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Bengal

Bengal
Adult Bengal © Shutterstock
Bengal
Kitten Bengal © Shutterstock
Kitten

These cats turn heads with their beauty and boundless energy. They combine grace and elegance and no one can ignore these beautiful cats. They are just like little leopards thanks to their physique and temperament. When you buy a Bengal, you have to be prepared to live with a small tornado! If you like peace and quiet, you probably shouldn’t buy a Bengal, because they will put you through the wringer! On the other hand, if you are prepared to face up to the storm, you’ll have an incredible time with this little leopard and they guarantee hours of play and laughter!

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Key Facts about the Bengal

  • Life expectancy : Between 10 and 16 years
  • Temperament : Playful, Intelligent
  • Type of coat : Short
  • Price : Between £400 and £1500

Physical characteristics of the Bengal

Adult size

Female cat Approximately 14 in
Male cat Approximately 14 in

Males reach full size around 24 months. Their female counterparts only take 12 months to reach adult size.

Weight

Female cat Between 9 and 13 lb
Male cat Between 11 and 15 lb

Coat colour

Brown Tabby, Seal Sepia Tabby, Seal Mink Tabby, Seal Lynx Point, Black Silver Tabby, Seal Silver Sepia Tabby, Seal Silver Mink Tabby, Seal Silver Lynx Point

Some Bengals, look like they have a golden powder sprinkled in their hair. This is known as the “glitter” effect.

Coat patterns

There are four types of spotted Bengals:

  • Bi-coloured: as the word indicates, these spots have 2 colours. They are elongated and they are darkest at the back of each spot.

  • "Arrowhead": the ‘spots’ are pointed, and black.

  • Open: the middle of these spots are clear and their outline is black. However, as the name indicates, the outline is incomplete and the shape of the spots vary.

  • Closed (or "doughnut"): these spots are imperfectly round and their outline is black. The central part of the spot is darker than the coat itself.

  • Marbled Bengals are actually derived from "blotched tabbies". The pattern is horizontal and resembles the swirls and veins in marble. Their coat patterns are similar to that of a clouded leopard. Ideally, the base colour of the coat and that of the marbling contrast greatly. As with spotted bengals, the marbling can be 2 colours. Marbled Bengals have drawings on their abdomen and the classic tabby pattern on their heads.

Description

Bengals are medium to large cats, who are very powerful thanks to their athletic physiques.

Temperament

Affectionate

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Bengals can be cuddly at times, particularly while they’re resting. These cats definitely prefer playing to cuddling, but they do sometimes love a hug. 

Playful

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Bengals are known for being extremely playful. They need at least 2 play sessions per day. They are very happy to be involved in household activities, and love playing with the toys you offer them. In general, they prefer mobile toys to immobile ones. 

Calm

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At first glance, it’s easy to see why the words ‘calm’ and ‘Bengal’ should never be used in the same sentence, given their high energy levels. Indeed, they are more active than most cats, but after sufficient stimulation and exercise, they do also need some well deserved rest and relaxation.

Intelligent

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Bengals are highly intelligent. To keep them stimulated, practice doing things like jumping through a hoop, playing fetch, and high fives etc.. You will be amazed at how well they perform.

Fearful / wary of strangers

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In general, their curiosity outweighs their shyness. These little leopards usually greet visitors at the door, but from time to time they can be a bit wary of some people.

Independent

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Bengals are very good at looking after themselves! They can easily keep themselves entertained... however they sometimes will do things that you do not like. Thus, while you’re away from a Bengal, you must offer them autonomous activities eg. using an interactive bowl.

Behaviour of the Bengal

Chatty

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They have loud voices and definitely know how to use them. They love having little chats with their owners! 

Need for exercise / Sporty

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These cats need a lot of exercise. In addition to classic play sessions, why not make them run obstacle courses and / or do agility training in the house? You will be amazed at how quickly they learn.

Tendency to run away

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Here, you have to be careful. The higher the cat’s energy levels, the greater the risk that they’ll run away. As we’ve said before, Bengals are like a small tsunami and they will not hesitate to depart on an adventure if the opportunity arises!

