Suppose you’ve ever dreamed about what it might be like to own a baby leopard. In that case, chances are you’re already familiar with the Bengal cat breed because, let’s face it, owning one of these little guys is probably as close as anyone should ever get to owning an actual “baby” leopard. And for good reason! But just because the Bengal cat will have the “look” you want doesn’t mean that the Bengal cat breed will be the “right” cat breed for you. This is why we wanted to take a moment and discuss what it would be like to own a Bengal cat so that if you are ever lucky enough to get your hands on one, you won’t wish you hadn’t six months from now!
So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!
Bengal Cat Breed Fast Facts
Country of Origin: United States
Size: Medium to large
Weight: 9 to 12 pounds
Eyes: Round (green or gold)
Head Shape: Wedge-shaped
Life Span: 12 to 16 years
Origin of the Bengal Cat Breed
The name of the Bengal comes from the Asian leopard cat’s scientific name, “Felis prionailurus bengalensis.” This is fitting, as Bengals were created by crossing Asian leopard cats with domestic American shorthair cats. The first breed of a Bengal cat occurred at a breeder done by Jean Mill in the late 1960s and early 1970s when Jean “unintentionally” allowed her “wild” leopard cat with a domestic shorthair cat.
At the time, Jean did not think the two would mate because they were of different species, but to her surprise, they did, and when they did, they produced some pretty impressive kittens! Around this same time, D, R. Willard Centerwall of Loyola University also decided to see if these two “types” of cats would breed. Only in his case did he intentionally choose to pair these two different species. You see, Asian leopard cats are resistant to feline leukemia. Hence, Dr. Willard intended to “capture” this resistance into the resulting litter, hopefully creating a “new” and healthier cat breed.
Bengal cats are considered one hundred percent “domesticated”; however, to be “officially” recognized as part of the Bengal cat breed, they should be four generations removed from any wild ancestry. The International Cat Association was the first to realize the breed in 1991. Still, the American Cat Fanciers Association, the United Feline Organization, and the Canadian Cat Association also recognize the Bengal. Purchasing a kitten from Bengal breeders can cost anywhere from $1500 for a male or $2000 to $10000 for a female.
The Bengal cat is extensive, weighing 8 to 15 pounds or more. This is not a delicate breed of cat – it’s clear that Bengals are athletes, as they are very agile and graceful, with muscular bodies and the strength of a jungle cat.
The head is broad and longer than its width, giving it a wedge-like shape with rounded contours. Their ears are relatively medium or even short, given the size and length of the Bengal cat, and are usually to the side of the head as opposed to sitting directly on top. And while Bengal cats can come in various colors, their large round eyes will always be green or gold.
Bengal cats also have…
Large paws like their wild ancestors and a medium-length tail often ended in black. This will add to the “wild” look that these cats have compared to your average domestic shorthaired cat. But at the end of the day, the Bengal cats’ fur truly differentiates this cat breed from any other, making it highly desirable to its owners.
Bengal cat fur
Without thoroughly discussing their fur, no article about the Bengal cat would be complete. After all, their fur gives them their “wild” appearance, and their hair sets them apart, making even the casual cat enthusiast go “wow”! And the nice thing is the Bengal cat coat is thick and silky skin; you guessed it; it’s shorthaired as well. This means it will be easy to maintain and relatively hassle-free.
The really “cool” thing…
A Bengal cat’s coat is that while all of them will have the classic “spots” unique to this breed. These spots will be “randomly” placed throughout each cat’s coat, making each cat look amazing. Plus, these coats can also come in a variety of colors, including:
- Brown or seal mink tabby,
- Black silver tabby,
- Or a seal silver lynx point.
Bengals can also be marbled or even “glittered,” meaning their fur sparkles in the light as if brushed with gold dust! As mentioned, Bengals are easy to groom as they are shorthaired cats. Still, they are recommended indoors only or outdoors in an enclosure due to the high price of the cat – they are easily stolen by those who don’t want to pay thousands of dollars for a beautiful cat.
Temperament and Personality
Bengals are incredibly active and brilliant cats who can be pretty challenging to live with, mainly if you prefer cats that like to sleep all day! Now, for those of you who love super playful and active cats, we think you’ll find that the Bengal’s confidence and friendly attitude are pretty refreshing. We’re sure you’ll be impressed by how this cat always seems on “alert” and knows what’s happening anywhere within the house.
Bengals also love to play games, which is perfect for someone looking to adopt a cat who wants to be around and engage with their owner. But beware, if you can’t see yourself spending an hour or two playing with your cat daily, this might not be the “right” cat for you. In fact, like many dog breeds requiring a ton of attention, Bengal cats can become rather destructive if they aren’t getting the attention they need.
That said, however…
If giving up an hour or two each day to play with your cat sounds like fun, what you’ll find with the Bengal cat breed is that because they are so intelligent, you’ll be able to teach them all sorts of fun tricks, including playing fetch.
Did we mention that Bengal cats love water? If not, we should do so now because this is probably the second most “unique” thing about the Bengal cat breed. And by “love water,” we mean that this cat is not afraid of stepping into the shower with you, hopping in the tub, or even diving into your fish tank to grab a quick snack!
The Bengal is a perfect cat for children and cat-friendly dogs in family settings. They are smart enough to stay out of the way of toddlers who may not be able to respect a cat’s space yet, and school-age children (who know better than to pull tails) will find him fun and high energy.
Potential Health Concerns
While the Bengal cat breed is generally considered a “pretty” healthy cat breed because it is a pedigree cat, there are some medical conditions you do want to be aware of so that you can discuss these concerns with your Bengal cat breeder to ensure you are getting the “healthiest” kitten possible. Conditions such as:
- Flat-chested kitten syndrome,
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM),
- Distal neuropathy,
- Hip dysplasia,
- Patellar luxation,
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).
This is why, ultimately, if you decide that a Bengal cat will be the right cat for you, you want to be sure and take your time when finding a reputable breeder you can trust.
You’re also going to…
Do you wDo you want to do your due diligence about purchasing a pet insurance policy for your new loved one? This way, if your kitten does develop some illness or suffers from some kind of injury later on, you won’t be on the hook for 100% of their medical bills on your own.
For those seeking more information about how pet insurance policies work and how much they might cost, we advise you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Companies article, which highlights many of the pros and cons of owning these “types” of insurance policies.