Bengals are strikingly beautiful cats. Originating from the breeding of domestic cats with Asian leopard cats, Bengals often look like “little leopards” and come in spotted and marbled patterns. The standard Bengal colors are brown, silver, seal lynx point, mink and sepia, and nonstandard colors include blue and melanistic. While many future owners are first attracted to their cat by its looks, there are some things you should know before you buy or adopt a Bengal cat. The advice I offer here comes from my experience as a Bengal owner and a Bengal rescue volunteer.
Bengals are more mischievous than your average cat.
I own a domestic (“regular”) housecat and Bengals, and there is no doubt that the Bengals get themselves into a lot more trouble than my domestic cat. Bengals often love high places, and I find mine parading along the top of my very tall kitchen cabinets.
With Bengals, common household items are prey. One of my cats, Maggie, grabbed a zip-top bag of bacon bits off my counter and trotted through my living room with it in her mouth, then took off running when I tried to get it from her. My Bengals have chewed their way into bags of raw meat sitting on the kitchen counter, and one took the seal from my blender out of the sink and toted it around the house. Maggie chewed all the fur off a toy mouse and then ate it. My domestic cat is typically much more reserved than this. If you don’t want a “troublemaker,” then the Bengal is probably not for you.
Not all Bengals are big.
When I talked to applicants wishing to adopt a Bengal cat, they often believe that Bengals are very large cats. While this can be true in some cases, many Bengals are small. They may be tall and long but are often lean. My largest Bengal, a boy, weighs about nine pounds.
They don’t all LOVE water.
Applicants I talk with are often excited to have a cat who loves water, and they’ve read stories about Bengals who get in the shower with their owners. None of my Bengals has shown this level of affection for water, although they are intrigued by toilets flushing and faucets running. Their main fascination with water is knocking over every glass of water I leave sitting around.
Bengals are not usually lap cats.
If you’re looking for a pet that will sit in your lap while you watch TV, you may need to pass on a Bengal. They like to be near “their people,” and mine often sit or sleep in the room where I am located. But often, they are too busy chasing each other, watching birds or attacking a toy to lounge in my lap. They also are not fond of being held, but most enjoy being petted, talked to and played with.
Bengals can be loud.
Owners may hear the “Bengal yowl,” a loud call for attention, coming from the other side of the house when kitty is ready for food or attention or shut behind a closed door.
Toilet paper is a target.
Some Bengals have a fascination for toilet paper. They may unroll and shred as many rolls as they can find out in the open.
Litter goes everywhere.
You’ll think they’re trying to dig their way to another continent when you see the amount of cat litter Bengals sling around. Use a large plastic storage box with high sides instead of a traditional litterbox to minimize messes.
Bengals are a blast.
After all the notes about their naughty behavior, you may wonder why anyone would own a Bengal. The truth is they are highly intelligent, fascinating companions who will melt your heart, despite all their antics. If you’re ready to add one to your home, visit the Petfinder Web site to see a list of cats in need of forever families.
Sources used for this story:
The International Bengal Cat Society: The Bengal Cat