Ten years ago, few people knew what a Bengal cat was. Now the breed has changed from an ultra-rare status symbol known to cat connoisseurs, to an admired breed near the top of many cat-lovers wish lists. Bengals are the most unique cat available without an exotic animal license. Before choosing a Bengal as your new cat, you must do your research to ensure this is the right pet for you. Owning a Bengal can be like sharing your home with a wild animal one minute, and then the next moment they will sit beside you purring like any moggy.
This can be a good or bad point depending on your lifestyle. Bengal cats are more playful than most cats and most dogs too. While a quick 10-minute game with a feather and string will exhaust a typical pet cat, Bengals will want to keep playing far longer. If you need to get some work done this playfulness might be a problem as Bengals will get under your feet looking to play with you. However, if you love playing for hours a day, or have children that do, then this cat breed will be an excellent playmate.
Bengal cats are clever. They can solve problems, learn tricks, and understand a lot of what happens around them. That means a Bengal knows where you hide the kitty treats, and they can work out how to open doors too. It's not unusual for Bengal owners to have to fit a lock onto cupboard doors so their cat does break into their food when no one is looking. So long as you can keep a Bengal occupied with games and puzzles, they will be less likely to use their intelligence to start creating havoc around the home.
Bengal cats are a hybrid between domestic and this pictured wild Asian Leopard cats. Each cat has an "F-number" for example F1, F2, and F3. This number shows how close they are to their wild ancestor. An F1 cat is a first generation hybrid with one domestic and one Asian Leopard parent. As the wild Asian Leopard genes are diluted down the family lines the F-number changes. A cat with two F1 parents is only one-quarter Asian Leopard making them an F2. Each step up the F-number shows the cat has less wild Asian Leopard genes. As a general rule, the lower the F-number, the wilder the cat's behavior. F1 cats can have undesirable behaviors like aggression and loud vocalization. F1, F2, and F3 are uncommon today because the breed is more established so that fewer hybrids are needed with Asian Leopard cats. Today, most Bengal pets are F6 or higher.
Like with many domestic cats Bengals are affectionate with the people they love. They often form strong emotional bonds with one member of the household, and sometimes other pets like dogs too. If you happen to be the chosen person, the affection of a Bengal can be very heart-warming. But a potential owner needs to consider how the rest of the family might feel is they are ignored. Or alternatively, how you might feel should the cat pick someone else to bond with. If a Bengal decides you are the person they love the most, be prepared for lots of attention-seeking behavior from the cat. Some owners describe their Bengals like needy toddlers, following them around the house and making lots of noise if they feel ignored.
Most cats can meow; it’s one of the ways they communicate with humans. Cats seldom meow at other cats. Some breeds are known for being vocal. Oriental cats like the Siamese are famously chatty. But Bengals are also among the most talkative of cats. Bengals have a wide range of vocal sounds including chirps, growls, trills, mews, and cooing. Exactly what the noise they make means depends on the situation, and Bengals are experts at getting their owners to understand what they want! Some of the common subjects a Bengal will "talk" to their owners about are:
Owners can limit disruptive vocalization in their Bengals, for example, late-night meowing, by avoiding responding to demands for attention. However, if the Bengal wants to be heard - he will be.
Certain breeds of cat are more likely to roam and seek to expand their territory and Bengals are natural explorers who will roam far if they can. Bengals are part Asian Leopard Cat which in the wild have territories up to 37.1 km2 (14.3 square miles). Even though Bengals are also a part domestic cat, they have retained their desire to roam. You cannot alter this behavior, as it is part of their genetic heritage. Few people want their Bengals to roam due to the risk of traffic accidents, catching diseases, and theft by humans. Therefore, if you want to own these cats and keep them at home, you must ensure they are safely enclosed.
Do not get a Bengal if you want a calm cat to sit on your lap as you read a novel. Bengals are not lap-cats they prefer being active by climbing or exploring. If you are closely bonded with a Bengal, they may choose to come and sit beside you for a cat nap, but don't count on this. It is the Bengal's active temperament and appearance which appeals to happy Bengal cat owners. Unfortunately, some first-time Bengal owners find that the cat's wild character off-putting. Often due to poor research before buying them, many Bengal cats are re-homed or surrendered to animal shelters every year. If you are considering this breed, remember that Bengal's are not calm lap-cats.
Bengals are expensive pets. Their value depends on their generation F-number, the coloring of the coat and markings, and if the breeder has won awards for their Bengals. A female F1 kitten can cost from $2,000 to $10,000. An F1 male sells for less at around $1,500 because they are always born sterile. F2 and F3 generations cost from $1,500 to $5,000 USD. Most Bengal pets are F6 or higher F-number, and the price for these kittens rarely drops lower than $1,500. Coat color and patterning also factor into their value. The snow Bengal is the rarest coat type and is the most expensive. Bengals with spotted markings are popular now, which has pushed up their cost.
All cat breeds are prone to some health problems, and Bengals are no exception. However, because this cat is a mixture of breeds the Bengals are less likely to develop some of the major health issues in other cat types which have been brought about by inbreeding. The most common health problems for Bengals are:
Like their ancestors the Asian Leopard, Bengals love water. Many Bengals develop an obsession with water, which can lead to disruptive behavior. Unlike most domestic cats, Bengals like to drink by dipping a paw into the water and licking it off rather than from their water bowl. But rather than using their own water to dip a paw into a Bengal might choose your cup, the fish tank or even the toilet instead. Some Bengals learn to turn on faucets to run through the water as a game, others have woken up their owners in the night by repeatedly flushing the toilet. Because of their hunting instincts and love for water, people with an aquarium will need to cat-proof it from curious Bengals looking for a fish snack.
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