If you admire cats because of their elegance but also like their wild nature, then the Bengal cat is a perfect cat breed for you. Bengal cats look similar to their much larger cousins, leopards, and other big wild cats, but they are still considerably larger than average house cats.
This cat breed is becoming more popular each year, but there is still a lot of information about the Bengal cat people aren’t familiar with.
Bengal Cat Characteristics
|Fur color||Brown, silver, snow, charcoal, black, and blue|
|Fur pattern||Single-spotted, cluster rosettes, paw-print rosettes, clouded rosettes, donut rosettes, and arrowhead rosettes|
|Fur length||Usually short, but there is a long-haired variant|
|Eye color & shape||Round or almond eyes, usually green or gold, sometimes gray and even orange|
|Weight||Males 14-18 lbs|
Females 10-14 lbs
|Expected lifespan||8-12+ years|
|Temperament||Loyal, smart, playful, loving, curious, sweet, and energetic. Males can be a bit more aggressive, especially if they haven’t been neutered.|
|Kids and other pets||Bengal cats can play with children, but with caution. They will love having other pets around.|
|Sociable and cuddly||Bengal cats don’t like to be alone, so they need companions. Otherwise, they can become destructive. While they are affectionate, they are less cuddly than other house cats.|
|Activity level||Extremely active and athletic cats require exercise and other physical activity to stay healthy.|
Requirements & Traits
|Feeding||2-3 times per day for adults and 3-4 times per day for kittens. Meat-based food in both dry and wet form.|
|Grooming||Occasional brushing and nail trimming, ear, and eye cleaning.|
|Shedding||Less than most other domestic cats.|
|Hypoallergenic||No, although they are less likely to cause allergic reactions than most other domestic cats.|
History and Origins
The first Bengal cats were created in the early 1900s when breeders successfully crossed domestic cats with Asian leopard cats. Since the Latin name for the Asian leopard cat is Felis Bengalensis, the new breed got its name.
However, the actual Bengal cat species was established in the 1970s, when Jean Sugden Mill managed to create domestic Bengal cats by crossbreeding Asian leopard cats and domestic cats and then breeding their offspring for the next five generations.
Jean Mill continued to promote this breed, and she standardized it by defining the desired Bengal cat characteristics: the exotic appearance of a wild cat with the personality of a domestic cat.
Bengal Cat Personality
Another Bengal cat breed characteristic that makes it increasingly popular is its spunky personality. Bengals are active cats who love to play. They are very intelligent and can be taught tricks. Bengal cats also like to climb, so it is important to provide them with a scratching post or cat tree.
One surprising fact about Bengal cats is that they love water. Most cats hate water and getting wet, but Bengal cats actually enjoy playing in the water.
Bengal cats are curious and sociable. Oftentimes they are compared to dogs because of their desire for companionship and socializing. That’s why leaving a Bengal cat alone for prolonged periods of time is a bad idea – they become bored and destructive.
Consider getting another car or other pet that your Bengal cat can play with. This will ensure your cat gets enough stimulation and has fun without becoming destructive.
These cats are loving and sweet, and they are loyal companions. If you have children, Bengal cat will enjoy their company, but you must ensure that your children know how to handle cats properly.
Although they are curious and sociable, Bengal cats will still act reserved when there are strangers around, but once they get familiar with new people, these cats will become affectionate and playful.
Bengal Cat Appearance
A distinct appearance is one of the first things that come to mind when one thinks of Bengali cats. Here are some of the most important Bengal cat appearance traits:
Bengal cats are easily identified by their distinctive coat patterns. The basic color is usually brown, but Bengal cats can also have black, gray, silver, or even white fur. The huge spots or rosettes that adorn the Bengal cat’s body are its most identifying trait.
These patches can be any color, although they are usually darker than the color of the background fur. A Bengal cat’s look is sometimes compared to that of a leopard or jaguar, which is why they are sometimes referred to as “miniature leopards.”
Bengal cats’ fur rosettes also come in different shapes and numbers. There are single-spotted Bengal cats and Bengal cats whose coat is covered in paw-print rosettes, cluster rosettes, donut rosettes, clouded rosettes, and arrowhead rosettes.
