The Bengal cat is one of the most distinctive-looking and unique cat breeds of them all, and when people say they’re not like other domestic cats, you need to take this seriously. They’re quite literally not like other domestic cats, right down to their very genes.
Bengal cats are a relatively young breed and a somewhat controversial one, although less so than they were a couple of decades ago. They’re also highly desirable to many cat lovers, and are a breed that a large number of people aspire to owning.
However, the Bengal cat is absolutely not a pet to choose lightly or on a whim, and they are by no means a good fit for everyone. If you are considering buying a Bengal cat, there are lots of important things you need to know about them first, all of which merit in-depth research – and to get you started, we’ll share ten things you need to know and learn about before you commit to buying a Bengal cat. Read on to learn more.
The first thing you need to know about Bengal cats is that they have wild cats in their recent ancestry; the breed was developed from the crossing of regular domestic cats of various pedigree breeds with a small wild cat breed, the Asian leopard cat.
Whilst today’s Bengals are almost always many generations removed from their original ancestors of one wild and one domestic cat, the input of that wild ancestry can be seen in both the Bengal’s temperament and appearance.
You may see the use of “F” designators used in adverts for Bengal cats, and these are used to outline how many generations removed any Bengal is from their most recent wild ancestor.
Ergo an F1 Bengal cat has one wild and one domestic parent, an F2 has a wild grandparent, and so on. Bengals closer to wild ancestry than F4 are very uncommon today, and most Bengals have a much higher degree of removal as the breed population is now large and stable enough to make backcrossing uncommon.
Bengal cats are the third most popular cat breed in the UK, and whilst domestic moggies outnumber pedigrees of all breeds by some margin, this still indicates their very high level of general popularity.
Additionally, whilst the average asking price of Bengals used to be prohibitively expensive for most when they were less common and popular, today, their average prices fall more in line with that asked for most other pedigree cat breeds.
The average asking price for Bengals advertised on Pets4Homes over the course of the last year was £693 for GCCF registered pedigrees, and £446 for unregistered or non-pedigree cats of the breed.
Bengal coats are one of their most distinctive features, and they come in a number of different and all very beautiful colour and pattern combinations, including the rosette pattern, being the only domestic cat breed to display this.
Their coats also have an unusual texture and feel to them too; they are so smooth and silky as to feel almost slippery, and their coats often have an almost sparkling sheen to them as well.
Bengal cat temperaments can be very hard to describe, as every cat is an individual; but as a breed, they stand very much apart from other cats. They can be simultaneously highly demanding of their owners and wanting continual attention, whilst also very independent and wanting everything their own way and on their own terms.
They tend to be active, independent, good hunters and quite bold, and they have generally larger than life personalities that some people really treasure, but that can be a bit much for others!
Bengal cats have loud, distinctive and piercing voices that don’t really sound like the average meow. They are somewhat similar to the sound a Siamese cat makes, only generally much louder and even harder to ignore!
They are also usually highly vocal, and some of them chatter almost constantly… And if a Bengal cat is unhappy about something, everyone nearby will certainly hear all about it in great detail and at great length!
Bengal cats of all generations are legal to own in the UK – but they are actually illegal in some US states, including New York and Hawaii, and also Australia, all of which prohibit ownership of all wild cat hybrids.
Whilst this is only strictly relevant to the average UK cat owner if they might be considering emigrating, this does reinforce the prominence of the need to understand that this is a wild cat hybrid – not a domestic moggy.
Bengal cats are quite large as a rule, and they tend to be tall, long, and muscular as well. They weigh on average up to around 8kg for males, and a little smaller for females.
There are a number of hereditary health issues to be found within the Bengal breed as a whole, and as a result of this it is important to choose a kitten from a breeder that undertakes the relevant pre-breeding health tests on their parent stock.
However, a heart issue called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is perhaps the most acute threat to the breed, and this is not a condition for which a DNA test is currently available.
Research Bengal cat health in depth before you commit to any purchase.
Bengal cats can be a handful, and they’re not a good choice of pet if you are looking to get a cat because you want a relatively chilled out, low maintenance pet. Even if you’ve owned a different type of cat before, Bengals are in class of their own, so bear this in mind!
They are a complex breed that is not a good pick for the inexperienced first-timer; but on the flipside of this, a first-time cat owner who chooses a Bengal will have no frame of reference in terms of other cat breeds and types to which to make incorrect assumptions about the Bengal temperament or what living with one is like either.
Ergo, if you are considering choosing a Bengal as your first cat, you may have something of an advantage; as long as you do plenty of research and go out and meet a lot of Bengals and get to know the breed first.