People are attracted to Bengal cats because of their looks. Whether they are spotted, marbled or with rosettes, the Bengal cat is one of the most striking specimens of the feline world.
The Bengal cat personality traits are as distinctive as the breed. This cat is a hyperactive breed that thrives off physical and mental stimulation. They are bold, protective, and attentive to their family. They consider themselves the royal king or queen of the pride and keep reminding you of it.
Before you can understand a Bengal cat personality, you must understand their lineage and how genetics plays a significant role in personality development. A Bengal cat is quite different from an ordinary housecat. It isn’t the type of cat that is suitable for everyone.
However, those who own one love the breed and wouldn’t have anything else.
What Is a Bengal Cat?
A Bengal cat is a mix between a domestic housecat and a small wildcat called the Asian Leopard.
The breed dates back to the 1960s and seemingly got started on opposite ends of the country.
A California cat breeder, Jean Mill, accidentally discovered the breed when she allowed a newly acquired Asian leopard to spend time with a black tomcat. She never thought her leopard would mate with the tom because they are of different species and was surprised when her leopard got pregnant.
The result was some spotted cats. The breeder kept a female and bred it back with the black tom resulting in a litter of solid and spotted kittens.
The Bengal breed was also being created by scientists at Loyola University in New Orleans at the same time as part of an experiment to stop feline leukemia. The kittens from the experiment were adopted out and Mill got some of those females to continue her breeding program.
Some may wonder how Asian leopards came to be known in the United States in the first place. It is an interesting fact that these cats were popular as pets in the 1950s and 1960s and were even sold in pet stores.
Today, the Asian leopard isn’t used for Bengal breeding programs as there are enough established Bengals to keep developing the breed. Besides, Asian leopards are endangered now.
State and international restrictions were activated after the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna put the leopard on the endangered list.
That makes the Bengal the closest thing to a leopard that people can own. It’s a better option anyways because the Bengal cats are more people-friendly and loving than the Asian leopard.
Other breeders who adopted the cats from the Loyola University experiment in the 1960s began working with breeding over the years until the breed became established with temporary recognition in 1983 by The International Cat Association (TICA). The association allowed the breed to be formalized in 1993.
It is important to note that Bengal cat registration only recognizes cats that are at least four generations from its Asian leopard ancestor.
How Is a Bengal’s Personality Different?
The Bengal cat is a mix of both wild and domesticated genetics so it’s natural the personality of a Bengal cat is going to be different from a standard housecat.
A peek into the Bengal personality should include the temperament of its ancestor, the Asian leopard.
The Asian leopard has a survival instinct and will adapt its behavior to live in any given environment.
They are night hunters and are spectacular at hunting whether it’s on the ground, in trees, and even in water.
They even like to swim!
However, this leopard won’t tease their prey. They get straight to business and kill it right away. Another common trait is they are loners, are territorial, and will stay in their area unless it is mating season. Then, they become incredibly social.
A Bengal’s personality traits will undoubtedly include some from the wild side of his genetics. Some people find the “wild” traits quirky but they are perfectly natural to the Bengal.
What Are Some Bengal’s Personality Traits?
Let’s first look at the jungle cat traits that Bengals have stemming from their leopard ancestor. Bengals love to hunt and will do it as much as they can get out. They also like to simulate hunting in play.
Bengals love to climb and will find the highest spot in your home to claim as their spot. They could also wind up at the top of a tree before you even realize it.
Bengals love water, which comes from the leopard rather than the domesticated side of genetics as most felines don’t care for water. They can be found at ponds, getting into aquariums, and even playing in a creekbed. A Bengal cat will even jump in the shower with you!
Here are some more of the Bengal’s personality traits that are different from other cats. Most believe these traits also come from the leopard side:
- They like raw food.
- They like to learn tricks.
- They will play fetch.
Bengal Personality Facts
A Bengal cat is one of the most hyperactive breeds in the feline world.
Since their ancestors were hunters, they need to constantly be entertained. A Bengal cat needs toys that get his body and mind going. That can be a cat wheel, tunnels, or a kitty gym set.
This breed has survival instincts that go beyond domesticated breeds. A Bengal cat will hide in cabinets, entertainment centers, and drawers. Instinctively, they look for somewhere safe to rest and that could be on top of your sweaters in the closet.
A Bengal cat is naturally more territorial than standard cat breeds.
This can pose problems if other animals invade the space they have claimed. They are also roamers and need space to explore.
This is one reason most recommend for Bengal cat owners to harness and leash train their cat. That way they can safely walk with their owner to explore the area without roaming free.
