“With their qualities of cleanliness, discretion, affection, patience, dignity, and courage, how many of us, I ask you, would be capable of becoming cats?”
– Fernand Mery Her Majesty the Cat
“Living With Bengals” is one of the top 5 most searched keywords for this page.
They are beautiful cats and we feel very lucky to be owned by two sweet Bengal Cats.
(** Update… make that SIX. We are owned by six sweet Bengal Cats now.)
I am NOT the authority on the breed, but I do have first hand observations that many Googling might like to know.
Bengal Cats are considered exotic but do not require permits to own.
They are the product of breeding an Asian Leopard Cat with a domestic cat.
I believe they first were produced as a substitution for wild cats that were being killed for their spotted pelts.
Our Fur Babies Great Grandfather was an Asian Leopard Cat. Three generations away from the “wild” produces a cat that is much more like your average domestic cat but also causes no allergic reaction from my severely allergic to cats Handsome Prince.
The Real Truth About Living With Bengals… They are extremely fun cats to own BUT they are NOT for everyone.
* Bengal Cats seem to be- dare I say- almost hypoallergenic.
In my research into these cats, I was told that the Silver Bengals don’t seem to have that quality. ( I could be wrong but was going off a trusted breeders information.) My Handsome Prince is EXTREAMLY allergic to cats and has been happily snuggling with our Bengals, allergy symptom free.
*Saying High Energy is an understatement.
These cats play, leap and really need to be an included part of the family. They make up games and teach you the rules very quickly.
*Normal cat toys need not apply.
These turkeys fish straws out of the trash, wads of paper, boxes and 24 package of water bottles plastic wrapper is an all time favorite. I have the best luck with small dog toys. They destroy a normal cat toy in minutes, having a grand time in the process.
* Bengals are exceptionally smart.
I tell them no twice and they have it locked in. Our girl is more headstrong but our boy is VERY food motivated. In a matter of days he learned to sit, stay, circle to the left or right, to jump up and down to a directed spot, beg, high five and speak. They both learned to “give paw” so we can trim their nails with their help. Both will walk on a leash and play fetch. My teaching them to use the toilet was a fail but there is still hope. 😉 Moral is that you MUST train these cats! They thrive on it! Happy cat is a happy owner. They will out smart you. I think of them like little thumb- less monkeys. They can open almost anything and do things your could never imagine a cat being capable of.
*Bengals will be top dog, cat and human in your house.
In the first 5 minutes of being home, a 12 week old Miss Lily ( bitty puff ball) swatted Molly (our 90+ lb. dog) right into the place she belonged… right under her royal kitty reign. Snape and Molly are VERY close and seek each other out for play, for loves and to annoy each other like good siblings do. I hear from other Bengal owners that their cats dislike dogs. Ours were raised with a very gentle dog from a very young age so they accept dogs without fear.
* Living with Bengals means you get enthusiastically head butted when they want to say hello, I love you or feed the kitty.
*If you want to sit and hold a cat, a Bengal is NOT for you.
All of our Bengals prefer not to be held. They want you to pet them, play with them and they even love it when we bury our faces in their soft tummy fur BUT they squirm until you put them down. Most of the time they want to stay and play or get loved on but that’s one if their funny quirks. We still pick them up all the time and they put up with us more than they should.
* Living with Bengals can get loud. They are VOCAL!
Snape calls Lily when he’s lost her ( as loud as if you walked in a big house and said HELLO loud enough for every inch to hear… but our house is not big), they chortle and chirp at birds in the windows, they sing to each other and with each other, Snape’s voice is stuck on LOUD and he’s the most social creature strutting around all day saying hello to everything and everyone. I have a few conversations with the king of gab every day. He also likes to sing in the empty shower in the morning because he knows that makes Mom and Dad leap out of bed. 😉
* Bengals should stay indoors.
They can appear at a glance like a bobcat and people have shot escaped pet Bengals. If someone finds a Bengal and knows what it is, most often they will keep it. They are expensive cats and very endearing. These cats are “exotic” but that doesn’t mean they can tangle with a coyote or bobcat much better than a good sized house cat. Due to their “exotic” background these cats are also at a higher risk of contracting common social cat illnesses.
* Bengals are not a normal housecat.
Choose a vet that knows about this breed. They are no more high maintenance than a regular cat BUT it is good to have a doctor that understands the quirks and can trouble shoot issues that may arise from personal experience. We learned that Snape rejects immunizations. The injection site becomes a tumor that has to be removed. ( See The Cat Martini for more info) Our Vet knew what was occurring and has been able to make sure that Snape received the care that he needs in a way that will not cause further complications. Having a good Vet is just as important for your cat as it is for any other member of your family.
* They are STRONG.
