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How to Care for a Bengal Cat

I loved raising my Bengal cat, they are such interesting and unique creatures.

The Domestic Bengal Cat Is a Unique Breed

Do you own, or are you thinking about getting a domestic Bengal cat? This breed of house pet is both beautiful and unique. Caring for a Bengal is different in several respects than for ordinary domestic shorthair cats.

We have owned a Bengal, but its inherently wild nature, combined with our busy lives resulted in a cat that was bored and longed to be outside. Once Romeo got more freedom, it was hard to convince him to come back into the house. We would see him every few weeks, roaming around outside, but our pet just didn't want to be a cuddly member of the family. The right owner/family can be a perfect fit for this breed.

  • First, they are quite smart and entertaining.
  • Second, they are remarkably healthy and require little, if any grooming.
  • Finally, they are actually more dog-like in nature than other domestic breeds. Bengals will walk on a leash, love to be trained, and they love to take baths and play fetch!

The beauty of the domestic Bengal cat is simply undeniable. Keep reading to learn more about this breed and how to care for it.

Our Bengal Cat, Romeo

Our Bengal Cat, Romeo

Make Sure You Get a Bengal Cat From a Reputable Breeder

Bengal cats have such unique characteristics, both with regard to appearance and behavior, that you will want to ensure you get a Bengal from a reputable breeder.

When the coat of a Bengal cat does not come out at show quality, some Bengal kittens may be available at a much-reduced price. If you are not going to show your cat, you can still enjoy the benefits of a Bengal's personality, provided that the breeding stock is of high quality. As you can see in the photo to the right, our Romeo's coat is not as rich and beautiful as the photo above. Yet, he has all the characteristics of a Bengal cat's personality and health.

Be sure to research ahead of time to purchase only from a reputable Bengal cat breeder. This person or organization will provide a written health guarantee, can demonstrate optimum cattery conditions, and should belong to professional associations. You can generally tell by the condition of the grounds and the breeder's personality, whether they love cats and wish to ensure the highest quality kittens are available.

Better yet, check to see if there are Bengal cat rescue organizations in the area. Volunteers are usually quite knowledgeable about the breed. Take added pleasure in knowing that you adopted a rescue cat.

Bengal kitten - about 8 weeks old

Bengal kitten - about 8 weeks old

About the Bengal Cat Breed

In a related article, I set forth the following information about the Bengal Cat Breed, which has been recognized as a registered breed since 1984:

The Bengal breed is fully domesticated, although it was originally bred from a cross between an Asian Leopard Cat (a small, wild cat that lives in forests) and a "regular" domestic cat breed such as Abyssinian, American Shorthair, or Burmese. Now, only its markings are wild-looking. To be accepted for registration by the American Cat Fanciers Association (ACFA), The International Cat Association (TICA) or the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF), a Bengal Cat must be at least four generations (F-4) away from its Asian Leopard Cat ancestor. The Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) considers Bengals to be "wild," however, and will not accept them for showing or registration.

Despite their name, Bengal cats are not related to Bengal tigers. They are not unusually large, wild or dangerous. Heritage is one aspect of Bengal cats. Not only do they generally have beautiful, velvet-soft coats, but they are more active, affectionate, and engaged than other domesticated cats.

If you want the ease of cat ownership with the companionship of a dog, consider this breed.

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Beautiful markings on a Bengal cat

Beautiful markings on a Bengal cat

What Makes Bengal Cats Different?

Compared with ordinary domestic cats, Bengal cats differ in the following ways, which means that you must approach caring for this breed in a unique manner:

  1. Physiology: Bengal cats are "made" differently than their other domestic cat cousins. The shape of their face and their ears have an exotic appearance. They are generally stronger and more athletic than other cat breeds, too.
  2. Love of water: A cat that loves to play in the water or even swim? Unbelievable, right? Yet, Bengal cats are renowned for their love of the water. They may even jump into the bathtub or shower with you!
  3. Level of activity: These cats are high energy! Plus they are extremely bright and engaging. Forget what you might think about lazy cats, lounging around all day. If you are thinking about getting a Bengal, be sure to plan to engage them, so they do not get bored and potentially destructive!
  4. Loyalty: This is my favorite trait of the Bengal cat. They are very affectionate, friendly, and loyal. Not your typical effective pet. A Bengal will greet you and interact with you much like a dog.
  5. Trainability: Bengals are very trainable because they are smart, agile, and loyal. Just watch the first video above. Can you believe a cat that can be trained to roll over, walk on hind legs and heel next to its owner?
  6. Appearance: One look at a Bengal, and you know you are seeing an exotic cat breed. Their amazingly soft coat is adorned with "wild markings" such as rosettes, sots and stripes.

Caring for a Bengal Cat

You are probably familiar with the different needs of various breeds of dogs. For example, Labs need to run, Terriers are excitable and like to bark and dig, Beagles tend to howl and may be neurotic.

