Bengals are an increasingly popular choice of cat breed in many countries, due to their gorgeous coats, athleticism, and interesting personalities.
However, they require a bit more work than the average housecat – don’t expect your Bengal to lay around all day! Keep reading to see if adding a Bengal to the family is right for you.
What You Should Know Before Purchasing a Bengal Cat
Here are a few important factors that you should be aware of before deciding to get a Bengal cat:
Bengals Are a Family Pet
Unlike some domestic breeds of cat, Bengals love to be a part of daily household life. Inquisitive and intelligent, Bengals are always ready to insert themselves in daily chores.
Washing the dishes can suddenly become a group activity – Bengals love water, and a running tap is irresistible to these cats.
Bengals can get along great with children, as long as they feel safe and comfortable. Their playful personalities mean that they will fit right in with an active, lively group of humans, especially if there are toys around.
A household with dogs may seem an unlikely place for a Bengal to feel comfortable, but these cats get along great with most canine companions!
Vet Street classifies their personality as extremely intelligent, curious, and active. They demand a lot of interaction, so this is not for owners who have busy lives outside of the house, unless you plan to have two of them.
The Bengal is a social cat, so this breed fits well with a family, but that also depends on the individual cat. They can get along with dogs and children, as long as you provide them an escape route when they don’t want to play anymore.
Bengals Need Lots of Time to Play
A Bengal’s wild ancestry means that she has a lot of extra energy to burn off, and she will grow frustrated if she cannot. For this reason, it is important that any Bengal owner has enough space for their cat to run around and stretch her legs.
Without ample room to frolic and amuse themselves, Bengals will grow anxious and frustrated. A large part of this necessary active time includes having engaging toys for your Bengal to play with.
Most people are familiar with the classic “cat-chases-a-laser-pointer” game, but Bengals take this image to the next level. They can sprint around the house for what seems like hours!
Keeping a steady supply of interactive toys will ensure a happy, healthy Bengal. Teaser toys are a personal favorite of mine.
My two Bengals, Charlie and Winston, can be roused from even the deepest of sleeps if they see their favorite flamingo toy come out. They will prance around and jump a few feet in the air just for a chance to capture it!
Vet Street advises owners and would-be owners to challenge their brain and keep them interested in life by teaching them tricks and games, and providing them with interactive toys or puzzle toys that will reward them with kibble or treats when they learn how to manipulate them.
Bengals Need Their Own Space
As much as we love to cuddle with our feline friends, Bengals need to be able to escape the ruckus whenever they feel overwhelmed.
Having a space or room devoted entirely to your Bengal will help her feel more secure in her environment, especially if there are plenty of places to hide when she needs to be alone.
Daily Paws writes that Bengals no matter the size of your space, a Bengal needs to have lots of things to do – and climb. And where they climb, that’s where they usually stay; it’s strictly theirs, with neither kids nor other pets bothering them.
A cat tree is a great investment for any Bengal owner, as these cats love to climb on anything they set their eyes on. In addition, the high vantage point over the room she is in will make your Bengal feel safe from danger.
Like any cat in the wild, Bengals like to take naps up high – picture a leopard in a tree. Though they are domesticated, Bengals sure like to act like wild creatures!
Two Is Better than One
Cats, especially Bengals, often do better in a household with more than one pet.
They are very social creatures, and though it may seem fine to leave your Bengal at home alone all day, she will probably grow bored and lonely. The quick fix to this is to adopt more than one cat.
When I first went to adopt my cat Charlie, I got a lot of advice from other Bengal owners about adopting his brother, too. Cats need a playmate (partner-in-crime, really) to spend their time with, to burn off energy but also to socialize with. I ended up getting both cats, and I can say wholeheartedly that it was the right choice.
If you have the option to adopt two Bengals, ideally littermates, you’ll have a happier – if more rambunctious – household. As I mentioned, Bengals are very social animals, and they prefer to have a “pack” to hang out with.
Some owners might fear that having two cats will prevent them from bonding to their human, but this isn’t the case – she will probably “imprint” on a human family member. It is true that many cats do tend to pick one human over another, but these quirks are why we love them.
