Who would believe such pleasure from a wee ball o’ fur?
– Irish Saying
Life is full of choices. I made a simple one years ago, in order to have my deathly- allergic- to- cats Handsome Prince in my life, I was going to have to give up the warm furry snuggles of cats. Now, I love animals but cats have always held a warm space in my heart with their furry faces, long whiskers and total indifference. It was an easy choice to make and we would talk about when we some day purchased our little piece of dream property, how we’d have a few mouser cats. A compromise of some day was all the hope I needed to be happy. Didn’t appease our children but they understood that health has to come first.
I watched a special on Animal Planet that featured Bengal cats and dragged the Handsome Prince to watch too. These cats were beautiful, sleek spotted acrobats! Of course, typical me starts researching these amazing cats. Turns out because they produce no or low levels of the FLD-1 so some lucky people who are allergic to the typical domestic cat may not have a problem owning a Bengal.
What’s that you say?? Did I just hear a glimmer of furry hope?
I am a firm believer that there are so very many animals in this world that need loving homes so the right thing to do is to adopt from a shelter or rescue group. I contacted some rescue groups, animal shelters and our vet. We were not going to take any chances at bringing a sweet little soul into our house and end up having it become a huge disaster so ultimately we decided that the right step for our family is to go through our local family owned pet store. The manager is close to Lily’s Breeder and we’ve been admiring her kittens for the better part of 3 years so we knew she was local and from a good, loving home. My Handsome Prince was in love at first sight with this sweet girl and the kids were so excited their smiles could not have gotten any bigger. BUT we still had to make sure the Prince wasn’t going to react to her in any way.
My Handsome Prince bravely inhaled kitty from nose to tail. Rubbed fur all over his face/arms/neck and got tons of little sandpaper kisses. We all held our breath, including 4 or 5 customers and the staff of 3. A half hour later, he’d not sneezed, coughed, wheezed or itched in the slightest. Normally he’d be a puffy, itchy, snotty, red blotchy and look like he’d been beaten up a few times after about 10 minutes. With that he announced, “OK, where do i sign, I don’t think I can ever put her down.” The manager and I cried, of course . Lily was our little furry dream come true!
Bengals are NOT for everyone! If you want a cat to hold you and quietly love you for hours on end, you’ll want to pass on a Bengal. There is nothing quiet or still about the Bengal breed. I’ve had cats all my life and yet Lily is in a class all of her own… more like a cat-dog. She is high energy, sweet spirited, inquisitive, vocal, likes her own space but wants everyone’s attention when it’s time and able to leap and flip over 5 feet high, she’s still a kitten.
Bengal cats are the product of breeding a Domestic Cat with an Asian Leopard Cat. The first few generations are said to have much more wild traits but as the breed gets further away from the first generations, breeders are producing beautifully spotted or marbled cats that have an exotic appearance but a more domestic temperament. This hybrid combination is why we are able to own a cat. Otherwise we could try a Tiger but I’m fond of our children and Labrador… and I’m already full of weird reality shows in action around here, we need not add When Animals Attack to the list of the crazy.
Bengals have their own language and will have you trained in no time flat. They have the funniest disposition and you can almost see the wheels in that incredibly intelligent head of theirs. They are extremely stubborn but one of the smartest cats I’ve ever encountered. Lily only need be shown something twice or corrected, and she retains the information. Unique and crafty, these fur babies like to let us believe that they need to communicate their needs to us but these sneaky cats are capable of doing things that often requires thumbs, with no help at all. Lily often claims an article of clothing, stuffed animal, ear ring, hat, shiny object, pencils, pens and straws. She takes those things to her “hideout”. Her stash points change so if your keys are missing start looking under the bed, then under the office recliner…
Lily loves to play fetch, does not mind a shower in the slightest, picks up bits of trash to play with instead of her toys, thinks her black Lab buddy is awesome and loves to boss her around. Bengals tend to be top cat of every house! Everyone I’ve talked to says their Bengal is bossy. Lily totally messes with her dog but they both have such a love for each other. Maybe it’s because Lily knew nothing else since 12 weeks old or maybe she’s just a fun personality but either way those two share a special bond. Lily has her own food and water but insists on sharing Molly’s water too. Molly doesn’t mind and actually quite seems to enjoy having this feline around except for the random hallway attack for the sheer joy of hunting, these two get along like apples and carmel sauce!
My Handsome Prince is still a Dog Guy & he shares a close bond with our Lab, Molly. However, He will happily admit that he wishes he’d know years ago that he could own a Bengal. He loves his Lily and the feeling is mutual. He’s often overheard confessing that he’d have a house full of Bengals because they are just so much fun. Bengals are said to bond with one member of the family but Lily shares a unique relationship with each member of the family. I sometimes believe she works with us upon which level she has personally trained us to, it’s just a theory but with a Bengal almost anything is possible we’re learning. You know the cat has everyone wrapped around her dagger tipped toe when all she has to do is chirp for us in the hallway and every last person in the house responds.
Bengals do not respond to flicking or swatting them for correction unless you’d like to risk a retaliatory bite or swipe of razor claws. These head strong buggers are excellent to clicker or treat train. With them it’s more of a redirection/correction, than to get after them with anger. It takes a second to think this way but the animal it produces is not only happier, secure but fun to enjoy. Isn’t that why we have pets in the first place? To enjoy a wonderful life long relationship as a family. I think Lily would love a friend. We’re saving to buy her a friend. I suggested some chickens but the prince looks at me like I dipped myself in purple and went streaking down the block naked. OK, so maybe we’re not zoned for chickens… yet, plus she’s got too much wild to share space with poultry unless it’s going in her mouth. Until then we’re saving as a family so we can buy another Bengal we plan to call, “Snape”. We figured it’s the only way Snape can live happily ever after with the love of his life, Lily. What’s she talking about? I’m lost… don’t worry just a Harry Potter thing.
She is a rather special little gift that we all feel so very lucky to be owned by. I’m grateful to my Handsome Prince, that puts his sniffer in harms way for the happiness of his family. Glad the gamble paid off, she’s better than we had ever imagined!
With Tons of Lily Spots,