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Bengal cats are soft, cuddly, and make amazing pets. They love to play and are typically good with children and other pets.
Bengal pets also have a unique look and they are always a welcome addition to the home, especially if they are particularly well-trained and behave properly.
But are you ready to own a Bengal cat? What are the cons of owning Bengal cats? Do Bengal cats make good pets?
These questions, plus more, will be answered in detail below.
What are Bengal Cats?
Bengal cats are a cross between a leopard cat and other domesticated cats. Bengal cats are relatively new breeds compared to others, being recognized in just the last half-century.
Bengal cats are distinguished by their coats which resemble a leopard or a jaguar, although there exist variants that appear cloudy or marbled. They also come in a variety of colors.
As this cat breed was bred from a wild cat, there are assumptions that the Bengal cat has aggressive tendencies. This, however, is a gross generalization and is rather an exception to the rule.
Due to breeding with domesticated cats, the aggressive and feral traits of leopard cats have been removed or otherwise diluted from the Bengal cat.
This makes Bengal cats very good pets that are quite friendly yet still retain the leopard-like looks of their predecessor.
Is It Legal to Own a Bengal Cat?
Before you decide to buy or adopt a Bengal cat? You should first know if your local laws will allow you to legally own this type of cat in the first place.
The reason for special restrictions or outright banning in some states is that Bengal cats are often considered exotic animals.
As such, owning one as a pet or importing one is either not allowed or may require special permissions or licenses.
Whether or not you can own a particular Bengal cat will depend on their ancestry, defined by their F-number or filial generation away from the leopard cat.
There are numerous states that allow for all types of Bengal cats, including but not limited to:
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
On the other hand, states like Alaska, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, and Colorado allow you to own Bengal cats with an F-number of F4 or higher.
It is legal to own F4 and later-generation Bengals in the following states: Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont.
States like Hawaii and Connecticut have a ban on Bengal cats regardless of their F-Number, with very few exceptions.
It is also important to note that, while some states allow you to own Bengal Cats, some cities ban them or would require you to obtain a permit or license.
An example of this is New York City, a city within the NY state that allows the keeping of Bengal cats. Seattle, a city found in Washington that allows Bengals for ownership, is another example of this.
As such, check with your specific city or county about their laws and regulations to prevent further trouble down the line as owning a Bengal cat without permission can result in heavy fines or even jail time in some cases.
How Much Do Bengal Cats Cost?
The price for Bengal cats will vary from breeder to breeder. The generally acceptable price range for Bengal cats as of 2023 in the US is from 1,500 to 2,500 dollars.
Top-of-the-line Bengals can reach upwards of 3,000 dollars. Most probably these come from champion lines. Those that cost below 1,000 dollars are either of low quality or outright scammers that either breed substandard cats or breed in unethical ways.
While rare, you can still find Bengal cats in adoption centers. Taking one home can cost you less than 250 dollars. These cats are either abandoned or can no longer be cared for due to underlying health conditions.
The high price of Bengal cats is mostly due to the high demand for them as well as the difficulty in breeding.
There are still some Bengal cats that cost more to acquire. These cats are typically for showing or breeding cats and can even cost up to 10,000 dollars. Those who have lower F-numbers can also fetch higher price tags.
How Do Bengal Cats Behave?
Bengal cats are pretty tame as most of their wild temperament has already been bred out. Bengal cats are not lap cats, but they certainly like to be around you and your family.
Bengal cats are naturally energetic and curious. You will most likely find them running around, exploring, and being in places where they should not be. This is true especially if they are not stimulated enough.
These cats love attention and will vocalize if they want to communicate with you. They love to play with toys and try and hunt smaller animals whenever they can.
Bengal cats are also territorial and can attack those that get their toys or their food. However, for animals or people that they have grown up with, they will be a little bit more tolerant.
Bengals also love to be in high places so that they can look down and survey an area. This can be particularly problematic as they can knock down items or fall from heights.
All in all, Bengal cats have a very good personality and make good pets. They are good with children for as long as they do not feel threatened.
Bengal cats are pretty independent and can be left alone for several hours for as long as they can still play and be stimulated. Bengals can be disruptive if left with nothing to do, so that is something to consider as well.
What Do Bengal Cats Eat?
Bengal cats eat similar products as any other house cat. Cat food with the right nutrition is best, and Bengal cats will happily eat the same thing every day.
There are others that restrict grain from cats and provide them with mostly meat. This is true, especially for those who are categorized as F3 or below.
