Bengal Cat 101 - History, Personality and Traits
Bengal cats are the rock stars of the feline world. With their wild, spotted coats and big personalities, they're always the life of the party. Without a doubt, Bengals are one of the most beautiful breeds of cats, but does their personality match up with their beauty?
Let's look at their history to understand why they are the way they are.
Bengal Cat History
Bengal cats aren't a truly natural breed, as breeders and researchers in the US back in the 70s were mating Asian Leopard Cats with domestic household cats to create a new, exotic-looking feline with the docility of a typical home cat. The result was the beautiful Bengal cat that we know and love today.
Though people started this hybrid breeding with the Asian Leopard in the 1900s, the actual Bengal species wasn't created until the 70s and was officially recognized as a breed in 1991 by The International Cat Association.
An important reason for this mating was because these Asian Leopard Cats are resistant to a fatal and fairly common virus called the Feline Leukemia Virus. A Doctor at Loyola University wanted to see if this trait could be passed down to another cat breed.
Today, Asian Leopards are no longer used to creating this beautiful breed, but Bengals must only mate with other Bengals to continue the purity of this breed of cat.
Bengal Cat Generations
The first 3 generations of a Bengal Cat are the most wild-looking. Bengal cats from early generations like F1, F2, and F3 have the most distant temperament towards humans.
The generations of bengal cats are the result of reproducing an Asian Leopard cat and following generations with a domestic cat:
F1 (First Bengal Cat Generation)
One Asian Leopard Cat parent must be at least 75% Asian Leopard Cat paired with a domestic cat.
The offspring will be a relatively wild cat, with about 40% wild blood and very high energy levels. F1 bengal cats will mostly reject humans and won't engage in bonding activities.
An F1 is also the most expensive type of Bengal, given the direct relation to their Asian leopard cat mother and they are legally regulated, particularly in Europe.
F2 (Second Bengal Cat Generation)
One parent must be an F1 bengal cat.
F2 bengal cats start to showcase some domestic cat characteristics, bonding with one or a maximum of two humans in the household. They Will still showcase high levels of energy coming from their 25% or more of Asian leopard cat genes.
F3 (Third Bengal Cat Generation)
One parent must be an F2 bengal cat. They start to lose some of the most extreme wild look and behavior characteristics and are a lot more like domestic cats than previous generations because they are further removed from Asian leopard cats.
F4+ (Fourth and Onward Bengal Cat Generation)
Bengals are classified as SBT (stud book tradition) from generation F4 and onward. Most bengal cat owners have F5+ generations which are bengal cats that were bred with other bengal cats (F4 or more).
For a Bengal Cat to be SBT Stud Book Traditional, the Savannah is bred down from the Serval/F1/F2/F3 and Savannah's on the male side.
- Bengal cat (Female) - Bengal Cat (Male) - F1 (Female, as males, are infertile)
- F1 (Female) - Bengal Cat (Male) - F2 (Female, as males, are infertile)
- F2 (Female) - Bengal Cat (Male) - F3 (Female, as males, are infertile)
- F3 (Female) - Bengal Cat (Male) - F4 (Female, as males, are infertile)
- F4 (Female) - Bengal Cat (Male) - SBT (Both Male and Female are fertile)
Don't mistake Bengal Cats for Savannah cats. They are different species.
Bengal Cat Characteristics
Due to their origin, Bengals have distinct characteristics that set them apart from other cat breeds.
According to The International Cat Association, female Bengals generally weigh 6-12 pounds while males weigh 9-15 lbs. Due to this weight and their long muscular shape, they are classified as a medium-sized breed.
A Bengal Kitten will weigh approximately one pound per month. For example, if a kitten is three months old, it will be about 3 pounds.
Bengals have an incredibly playful and active personality. They're remarkably intelligent and are often trained to do challenging tricks and excel at them well.
Naturally, these cats love to climb high places and be ready to have a swimming partner! They love the water, so you might find yourself with some company in the pool or the shower.
These cats also are exuberantly loyal to their owners. While they love having their time to fetch, climb, and swim, they also love to be social with their owners and interact with them often. Despite their active state, they usually love lots of cuddles and affection at nighttime.
Overall, this breed of cat is a friendly cat, despite its wild appearance. They have exceptionally high energy and are very talkative! Bengals love to capture everyone's attention and are very socially curious creatures.
If you're looking for a couch potato cat, the bengal cat is certainly not the right breed for you since they need a lot of stimulation and activity. If they don't get this, they will become bored, leading to them being a bit destructive.
This destructive behavior has little to do with a defiant or overall 'mean' temperament and more to do with boredom. So, if you keep them entertained and active, you shouldn't have to worry about this!
This breed of cats is considered obligate carnivores, which means their meals should be high in protein, specifically from meat rather than any plant-based diet. Fish, beef, and chicken are the ideal options for protein.
Due to their Asian Leopard ancestors, Bengals inherited a short intestine, which means that with the wrong food and diet, diarrhea is unfortunately prevalent. Their sensitive digestive systems only do well from a raw meat diet and high-quality dry or wet food. Pet stores often sell freeze-dried raw meat meals, which helps keep parasitic infections at bay.
Fresh water, as with any pet, is essential. Cats, in general, have sensitive noses, so if water is placed too close to their food, they'll have less of an incentive to drink and more of a motivation to eat. Many sources recommend placing the food and water bowls about 3 to 5 feet away to encourage proper hydration. Water fountains are also excellent for Bengals.
Are Bengal Cats Hypoallergenic?