Now, we need to look at a Bengal’s domesticated side to see what genetics contribute to his personality.
Bengals get their love of people from the domesticated cat side because Asian leopards don’t care for people and prefer being alone.
Those with Bengal kitties need to be home most of the time because a Bengal cat doesn’t like to be alone. They become easily bored and then can be destructive.
Most suggest those considering a Bengal should buy two so it has a friend. Another option is to have another companion pet, like another cat or dog, to keep it company.
There isn’t any problem combining a Bengal cat personality with other cats in the same house. Breeders typically socialize Bengal kittens with other cats, dogs, and children so they can live in almost any environment. Bengal cats that are well socialized can live happily with other cats, playing with them and adopting them as part of their pride.
The same goes for mixing a Bengal cat in a house with dogs. A Bengal cat’s personality with dogs doesn’t change. They aren’t worried about the size and aren’t intimidated as domestic cats can be. After all, a Bengal cat can be as large as some dogs growing up to 22 inches in length and weighing up to 18 pounds.
Bengal cats like children, primarily because children often have the same high energy and continue playing with them. The only issue is that the cat may not know its own ability to harm and may strike too hard with a playful bite or scratch. This can be trained out of them as long as you work with them as kittens.
A Bengal cat likes affection and attention.
The difference between it and other domesticated breeds is that it isn’t the type of cat to cuddle, sit on your lap or sleep with you. They like their own space.
Do Different Bengal Mixes Have Different Personalities?
Truthfully, every cat has a unique personality to that cat. Just like humans, every animal is slightly different even if they share common personality traits. So, yes, different Bengal mixes can have different personalities.
Their personality differences depend on what type of domestic cat is in their genetics. Every type of domestic cat has its own personality and quirks and those are passed on to your Bengal through genetics.
However, the leopard side is pretty much set in a Bengal. That is a dominant gene mix and a Bengal cat will always retain a bit of its wild side in its personality. However, that is one reason people love these cats. Their personality makes them interesting.
Bengal Cat Personality Types
Several Bengal cat personality types exist and are distinctive depending on the exact breed. Below are some key points about different types and mixes that show the Bengal cat personality and temperament.
The Snow Bengal cat personality and that of others in the Snow category are similar. These cats have the energetic nature of all Bengals, are highly intelligent and sociable.
They can also be mischievous.
These cats come from breeding regular Bengals with Siamese cats, which creates their captivating color and blue to aqua eyes from the Siamese albino gene. This is a rare gene that is hard to work with so previous generations of breeders had to work hard to develop this type of breed.
Drawing from the Siamese side these lighter coat cats, including the Snow Lynx Bengal cat personality, is affectional, outgoing, friendly, and social. Siamese is known for their playfulness so your Snow Bengal has an extra dose of energy.
The Siamese is one of the most intelligent breeds so the Bengal Siamese cat personality got a double-dose of that too.
Your Snow Bengal can be trusting, loving, and loves positive human interaction. They are easily trainable but can be a bit neurotic, again drawing from the Siamese side.
The Blue Bengal cat personality is the result of the leopard mixing primarily with the Egyptian Mau domesticated cat. Some Bengal cat personality traits unique to this gorgeous breed that includes blue to gray fur with darker spots, rosettes, or marbling include being outgoing and friendly with everyone.
These cats are affectionate but they are different from other felines in that they pick one family member as their favorite. They will give and demand attention from that person.
A Black Bengal cat personality isn’t drastically different from other Bengals. It has all the hunting and energy of the other types and any personality differences or quirks may come from whatever domestic breeds are in his lineage.
To understand what your Black Bengal personality may be like, consult the breeder to see what domestics were used in past breeding programs. You can also look at the parents to see what your Black Bengal kitten will be like as an adult.
Bengals Mixes and Matches
Besides the standard Bengal types that most are aware of, there are a host of other mixes that can affect a Bengal’s personality. How can the mixes affect personality?
Personality differences may change as the gene pool of a Bengal cat is diluted and other breeds enter the mix. A half Bengal cat personality or Bengal house cat personality may have a more subdued jungle side because they are further away from the leopard influence.
However, they will never be a “normal” cat. They will always have the energy and spirit of a jungle cat.
Some people believe a Bengal is a wild cat “pretending” to be a house cat. Nothing can be more untrue. A Bengal is a perfectly domesticated cat and any descendent of it will also be the same. They are loving and sweet but will maintain a playful, excitable side.
A Bengal mix cat personality or Bengal cross cat personality will depend on the exact mixes that are in the genetic pool. It’s good to have a genetic blueprint, if possible, to understand your cat and why they act as they do.
