You just saw Thor the Bengal cat and now you are interested in his breed. The Bengal cat, the breed to which Thor belongs, is without a doubt an interesting breed. How could it not? This breed looks like a wild cat outside. The inside is different, though. And you will know what that means shortly.
Here, we will tell you everything you need to know about the breed. From the history of the breed, size and appearance, personality, health and lifespan, care, and whether they can get along with children and other pets. Knowing all these should help you know what to expect if you adopt one. With no further ado, let’s get to know about this amazing breed.
A Brief History of the Breed
First, the origin. What is a Bengal cat? How did the Bengal get its large size and distinctive spotted coat? At first glance, you might wonder whether the Bengal is a wild cat. Well, that is not entirely wrong. The Bengal breed is created by Jean Sudgen Mill. It came to be through cross-breeding between a wild Asian leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) and a domestic cat.
The Bengal cat gets its name from its Asian leopard cat ancestor. The breed was developed to get the looks of a wild cat and the disposition of a domestic cat. In 1983, the Bengal was granted the breed experimental status by the International Cat Association. The breed was finally recognized in 1991 and later in 2005 received full championship status.
Bengal Cat: Size and Appearance
The wild look of the Bengal is not limited to its fur. If you compare a Bengal cat and the average domestic breed, you will notice that the Bengal is larger. How big does a Bengal cat get? On average, the male Bengals weigh about 15 pounds while the female Bengals weigh around 12 pounds.
Bengals, owing to their wild cat ancestry, are muscular and powerful. Their back legs are slightly longer than the front. As a result, they have a distinctive stride when they walk. Thanks to their long back legs, they can leap better than the average domestic cat breeds, too. Bengals have a rounder yet broader head than most cats.
Bengals have strong cheekbones, wide noses, and distinctive chins. Their eyes have an almost round oval shape. Compared to other cats’ eyes, the eyes of Bengals are set apart wider. Usually, there is a beautiful dark outline as well. Bengals have varying eyes color, with most being shades of green. Their ears are small to medium.
What about fur? One of the things that make a Bengal cat attractive is its fur. That’s not a surprise. Why? Well, because Bengals have very, very luxurious fur. The fur is short, silky, and dense. And yes, these amazing cats usually have either marbled patterns or spots on their body. Some Bengal have solid spots, some others have leopard-like spots. There are some Bengals that have both.
Have you ever seen Bengal cat mix tabby? The color of Bengals varies greatly, from black or brown tabby colors to various shades of brown. The color can vary from pale to almost gray. Of course, these are not the only color of the breed. There are Bengals that have vivid golds fur, too.
Other fur varieties can also be found in other Bengal variants like the Snow Bengal and the Silver Bengal. The Snow Bengal has cream, ivory, or tan fur with brown stripes and/or some darker spots. The Silver Bengal tend to have pale gray- to almost white-colored fur with dark gray to deep black patterns.
Bengal Cat: Personality
The Bengal does have the disposition of a domestic cat. The breed, however, has the personality of their other ancestors: wild cats. This is the reason why the Bengals are not suitable for some people. The Bengals are not the kind of cats that enjoy basking in the sun all day long. They are active and energetic.
The Bengals inherit the athleticism, energy, and intelligence of its wild ancestors. It is not a surprise that this breed is considered to be the most intelligent domestic cat. Their intelligent and inquisitive nature can be difficult, especially for people who are not prepared to have such kind pets. If you have a Bengal cat, don’t be surprised if it opens the drawers and doors in your house.
In a way, you can say that the personalities of the Bengals are more like a dog than a cat. They need to exercise and play throughout the day. If there is one thing that you can be sure of Bengals, that will be the fact that they never tired of playing.
As energetic and intelligent as they are, the breed still has the disposition of a domestic cat. In fact, most Bengals are very affectionate, friendly, and loving toward their owner. That being said, do not expect a Bengal to spend most of their time cuddling or snuggling. That just won’t happen. Bengals show their love differently.
Another personality trait that makes Bengals different from other domestic cats is that they love water. You can bring them to the bathroom easily. You can even expect it to want to take a shower. In case you have a fish tank in your house, close it and close it really tight. Believe us, a Bengal cat and a fish tank is a bad combination.
Bengals are talkative. They really love to talk. And when they want something, they can be rather demanding. They meow loudly and are not shy about it. Most Bengals use meowing and/or catcalls to communicate their needs to their owners.
Health and Lifespan
In general, Bengals are healthy. However, some Bengals suffer from the following diseases
1. Distal neuropathy
This disease is a nervous system disorder. It causes weakness in cats. Distal neuropathy can occur on Bengals as early as 1 year of age. Many Bengals recover from this disease on their own but a few may relapse.
2. Flat-chested kitten syndrome (FCKS)
FCKS is a deformity caused by lung collapse. Kittens who have FCKS develop a compression of the chest. In general, kittens who survive to adulthood do not show signs once they reach maturity.
