Let's talk Bengals

The wild-like markings and stunning colours of the Bengal make this one cat that stands out from the feline pack. Their unique rosetted, or marbled, coat is just one of their intriguing characteristics, along with their confidence, huge curiosity, and non-stop energy. Independent as they may seem, the Bengal breed tends to get very attached to humankind, so look forward to loads of affection. Their development by a breeder in the early 60s - by crossing a domestic tabby with a wild Asian Leopard Cat - explains the two sides of the intriguing Bengal personality, not to mention their untamed look.

Official name: Bengal

Other names: Leopard, Leo

Origins: United States of America

Side view of a Bengal cat walking in black and white

 

 Hair length

Very low

Family Pet*
Very high
 Shedding level Very low
Cohabitation with other pet High
Grooming needs Low
Can stay alone*
Low
 Energy level* High
Environment (indoor/outdoor) High
 Vocal tendencies Low



* We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.

For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs).

Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.

Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.

All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company. However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

 

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Illustration of Bengal
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4 - 6 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight
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3 - 5 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight

 Baby cat  Birth to 4 months
 Growing kitten  2 to 15 months
 Adult 1 to 7 years
 Mature  7 to 12 years
 Senior  From 12 years

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Get to know the Bengal

All you need to know about the breed

If there’s one breed that embodies the moniker “curious cat,” it’s the Bengal. There’s a confidence within them, a desire to go out and explore their domestic surroundings, and with such a brilliant animal in your midst, it’s easy to let the adventure begin. Bengals have a fearlessness that’s fascinating to watch, and they don’t mind the audience.

The best part about having a Bengal cat around? Their fabulously unique rosette-shaped coat. The Bengal is the only breed that’s adorned with these uncommon graphics - shaped like those on their Leopard, Jaguar, and Ocelot cousins. The Snow Bengal is another variation of the breed, which is exceptional colouration that’s mostly white - think mini Snow Leopard! It’s a recessive colourpoint gene that makes for the white or light brown pattern, a very unique motif indeed.

The fur of the Bengal breed can also be marbled or speckled, with its plush thickness another signature trait; whatever the form, it’s incredible to behold.

If you value having a cat with off-the-charts energy, this is your breed. In fact, the Bengal is known to be kitten-ish even into their senior years. The unique cross-breeding of a domestic cat with one that calls the jungle home isn’t lost on this feline. They are unusually agile and athletic, and very strong yet graceful. For the highly desirable Bengal, words like magnificent, wondrous, and striking definitely apply.

The Bengal cat is known oddly enough for being very drawn to water, sometimes coming into the shower with family members or gazing upon water being run for cooking, bathing, brushing teeth, or even the mere washing of hands.


Cream Bengal cat with bright blue eyes looking at camera

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2 facts about Bengals

1. Circa 1963

One of the most recent breeds, the Bengal cat was only developed in 1963 and granted experimental status by the International Cat Association in 1983. The breed was then granted full status in 1991.

2. Teach them a trick or two

Don’t think it’s only dogs that can learn tricks:  This very smart cat can too. The Bengal can be taught sit, stay, paw, and even more complex tasks like fetch. So good at them, you’ll soon be wondering who is testing whom...

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History of the breed

The Bengal cat takes their name from the Bengal tiger since they have a coat that resembles their distant cousin. Truth be told, the domestic breed does descend from the wild: The Bengal entered the domestic domain in 1963 after being developed by Jean Mill, an avid cat breeder from Arizona. The fan of all things feline cross-bred an Asian leopard cat with her own black domestic tomcat. The resulting Bengal had a housecat disposition and jungle cat-like athleticism.

Mill then further bred the first female kitten, producing litters from there. The Bengal was then developed at the University of California at Davis when Mill assisted in the breeding of eight kittens with an Abyssinian Burmese and Egyptian Mau.

The Bengal breed has now become much more domesticated but also a prized possession, known in feline circles as the “Rolls Royce” of cats.

The International Cat Association adopted the breed in 1983, but granted it experimental status only. The Bengal was then given full status in 1991, and in 1999 recognised as an official breed by Federation Internationale Feline, a widely lauded federation of cat registries.


Two Bengal cats, one sitting, one lying, in black and white

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Bengals

1. Ears

Ears wide at base, rounded top, pointed forward, small to medium, never large

2. Head

Small head, somewhat triangular.

3. Body

Lithe, very long athletic and agile body.

4. Tail

Thick tail balances body, tapers to rounded end.

5. Fur

Distinctive coat either rosetted, marbled, or spotted, many variations.

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Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Bengal
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Likes to climb - beware treasured chandeliers

With the jungle as their ancestral home, you can see why Bengals like to climb as high as possible - often to the highest point in the home. It’s a good idea to put away family heirlooms, expensive lighting, and watch valued furniture. Their athleticism and fearlessness are among the amazing traits the Bengal has. The coolest part:  Their very deft paws, able to accomplish a lot of complex tasks. The Bengal has been known to turn lightswitches on and off!

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Guinea pigs of the world, unite!

As great a family pet as they can be, the Bengal breed has a high prey drive - very. Keep in mind that this is only the fourth generation since the breed came to be - four steps away from the wild, that is. When the breed became known (and more popular) in the late 1990s, potential owners had to get a license or permit to own a Bengal. The tendency to go after their own dinner still lingers. Steer the cat clear of small pets like gerbils, mice, or guinea pigs that may be kept in the same household as pets just in case your cat gets any ideas. Know too that your Bengal has deft paws that can perform many tasks - like lifting tops and picking things up!  

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Calories won’t need to be counted - as much.

Weight will never be an issue for the Bengal breed. They burn through calories faster than a supermodel during fashion week with their high activity rate and nonstop approach to life, not to mention their huge curiosity. The best food for Bengal cats is high-quality, containing the essential nutrients and minerals they need to best develop as they grow. Since cats need to eat little and often, feed them several times a day after carefully measuring the allowance. Never overfeed your Bengal to maintain their sleek physique. 

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Caring for your Bengal

Grooming, training and exercise tips

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Grooming the stunning coat of the Bengal cat will be a pleasure for anyone who enters the world of this dynamic breed. This is one cat that’s relatively easy to take care of - meaning they don’t mind it a bit. Brushing them once a week should be enough and keep the shedding in check, which is low. Bathe your Bengal infrequently as well, in order to best preserve their low-maintenance coat. Clip their nails on a monthly basis for maintenance.

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The Bengal cat excels at learning tricks, and is easier to train than many other breeds of cats. They are highly loyal to owners and pleased when part of a group. Extremely alert and attentive, they have even been known to open doors and cupboards with their hand-like paws!

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Being half jungle cat means agility and strength are a given for the Bengal. A natural athlete, they’ll need space to roam indoors and out, and to follow their natural instincts as they explore the trees and bushes of their domestic domain. Keep an eye on them when outdoors so they don’t wander off, and so they’re safe from predators, traffic, or thieves, a risk for any feline.

All about Bengals

Despite being bred with an Asian Leopard Cat, the Bengal breed is now very domesticated. They are equal parts athlete and lapcat, and are known to be friendly with children, a plus for growing families. And the Bengal personality is almost dog-like:  They enjoy taking on tasks and being taught tricks!

Not at all. Ferocity isn’t part of their mojo. The breed is super friendly and always up for playing or just snoozing by one’s side. The Bengal is also known to be great around the little ones. To note:  Bengals do have a high prey drive, so keep them out of the way of the family hamster.

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Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/