Living With a Bengal

So what is it like to live with a Bengal?

People are always asking that question in one way or another. Well as you’ve undoubtedly heard over and over, Bengal’s are not like any other cat. There is a lot of truth to that of course but the fact is in most ways they are exactly like every cat. They are as a group though smarter, faster, more active, more confident and of course prettier.

Bengal playing in the water

Young male Bengal playing in the water

I will discuss their personality from couple of angles. The males vs. female Bengal and the various traits that are common to both. Please understand there are often significant variations in personality from cat to cat and generalizations are just that and cannot be considered any type of rule. The manner in which the breeder, as well as the new owner, socializes the animal will also result in large variations, even aberrations, in personality.

The Female Bengal

The female of the species is typically a very confident curious animal that takes a great interest not just her surroundings, but the finer details of those surroundings. Her extreme confidence makes her seem a bit reckless but as you spend time with her you realize that is mostly an illusion. She comes to inspect every visitor, sits and watches your every move for hours, checks out everything you touch and generally displays a tremendous interest in everything. She is also very kind, gentle and loving. I personally find the female to be the best choice for a family with children.

Bengal looking regal and proud

The Bengal looks as Regal and proud as any breed

The Male Bengal

Well what can I say about male Bengal’s In my experience the male can be confident but cautious, aggressive but gentle, aloof at times and the greatest suck up I’ve ever experienced at others. He is a walking contradiction, he is the alpha male. Where the female uses her wit’s and athletic abilities he will often try to muscle his way though things.

Common Traits

These are very social animals and that is at least partially the result of the Bengal breeding program. As mentioned elsewhere, Bengal’s have been held to a higher standard, both temperament and personality wise, by judges at cat shows. This has lead to breeders giving a lot of attention to these traits when choosing which cat to include in their program. Being the most registered cat in TICA, and hence one the most popular show cats, its obvious that the breeders have done a wonderful job of instilling a friendly non combative personality into the breed.

Another angle to give you some insight into their personalities is to describe the personality traits of the individual breeds used to produce the foundation Bengal. The Bengal we all love today is generally the result of Bengal to Bengal breeding. In the beginning though it was the result of crossings of the Asian Leopard Cat with the Egyptian Maus , Abyssinian, Ocicat, and domestic shorthaired cats.

cats love printers

Printing documents can be a pain with a house full of Bengals

The Asian Leopard Cat
or ALC, are a small solitary secretive jungle/bush cat that is considered to be a non-aggressive animal. They are nocturnal for the most part and usually only pair up to mate.

In the wild they are not very vocal but vocalization, like with most small wildcats, seems to increase the more they they socialize with humans. There are videos of ALC’s calling for a mate and it is a very odd guttural trilling sound. We have little actual documentation of ALC vocalizing but there is no question that they can and do make some very odd sounds for a cat.

They are as genetically vibrant, strong, smart and healthy as one would expect from wild animals. The two things that that the ALC passed on to the Bengal are a high level of intelligence and of course their spectacular looks.

The Egyptian or Indian Maus
are an extremely intelligent, confident and active breed that often possess very musical voices. They can be extremely talkative and are known to chirp, trill, chortle and make many other unusual noises when stimulated or sometime when bored.

The Abyssinian
are quite an active out going cat commonly described as friendly and playful and somewhat dog-like. They typically adopt one person in the household and form a strong bond with them. They are active and can get bored, even depressed, if they don’t get enough attention. Abyssinians enjoy heights and will often look for the highest perch in a room. They are highly intelligent, and very independent.

The Ocicat
are a very outgoing breed that is considered to have a great many dog like traits. Most can easily be trained to fetch, walk on a leash and harness, come when called, speak, sit, lie down on command and a large array of other dog-related tricks. Some even take readily to the water. Ocicat’s are very friendly and generally get along well with animals of other species. Ocicat’s require more attention than cats who aren’t so people-oriented.

The domestic shorthaired
is the cat most of us grew up with, the non breed if you will. It is the common cat and it varies in appearance from place to place. There is no specific personality trait I will point out but just think of every common free short haired cat you have ever encountered and for the most part that is the domestic short hair.

This video from YouTube isn’t quite a 100% on the history and native range of the Bengal but gives a pretty good description of the personality.

If I were to pick the traits out of these breeds that survived, and in some cases were enhanced in this breed, my list would be as follows

  • highly intelligent
  • very communicative with a musical voice
  • fearlessly curious
  • extremely social
  • likes everyone but usually forms a tight bond with one person
  • very out going and confident
  • very trainable
  • dog like in some ways
  • very active
  • require a great deal of interaction and attention

 

So that should give you an idea of what they are like, but what is it like to live with them? It’s pretty amazing all things considered. For a start it’s certainly nice to bring a kitten into the home that already has impeccable litter box habits ( they are trained by their mothers ).

It is also nice that they don’t shed fur like a conventional domestic. Their fur is also the softest thing you will ever touch and many people that display mild allergies to cats have no symptoms when around Bengal’s They are sometimes referred to as an hypoallergenic cat. (see the misconceptions page for details)

Kitten is all ears and eyes

This Bengal kitten is all ears and eyes.

Bengal kittens have been amazing as far as allowing us to sleep. We both grew up in cat families and went though the ownership of many cats ourselves. (till we realized it was irresponsible to allow them outside) A new kitten can be an absolute nightmare on your nightly sleep. Our Bengal’s have generally adopted our sleep patterns. That could largely be due to me being self employed. I’m at home off and on throughout the day so they are awake most of the day. What ever the reason its GREAT!

You have to learn a few things yourself. For instance we quickly learned to always close the lid on the toilet and to get a very heavy water bowl. Even then we have to place that bowel onto, or inside of, a larger container to catch the water. They have this thing for water. It varies from cat to cat but we have a male that insists on trying to scoop the water out of any container. Given the chance, which he doesn’t get if we have anything to do with it, he will crawl into the toilet. While the others might gather to watch the tub fill he will jump in and play in it till its up to his belly.

As kittens and young adults they will often ignore you … their a cat 🙂 but as they grow older they will start to come when called. That said if you move anything in your home or do anything even slightly out of the ordinary they will be right there watching everything with a burning intensity.

They are a bad choice for households where no one is home most of the day. Bringing a Bengal into a home where it will not receive enough attention and stimulation is asking for behavioral problems. If you wish to share your home with one of these amazing companions but will not be able to supply the required attention then you should get two so they can entertain themselves.

If you wish to live with a Bengal you really need to make sure you are willing to commit to it. These cats form incredibly strong family bonds and in many cases never fully recover from having that bond broken. It is down right cruel to enter into this relationship lightly and then walk away later.

If you are willing to make that commitment you will be well rewarded. Sharing your home with a companion of this caliber is an interesting and entertaining experience. While Bengal’s start off cute, they grow into gorgeous wild appearing adults and they mature into proud sophisticated wise friends