Bengal Pet Corner

Bengal sipping through a strawThinking of getting a Bengal pet? Bengal cats make loving, dependable household pets and intelligent companions! Here are some common questions and considerations in selecting a new Bengal family member.

How large do Bengal cats grow?

Bengal cats are medium to large felines ranging from 10-15lbs. The different subspecies of the Asian Leopard Cat vary in size (from 6 lbs. to 15 lbs.) as do the domestic cats initially bred to them. The female Bengals are relatively smaller than the males and each different bloodline produces a vast array of musculature and size.

What is the temperament of a Bengal?

cat with toothbrushA domestic Bengal (four or more generations away from the Asian Leopard Cat) has been selectively bred for an active, loving and resolute disposition. Some Bengals are extremely interactive and insist on being an active member of the family. Many Bengals have a natural love for water and for interactive playing with adults, children and other pet members of the family. Just as in all cat breeds, there are individual personalities within bloodlines and even between littermates. Some Bengals are born showmen; some may be reserved. Careful breeding for a loving temperament is only half the story. Socialization, interesting experiences and lots of hands-on love and attention in early life and beyond are what shape your Bengal kitten into a prized companion.

Will my new kitten get along with my other cat? ...two year old daughter?

Bengals and other pets When adding any new feline member to your household, both the disposition and behaviours of the resident pets and the Bengal must be taken into consideration. Begin discussing the temperament and personality with your responsible breeder. Is this Bengal dominant or submissive? How do they interact with the breeder's family, littermates and with other felines in the breeder's home? Have they ever been exposed to dogs, birds or turtles etc? These types of questions, designed for your specific situation, will give you a baseline to decide which cat would fit best with your resident pet. A slow and easy introduction is the best route for introducing the new kitty into your home. Having a separate room prepared with food, water, litter-pan, bed and toys will safely allow resident pets time to adjust to the intriguing smells of a new feline in their home as well as letting the new kitten adjust to their new environment.

At what age should my kitten be altered? Must it be?

YES!! Altered cats make loving and dependable house pets. TIBCS responsible breeders generally have a contract that requires you to spay/neuter your kitten before a certain age and will withhold registration papers until receiving the veterinary documented proof of altering (Certificate of Spay/Neuter). Some breeders have their kittens spayed/neutered before they leave home at 12+ weeks of age. This procedure is referred to as early spay/neuter.

It is so very sad when a person neglects to alter their pet early enough and then cannot live with the spraying animal they have created (while spraying is a territorial marking behavior, spay/neuter will most often prevent it in both sexes but it will not always "cure" an existing problem). Altered cats also do not make more unwanted babies. Bengals are beautiful and unusual because they have been responsibly and selectively bred---if you want mongrel, unpedigreed kittens, please adopt from your local shelter. Your Bengal pet may also have an imperfection that should not be reproduced, which is why it was not initially sold as a breeder.

Must my Bengal stay indoors?

Yes, except when you take it out on its leash...for several reasons.

Bengal on a leash

  1. These cats are beautiful and striking and will soon be "adopted" or stolen by someone else if allowed to free-roam outdoors.
  2. Bengals, like other domestic cats, are very good hunters. The Audubon Society warns us that pet and feral domestic cats are a leading cause (after habitat destruction) of the rapid decline of songbird populations in North America.
  3. Local laws dictate that cat owners take the same responsibility for their pets as dog owners do. Why should any cat be allowed to be a poor neighbour by yeowling all night under the neighbour's window?...spraying through his screen door ...walking across the church's freshly painted porch, etc.?

Are Bengals intelligent? Do they like games, water, walking on leashes, etc.? Do they sometimes really learn to use the toilet?

Bengal in sinkBengals are so intelligent and they do have a propensity to learn things quickly! With a lot of novel twists and turns, they like to teach their families a new trick or two. Please do not expect your Bengal to do any one particular thing! Many Bengals like to play in water, fetch and may even take a bath with you, but just like any instinctual behaviour, it is up to the individual personality of each cat to show their family exactly what tricks and traits they have. You can read about some of the tricks Bengals can do by reading the article on Bengal tricks.

How much should I expect to pay for a Bengal?

The price of a Bengal depends on many different factors. The breeder's reputation, small imperfections the kitten has when compared to the Bengal Breed Standard, early spay/neuter and show versus pet quality are all elements that come into play when discussing the various prices of a Bengal. A pet quality kitten from a responsible breeder may run $500 to $1,000. Sometimes, an exquisite show quality kitten may be placed as an altered pet for a portion of the breeder's regular price.

It is vitally important to obtain a kitten from a TIBCS reputable breeder who has signed a strict code of ethics and will provide written adoption contracts and health guarantees. Usually the breeder will guarantee against congenital defects for a designated period of time. Most breeders have you take the kitten to your veterinarian within a few days after adoption to confirm the kitten's health. During this time period, the kitten can usually be returned in trade for another kitten if there is any problem.

A reputable breeder will belong to a registering domestic cat association such as TICA or ACFA and a breed club such as TIBCS. Reputable breeders are working towards a common goal of 'perfecting' the Bengal breed and do not just breed pet quality kittens to sell into irresponsible hands.

Before you buy a Bengal, talk to different breeders and look at as many kittens as you can. Pet quality kittens will still have the wonderful inquisitive temperament but may have a coat or pattern imperfection. Look at the adoption agreement and health and temperament guarantees. Every breeder should be able to provide you with a few references and this will help you choose the right Bengal for your home and family.

Can I find a less expensive, quality Bengal?

Remember, "You get what you paid for" and "If it sounds too good to be true it usually is". While these clichés may sound a bit strange when referring to our beautiful Bengal cats, remember that responsible breeders work very hard to bring in new bloodlines, exhibit their kittens, provide exceptional health care and spend a lot of time and energy educating the public on their charming cats. This all costs a fair amount of money and these expenses are usually reflected in the prices of kittens. That being said, there are ways to find the occasional quality Bengal that may be available for a lower amount:

  • Check the Bengal Rescue Network web page and Email list for people who have to find homes for unwanted Bengals. Note: These cats may have some problems which led to them being given up for adoption or they may be perfectly fine. So ask lots of questions and get photos up front.
  • Check with Breeders who may have retired, altered adult breeders to place.
  • Call reputable breeders for Bengals which have the great personality and most of the traits so desirable in a Bengal but which are of an unacceptable color (black, silver, blue, tortie, white spots, etc.) or don't meet the Bengal Standard for one reason or another.
  • Get on a Breeder's waiting list for a kitten that has special needs. Sometimes a kitten may be born with a physical imperfection. These darling kittens may not meet the stringent Bengal Standard but will never the less make loving, BEAUTIFUL companions. Do this only if you are prepared for the additional expense of possible health issues in the future and have the time, experience, and attention to give to a special-needs pet.

Do Foundation Bengals make good pets?

The Foundation Bengal is an intense feline with many aspects of the Leopard Cat behavior that can make a fascinating addition to the appropriate home. However, those same idiosyncrasies can make life very uncomfortable for both owner and cat if the household is unprepared to accept them. The closer the Foundation Bengal is to the Asian Leopard Cat, the stronger the instinctive behaviours and the less likely that they can be modified to fit the owner's expectations. A true Foundation Cat enthusiast does not expect the cat to change to fit the owner's lifestyle, but rather is willing to change their lifestyle to accept the behavior of the cat. In general, while SBT's adapt readily to new situations, new people and new places, Foundation cats find it more difficult to do so and are much more easily stressed by those changes.


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