Bengal’s fur is short and soft to the touch. However, it is possible to find long-haired Bengal cats, although they are extremely rare.
Bengal cats have remarkable eyes in addition to their lovely fur. They are available in a range of hues, such as green, blue, and even gold. Their eyes are particularly distinctive, with some Bengal cats having “rounded” eyes and others having “almond-shaped” eyes.
Their eyes may also have different colors. It is not uncommon to have one of each color. This is due to a disorder known as heterochromia, which essentially means that the two eyes are not the same color. It’s actually pretty cool and contributes to the Bengal cat’s overall mystique and exoticism!
Bengal cats are medium to large in size, with males ranging between 14 and 18 pounds and females weighing between 10 and 14 pounds. The average Bengal cat weighs 12 to 16 pounds, although some males might weigh 20 pounds or more.
Bengals are long and lean, with broad chests and powerful hindquarters. Males are normally larger than females, usually reaching a length of 16-18 inches, while females are slightly shorter. with 14-16 inches long bodies.
This makes Bengal cats larger than the average house cats, but they are still much smaller than large wild cats, such as leopards, lions, tigers, etc.
Other Body Characteristics
Bengal cats have long legs and a long tail that tapers to a point. Their head is round, their whiskers are long, and their ears are relatively small. Overall, Bengal cats have a unique and exotic appearance, which makes them one of the most popular breeds today.
Daily Life With Bengal Cat
In general, Bengal cats require care like other house cats. When they are healthy, Bengal cats are low maintenance, but you still need to follow some recommendations to keep your Bengal happy and healthy.
Bengal cats are carnivores like other cats, and their diet should primarily consist of meat. They would devour tiny prey like rats or birds in the wild.
You can give your Bengal cat canned cat food or raw cat meat. Some Bengals like to consume dry food. When not sure, always consult your veterinarian about the appropriate food for your Bengal cat.
Wet food is preferred by most Bengals since it most closely resembles their natural diet. This type of cat food can be canned or raw, but it must be produced particularly for cats and not dogs or humans.
You should avoid feeding your Bengal table leftovers because this might lead to obesity and other health issues in the future.
When it comes to a feeding schedule, young Bengals will need to eat more often than the older specimens. Bengali kittens and juvenile specimens should be fed 3-4 times a day, while the adult ones should eat 2-3 times a day. You can give them some treats in between the meals, but don’t do it too often.
Cats are known for constantly grooming themselves and other cats around them, and Bengal cats are no exception. They will spend a good portion of their day cleaning their beautiful fur, so you won’t have to bathe them very often. Still, if you notice your Bengal is having trouble maintaining its personal hygiene, you can bathe it gently.
Additionally, even when they are already cleaned and groomed, you should brush your Bengal cat once a week. This will make sure the fur is in perfect condition, and it will reduce the shedding. Speaking of shedding, Bengal cats shed less than most other house cats, but they still shed a little bit, and you will reduce it with regular brushing.
Nail trimming is also important for proper cat hygiene, so make sure to do it when you notice your cat’s nails are overgrown. Don’t declaw your cat because that procedure involves cutting off not only the nails but also the fingertips, which is painful and can cause many health problems in the future.
Use wet cotton pads to gently clean your Bengal cat’s eyes and ears every several months. If you use any products, consult your vet because not every ingredient is safe for your cats. For example, aloe vera is found in many cosmetic products, and while it is beneficial to humans, it is toxic to cats.
Bengal cats are among the most active house cats. The optimal habitat for them would be indoor housing with access to the outdoors, especially if you live in a small apartment or house.
These cats love to run, jump and climb. Buy them something they will be able to climb and scratch. Also, they love playing, so make sure to get them enough toys.
Of course, it’s never enough just to buy the toys and leave your cat to play alone. You need to cuddle and play with it. This way, you will bond with your cat and get a friend for life!
Most Common Bengal Cat Health Issues
It is important that you take your Bengal cat to regular vet appointments so that it can get all the necessary vaccines and other medical help when needed.