I often receive the question: Are bengal cats hypoallergenic? In the strictest sense, yes, Bengal cats are hypoallergenic. Hypoallergenic is commonly used to mean “void of allergens”, however, the prefix “hypo” means under, beneath, or less than normal. Hypoallergenic implies a less likely allergic reaction, but it should not be taken to mean “void of any allergic reactions”. All cats produce Fel d1 protein, which is the protein that triggers allergy in most people. However, some cats produce fewer allergens, and a Bengal cat is one of them.
I am allergic to cats and I decided to get Mia because I read that bengal cats are hypoallergenic. I still got allergies after getting Mia, but I am so happy I got her... she changed my life!
Most allergens are created by their urine, dead skin, and saliva, which is mostly spread from their shedding. As cats lick to clean themselves, their saliva is spread to their bodies, and if patted or rubbed upon by someone with allergies, a reaction thus occurs. This also releases loose hair into the air and onto surfaces, leaving more opportunities for allergic reactions.
Bengals have only one coat of fur rather than other cats, who commonly have two. This fur is short, soft, and often referred to as a pelted coat. This hair type remains much cleaner and requires the cat to groom itself less frequently, exposing an individual to fewer allergens.
This pelt type of coat also sheds minimally, meaning that some with cat allergies can be around Bengals with much less of a reaction than other cat breeds.
Are Bengal Cats Good House Pets?
Yes! Bengals are good house pets. They are affectionate and friendly creatures that love to play and interact with their family. They are often known to get along well with other cats, dogs, and children!
However, they do best with a family willing to interact and play with them often since they are such active pets. Without enough social interaction or room to play, they can become bored, frustrated, and mischievous.
Having lots of toys for them to play with can assist with this, along with a high climbing tower!
Though they are good with dogs and other cats, keep in mind that cats are predatory animals by nature, so it would be wise to keep other smaller pets away from your Bengal like fish, hamsters, tiny rabbits, birds, and others of similar size.
Are Bengal Cats Good Indoor Cats?
Yes, Bengals are good indoor cats as long as there is plenty of room for them to run, play, and a healthy amount of stimulating toys and safe climbing towers to allow them to release their energy and curiosity.
As an indoor cat, it does protect them from more diseases and accidentally eating something they shouldn't, which can add to the commonly found Bengal diarrhea problem.
As highly active indoor cats, though, Bengals do better not being left alone for extended periods. They fare much better with another playmate, like another dog or cat, while you are away.
This is not to say that Bengals should always be inside. Being allowed to explore outside on a leash is a wonderful way to fulfill their need to be on the move and aids in harnessing their intellectual side by putting their training and tricks to good use.
How Long Do Bengal Cats Live?
According to The International Cat Academy, the life expectancy of a Bengal ranges from 12 to 20 years. This is dependent on many factors, especially if their diet and nutritional needs are adequately met.
Bengals are also prone to specific illnesses like hip dysplasia, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Patellar Luxation, Distal Neuropathy, and Flat-Chested Kitten Syndrome, which may also shorten their lifespan.
Bengal Cat Price
The price of a bengal cat will vary depending on:
- Age: Kittens from $1,000, Adults from $500
- Competing: from $4,000
- Breeding: from $6,000
Bengal Cats as Pets Price
Since Bengals are a rare breed to find and are already a hybrid in ancestry, they need to be purebred. The price of a Bengal kitten can range anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 or $4,000.
If you are more interested in a senior cat that is a bit older, you might be able to pay a few hundred dollars, like $500-$700 and up.
Competing Bengal Cats at a Price
A show-quality breed can cost even more, starting around $6,000.
The upper limit will depend on the cat traits:
- Face: Bengal's faces are small and should have mascara-like markings, which are like the letter "V" that outline the eyes. High white contrast is preferred.
- Ears: Placed slightly over the head instead of on the side, they will be small and rounded at the top.
- Spine markings: Bengals are born with three stripes down the spine. Wider spines that bleed into one large black patch down the back are also possible and it's known as a "Cape".
- Rosettes: Characterized for having at least 2 colors, rosettes with high contrast are preferred. The rounder a rosette, the more attractive it's considered.
Bengal Cats for Breeding Price
Bengal cats that are sold for breeding purposes are also priced higher, with their cost starting at $6,000.
Bengal Cats For Sale
When buying a Bengal cat, you want to ensure that you are buying from a top breeder with a strong reputation for excellent care of their cats and kittens and they are mixing Bengals with only other Bengals.
If you are searching for your own Bengal companion, the best way to understand if you are in front of a good breeder:
- They will be able to share what due diligence are they doing to ensure their cat's health: Genetic and not genetic health problems.
- They will ask you questions to understand if you and a bengal cat are a good fit.
- They will never rush you to pay and usually will have a long waiting list, that won't allow you to get your kitten in less than 2-3 months.
The International Cat Association has an extensive list of top Bengal Breeders from all over the world, including states in the United States. That list is located here.
A few noteworthy breeders included on the list are:
- Bengals Embrace out of Long Island, New York
- San Diego Bengals out of California
- Valleykatz Bengals out of Sarasota, Florida
Bengal cats are stunning creatures with the most eye-catching soft coats and are known to be highly intelligent, active, and a playful and friendly breed of cats.
With its ancestor as the Asian Leopard Cat, they have a wild cat appearance with the complete docility of a domestic cat, making them wonderful household pets for active families but expensive.
With prices into the thousands for a purebred Bengal kitten, they are a rare breed to get your hands on, but if you do, you are almost guaranteed to have a cat that loves to show affection to your family and be trained to do the most exciting tricks by your commands.
Bengal cats are beauties from the inside and out, and you absolutely will not regret making one a part of your family!
If you want to learn how to train your Bengal using treats and a clicker, watch our video here!
Stay Wild, Stay Safe, and See you Outdoors!
Albert & Mia
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