Lily is dainty, lady like and feels more like a house cat. Snape is a rock solid fur bag of muscle. When he pounces on my feet under the covers, the impact of his pounce actually HURTS. He has no clue that he is so strong. He flings toys through the air and pounces them to death. They seemed built for leaping through the air. Keeping nails trimmed will save you but these strong critters can leave your arms looking like you played with knives when they are little. The also can climb anything they can not jump. I’ve watched them climb our brick fireplace straight up, using noting but their tippy toes and brute strength.
* If you can’t stand cat furniture they will gladly destroy yours.
Cats like to be high up to check everything out. They also need a safe place to claw, play on and be king of the room. We have one not too large cat tree and they LOVE it! They have NEVER scratched anything, climbed the drapes or damaged anything that wasn’t theirs. So what that it didn’t go with the Italian feel in that room but who cares. We have lots of furniture in their world… they deserve a nice fun space.
We put it by a huge window so they can chill and watch the world.
* Snape and Lily both LOVE water.
They curl up in the sink and turn the water on. If we leave a toilet open, we might find a cat curled up in the bowl napping… see why the toilet training failed!? If given the opportunity they might hop right into the shower with you. I’ve never given them the opportunity to swim in a pool so I don’t know if they’d have any part of it but they do get THRILLED to swim and splash in a bathtub. Lily gets mad when you take her out of the water like a cranky 2 year old.
* They speak a scary sounding language.
They have such a range of vocalizations that if you don’t have cat experience you might find very intimidating. Lily is queen of this thunderous guttural wild yowling when she’s displeased. It’s scary BUT she’s all yowl with nothing to back it up. The Handsome Prince was nervous when we fist got her because he had never been around any cats. Once he understood that’s just her way of saying “This isn’t working for the cat but I’ll sit here and deal with it”, he fell in LOVE. They waste no time telling the Vet where to go or that they don’t want to be held like a baby while sounding extremely wild.
* Living with Bengals means living with a thief.
Oh, something shiny to play with later and now your car keys end up in their hiding place like a squirrel hoarding nuts. Most of the time it’s stray socks, army men/ small toys, discarded paper. Lily likes to stash hard wrapped candies from the candy dish, not to eat but I think she like the wrappers. They LOVE headphones, lids (toothpaste, soda/water bottle), colored pencils and robe sashes. They will ever take the straw right out of your drink sometimes. I once found a big unopened box of pretzels, a tape gun, fabric book cover, the dog’s old chain collar, 2 chap sticks, a silky PJ top, roll of gauze, a few dozen sporks, forks and complete take out plastic wear packets and 20+ pen caps in Snape’s hiding place. Nothing shocks me when it come to them anymore.
*If they are not included they can be destructive.
Lily was so mad when we got Snape that she peed in my closet, staring at me the whole time! They can be vindictive critters when you upset them. Ours are fairly laid back but I’ve come to realize that they thrive on a predictable schedule. Snape is my alarm clock and without fail wakes me at the same time every morning. Like the rest of my family, when I keep everyone on track so they know what the plan is everyone seems happier. Same with living with Bengals. They need attention and sport so if you are not home much or you leave town often, a Bengal is not the auto pilot cat you need. Structure and attention have really helped to train our cats and keep them happily balanced.
Have you ever stood by a large cat cage at the zoo and wanted to pass out from the smell of poo. Welcome to your mini zoo smelling poo in the cat box you get to clean! OMG, open a window, spray Febreze, light 7 candles, burn some incense and cook a piece of fish… anything is better than the stank omitted form a fresh visit to Eww De Box O’ Litter. Think exotic pee and decide if this is worth the pain in the nose. I think they’ve burned all my nose hairs out by now. An excellent air purifier, candle warmer and an accepting attitude will get you a long way. You must clean the litter box DAILY if not TWICE DAILY!
Living with Bengals means you will be loved, entertained for hours, frustrated, awoken in the night when they decide it’s time to race down the hallways. There will always be a fur person settled in on you’re Sunday paper, greeting you with rubs and demanding to see what it is that you happen to be having for lunch.
We wouldn’t trade Living with Bengals for anything in the world!
They add such a rich, endearing and wonderful quality to our lives.
My Prince gets to fall asleep with his fur babies cuddled with him… something we never believed his allergies could permit.
If you have a good sense of humor, love animals and genuinely have the time to engage with your cat, train them and treat them as a member of the family…
You will enjoy being owned by a Bengal.
They are NOT an auto pilot cat that can be left alone. If you wouldn’t leave you’re dog alone that long, don’t leave you’re Bengal. After all, they are like mini dogs that wear a cute spotted kitty suit. They will follow you and train just as your dog will.
They are beautiful animals but they are a forever commitment that needs to be taken seriously. Not only are they expensive to purchase, they deserve a beautiful life with those that love them for who they are.
Bengals bond with their people and then are crushed and act out when they are relocated. Consider everything before you take the furry spotted plunge please.
Living With Bengals has been a crazy, messy, awesome and more than I could have ever hoped for experience for us.
Lots of spotted leopard love,
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