There is no scientific fact that backs the grain-free diet for these types of Bengals. As a precaution, you can ask your veterinarian for the best diet and food products for your cat.
It would also be a wise idea to have your cat screened. Some foods, especially those rich in sugar, can harm your cat if they are found to have metabolic disorders.
Bengal cats can also benefit from vitamins and supplements as they can be extremely active and they may need all the nutrition and extra energy that they could get.
Bengal Cat Do’s and Don’ts
Grooming is minimal but still necessary. At least once a week, brush your Bengals’ coat to remove tangles as well as to check for ticks or other parasites.
You may also check their teeth for signs of cavities as well as clean their ears. Nails can be cut every other week to protect you and your furniture.
Make it a point to have time to play with your cat. Do not be afraid to be a bit more physical as these cats can be pretty tough. They also like to play games that simulate hunting as it appeals to the nature of their lineage.
Setting aside an hour per day is ideal. At the very least, provide them with toys that can keep them occupied, and so that they don’t treat other belongings, such as your sofa, as makeshift scratching posts.
You should also make sure that fragile objects are safely hidden away. Bengals are inquisitive and may knock them down. They are also capable of opening cabinets and faucets so cat-proofing these things will also be a good idea.
Bengal cats like to climb, so have a climbing post at the ready inside the home. It would also be wise to have high fences if you have a yard to avoid them jumping to another property.
When Bengals are playing outside, make sure that they are supervised as they might leave your home, attack other pets, or get hurt, especially by moving vehicles.
Better yet, keep your cat inside the home. Just make sure that you do not leave them for long periods and give them plenty of things to play with.
It would also be a good idea to have your pet chipped. This is to ensure that you would be able to find your cat if ever they get lost. Remember that Bengals are expert escape artists and they can and will leave the house if given the chance.
Take note also that Bengal cats are highly prized and coveted. Keep your cat in the home to prevent theft. You may put them in a cage, if necessary, but only for very short periods of time.
A Bengal cat is expected to live anywhere between 12 to 18 years. With the proper care, nutrition, and exercise, they can extend their lives and still be healthy and active for up to 20 years and beyond.
Usual Health-Related Problems for Bengal Cats
Bengal cats can suffer from different health conditions, as do most cats. Some of these conditions may be treated while others are congenital.
The usual conditions that affect Bengal cats include heart disease, hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, eye issues, cat leukemia, eye disorders, and a variety of others.
Fortunately, a lot of these conditions are rare and are generally bred out of succeeding generations. This means that, once detected in a Bengal cat, the individual cat is then limited from breeding further offspring.
This is why it is very important to check the papers regarding the lineage of your Bengal cat. There are databases of your cats’ lineage’s test results that exist. That is if the breeder is reputable.
If your breeder is not open to providing this information, then that is a definite red flag. We recommend that you do not get your Bengal cat from these types of breeders.
Still, on those rare occasions that your Bengal cat’s parents are carriers of a particular gene that causes disease, there is really nothing that you can do but wait and hope that the disease is not passed on.
With this, Bengal cat owners are recommended to have yearly or semi-annual checkups with the veterinarian.
They should also be screened for conditions such as PK-deficiency Bengal progressive retinal atrophy, hypertrophic cardiopathy, and other diseases that can be passed on from parents to their children.
Catching disease early will result in a higher chance of treatment or at least slow down or halt the progress of the condition. This can definitely cause a much better quality of life and a higher life expectancy for your cat.
It is also recommended that your cat be vaccinated as they are also prone to viruses and infections. Ask your veterinarian as to what vaccinations are available, and make sure that they take their booster shots on a regular basis as well.
Always look for changes in behavior and movement on your cat. Weight loss and constant licking may also be a sign of disease. If you suspect that your cat is ill, seek medical attention immediately.
As you can see, owning a Bengal cat can get pretty complicated, but you can easily sort things out by reviewing state or city laws regarding the legality of keeping this particular breed as a pet.
Bengal cats are also pretty low maintenance, but you do need to keep them active and stimulated. You would also need to make sure that they are healthy through regular veterinary checks and screenings.
They also make great pets and are great to have around the house. Their energy is certainly infectious, and they can keep you entertained with their funny antics and lively personality.
By following the tips mentioned above, you can keep your cats healthy and happy relatively easily. They can provide you with years of companionship and love, and can become a highly valued member of your household for a very long time.