Though your Bengal might seem favor her purring playmate and her favorite human, she undoubtedly feels loving and protective over the whole household.
To Snuggle or Not to Snuggle?
Many people who own Bengals assert that these particular cats are not “lap cats” – as in, there is a slim chance that they will want to lounge around on their owner’s lap. In some cases, this is true, especially given Bengals’ high-energy personalities, but no two Bengals are the same.
While some Bengals might only show their affection through the occasional purr or head bunt, others will jump at the chance to cuddle in a human’s lap.
My two Bengals instantly showed me just how much they love to give affection and started sleeping in my bed the night they came home.
If your Bengal chooses to sleep elsewhere, and seems somewhat aloof, it might be because she shows affection in a unique way. She probably says “I love you” in some unexpected ways!
For those who want a cat that is guaranteed to lay in your lap all day, a Bengal might not be the right choice. These remarkable cats are free thinkers and prefer to spend their time exploring – which doesn’t mean they love you any less!
Indoor versus Outdoor Cat – Which Is Best for a Bengal?
Some pet owners choose to adopt cats because they can roam freely between the house and the yard but fail to recognize the risks of this.
While it may seem like a no-brainer to let your cat out of the house, there are actually many dangers behind this that some might not initially consider. Cats are very susceptible to dangers like disease, road traffic, fleas and ticks, and even other animals.
Bengals love to explore and preventing your furry friend from going outside might seem cruel, but there are ways to meet in the middle to keep your cat happy yet safe. Investing in a cat harness and leash is the perfect compromise between safety and fun – walking your Bengal around outside will allow her to get the stimulation she needs while ensuring her wellbeing.
Many Bengal owners choose to build outdoor cat gardens, or “catios”, to give their pets more time in the great outdoors. These enclosed spaces ensure a secure but entertaining place for a Bengal to spend time.
Building a cat garden can be somewhat expensive, however, and the same effect can be achieved through walking your Bengal on a leash.
Bengals Come with a Price Tag
And I mean that literally. Bengals are a beautiful and highly coveted breed of cat whose value cannot be understated.
The average Bengal kitten can cost anywhere from $1,000-$5,000, with plenty of variabilities. Any cattery that advertises Bengal kittens for less than $1,000 is most likely unregistered, meaning that the cats aren’t “true” Bengals.
The Bengal Connection lists three factors as to why this breed costs so much:
- The kitten’s traits: generation, quality, age, temperament, and demand for such a kitten (often demand is associated with color)
- What’s included with the kitten: are they spayed/neutered? Is there health record complete? Do they come with a microchip, toys, food?
- The level of breeder care (possibly the most important factor!)
Bengal breeders everywhere will attest that their cats are well worth the cost – after all, you are spending that pretty penny on a beloved family member.
Depending on whether or not you want your Bengal to be a pet or a breeding cat, the cost can change. Bengal kittens sold as pets will often cost considerably less than a breeding kitten due to the legal aspect of the transaction.
Bengal breeders are sanctioned by TICA (The International Cat Association) and other relevant governing bodies that exist to make sure there is no funny business behind a breeding operation.
Some Bengal lovers choose to adopt from Bengal cat rescues instead of purchasing a kitten from a cattery, which is a less expensive option. That doesn’t mean that their adoption fees will be as inexpensive as with other cats; a rescue Bengal can still cost upwards of $150.
Purchasing a Bengal is just one part of the overall cost. A new Bengal owner must be prepared to purchase all the necessary items that come with owning a cat – food, toys, litter, litter boxes, treats, you name it.
This is all on top of yearly vet fees, which include vaccinations, check-ups, and even emergency visits. If you decide to get two Bengals, these costs are all doubled. All cat owners should be ready to handle any expense that comes their way.
- They Are Hypoallergenic
Many people choose to adopt specialty breeds of cats such as the beautiful Sphynx under the impression that they will be hypoallergenic.
Though no cat can truly be classified as hypoallergenic because of the presence of dander, Bengals do come remarkably close to being allergy-free. This has something to do with the lack of Fel d 1 protein in their system, which is the very cause of cat allergies.
