Bengal cats are some of the most active felines. They are especially hyperactive as kittens and have the athletic build to match all their quests for hunting, jumping, and climbing. Bengals make good pets as long as you keep them physically and mentally stimulated.
People can recognize a Bengal cat by its impressive markings. The breed officially was first created in the U.S. in the 1960s as an experiment to develop a way to stop the spread of feline leukemia.
The mix is between a common domestic housecat and a wild Asian leopard. The leopard wasn’t traditional but was a small wildcat.
The scientific part of the experiment failed and cats were given up for adoption. The breed finally became an accepted member of the official feline community in 1983. It has been intriguing both celebrities and others ever since because of its beauty, high intelligence, and energy.
Having a Bengal cat can be a challenge for many because they are hyperactive, needs lots of exercise, and crave attention. However, they are lower maintenance in grooming and are super easy to train.
The Physical Build of a Bengal Cat
Bengals stand between 8 to 10 inches tall so they are a little bigger than the average housecat. They have good health but can get feline diseases, including feline leukemia, just as any other cat so they will need vaccinations.
Bengals can live up to 15 years old so they are meant for long-term companionship. Their short hair is easy to keep groomed and their shedding is average with other cat breeds.
One thing to realize about this breed of cat is that their bodies are mean for activity. While they are now domesticated, Bengals have a wildness about them that is often misunderstood.
Bengals can be thought of as impulsive, untrainable, and even aggressive because of their high-energy nature. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Personality of a Bengal
If you want a laid-back cat, the Bengal isn’t it. This is the cat that will jump from a shelving unit to a chandelier in a heartbeat. They are incredibly playful, especially as kittens.
Bengals love to hunt so they need to go outside and roam. The best Bengal owners are those who have plenty of room for the cat to explore.
They will likely bring you “presents” of their kills as a gift to you. In their own way, this is how they are training you to hunt, or so they think.
Bengals are friendly and will bond with both family members. They also will bond with other pets as long as they are properly socialized from a young age.
These cats can be affectionate but they are not the type to sit in your lap and cuddle. The Bengal has a bolder, in control, sometimes stubborn, personality. They want to rule the kingdom.
One thing about Bengals that surprises most new cat owners is how chatty they are. Bengal cats are extremely vocal and have an innate need to communicate with you about every detail of the household. They become more vocal when they want something and will get louder if you ignore them.
Their meows come in different tones and can sound more like a wild animal than a cat. That is especially true if they are unhappy with you.
These cats are adaptable as long as you take time to work with them. They need lots of attention, socialization along with physical and mental stimulation to be happy.
Are Bengal cats active? Bengals can be destructive if they are bored so it’s best to find ways for them to exhaust bursts of energy to calm them.
How Energetic Are Bengals?
Bengals are highly energetic and will need to be entertained. They love climbing and jumping so it’s best to have a cat tree and some man-made perches in your home.
Bengals are such good jumpers that they can jump triple their height. This breed of cat can also hide in the strangest of places due to their climbing skills.
One unique trait of this breed is Bengals love water! They will try to get in the shower with you, fish goldfish out of a bowl, and could get into trouble if you have a pond or pool. They are also known for drinking from the tap!
The secret to keeping a Bengal cat occupied is lots of toys. They would do well with tunnels, climbing trees, balls, and lots of small toys. They also do well with any type of game that simulates hunting, like chasing a ball or trying to catch a feather on a cat toy wand.
Bengals need between one to two hours a day of playtime that includes both physical and mental activities. They get frustrated when they are left alone with nothing to do. They are best for those who are home a lot.
Are Bengals Smart?
Bengals are wonderfully intelligent on many levels. They can be easily trained, almost like a dog. A Bengal cat can learn basic commands like sit, stay, jump, lie down, and even how to give a high-five!
Bengals can even be walked on a leash.
One aspect about Bengals that other cat breeds are not known for is the Bengal cat is aware and concerned with the moods of their owner. They are a sensitive breed.
While cats are not known to have emotional self-awareness, the Bengal cat will adapt their behavior to match the expressions and gestures of their owners. They are great mimickers.
Bengal cats are also great thieves. They tend to play with anything they can find, even if they have to take it from somewhere they aren’t supposed to be.
Some Bad Bengal Habits
Bengals do have some bad habits that new owners will need to retrain to change to better habits.
Bengals like to jump on counters, climb in closets, cabinets, or other small places. They may also not appreciate another animal nearby if they weren’t already socialized with that particular animal.
The counter hopping can be remedied by creating high perches where the cat can see what you are doing while in the kitchen. That will break their curiosity. You can create “no” zones in closets and cabinets to prevent them from wanting to go in there.
A “no” zone includes things that make the cat uncomfortable like double-sided tape or orange scent. You can also tell them “no” to those certain areas and remove them from the spot as you would a dog. They will learn.
Another fact about Bengals is that they are highly territorial. They will protect their yard or their inside space. Some mistake this trait for aggression.
You can reduce this “wild” trait by providing your Bengals with places that are all theirs. The need to defend will lessen once they feel safe in their kingdoms.
The fact that Bengal cats are highly trainable makes these habits less challenging.
Training a Bengal Cat
Training a Bengal cat is similar to training a dog. You will need clickers, treats, and lots of patience.
Clickers show the cat they are performing as they should and treats reinforce good behavior.
Training to Walk with a Harness and Leash
Harness training your Bengal can be helpful because it can be dangerous to let them roam loose.
You can use a jacket or a strap version as long as the harness is high quality. You may want to see which one your cat likes best. Most Bengal owners prefer the jacket harness because it’s easier to use.
You will also need a good leash. It can be either a standard leash or retractable, although Bengals like the retractable because it allows them to explore.
Here are the steps to harness training:
- Put the harness on and give your cat a treat. Take it off after just a few minutes. Do this several times a day leaving it on longer each time.
It helps to play with them while they are wearing it so they are used to it.
- Attach the leash and reward your cat. Leave the leash on for a few minutes as you did the harness. Do this several times a day.
- When you are ready to take your Bengal cat outside, just walk around your yard for a short distance. Build up time and distance before walking along the street.
Training to Stay in an Area
Bengal cats can be trained to go to specific spots like a chair or bed. To do this approach a spot with your cat, point to it and say “to the chair” (or wherever) and use your cat’s name.
If the cat goes there, give them a treat. You may have to place them there the first few times. Be sure to treat them then too so they associate that spot with something positive.
Training to Use the Toilet
Bengals can be trained to use the toilet a lot faster than other breeds! That would save on littler box supplies!
Toilet training a cat involves transitioning them from the litter box to a training seat before they can use the toilet. It can take several weeks to fully accomplish this.
It is best to have a kit to help in the training. Most come with an instructional DVD. Kits are available online and at pet supply stores.
To start the training, you must begin elevating the litter box day by day to match the toilet height. The litter box should be placed next to the toilet.
Put the training seat over the toilet. It will either have holes in the pan or you will punch holes in it and put some litter in.
Over time, as the cat gets used to going on the training seat, you put bigger and bigger holes in the pans and reduce the litter. The idea is to get your cat to be comfortable using the bathroom over a wider hole without any litter.
As your cat starts using the training seat, remove the littler box.
After your Bengal is successful fully using the training seat, you can remove the seat and let them try on just the toilet. You can also train them to flush.
A Bengal cat is a lot of fun! Their intelligence and playfulness add to a cat owner’s home life. These breeds are extremely loyal and love children, especially those who play with them. They make great pets for those willing to invest time into training them and keeping them busy.