Brief History of the Bengal Cat
The Bengal Cat is a hybrid cat bred from the Asian Leopard Cat (Felis Bengalensis) and the domestic brown tabby cat. Between the point of the first hybrid Bengal and the Bengal Cats we enjoy today, a number of other breeds were briefly interjected to enhance certain aspects of the Bengal’s appearance and personality. If you have an interest on specifics of the development of Bengals, you can find much information at The International Bengal Cat Society (TIBCS) website. Jean Mill has some very interesting information in the article “Early Years” which is also in TIBCS Library.
Filial Foundation and SBT Bengals
A Bengal Cat that has at least 4 generations of Bengal to Bengal breeding is considered an SBT (stud book tradition) registered Bengal. Filial Bengals are comprised of F1s, F2s and F3s (1, 2, and 3 generations from the Asian Leopard Cat). These are sometimes referred to as Foundation Bengals. The SBT Bengals are usually the better pets having evolved into appropriate toileting habits and much more outgoing personalities. Filial Bengal males are usually sterile. Filial Bengals can be very exotic pets. However, anyone interested in owning a Filial Bengal should do extensive research on their personalities, litter box habits and other traits prior to purchasing one. If you are considering purchasing a Filial Bengal, be sure to check the regulations in your state governing purchase/ownership of these cats.
Behavior and Characteristics
Bengal Cats are very intelligent and active. If you prefer a “couch potato” or a shy cat who disappears when you have guests, the Bengal is not the right choice for you. They respond to consistent training much like a good dog, much better than some dogs. The Bengals in our household have no concept of fear. This tendency is apparent shortly after birth. They are extremely courageous and curious. The Bengal assumes that any door or drawer or cabinet or box or anything else that is opened is for their entrance and exploration. Our Bengals go to the door when the doorbell rings as religiously as if they were the watch dog on duty.
Historically with some cat registries, there have been concerns about aggressive tendencies in any feline with wild ancestry. This concern is unfounded in the Bengal. In the first place the Asian Leopard Cat is a very shy, reclusive primarily nocturnal cat. Our modern Bengal has none of these personality traits.
The Bengal does have some characteristics in common with its wild ALC ancestors. For instance, the Bengals love water. They stalk their “prey” (usually the dog or another cat or a toy) like a wild feline. They will lay on their back grasping a toy between their front paws and mouth. They hoard their toys. Ours often store their toys in the water bowls.
Bengals in the Family
Bengal Cats are fun. Even in their more serious moments of “stalking another cat or if you have a dog, the dog" they display a gregariousness not seen in other cats. If your choice is to own or be owned by one Bengal, you will have a constant companion when you are home. They display companionship characteristics generally associated with the loyalty of a dog. For owners who work or are away from the home several hours each day, they may wish to own two or more Bengals.
Bengals are also visually stunning. The Bengal is not only stunning, but to the
novice eye, his size, outgoing personality, huge whisker pads, whited chin, glitter and rufism announce that he is not your typical house cat. For pictures and information on Bengal colors and patterns, click on the TIBCC logo, front page.
Bengal Cats vary in size between the genders. Males range in mature adult size from 11 to 16 pounds, whereas the smaller females range from 7 to 12 pounds at maturity. The Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) is very small, so the larger Bengals occur as the hybrid generations move past 2 or 3 generations away from the ALC.
Neutering and Spaying
Your pet Bengal should be neutered prior to reaching sexual maturity, otherwise they will mark their territory. Both the males and the females will spray or mark if they are not neutered. We do not recommend early neutering at 10 weeks, but definitely recommend neutering by 5 to 6 months. We find 5 months is the optimum age. Some vets will say 6 months, however, we have known of a few males who matured by 6 months. A 5-month old Bengal kitten of either gender will be a healthy, robust cat who will barely notice his or her visit to the vet for neutering.
If you are interested in purchasing a good quality Bengal pet, you should expect to pay about $800. If your interest is in showing or breeding a Bengal Cat, you should expect to pay at least $2000. If purchasing a Bengal is your desire, make sure to deal with a reputable breeder who has TICA registered Bengals. Purchasing the least expensive kitten you can locate may not in the long run be the most economical pet. The purchase price should include kitten series of 1-2 vaccines, (according to when cat is taken ownership by it's new family) deworming, vet check, a written health guarantee, pedigree, health record, TICA registration papers, unless it is a pet waiting to be neutered.
Finding a Reputable Bengal Breeder
There are many reputable breeders of Bengals throughout the world. There are probably equally as many not so reputable Bengal breeders. How can you insure that you are dealing with a reputable breeder? I would like to say that a person with a TICA registered cattery name and number who breeds TICA registered Bengals would certainly be reliable. However, there is no guarantee. Make sure they have TICA registered kittens and cattery. For further information please refer to Bengal Kitten Contract and Bengal Kitten Buying Guide.
Most of all make sure the breeder provides a written “Bengal Cat Purchase Agreement” (contract). This agreement will outline what the breeder's expectations are of the purchaser and will also clearly state the conditions of the health guarantee that comes with the kitten or cat you are purchasing. The purchase price generally includes the kitten’s series of shots, de-worming and health checks by a vet.
Bengal Cat Health
Because of their diverse genetic heritage, the Bengal generally is a very healthy pet. After their initial kitten vaccines, rabies shot and neutering; most Bengals will have few vet visits beyond those required for their annual booster vaccines. Unlike some breeds that have inherent genetic predisposition to certain illnesses, the Bengal is relatively disease free.
Things That Can Threaten the Health of Your Bengal
There are many household hazards for Bengal Cats. Their athleticism combined with their intense curiosity predisposes them to reach hazards that other cats might never come in contact with. High places are the Bengals’ favorite places. This is fine for an adult Bengal. However, when the kitten is young it is best to confine it when you are away from the house until you are sure that it can get down from any height it may reach. Also, house plants can be very hazardous for cats. A contact page to find those plants is attached http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/. A potted plan of wheat is health for your bengal, and will deter their interest in household plants.
Kitten proofing your house is similar to child proofing your house. Just look things over and remove any obvious hazards prior to setting your kitten free. Of course, never leave your kitten unsupervised with a dog or older pre-existing cat until you are absolutely sure that relationships are well established and your kitten is safe.
Article written by Karen, PleasantPond Bengals