Not just that, but Bengals have special properties in their coats. They have what is known as a “pelt,” meaning that they have just one layer of fur, unlike most cats who traditionally have two.
The extra layer of fur on many domestic cats makes them prone to heavy grooming and thus shedding, which spread the allergens in their dander all around a household. This is what people with cat allergies react to, causing sneezing, coughing, inflammation, and general discomfort.
Bengals hardly shed, if at all, which limits the spread of the Fel d 1 allergen from their dander. Since there are fewer reactants in the air, many Bengal owners who typically display allergy symptoms find that their exotic cats hardly elicit a reaction at all.
My brother, who is terribly allergic to most cats, is able to play with my Bengals and even cuddle with them!
Though this may seem like a cure-all for people with allergies who want to adopt a cat, it is important to note that this occurs only on a case-by-case basis. While some might show no negative reaction at all to Bengals, others might have a difficult time being in the same room as one.
Their “hypoallergenic” distinction is never one hundred percent accurate – for this reason, potential owners should visit a cattery to make sure they are able to tolerate a Bengal’s presence.
Grooming Duties Are Limited
An added bonus to Bengals’ special pelts is how easy it is to keep your cat well groomed. Many household cats require regular grooming due to copious amounts of shedding – this includes brushing, shaving, vacuuming, the whole shebang.
Aside from some light shedding when it’s is a kitten, it is unlikely that your Bengal will give you any trouble in the cleaning department.
A Bengal’s coat is not the only thing that will need attention, however. Most cat owners know the importance of keeping their claws trimmed and making sure to do so regularly.
A cat with unwieldy claws is a recipe for trouble. Accidentally getting scratched by your favorite pet is not exactly a pleasant experience!
Neatly trimmed claws also cut down on the risk of your furniture being used as a scratching post. Keeping your Bengal’s nails in tidy order, as well as owning a fair number of surfaces for her to scratch on, will keep both of you happy.
One of the more unexpected costs of veterinary services might surprise most people – dental care. Poor dental hygiene in cats can cause discomfort and pain due to a buildup of tartar, which irritates their gums.
The image of a Bengal having her teeth brushed is somewhat comical, but the risks of not doing so are no laughing matter.
In the wild, a cat is able to chew on grass and bones to effectively clean her teeth, but in a human’s household, the only respite she has is crunching on dry food unless her owner brushes her teeth regularly. It is important to get your Bengal used to dental care to avoid problems later in life.
Bengals are no more difficult to groom than most other cats but doing so consistently is what keeps her happy in the long term. Developing good grooming practices early on will be easiest for your Bengal and you.
How Long Do Bengals Live?
Like most domestic cats, Bengals have an average lifespan of twelve to sixteen years. There is a great degree of variability in this measure, however; there are many factors that contribute to a cat’s longevity.
Letting a cat live both indoors and outdoors will shorten her lifespan, while feeding her nutritious food and regularly administering medicines can extend it. It all depends on the individual cat.
Ensuring that your Bengal is neutered or spayed at an appropriate age can help it live a long and happy life, as well. Getting ahead of and treating medical issues will give your Bengal a higher quality of life – after all, she cannot tell you if she is in pain.
Monitoring any subtle changes in behavior is important for all Bengal owners. Cats are prone to disguising pain and discomfort, a remnant of their days in the wild. Showing weakness might mean a death sentence in the jungle, so keeping a close eye on our beloved Bengals is pivotal in prolonging their lives.
Conclusion – Should I Get My Very Own Bengal?
After reading this article, if you can comfortably say that all of these factors will fit in to your lifestyle, then a Bengal cat is probably right for you.
Bengals aren’t like most cats in a number of ways, from their exotic pelts to their fiery personalities, which is exactly why people love them so much. Giving a Bengal a happy life can be a bit of work at times, but it is all the more fulfilling when you have one of your own.
Troublesome though they can be, any Bengal owner will tell you that they wouldn’t have it any other way. Would you adopt a Bengal, or add one to your current cat family? Leave a comment below!