Bengal cats have charming personalities and stunning wild markings. Although friendly and affectionate, they are intelligent and energetic which can make them high-maintenance cats. Whether you're about to become a Bengal cat owner or already sharing your life with one, there are never enough tips to make living with this amazing animal easier, not only because of their unique characteristics but also because of some health issues that are common in this breed.
If you are interested in knowing what it feels like to live in a home with a Bengal cat, then you're at the right place. This article will provide you with all the necessary information about bengal cats that will not only help you fall in love with them if you have one in your life but also make you want one if you don't have one already.
What's a Bengal Cat?
The Bengal cat is a cat that comes from breeding an Asian leopard and the domestic cat (most of the time this domestic cat is an Egyptian Mau, but can be with others). The Asian leopard cat is a wild cat that resembles the leopard in terms of marking but it's a lot smaller than a leopard.
Contrary to what their markings make you think, the general build of an Asian Leopard cat is closer to the Felis catus (house cat) than to the cheetah. The main difference vs. the domestic cat is that their torso is longer but mostly that their legs are much longer.
The Bengal cat has a robust build and is much enormous than most domestic cat breeds. Male Bengal cats are big (11 to 17 lbs), with the female being a little smaller, at almost between (7 and to 12lbs). Their coat is short but thick and very soft to the touch.
The name bengal cat is derived from the taxonomic name of their wild relative, the Asian leopard cat; it is the Latin name (Prionailurus Bengalensis). The breeding of this feline started in 1963 in the USA. Learn more about the Bengal Cat in this article.
What Makes a Bengal Cat Unique?
Bengal cats have an exotic appearance that some people find intimidating, while others attract to their elegance. They are fascinating and adaptable cats that necessitate a significant amount of care and consideration to flourish.
Bengals come in a wide range of coat colors. They have been bred for little over 50 years but the lucrative business has pushed breeders to develop multiple coat variations, the most common ones: silver, brown, black (melancholy), snow, red, cinnamon, smoky grey, blue, and torbie.
Their coat markings can be in 3 different dispositions:
- Rosettes: Leopard-like paw print rosettes, where the outer area is darker than the rest of the coat and the interior of the rosette.
- Spots: Smaller denser rosettes that lack color differentiation between the outer line and the inner areas.
- Marbling pattern: An uneven disposition of rosettes merging.
They have the appearance of wild cats, but that surely doesn't mean they don't make great pets. They are very playful cats who bond deeply with their owners. You will be greatly astonished by the Bengal cat's magnificent personality and temperament. They are a unique and exquisite breed in both appearance and nature.
Most Common Issues with Bengal Cats
Bengal cats (like the majority of cat breeds) are susceptible to some health and behavioral issues that everyone should know. Despite this breed's popularity, there's little to no research on behavior and health issues in bengal cats.
While surfing the web I could find a study, though, from a group of researchers who sent a questionnaire to bengal cat owners to document the suitability of the breed as a pet from the point of view of the owners by exploring the presence of behavioral and health issues that may provoke the cat’s relinquishment.
This study did not reveal any strong indications of severe breed-related behavioral or health problems in the Bengal cats from the perspective of the owners, but here are 7 typical issues that Bengal cats can experience at some phase of life (that are also present in other cat breeds).
1. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
A cat with this condition will eventually go completely blind because it is a disease that harms the photoreceptor cells in the eye. Clinical signs typically appear around 8 to 20 weeks of age, with dilated pupils being the primary sign.
2. Dental diseases
Although the dental disease is a frequent issue, you should never turn a blind eye to them. They can affect all cat breeds. The risk of dental disease increases as a cat's age exceeds three. Some of the typical symptoms are gum disease and bad breath.
3. Eye diseases
Bengal cats have a significantly higher rate of eye diseases than other cat breeds. It can be due to their curious and hyperactive nature. Common eye diseases include glaucoma, myopia, cataracts, conjunctivitis, and retinopathy.
4. Patellar Luxation
Patellar luxation is usually a genetic condition brought on by physical abnormalities in cats that commonly affect both hind limbs. Injury or trauma to the knee is the most common causative factor. However, if the condition worsens over time, it is hereditary.
5. Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is most frequently associated with dogs but can also affect some cat breeds, including Bengals. The deformity in the hip joints gives rise to this condition making the bones rub against one another, causing progressive damage. Back legs are typically affected by this condition, which makes the ability to stand, walk, and sit very challenging.
Bengal cats are most frequently diagnosed with lymphoma, which affects the lymphatic system. While it is observed in many different areas of the body, but most commonly found in the intestines. It can lead to weight loss, appetite changes, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea.
There is a very common pathogen that often affects bengal cats, the Tritrichomonas Foetus. To be sure whether your Bengal is affected by this pathogen, please visit your veterinarian.
If your cat has tested positive for this virus, it may be very likely that it is the cause of your pet's diarrhea, but there are other things that might cause it, like changing diet abruptly. More on this later in this article.
Bengal Cats Tips to Prevent/Correct Bad Behavior
The Bengal cat is a well-known cat for its hyperactivity. They are unquenchable cats that like to play and surround themselves with those who pay attention to them. Bengals are particularly good with family members, especially children. They also get along with different animals, such as cats, dogs, and hamsters.
It is important to remember that every cat is an individual, as their personality and behavior are influenced by their genetic inheritance. However, their development and experiences, especially in terms of socialization, are much more crucial. That is why we say owning a Bengal cat requires you to research and spend quality time socializing and training them. This way, they will have the best opportunity to have a healthy and happy life with you.
How To Stop A Bengal Cat From Meowing?