All cats have some similar traits that it takes time for people to understand. Most will hunt and bring you presents because they want to teach you to hunt. They think you are terrible at it and need a hunting education.
Cats also like to use play to practice hunting or fighting skills so toys you buy should allow them to strengthen those skills. Cats also will give a little “love bite” to those they love and need to be taught to soften the bite without harsh discipline.
The Bengal tabby cat personality can range from happy-go-lucky to bossy depending on the exact tabby used in the original breeding program. Gray tabbies are friendly, sassy, and super smart. They are pretty easygoing and can be overly affectionate. This is especially true of the gray or brown tabbies.
The red tabbies share much of the reputation of red-haired people. They tend to be a bit bossy and are feisty. That means a red tabby in your Bengal mix can be especially persistent and demanding!
The f3 Bengal cat personality can be a bit different than other mixes because this classification is when an F2 female mates with a male domestic cat. That makes the litter one-eighth Asian leopard.
The type of personality it has can largely depend on the domestic cat the female mated with but this type of Bengal will have a pretty strong leopard side so it may have a stronger need for activity, exploration, and stimulation.
This classification of Bengal is not four generations away from the leopard so it isn’t recognized in the cat associations. However, its litter will be recognized if the Bengal breed is kept intact.
What Are the Differences in the Bengal vs. Savannah Cat Personality?
The two breeds are similar in looks but vary in other distinctions, including personality. The distinction starts with the original species creating the mixes.
Similarities in the Savannah Cat vs. Bengal Cat Personality
Some things are eerily similar in the two breeds including:
- Both are avid hunters.
- Neither likes to be held.
- Both are high-energy animals.
- They are both territorial.
- Both enjoy playing in the water.
- Both are loyal and will follow their people around the house.
- Neither likes to be left alone
Differences in the Bengal vs. Savannah Cat Personality
The two types of cat are different species so they will have some differences including:
- Savannah cats will play for extended times by themselves as long as their human is nearby.
- Of the two, the Savannah cat is more dog-like in how it relates to people although both are highly trainable and each as “dog tendancies.”
- The Savannah is more physically affectionate than the Bengal with headbutts and other forms of affection.
- The Bengal is better at communicating with humans and more persistent.
There is a problem in owning a Savannah cat over the Bengal. Savannah cats are banned in several states due to their hybrid status. Those include Georgia, Hawaii, and Massachusetts.
Are There Bengal Cat Personality Problems?
Bengals have two personality quirks that owners must learn to handle.
They are vocal.
Bengal cats are highly vocal animals. They have an innate knowledge of communicating with humans to the point that they believe their vocalizations tell you exactly what they want or need.
Their meows are loud and have a series of tones that mimic human emotion so you will know when they are angry or happy. They are highly persistent and will get louder and more assertive if you ignore them.
Some perceive them to be aggressive.
In reality, Bengals are no more aggressive than any other cat but their size and territorial tendencies have given them a somewhat aggressive reputation. They do hunt but also play nicely with other animals like cats and dogs.
They don’t like their area invaded and will assert themselves if they feel an interloper is in their space.
Bengal kittens that are heavily socialized don’t have any aggressive problems at all so be sure the breeder you use does properly socialize the kittens around children and other pets.
Can You Change a Bengal’s Personality?
There are some parts of a Bengal’s personality that you can’t change. You will never change their need to hunt or climb. However, you can provide safe ways for them to burn out that energy without actually roaming the area or climbing a tall tree.
Buying a cat tree will be one of the best investments you can make for your Bengal kitty. Also buying study toys that allow him to express his hunting instincts will produce positive results. Hiding treats and toys for your Bengal to find is one of his favorite games and allows him to hunt and explore.
Training a Bengal Cat
Bengal cats are highly intelligent so they are easy to train. They can be harnessed and leashed trained so you can take them for walks. A Bengal can even be toilet trained!
Training a Bengal cat is much like training a dog. Use treats and repetition. The one difference is that a Bengal cat should probably be trained at a slower pace. That is especially true of harness and leash training.
A Bengal doesn’t like to be contained so it has to be enticed and slowly transitioned into a harness and leash. First, you have to show it to them, then let them wear it for a moment and then gradually increase the time.
Walking with a harnessed Bengal has to be done the same way with a short introductory walk before increase the distance and time.
Owning a Bengal can be a fun and wonderful experience. What some people see as quirks, Bengal owners see as unique aspects of the cat’s personality. They are some of the most loyal cats you’ll find and are also one of the smartest. This is a cat that will keep you on your toes!