Greedy / Gluttony

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Bengals need to eat more than your average cat due to their high energy expenditure levels.

Compatibility

Bengal and cats

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It all depends on how the cat was socialised with their breeders’. In general, they get along well with other cats of their own breed, but they can sometimes be difficult with other breeds.

Bengal and dogs

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Bengals and dogs can be excellent friends as long as the dog is respectful! They also have to be properly introduced.

Bengal and children

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Bengals make great companions for kids, as they have so much energy. Of course, children need to be educated about cat’s body language so that they can interpret it and identify the signs of stress that indicate that the cat wants to be left alone.

Bengal and the elderly

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They are probably not the ideal breed for an elderly person as they will find it difficult to meet the Bengal’s activity needs.

Price

On average, Bengal kittens cost between £400 and £1500. Their price varies depending on their lineage, age and even their sex. They cost around £35 / month to look after, in order to keep them in good health, and to feed them with good quality food.

Grooming

These cats do not require special maintenance. Weekly brushing to remove their dead hair is sufficient.

Hair loss

Bengals only lose a small amount of hair.

Nutrition of the Bengal

You should consult your vet to provide a high quality diet that will meet the energy needs of your cat.

Health of the Bengal

Life expectancy

Between 10 and 16 years.

Strong / robust

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Given the Bengals’ thick fur, their cold-resistance is better than other breeds. Nevertheless, they are short-haired cats with no significant undercoat.

Tendency to put on weight

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Given that Bengals need more food than other breeds, they can gain weight unnecessarily if their food portions are not well managed. It is important to consult your vet.

Common illnesses

  • Pyruvate kinase deficiency: This is a deficiency in an enzyme that plays a role in degrading sugars in erythrocytes. PK deficiency leads to death of erythrocytes and anemia in cats
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: it is a condition which causes the heart muscle to thicken. It is actually a syndrome in which we group together several diseases, some of which are well known, some are difficult to diagnose and others are said to be idiopathic (of undetermined cause). This condition is not over-represented in Bengals, but it is still occasionally found. 
  • The condition can creep up on a cat because they may present no symptoms for many years despite having serious hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Clinical signs may be difficult to spot (such as loss of appetite and fatigue). In cases where the cat deteriorates quickly, obvious breathing difficulties become apparent. Thromboembolism (clot blocking a blood vessel) resulting in sudden and painful paralysis can also occur.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy is a hereditary disease that causes blindness. Sometimes, the disease arises when the cat is old, which mean the cat can adapt to their new “blind” life gradually. For less fortunate cats, the disease can affect them very young and they therefore have very little time to adjust.

They can also suffer from the same diseases as other domestic cats, such as oral diseases.

Reproduction

No cross breeding is authorised. 

Good to know

Bengal are hybrid cats, that come from the cross breeding of a wild cat and a domestic cat. There are several generations (from F1 to F5) but F1 to F3 cannot be used in competition. Interestingly, the Indian (Bengali) Leopard (from the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent) was reportedly used for feline leukemia research. It appears that this breed is immune to the disease that is usually fatal in cats. Through the hybridisation process, researchers have been able to track the genetics of their immune systems.

Origins and history

Man’s fascination with wild cats has existed for a very long time. In 1963, a woman named Jean S. Mill decided to cross a domestic cat with a wild cat, an Indian (Bengali) leopard. Therefore the breed name was given to pay homage to the feline which made it possible to create the breed. The idea was to get a sweet and friendly cat with the look and physique of a leopard or jaguar. Dr. Mill was entrusted by Davis University in California with 8 hybrid females that had been used for feline leukemia research. Crosses with different breeds have also been made (eg. with Egyptian Mau and Burmese) to avoid incest. The breed as we know it today dates back to the '80s, (more precisely 1985) when Mrs. Mill entered one of her Bengals into a competition. It was obviously a great success and TICA recognized the breed that following year.

Names

Good names for a Bengal: Angus, Holly, Milo, Rosa

Find out name ideas for your cat here