Still, even when you give your best to provide proper medical care for your Bengal cat, it can fall ill or develop some medical conditions. Here are the most common ones that affect Bengal cats:
This disease is often called a “silent killer” because it is often diagnosed when it’s already taken a toll on a cat’s well-being. It is characterized by the thickening of heart wall muscles, thrombosis, and congestive heart failure.
This disease is often inherited, especially if both parents carry genes responsible for its development. The first clinical signs are heart murmurs that can be discovered during regular physical checks, but to make a final diagnosis, radiographs or an echocardiogram are used.
Bengal progressive retinal atrophy
Another inherited disease, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), is often accompanied by cataracts, and it affects the cat’s ability to see. Photoreceptors in the cat’s eyes become destroyed, which leads to premature blindness.
On the other hand, cataracts will form on the eye’s surface, and over time, the eyes will become clouded, preventing the cat from seeing.
Also known as Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency, PK deficiency is a disease that negatively affects the longevity of red blood cells in the cat’s blood, causing anemia, weakness, weight loss, jaundice, abdominal enlargement, and lethargy.
Other clinical signs include vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, and poor fur quality. This disease can be treated with medicines, but it is important to notice the warning signs before it is too late.
This disease affects many domesticated cats, including the Bengal cat, and mostly affects older cats. Renal failure is characterized by increased thirst and urination at first, but later the symptoms become more serious.
Renal failure is often caused by kidney stones and infections. To detect renal failure, vets perform diagnostic tests to screen for potential kidney issues.
Caused by Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), lymphosarcoma is a type of cancer that affects blood cells called lymphocytes and lymphoid tissues.
There are several types of lymphosarcoma, depending on the predominant site of the tumor (stomach, intestines, kidneys, chest, bone marrow, lymph nodes, etc.).
Bengal Cat Name Suggestions
An important part of getting a new Bengal cat is choosing the name that will fit your furry little friend perfectly. Some of my top picks are:
- Leo, Leopard
- Butter, Butterscotch
Of course, the best name for your Bengal cat is the one you like the most. After all, you will probably call it by many different nicknames anyway!
Buying or Adopting a Bengal
Personally, I believe adoption is always better than buying because it enables you to save the life of a cat who would otherwise end up in a shelter or on the street.
However, rare and highly-valued breeds such as Bengal cats are rarely found on the street, in the shelter, or put for adoption. Additionally, if your goal is to have a pure-bred and healthy Bengal cat, you should buy it from a reliable breeder.
Bengal Cat Alternatives
Bengal cats are truly a unique breed, so it can be easy to find a similar breed. But, if you are going for that wild-like appearance, you actually have several great Bongal alternatives.
These alternatives include Abyssinian, Egyptian Mau, Bombay, Toyger, and Savannah cats. Other options are Ocicat, Somali, and Serengeti cats.
Frequently Asked Questions
Bengal cats can be quite pricey, ranging from $500 to $5000, depending on the age, appearance, and pedigree.
Yes, and surprisingly, Bengal cats react to harnesses and leashes extremely well, especially compared to other cat species.
No, although they might share some similarities when it comes to their appearance, the Savannah cat is a hybrid between Serval and the common house cat, while the Bengal cat is a hybrid between the Asian small leopard cat and the Egyptian Mau cat.
Bengal cat fun facts
- Bengal cats carry the so-called “glitter gene” that makes their fur iridescent and sparkly in the sunlight
- In some places, such as NYC and the state of Hawaii, it is illegal to own a Bengal cat, while in others such as Seattle and Washington there are restrictions regarding Bengal cat ownership.
- Since they are extremely sociable, most Bengal cats are friendly towards dogs, which is great if you plan to have a dog and a cat
Bengal cats are fascinating and beautiful cats that completely deserve their recent popularity increase. One could say that Bengal cats combine the best of both worlds, as they have that exotic and wild appearance while still being sweet and loving like other domestic cats.
Owning a Bengal cat is a long dream of mine, but since I already have four cats and buying a Bengal cat is above my budget, I can only admire these extraordinary cats from afar. However, if you plan to get a Bengal cat, I hope this article provided you with enough information to become the best Bengal cat parent!