IS A BENGAL CAT THE PET FOR ME?
The Bengal cat is a unique domestic cat descended from the Asian Leopard
Cat. This gives them some special characteristics. Some questions to
consider to help you decide if a Bengal cat is the right pet for you:
Do you want an active, vocal cat? Bengals are very active and can be
quite vocal. Most would not be considered 'lap' cats. As a general
rule, most Bengals do not like to sit around and cuddle.
Do you want a cat that looks like a little leopard? One of the
recognized Bengal cat colors is the brown spotted leopard.
Do you have time to keep up with the needs of a Bengal cat? Bengals
are fastidious and particular about their litter boxes. The litter
box must be cleaned frequently or they will no longer use it. They
are also very active and curious and creative about getting into
things and up into high places.
Do you have time to carefully watch the diet of a Bengal cat? Some
Bengals have sensitive stomachs and require a stable, balanced diet
of high quality cat food. Sometimes more meat than a normal domestic
cat is required.
Are you willing to 'cat-proof' your home for a Bengal cat? Bengals
are very active and love to run, jump, and climb. They will get on
your shelves and knock over your knick-knacks. They will climb up
your curtains and sit on the top of your door frames. They will
learn how to turn lights on and off and how to open doors. Unrolling
toilet paper is a favorite game.
Stillmeadow Bengals will stay in touch with new owners should
questions come up; our goal is to have Stillmeadow Bengals in
wonderful, forever homes with satisfied owners.
Owning a Bengal cat- or any animal- is a lifelong commitment. A sad
fact of life is that circumstances may change, forcing owners to
give up a beloved pet, as in the members of our military when they
are assigned overseas. Or the owner who develops life-threatening
allergies. Or the renter who must move to a new place that does not
accept pets. Or, saddest of all, the person who simply says, "we
just don't want him anymore." As a result, these animals may be
dropped off in shelters or abandoned. Fortunately, there is an
active group of dedicated volunteers who help find these misplaced
Bengal cats new homes. Volunteers and foster parents are always welcome.
The Bengal Rescue Network for more information.
INTRODUCING THE NEW
BENGAL INTO THE HOUSEHOLD
The Bengal cat is a unique cat, combining the beauty and intelligence of
the Asian Leopard Cat with the desirable qualities of the domestic cat.
Their inherited confidence when facing new situations helps them adapt
quickly to new situations. The Bengal cat is cautious but usually not
fearful. When given time to size up a situation, they will usually
stroll in to investigate. At our home, our Bengals are raised underfoot
as part of the family. This makes them desire human companionship.
The following steps can help ease the
transition of your new kitten to your home:
The new Bengal kitten will be scared
from the ride to his new home and feeling lonely. Be patient and
give him lots of love and attention. It is exciting to have a new
kitten but visitors should be limited at first because it can be
overwhelming to the kitten.
At first, keep your new kitten
isolated in a small area such as a bedroom or bathroom. Have a box
with soft bedding or some other type of bed where he can ‘escape’
and hide if he feels scared. The kitten will come out as he feels
more secure. A litter box, water dish and dry kitten food need to be
close. Use the same litter and food as he had in the past. This is
kitten should be introduced to the other household pets slowly and
NEVER before an initial vet check. It is best to have a barrier
between the new kitten and other pets for two weeks. This gives him
a chance to adjust to the new home, time to eat and use the litter
box without feeling threatened by other resident pets, and keeps him
from being exposed to the new germs that the household pets carry.
Your new Bengal may sniff and play with your other pets under the
door. This is a good way to let them get acquainted. Placing your
new Bengal in a pet carrier and putting it where the other animals
may investigate it is another way to let the household pets meet one
If you have cats already, they may not
want the newcomer to use their litter box and eat from their bowls,
so the new kitten will need one of his own. As a general rule, you
should have one more litter box than the total number of cats in the
household. See LITTER BOXES FOR BENGALS.
A new home can be a confusing maze at
first. Gradually take him on trips through the house, until he
learns how to find his way around.
Young children should be supervised at
all times around the new kitten. They can inadvertently hurt or
scare the kitten.
