Bengal cats are one of the most exotic breeds out there. It makes you curious, how are Bengal cats different from others?
The wild-looking Bengal cat breed stands out with its spotted or marbled coat pattern and a true hunter’s personality and instinct inherited from its wild parent.
In this article, you’ll know the Bengal cat intimately, from their history, health, personality, and compatibility.
What Makes Bengal Cats Different from Regular Cats?
Bengal cats are very close to their wild counterpart, the Asian leopard, resembling their uniquely patterned coats designed to blend with nature and behaving like athletic and alert hunters always on the prowl.
Although they are domesticated, they still retain wild traits that some owners will find too chaotic to deal with. With dedication, you can tame this small leopard to be a little more like a housecat.
Asian Leopard cats were being hunted for their exotic coat patterns. The nursing queen would be shot for its pelt and its offspring would be sold to pet stores.
Unfortunately, unsuspecting owners came to find that owning such wild felines presented problems. American cat breeder Jean Mill worked to protect this declining breed of wild cat.
“At that time, wild cats were being exploited for their fur market… I hoped that by putting a leopard cat on a domestic cat, the pet trade could be safely satisfied,” Mill explains.
She bought a female Asian Leopard cat and brought it home to her black tomcat. The two mated and produced two kittens. She continued crossbreeding the wild cat until the 1980s and promoted buying the Bengal breed over the Asian Leopard.
Growing to be average or medium-sized, they can weigh between 8 to 16 pounds (3.6 to 7.3 kilograms) and their height range is between 13 to 18 inches (33 to 45 centimeters) from head to paws, sitting or standing. There can exceptions and some Bengals can be heavier.
The Bengal looks very similar to its ancestor, the Asian Leopard cat, sporting three known patterns: spotted, rosetted, or marbled.
They come in various beautiful colors: brown, charcoal, blue, black, silver, and snow (in shades of light white cream or light tan). Rarely would you come across a black Bengal cat but if you do, consider it a good sign!
If you think those patterns and colors are beautiful, wait and see how they look with such gorgeous eye colors! It includes aqua, blue, gold, green, and light brown.
Personality and Behavior
These semi-wild cats are very intelligent and find ways to climb, jump, and explore your house if they aren’t stimulated enough. The Bengals are a ball of energy and chaos. They are by no means laidback and the type to lay still on your lap.
They also tend to be vocal. You may need to consider your schedule because they aren’t going to react well if left alone for long periods.
Given their athletic tendencies, Bengals are very healthy felines and can live up to 15 years or more. They thrive well on a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, and some owners even feed them raw meat.
However, like with every cat, this breed can be susceptible to joint problems, cataracts, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and a few more if neglected.
Bengals have a short, silky coat that doesn’t shed excessively. They can be brushed a few times a week to help with maintaining them.
These cats seek adventure, and if you’re more laidback and prefer a quiet home, this breed isn’t recommended for you. Their high energy level might drive you crazy.
An active owner who can keep up with their activities and keep them entertained almost every day is going to love Bengals. They do well with kids that love to play and to learn tricks with.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Owning a Bengal Cat?
If you already own one, you could probably list it all in your mind. Below, we discuss the pros and cons of owning this special cat breed.
- They form a strong bond with their owner.
- They’re fun to play with, especially if you love to move around, and you can even walk them like a dog.
- They are hypoallergic with minimal to moderate shedding.
- They don’t require much grooming and can be brushed a few times weekly.
- They love water so you can introduce them to water easily.
- They are very compatible with high-energy kids and pets.
- They are intelligent felines that can learn a lot of tricks.
- They tend to get lonely and vocal when left alone.
- They love to climb and jump, making it easier for items to break and furniture to bear scratches.
- They are incompatible with laidback owners who prefer lap cats.
- They can soil the house if not socialized and trained early.
- They are demanding and get bored and will find other ways to entertain themselves.
How Much Do Bengal Cats Cost?
These cats are pricey depending on age, coat pattern and color, generation, and the breeder’s pricing standard. The “cheapest” you could find could cost $1200 or $1500, and it only gets higher from there.
Bengal cats are a rare hybrid and it takes a lot of work to breed out some wild traits. An F1 Bengal cat is more of a wild cat than a domestic one because of its parentage, a domestic feline and an Asian Leopard. It takes up to five generations to get the temperament right.
Are Bengal Cats Legal to Own?
Bengal cats are generally legal to own in the United States, although a few states ban the ownership of one due to their wild traits.
The F1 to F4 generations of Bengals are considered exotic and are therefore more likely to be discussed by the law regarding exotic pets.
New York, Hawaii, Connecticut, and Seattle ban the ownership of Bengals even if they belong to the F5 generation, which is more domesticated. California and Alaska ban F1 to F3 generations, and other states such as Denver and Georgia require the Bengal to be of F5 generation.
Keep in mind that laws can be changed and updated. Some states allow certain generations of Bengals or none at all.
The Bengal breed stands out among other cats due to its pedigree, unique combination of looks, wild personality, and the rarity of owning one. These felines are part wild, part domestic and are always seeking to find something to entertain themselves with.