Bengals are arguably one of the most beautiful cat breeds you can own. They were first bred in the 1970s by crossing the wild Asian Leopard Cat with domestic breeds like the Egyptian Mau, Burmese, and Abyssinian. This made them a relatively controversial breed in the early years, but it didn’t take long for these energetic cats to soar in popularity.
The Bengal is certainly not a delicate cat! They have an exotic appearance, athletic build, and endearing personalities. Their appearance is strikingly similar to their wild relatives, with a lean and muscular physique. They have a broad head with relatively small rounded ears set wide apart on the skull, and large expressive eyes that are usually green or blue.
Bengals tend to hold their large tails low, much as a wild cat would. They are medium to large cats that grow to approximately 14-18 inches in length, with long slender legs and large paws. Males are often significantly larger than females and tend to be more muscular-looking.
Coat and colour markings
The short, silky coat is definitely the Bengals’ most striking and distinct feature! They come in both spotted and marbled varieties, with two-tone rosette shapes being the most prized coat variety.
Light brown is the most common coat color, but breeders have recently been able to birth them in a range of other colors including silver, snow, and blue.
Bengal cats are incredibly active and highly intelligent, which makes them an excellent choice for families looking for a more interactive companion. They are known to be incredibly loving and loyal cats that form strong bonds with their owners.
This breed is certainly not for the faint-hearted, though, as they tend to be incredibly active and outgoing. But if you can fulfill their need to exercise, this stunning breed can become a loyal and treasured addition to your family!
The aloof, independent nature we have come to associate with many cat breeds does not apply here. If you decide to adopt a Bengal, you will probably have to keep an eye on him as these cats are known to be a bit mischievous. You will often find them climbing across mantelpieces, jumping onto kitchen surfaces, or even plucking your DVDs off the shelf! They also seem to have a fondness for water, so don’t be surprised if you find yours in the bathtub at some point.
Due to their need for constant exercise, you may want to think about lead training your Bengal or investing in a catio, so he can have access to the outdoors. That said, they can be successfully kept as indoor cats but you will need to make sure your Bengal has plenty of interactive toys to keep him entertained. Investing in one or two cat trees is a good idea for this breed, as they love to climb and explore high vantage points.
Like the genetically related Abyssinian, Bengals are incredibly social compared to other cats, and they do not cope well when left alone for long periods. They are always looking for attention and aren’t too shy about pestering you for it!
Bengals and children/other pets
Despite their extrovert personality, Bengals are quite affectionate towards their human owners. They get on well with children and larger animals like dogs, and will flourish from the additional interaction. They can easily be taught tricks and games like fetch, and will enjoy the energy of a busy household.
The Bengal’s dense short coat is relatively easy to maintain. A good brush once or twice a week is sufficient to remove dead hair and distribute skin oils. Like all cats, it’s a good idea to brush them more often during shedding season.
Why you should adopt a Bengal
Bengals are exceptionally loving and energetic creatures that can provide plenty of entertainment for an active family! Still in the market for adopting one? Let’s run through some quick pros and cons of this breed to give you an idea what to expect:
The Bengal is the perfect breed for those who love to have lots of interaction with animals. They are notorious for being outgoing and playful, and will actively seek out their owners for a bit of fussing. Bengals will lavish love on their owners and relish in any attention they are given.
Bengal’s can be a bit of a challenge as they require constant attention and have a high need for exercise. Without regular mental stimulation, they will become destructive. If you adopt a Bengal, it might mean you’ll have to sacrifice other parts of your schedule so that you have enough time to properly care for them. Also, for those of you who like to live in silence, be wary. These cats are extremely vocal with a wide vocabulary, from meows and chirps to yowls and grunts.
If you are looking for a cat that is nimble, intelligent, loving, and playful, this is the cat for you. You will never be bored with a Bengal around!
Diseases / special considerations
The Bengal is considered to be a genetically healthy breed, but it is always a good idea to monitor their weight, as overfeeding can exacerbate joint issues that are known to affect this breed (notably hip dysplasia).
Bengals also seem to be increasingly prone to progressive retinal atrophy, which is a degenerative eye disease that can lead to blindness. This disease is thought to be linked to a lack of taurine in the diet of these cats, so you must ensure Bengals are fed a strictly meat-based diet.