Despite the wild cats only using meows as kittens, bengals cats can be very vocal cats. Usually, they make cute chirps and thrills, but they also howl. Bengal cats don't hesitate to use their loud meow when bored to get you to play with them, but they will also use meowing to get your attention for a wider arrange of reasons.
In summary, here are a few reasons why your Bengal cat meows:
- They are bored
- They want food
- They're sick or something is wrong
- Seeing smaller animals that they consider prey
- They feel friendly
- They want their litter box to be cleaned up
Make sure to keep an eye out for the behavior patterns associated with their meowing. Instead of waiting for your cat to tell you what they need, anticipate their needs and deliver against them before they require you to do so verbally. That will prevent the meows.
If your bengal cat is already meowing, ignore them. It sounds counter-intuitive but if you react to the vocalization, you will be reinforcing the behavior, as you will be "rewarding" them (by giving them attention) for the behavior (meowing).
Wait until your cat stops meowing and then proceed to help them with their needs.
How To Stop Redirected Aggression In Bengal Cats?
Bengals cats are very active. Cat owners should spend a minimum of half an hour playing games with them per day. Moreover, these cats are also intelligent. Make sure to use different toys and ensure they are engaged.
Redirected aggression can be a severe issue in cats. Redirected aggression is when a cat turns away from something that simulates it and refocuses its aggression or anger onto another person or animal. Assure that you provide your cats with different toys and other things to use to get rid of excess energy preventing redirect aggression.
A Bengal cat's diet will directly influence its mental state. After playtime, provide your cat with a meal. That will emulate the behavior they find in the wild (stalk, pounce, kill, eat and sleep) helping them switch mindset from play to rest. High-quality food consisting of all their nutritional needs will keep their mind in a positive place.
If you ignore a bored Bengal cat they might try to trigger you via bitting or scratching; because they are very smart, these feline species can quickly resort to bad behavior: they'll start making a mess by opening drawer cupboards, scratching furniture, and sometimes even spraying inappropriately.
The trick, again, is to ignore them. If you respond to their destructive behavior, you are teaching them what it takes to get them to react.
Forget about disciplining a bengal cat, but you can do this instead.
How To Walk A Bengal Cat On A Leash?
Another great way to help your bengal cat release some energy is by walking them on a harness and a leash. To train your Bengal cat to walk on a leash, firstly, let your cat get used to the harness. While indoors, most domestic cats are not used to having a harness around their body. It may take some time for your cat to adapt to it. Try to get a good/premium cat harness to walk your cat, it will pay off.
Let your cat get used to the outdoors; make sure they're comfortable while being outside. There are all sorts of new smells and sounds your cat may be fascinated by or even get scared of such things. If your cat gets nervous, call it a day and try again another time.
Finally, reward them with high-value treats so that they create a positive association with being outdoors.
How To Stop A Bengal Cat From Spraying?
Bengal cats are very clean and usually keep all their toileting in the litter tray. It can be a concern if your cats spray or soil in the house.
Most of the time, cats mark their territory when their owners are away. They usually do the deed on something that smells strongly of their owners, like a comforter or a duvet. They can do this when they feel unsafe or agitated.
Another reason for cats to urinate outside the litter box is because of their litter box. The litter box is too dirty, contains the wrong type of litter, or is in an area that's too loud or busy can all affect your cat.
To prevent the spraying problem, ensure that you provide your Bengal cat with a safe and secure environment. Give them high perches like shelves or multiple litter trays and an adequate amount of food and water bowls. Maintaining a good litter box hygiene will also help.
Finally, particularly male cats that are unspayed will mark territory more vigorously. If your cat is not going to be destined to breeding, spay them to reduce this bad behavior.
More about Spaying and Neutering in this video:
How I Fixed Diharrea on my Bengal Cat
When I started traveling with my cat Mia i used to take food with me all the time, until I took her to Europe to meet my mom. Moving her diet accross countries is extra complicated (for safety reasons) so I could not keep feeding her what I usually did.
All felines, particuarly Bengal cats (because are only removed from their ancestors about 5 generations), are obligate carnivores. This means that they aren't capable of digesting plants or benefiting nutritionally from them. Instead, they can only consume other animals.
What happens when you change a cat's diet is that the bacteria in their stomachs (the type that digests the type of food you were feeding) dies (because they can't digest the new type). When that happens, stools become very (VERY LOOSE).
I fixed Mia's diarreah by changin her diet to raw only and medicine to restore her gut health. Now I never travel without her raw food, and if I'm traveling, I make sure I take frozen meals for her.
Get a Health Insurance for your Cat
When people ask me how much does a bengal cat cost I always answer the same... the cost of the cat will be the minor of your expenses.
Having an adventure cat is not as safe as having a house cat (although it's a lot more rewarding). I've heard of cats breaking a leg or swallowing something while on adventures. There are going to be times where unexpected will happen (like the diarreah example I mentioned earlier).
I spent over $1,500 to diagnose and fix Mia's gut problem. Particularly if you don't have disposable money to take care of an event like this one, consider getting a pet insurance.
In this article I explain the main things you need to consider before getting your insurance.
All cats come with complexities and compromises... but if you live with a bengal cat, I'm sure these tips will help! SHARE IT WITH OTHER BENGAL CAT OWNERS!
Stay Wild, Stay Safe and We'll See You Outdoors!
Albert & Mia
Behavior and health issues in Bengal cats as perceived by their owners: A descriptive study, Journal of Veterinary Behavior, Volume 41, 2021. ISSN 1558-7878, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jveb.2020.10.007.