The Bengal is a sleek, muscular cat with a wild appearance, enhanced by the bold marbling and spotting on their thick, luxurious coat. Despite their striking appearance, physically there is nothing extreme about their build or structure, as this is a well-balanced cat without any exaggerated features, smallish ears, wedge shaped head, neat paws and athletic outline.
Need to know
- Benefits from an experienced owner
- Needs high-level of enrichment including simulated hunting games and interactive play
- Highly active and inquisitive cat
- Independent but friendly
- Slightly talkative cat
- Lean and elegant cat
- Requires grooming once a week
- Needs extensive outdoor space
- Can be regularly left for a few hours
- Key Facts
Lifespan: 10 - 16 years
Weight: 3.6 - 7.7kg
Colours: Bengal cats come in come with a spotted marble coat in brown, silver and snow.
Tendency to Vocalise: 2/5
Likes Other Pets: 5/5
Grooming needs: 2/5
Bengals make fabulous pets for experienced cat owners who love an active, curious and dog-like cat - and can keep them entertained with toys, games and plenty of environmental enrichment. No matter their appeal, if you are after a cat who lies around looking decorative and stays out of the way, the Bengal is not for you! They are into everything, highly amused by simple things such as a dripping tap or flowing water (watch them for knocking your water glass over to see the water spill!), they adore human company and will play for hours if you are willing - and even if you aren’t! This is not really a lap cat; they are simply too busy with stuff and things to want to settle on your lap for long. Although not typically a noisy cat, the Bengal is capable of a loud and strident cry when things are not going their way or they feel they are lacking attention.
History and Origins
Country of Origin: USA
The Bengal is a relatively modern cat, developed in the 1990s in the USA by crossing the Asian Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis; a small, strikingly marked wild cat from Southwest Asia) with the domestic tabby cats and other short haired breeds such as the Abyssinian, Burmese, and Egyptian Mau. The original objective was to produce a pet cat with a sweet nature and resembling miniature leopard, as an alternative to dissuade people from keeping wild cats as pets. Prospective owners of Bengal kittens should note the ‘F number’, which indicates how many generations the kittens are away from the first cross. Be aware that a F1 (first cross between the wild cat and the domestic cat) requires a Dangerous Wild Animal Licence in the UK, however F2 onwards does not.
Outdoors or Indoors
The Bengal would love to be an outdoor cat, however given their territorial nature with animals they have not been raised with, their speed, athleticism and taste for mayhem, it isn’t safe to unleash your Bengal on the wider world, or your neighbours. Provide a cat secure garden or large outdoor cat run full of enrichment and various heights to give your Bengal some outdoor time unless you live deep in the countryside without close neighbours or busy roads.
Enrichment and Specific Needs
Such active and intelligent cats need to be given plenty to do, or they will amuse themselves in ways you may well not appreciate. A bored Bengal can easily turn to amusing themselves with hunting and predatory play - with other animals and humans often becoming their unwilling entertainment! Provide cat trees to give climbing opportunities, allow access to windows so they can supervise what is going on, feed from food dispensing toys and puzzles, and be ready to play with your Bengal for long hours. They can be social if introduced to other cats and family pets but do beware that two Bengals does not equal less work – if one Bengal can cause a bit of drama, two could cause absolute mayhem with a side order of chaos!
Nutrition and Feeding
Every cat is unique, and each has their own particular likes, dislikes, and needs when it comes to food. However, cats are carnivores, and every cat must obtain 41 different and specific nutrients from their food. The proportion of these nutrients will vary depending on age, lifestyle and overall health, so it's not surprising that a growing, energetic kitten needs a different balance of nutrients in her diet than a less active senior cat. Other considerations to bear in mind are feeding the right quantity of food to maintain 'ideal body condition' in accordance with feeding guidelines and catering to individual preference regarding wet or dry food recipes.
Suitability for Family Life
If you have a good sense of humour, a large home and older or animal friendly children who can respect a cat’s space, the Bengal makes an entertaining companion. If you prefer a cat who lies about looking decorative, is quiet and undemanding then the Bengal is really not the cat for you!