Now, apply that thinking to various breeds of cats. Granted, there is not quite as pronounced a difference among domestic cat breeds. Yet, with a cat as unique as a Bengal, you will want to consider the following tips when integrating them into your home:

  • Bengals need plenty of exercise, but it's not necessarily safe to let them roam free outdoors. Fortunately, they walk well on a leash and harness. As you would with a dog, walk your Bengal cat for 10–20 minutes morning and night.
  • Consider the high activity level and intelligence of a Bengal cat, and purchase interactive toys, such as a laser light. You will need to play with your cat, even after walking it, for at least a half-hour morning and night.
  • Engage the cat with water. Bengals love to get into sinks, showers, and tubs.
  • Train your Bengal cat either by yourself or with professional instruction. This will also help meet their activity and intelligence needs
  • A Bengal cat does not need special food, grooming, or veterinary care. In fact, experts say that they are generally healthier than other domestic cats and are not susceptible to feline leukemia
Bengal cats can be talkative too

Bengal cats can be talkative too

© 2012 Stephanie Marshall


Lily Cornish on May 15, 2020:

Bengal cats are so cute

Hazel on May 22, 2019:

We have a 3 yr old Bengal cross. We would like another kitten but this time have with a domestic breed. We are worried how the Bengal will interact with another cat. He gets on really well with the dogs- infact just acts like a dog most of the time - except when pounces! - he will pounce on everything and anyone and any given time! - I’m already talking myself out of another cat just in this message!! Do you think he would ever just get used to it??? Xx

voyager54 on March 31, 2019:

I live alone and work 8 hours M-F. Just lost my dog of 18 years...Would a bengal be a good roomate. I love animals but don't really have the time now for a puppy right now

Rachel on October 27, 2018:

I have a Bengal who is not a full year yet and would love to train her is it possible or did I wait to long she was born last April?

Karin Patrick on June 22, 2018:

My Bengal listens better than my dog. She rides well in the car, comes w me on vacation, comes when I call, even taught her to run the bases on a baseball field. Love ❤️ her.

Dee on March 06, 2018:

My son has one.He is a wonderful pet. My son has to be away for 12 weeks so I will be bringing him to my home. I know he is high energy and we are preparing for lots of fun with him as he loves to play.

bengalcatlover101 on January 25, 2018:

I just got a Bengal cat kitten and they are like dogs on the inside. It is also the only cat that my dad is not allergic to because this type of cat is the only hypo-allergenic type of cat. Hypo-allergenic means that it doesn't shed meaning it doesn't have any dander that a lot of people are allergic to.

Aemilia on May 22, 2017:

I don't support exotic breeding or even breeding of pets, but my mom had a Bengal for a few years and my aunt is rehoming her second Bengal to me since her first and him don't get along. This breed is certainly different from house cats and need a totally different touch but they are incredibly affectionate if raised with compassion and patience. I look forward to introducing him to my domestic short hair and showing him the wonders of (safe for kitties) camping/hiking!

dots on March 30, 2016:

Shelly: We started our cat out with frequent car rides as soon as we adopted her and she does great.

Shellybean7 on September 22, 2014:

I am a Marine Corps Veteran with PTSD and my five year old son is allergic to dogs. I also work with other Veterans with PTSD and so I would have my Bengal at work as well (requiring a car ride to work which I am not sure will fare well).

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on September 22, 2014:

Excellent question! I would imagine yes, but the ease of training may not be as high as with a dog. Let me see if I can find an answer to that question. Best, Steph

Shellybean7 on September 20, 2014:

Can Bengal cats be trained as a therapy cat for someone with PTSD, instead of a therapy dog?

W1totalk on July 09, 2013:

This is an interesting domestic cat. It is wild and intense. Great article.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on March 13, 2013:

Aren't they a great pet? How many bengal cats do you have?

Best to you, Steph

ryanjhoe from Somewhere over the rainbow on March 13, 2013:

Yup! I have bengal cats and I love them all. It's a domestic cat and I think it's easy to take care depend on how we understand to treat them. Thanks for giving more insight through this article, very helpful!

By Lori from USA on November 14, 2012:

They are so beautiful - what a lovely article. Voted up -

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on November 13, 2012:

Yes, Bengals are very unique, beautiful and different from other domesticated cats. Best, Steph

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on November 13, 2012:

Such a unique cat, helpful information for cat lovers thanks

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on November 05, 2012:

Hi Ruchira,

Thank you! Definitely make sure your child is responsible before getting them a pet. All the best, Steph

Ruchira from United States on November 05, 2012:

Your cat is adorable. My kid has been pestering me for a pet, but this will be on the bottom list once he is more responsible ;)

Voted up as interesting

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on November 05, 2012:

Hi innerspin - that video is unbelievable, isn't it? Love to share experience and tips on caring for a Bengal cat. All the best, Steph

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on November 05, 2012:

Hi Wordscribe, I understand that they are a better fit for families with allergies. You should look into a Bengal rescue! Good look - thanks, Steph

Kim Kennedy from uk on November 05, 2012:

What a wonderful video of Moogly. I've never seen a cat behave like that before. Bengals are beautiful, I didn't know a lot of the information you provided, so thanks for that.

Elsie Nelson from Pacific Northwest, USA on November 04, 2012:

I soooo want a Bengal, but they're a bit pricey, right? Aren't they fairly hypoallergenic, too? I seem to remember my sister looking into getting one since her husband and son have major allergy issues. Anyway, they are just gorgeous cats, in my opinion.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on November 04, 2012:

That's right! They are not wild tigers, but a very engaging domestic cat breed!

quicksand on November 04, 2012:

Being a cat liker, didn't know much about Bengali cats. Heard, but thought they were just super tame versions and "genetically modified" Bengali tigers!

They don't look dissimilar to other felines. Must get one soon. Thanks!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on November 04, 2012:

Hahahaha! What is it about women and cats? (BTW, Bev... call me!) ;-)

Have a great week too, Bill!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 04, 2012:

They are a beautiful cat but there is no way we are getting another cat....and I hope Bev reads my comment. LOL Good job Steph! Have a great week.

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