3. Hip dysplasia
It is a degenerative disease that causes a malformation of the hip joints. Hip dysplasia can cause stiffness and pain. In severe cases, it can even cause lameness.
4. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
A form of heart disease which causes an abnormal thickening of a cat’s heart.
5. Patellar luxation
A disease wherein the kneecap is dislocated. Patellar luxation is a hereditary disease. It can range from mild to severe.
6. Progressive retinal atrophy
It is a degenerative eye disease affecting photoreceptor cells. The affected cat’s photoreceptor cells deteriorate over time, which eventually leads to blindness.
How long does this breed live? The lifespan of a Bengal cat is between 10 and 15 years on average. Sufficient exercise, a healthy diet, and normal weight can help to extend the lifespan of the breed as they grow closer to their teen years.
Caring for a Bengal cat is easy. To care for the short, thick coat, just comb it on weekly basis. This will distribute skin oils and remove dead hair. As for a bath, it is rarely necessary for Bengals. To prevent periodontal disease, brush the teeth of the cat. Daily brushing is best although weekly brushing is fine too.
For the nails, trim them every couple of weeks or so. To clean their eyes, prepare a soft, damp cloth and use it to wipe the corners of the eyes. This will remove any discharge. When you wipe the corners of your cat’s eyes, use a different area of the cloth to minimize the risk of spreading infection.
For the ears, check them every week. If the ears look dirty, prepare a soft, damp cloth or a cotton ball moistened with a mixture of warm water and cider vinegar. The ratio of the mixture should be 50:50 or half water and half cider vinegar. Don’t use cotton swabs as they can damage the ear’s interior.
Cats, including Bengals, are very particular about bathroom hygiene. This is why you should keep their litter box clean all the time. If the box is dirty, your cat may look for other places as a replacement. Of course, you don’t want that to happen. Just clean the litter box regularly and this shouldn’t be a problem.
If you own a Bengal cat, it is best to keep it indoors. Why? Because if your cat is indoor-only, it will be from
- diseases which other cats may carry and spread
- attacks by dogs
- other dangers like being hit by a car
Other reasons why you’d want to keep your Bengal indoor is to protect small animals, local birds, and other wildlife. Remember, Bengals are avid hunters. It wouldn’t be difficult for them to hunt for other animals like birds.
A Bengal cat can be trained to walk on a leash. So if you want to take them outdoor, you can first train your cat to wear a leash. This way, your cat remains a house cat while at the same time provides them the activities they need. Not to mention both of you can enjoy the outdoors, too.
Children and Other Pets
Bengals are loving creatures. They are active and social. That is why a Bengal cat makes a great choice for families with children. Bengals will love to learn trick (and they do so quickly!), play fetch, and love the attention children give to them provided the children do so carefully and with respect.
Bengals can be a good friend for cat-friendly dogs, too. Nothing really scares Bengals, not even dogs. Bengals will happily befriend dogs if the dogs don’t give them any trouble. So if you already have a dog, the best thing you can do is to slowly introduce the Bengal. Do the introduction in a controlled environment.
Although a Bengal cat can be a loving pet, they still have their hunter instinct. Never forget this. As such, you can never trust them with other smaller pets. If you have other pets like smaller rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, or other, distance them from the cat. Make sure they are beyond the cat’s range and give them proper protection.
Bengal Cat & Savannah Cat: Are They the Same?
No, they are not the same. Bengals and Savannahs are two different cat breeds although they do have wild cats as their ancestors. The Bengal is a cross between an Asian Leopard Cat and a domestic cat, while the Savannah is a cross between an African Serval and a domestic cat.
It is easy to mistake a Bengal cat with a Savannah cat, especially for untrained eyes. They, after all, do look alike. The two are breeds that have a wild cat look with all those spots and fur color. If you look closely, you will find they are different in many ways.
Appearance-wise, here are how the two breeds differ:
- Medium-size cats
- Short, muscular builds
- Wide and rounded ears
- Leopard-like rosettes
- Large-size cats
- Long-legged with lean, athletic builds
- Large, tall ears
- Cheetah-like bold spots
Savannahs do look larger than other domestic cats, Bengals included. But this is rather due to their slender bodies and longer legs. These traits give the appearance of a larger size. So yes, they are larger but not that much.
In terms of personality, Bengals and Savannahs are similar. They both make a great companion. They will greet you as you come home and follow you around, from room to room. Although they are similar when it comes to companionship, how the two breeds express their affection is different.
Bengals, for example, are more suitable for people who like a lap cat. Try to put a Savannah on your lap and it will probably jump down. Savannahs show their love by head-butting. They are notorious head-butters, after all.
So, what do you think? Isn’t Bengal cat a very interesting breed? It looks like a wild cat on the outside but is actually a wonderful pet on the inside. If you like a cat that is active and playful, this breed should suit you well. If, however, you want a cat that likes to lay around sunbathing inside the house, then you shouldn’t adopt this breed.