The Bengal

A complete breed guide

Last Updated 2 AUG 2019

This breed profile is written by our in-house veterinarian, Dr. Carla Paszkowski BVSc.

Once a relatively unknown variety, this beautiful leopard-like breed is gaining popularity in recent times. Most recognisable for their distinctive spotted or marble coat, the Bengal is often described as resembling a pint-sized leopard (which makes them very instagrammable!). Many find the novelty of owning a jungle cat that fits into your home (and will not eat you!) just too cool to resist.

We've put together a complete guide with everything you need to know before adopting a Bengal cat. If you need any further info, check out our Discover education portal or our complimentary Ask a Vet service.

Contents:

1. At a glance

2. History

3. Personality

4. Distinguishing Features

5. Nutritional Requirements

6. Commnon Health Problems

7. Five Fun Facts about Bengals

Further reading

1. The Bengal: At a Glance

The Bengal
Place of origin: Life Expectancy: Other names:
India / United States 12 to 16 years 'Leopard Cat'
Energy level: Tendency to vocalise: Coat colours:
Very active High Typically rosette spotted pattern in brown, snow, silver, blue, or less commonly chocolate, charcoal or cinnamon.
Coat type: Size: Coat markings:
Short, straight 4.5-6.8kg (males), 3.6-5.4kg (females) Short, soft, and sleek with distinctive fur patterns (spotted or marbled)
Shedding factor: Overall grooming needs: Temperament:
Low to average Low maintenance Mischievous, intelligent, vocal, fun, high-energy, and very playful. Highly intelligent and easy to train. Affectionate and often form a strong bond with one single person in the household. Usually love water.

2. History

Originally created by crossing a wild Asian leopard cat with a domestic shorthair, the Bengal first originated in the United States in the 1970s. As Asian leopard cats were found to be resistant to feline leukaemia virus, researchers at Loyola University were keen to integrate this gene into hybrid offspring and discover whether the trait could be passed on. Due to their genetic traits and unique beauty, breeders became interested in these cats and started to breed the hybrids as an attempt to harness the beauty of a wild cat, with the temperament of a domestic cat. The Bengal was fully recognised as a breed by the International Cat Association in 1991.

3. Personality

The Bengal is an athletic, agile and graceful breed with a tendency to be highly active, mischievous and full of energy. Bengal cats are confident, very talkative, friendly, and known for being always alert. They like to be up high, surveying their kingdom and jumping from ledge to ledge (so a tall cat tree is a must!)

Their high level of intelligence means they require lots of mental stimulation. They thrive on games and puzzles - and boredom is often the cause of their notorious mischief! These guys will need to keep their buzzing minds busy with a whole lot of interactive toys.

A clever breed with a keen motivation for food, the Bengal is typically quite easy to train. Many Bengal owners even train their kitty to walk on a leash and harness.

Bengals are often fond of playing in water. They are known for jumping into the bathtub or forcing their way into the shower to enjoy a splash with their hooman. Beware if you have an aquarium or koi pond at home, as these guys love a sneaky splash-filled fish hunt!

Best toys and accessories for Bengal cats

Catit Senses Super Roller Circuit

Ideal for playful intelligent cats like the Bengal, the Catit Senses Roller Circuit is interactive and will keep any indoor cat entertained for hours.

Frolicat Bolt

This interactive Laser toy provides a moving laser to chase, which helps tap into the Bengal's keen inner hunting instincts.

Cat Harnesses

Due to their intelligence and ability to be trained, the Bengal is the perfect cat for teaching how to walk on a lead and harness.

Go Cat Go Teaser Snakey

Teasers can help your cat exercise their body and mind. The fluffy streamers on these teasers help kick in natural instincts and encourage play.

4. Distinguishing features

There are generally two basic coat patterns for the Bengal: the spotted pattern and the swirly marbled pattern. A number of different variations on these two patterns can be seen. The characteristic 'rosettes' (spots with a darker colour outlining a lighter colour) might be present which look similar to a Jaguar's spots - however some varieties of Bengals have non-rosetted spots, similar to a leopard.

Bengal coats may present in a wide spectrum of colours - including Brown, Snow, Silver, Blue, and the less common chocolate, charcoal and cinnamon.

Bengals usually have a clear 'M' within the markings on their forehead. Their head is relatively small compared to their body, and their back legs are slightly longer than their front legs.


5. Nutritional Requirements

The Bengal cat may be a unique breed, but is still taxonomically within the domestic feline species. This means their nutritional demands don't differ too much from other cats. A kitten diet is required until they are fully grown, which may be slightly older than 12 months of age due to the Bengal being a slightly larger sized breed. Because they are prone to being active, your vet may recommend a diet for active cats.

Feeding regular wet food meals along with dry kibble is a simple way to increase your Bengal's water intake to ensure adequate hydration and help support urinary tract health.

Top food for adult Bengals

Advance Adult Itchy Cat

This Australian made formula contains nutrients to support the skin, including beneficial ocean fish, while being lower in calories to help prevent weight gain.

Ziwi Peak Wet Cat Food

Formulated with a high meat content and natural formula, this New Zealand-made cat food is high in protein and great for active, carnivorous Bengals.

Feline Natural Cat Food

This premium quality, high-meat cat food is available in cans (pictured) or freeze-dried formulas. The natural ingredients and a high meat content are perfect for active Bengals.

Royal Canin Fit

Created specifically for active cats, Royal Canin Fit is a great option for Bengals who venture outdoors and live an active lifestyle.

6. Common Health Problems

The Bengal is quite a healthy breed, but they can be prone to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (a heart disease), and chronic anaemia. Other less common ailments include distal neuropathy, flat-chested kitten syndrome, patellar luxation, and hip dysplasia.

7. Five Fun facts about the Bengal:

  • Being highly intelligent and courageous, Bengals are great with dogs but don't fare so well with small pets that they might consider prey, such as mice, rats, rabbits, and guinea pigs.
  • Bengals absolutely love being up high, and are excellent climbers. They can jump up to three times their height - so never assume that any shelf is out of reach!
  • Bengals can learn to play fetch, walk on a lead, and even turn on and off light switches.
  • Bengals are extremely talkative, and have a wide range of vocalisations. From low moans to high pitched chirps, these kitties love conversations!
  • Bengals aren't cheap to buy - a kitten can cost anywhere from $1500 to $5000 depending on the colour variant.