Bengal cat breed information and advice
With striking looks, a shimmering luxurious coat and friendly personality, a Bengal cat can make a wonderful addition to your family. But before you make the leap, it’s good to get to know a few things about them. This cat breed guide has lots of useful information and covers everything from temperament to grooming. It also outlines some common ailments and shows you why it’s sensible to take out cat insurance.
They may have the look of a wild cat, but don’t be fooled. These hybrid cats are friendly and sociable and will quickly become part of the family.
£450 and upwards for a kitten
minimal, weekly brush
sociable, intelligent and very active
regular, daily exercise, full of energy
and needs plenty of room to run around
The Bengal breed was created by crossing the Asian Leopard cat with the Abyssinian, Burmese and Egyptian Mau breeds. The aim was to introduce the Asian Leopard cat’s immunity to Feline Leukaemia to the domestic cats. Unfortunately, the experiment failed, but these hybrid cats led to the birth of the Bengal cat breed.
Bengal cat insurance
When you’re considering the pros and cons of getting a Bengal cat, don’t forget to factor in cat insurance. Bengals are a robust breed but, as with any pet, they can still get ill. And vet fees can soon mount up.
Bengal cat insurance can help cover the cost of your cat’s treatment, including any medication, vet prescribed complementary treatment or surgery.
Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance
Insurance isn’t just for valuable pedigree animals - you can insure all types of cat. You can take out Sainsbury’s Bank kitten insurance as long as your Bengal kitten is over 8 weeks old and your cat is less than 10 years of age. Once you have cover in place with us, you can insure your cat up to any age as long as you keep renewing the policy without a break.
How to care for a Bengal
Bengal cats are easy to care for. They’re very clean, and kittens will quickly learn to use a litter tray. But, as with any other cat, make sure that they have a balanced diet and lots of exercise.
Feeding and nutrition
Bengals aren’t fussy eaters. They should have a cat food that matches their age, size and activity level. It should also take into account any specific health conditions.
Knowing how much to feed your cat can sometimes be difficult to understand, the amount will depend on their age and size. A guide to how much and how often you should feed your cat can be found on the packaging of the food you’re feeding.
There are so many commercially prepared cat foods available nowadays, it can be confusing to know which one is best for your cat. Quality cat food can be quite pricey, but cheap brands are likely to contain lower quality ingredients. If you’re unsure what food to go for, speak to your vet. They will be happy to help you and give you advice on what’s best for your cat.
If you are concerned about how to groom your cat, don’t worry. Although the Bengal’s coat is luxurious, dense and very soft - and can sparkle like glitter – these cats don’t need much grooming. A weekly brush with a grooming glove to remove any loose hairs is all they need. They shouldn’t need a bath - they do love water though so might join you in the shower.
Bengals come in a variety of colours and patterns. Brown spotted or rosetted tabby are the most popular. Their distinctive markings and characteristics are always there - whatever the colour. There are Snow Bengals (with a pale white or cream background), Silver, White and Grey Bengals. Most have green, yellow or gold eyes, but Bengals with lynx points have blue eyes and minks have aqua eyes.
Bengal cats love to be active and can easily get bored. If kept indoors they’ll need plenty of space for play and cat exercise. And they’ll need scratching posts, perches to climb and toys to keep them entertained. They also like company, so it’s best not to leave them alone all day.
Letting them outdoors will give these athletic cats room to exercise and give them the mental stimulation they need.
Bengal cats are smart and will quickly pick up litter training. They can also be trained to do tricks and can be taught to play fetch and walk on a lead.
Temperament and behaviour
Bengal cats are full of energy and have an adventurous personality. They love playing with water and it’s not unusual to find them drinking from a dripping tap. It’s also best to leave the toilet seat down or you may find your cat in there. They’re very agile but can be clumsy too – it’s a good thing that cats land on their feet.
They’re also very vocal and will let you know whether they’re happy or unhappy. They may look like their wild ancestors, but they’re friendly, affectionate, intelligent and loyal. And once attached to their owner, they’ll be a constant shadow.
They’re good with dogs but can be territorial with other cats if there are lots of cats in the house. They’re also good with children. But, as with any other pet, don’t leave young children alone with your cat.
They enjoy company and don’t like to be left alone all day so you might have to get two. They can cause chaos if left alone all day. They’ve been known to steal things like pens and pencils, so make sure they have enough cat-friendly toys to play with. And remember that it’s not unheard of for a Bengal to behave erratically every now and again.
Common health problems
Bengals are generally healthy; however, it’s important to take out Bengal insurance as the following medical conditions have been seen in the breed:
Flat-chested kitten syndrome (FCK)
Bengal kittens can have a common malformation of the chest, which can become noticeable within a few weeks of birth. The condition can vary from being mild to life-threatening. FCK is also known as ‘Swimmers’ because the kitten’s legs can be splayed and weak. Mild cases may not need any treatment, but physiotherapy and splinting of the ribcage have been used in more severe cases.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (commonly known as HCM) is a disease that affects the heart muscle. In HCM, the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick. This reduces the amount of blood flowing through the heart, so the heart doesn’t work properly. The condition is likely inherited in certain cat breeds including some Bengal lines.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a DNA test available at the moment to identify those at risk. Screening of cats using echocardiography (a scan of the heart using ultrasound) is recommended for Bengals. If the condition is recognised early enough, long-term medication and other measures can slow the disease down.
Bengals have been known to be affected by patellar luxation. This can be caused by trauma, but the tendency for patella luxation can also be inherited with Bengal cats at risk for this. The kneecap (patella) can slip out of place and cause lameness. Surgery may be needed in severe cases.
Pyruvate kinase (PK) deficiency
PK deficiency is an inherited disease caused by a deficiency in an enzyme called pyruvate kinase. The condition shortens the lifespan of red blood cells and results in anaemia. It’s caused by a genetic mutation so there’s no treatment or cure. However, the episodes of anaemia are usually mild and can be managed.
The condition can affect certain breeds of cats, including the Bengal. A genetic test can identify those affected. These cats should not be used for breeding.
So, is a Bengal right for you?
These furry balls of energy are curious, loyal and full of fun. With striking looks and a good nature, they love company and like to play. They don’t take much grooming but need lots of attention and enjoy being kept physically active and mentally stimulated.
How long do Bengal cats live?
With good health care, the lifespan of a Bengal cat is around 10-15 years. This is a really good age for a larger cat.
Are Bengal cats aggressive?
Despite their wild looks, Bengal cats aren’t aggressive. They’re not even very good hunters. They’re affectionate and just to want to spend their time playing and spending time with their humans.
Are Bengal cats hypoallergenic?
While no cat is completely hypoallergenic, Bengal cats are a good breed to have if you’re an allergy sufferer. They have a lower allergen level in their saliva than other breeds. If you’re an allergy sufferer, you may either have no reaction or a milder reaction to a Bengal. Why not spend some time with a Bengal cat and see how you get on?
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