Bengal Cat Breed Information
The Bengal was the 18th most popular cat breed in 2018 according to the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA). They are known for their distinctive coats, and are the only domestic breed of cat whose markings can closely resemble those of Jaguars and Leopards. If you’re curious about what it’s like to have a Bengal, here’s what you need to know.
A Little History
Bengals were first bred between 1960 and 1980 by crossing domestic cats with wild Asian Leopards. They are the only breed acknowledged by the CFA to come from a wild cat. While many hybrids are bred for aesthetic purposes, these felines were bred for science. Dr. Willard Centerwall of Loyala University sought to pass the Asian Leopard’s feline leukemia immunity onto domestic breeds. Many in the cat fancy community opposed mixing wild and domestic breeds. With time, some accredited the breed as early as the 1980s. However, the CFA took much longer, and even today maintains a non-championship class solely for Bengals.
What are Bengals Like?
Bengals are medium- to large-size cats with long muscular builds. The tips of their small ears are rounded, and their wide, round eyes are accentuated by a dark lining. Their soft coat is peppered with high-contrast, Leopard-like markings, with rosettes which marble or align to form a half-circle. Most Bengals have black or brown spots; however, some have white spots.
Breeders track generations with an “F” followed by the number of crosses in the series (F1 is first generation, F2 is second, and so on). F1 Bengals are the product of a domestic breed with an Asian Leopard. F2 Bengals are bred by crossing two F1 Bengals. Because of their feral heritage, many municipalities place restrictions on owning early generation Bengals. Likewise, many breeders do not place Bengals with the general public unless they are fourth generation or later.
Among the most playful and energetic of cat breeds, the Bengal does well with children, and enjoys the company of humans. They can be timid with new people, and although they are not usually described as lap cats, they are known for affectionate personalities. Their wild heritage carries an innate instinct to hunt both land and water creatures, so don’t be surprised if your Bengal makes a habit of playing in water, or even going for a swim.
Caring for Bengals
Despite their ancestry, Bengals love the indoors. With a short, smooth coat, you won’t need to brush or bathe your Bengal very often. An occasional nail trimming will help to keep your Bengal comfortable. As with any pet, you should routinely brush their teeth to avoid dental disease. Use a warm damp cloth to clean their eyes, using a separate portion for each eye to avoid cross-contamination. You should also check and clean their ears regularly.
Most Bengals live between 12 to 16 years, and are prone to conditions such as hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and patellar luxation1. Visit your veterinarian regularly to monitor for health concerns. Your vet may recommend that your Bengal go without certain vaccinations given their natural resilience to certain illnesses.
Breeders charge anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 for Bengal kittens depending upon several variables (pedigree, gender, location, etc.). You’ll also need to spend around $1,000 for supplies, food, and initial veterinary expenses in the first year. Each year after that, you should expect to expend at least $500 annually on veterinary expenses.
Surgery to treat hip dysplasia can cost upward of $7,000, while surgery to correct patellar luxation can cost anywhere between $1,200 to $2,500. With a pet insurance policy from 4Paws Insurance, pet parents can focus more on important veterinary decisions and worry less about the cost.
Comments from our Chief Pet Officer
Bengals are very intelligent, agile, and friendly cats. If you are expecting a cat to shy away from water, you will be fooled by this breed. The felines will jump in a shower, or play with water in a sink. They love to retrieve and follow you around, much like a puppy. They are known to be chatty, but do not expect a Bengal to lay in your lap. While they are very social and enjoy the company of human, they are smart enough to stay away from toddlers.