But when it comes to grooming, this beautiful breed doesn’t require any extensive treatments or care. Regular brushing (once a week) is ideal to keep their lustrous coat in tip-top shape and stave off hairballs. Bathing once a month is adequate, as too much bathing could damage their fur. Of course, keeping up with regular vet visits is also a must, but Bengals are a relatively healthy cat breed.

Bengals are also one of the low-shedding cat breeds, so you won't need to devote too much time to getting hair off of your furniture and clothes.  An occasional pass with the FurDozer is all you would need to have things fur-free.

Is It True Bengal Cats Are Illegal?

In the United States, Bengals are legal domestic cats in most states. However, you will find a few exceptions. Several states, including Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, New York, Indiana, Iowa, and Massachusetts, ban Bengals that are F1 through F4 generations. Additionally, Hawaii bans Bengals of any generation.

The premise is that these generations retain high amounts of their wild ancestry, starting to become more domestic at F3. However, Hawaii is the only state that appears to actively enforce this law. In addition, New York City and Seattle, WA, have bans on Bengals of any generation.

If you live in one of these places and want to get a Bengal, contact local authorities to point you in the right direction.

Bringing Home a Bengal?

Overall, if you want to add a feline into the mix, a Bengal cat can be a perfect fit for your home if you have the time to devote to their active needs. These creatures are affectionate, intelligent, playful, and beautiful.


To learn more about caring for your pets and what makes your cat tick, check out the rest of the Neater Pets blog.

 

 

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