As your kitten becomes comfortable in his new home, he will begin to
explore and play. This is when he can get into quite a bit of
mischief. Bengals like to be up high and are excellent climbers and
jumpers. They are VERY athletic. It may be necessary to pack away
some of the knick-knacks and delicate valuables on display.
Unrolling the toilet paper and then shredding it is especially fun.
It is important to provide him with toys and a cat tree so he does
not play with forbidden objects and does not scratch the furniture
(see TOYS FOR YOUR BENGAL CAT).
HEALTHCARE FOR THE BENGAL CAT
Your new kitten should be checked by your veterinarian within 72 hours
of receipt of the kitten.
This is for your protection, as well as
ours and the kitten.
The kitten vaccinations have been started.
See his medical record for the list of vaccines already given.
Bengals require the same vaccinations as a domestic cat.
Vaccines may make a kitten feel lethargic
or feverish for 24 hours after innoculation. At the initial vet check,
your vet should set up a schedule for boosters. Generally, a kitten
receives three boosters, about 3-4 weeks apart, then annually
thereafter. This series starts between six and eight weeks. A
rabies vaccination is given around 16 weeks although this may vary by
state. FeLV and FIP immunizations should be considered carefully
and discussed with your vet. If your cat is kept indoors, and never
exposed to other cats, these vaccinations may not be necessary. If
you have cats that roam freely outdoors, you may wish to vaccinate your
kitten against these serious diseases. Your vet should be able to help
you decide whether or not these vaccinations are necessary.
The litter of kittens is checked for worms
during their first visit to the vet at around 8 weeks; however, your vet
will probably want to do an examination for parasites. Some parasitic
worms are common in animals, but easily treated. An examination will
also include a check for fleas, ticks and ear mites, common external
A kitten get get sick quickly due to his
small size and developing immune system. Any signs of illness must be
taken seriously. Contact your vet immediately if the kitten
develops any of the following: diarrhea or bloody stools, vomiting, loss
of appetite, sneezing or runny nose, fever, coughing, weepy or swollen
eyes, patches of hair loss, rash, itching ears, or listlessness, or
behavior out of the ordinary.
FEEDING THE BENGAL CAT
Most Bengals can eat the same food as
other breeds of cats. A high quality pet food is highly recommended.
Bengal cats can have sensitive stomachs and any changes in diet must be
made very slowly to avoid causing stomach upset and diarrhea. He should
remain on the same food he had previously for several weeks while he is
adjusting to his new environment. Meat should be the main ingredient of
the kitten food whenever possible. Try to avoid corn/corn fillers. Do
not give your kitten table scraps or milk, no matter how tempting. This
can cause stomach upset and diarrhea. He can remain on kitten food for a
year. There must always be a readily available source of fresh water for
There are many schools of thought as to
the best food for your Bengal cat. The internet is filled with
Bengal owners feed meat in addition to the cat's regular diet. Others
feed meat exclusively. Some breeders feel that Bengals are allergic to
corn and/or corn fillers. Many avoid dry cat food altogether. What works
best for you and your Bengal may not be the best for another Bengal due
to individual differences and availability of various cat foods.
Research into this subject is recommended. Just remember- always make
changes in diet slowly, mixing the new food into the old food in tiny
amounts to see how it will be tolerated.
LITTER BOXES FOR THE BENGAL
Bengal kittens are taught by their mothers
to use the litter box, so your kitten will be trained when he arrives.
Remember that in a new environment, the kitten may not be able to find
the litter box alone. He is very small and your home is confusing
at first, especially if there are several levels. This is why your
Bengal kitten should be restricted to a small area at first (see
INTRODUCING YOUR NEW BENGAL INTO YOUR HOUSEHOLD). Soon he will learn his
way around. If you have a multi-stored home, you may wish to have a
litter box on each level.
uncovered box is an excellent choice. Some kittens are afraid to go into
covered litter boxes. Clay litter is a good choice; clumping litter has
been suspected of causing bowel obstructions through ingestion. It is
important to use the same brand of litter that he has already used.
Bengals will not tolerate a dirty litter box. It should be kept as clean
as possible. Solid waste must be removed daily. The litter should be
completely discarded and replaced frequently.
If your kitten does not use the litter box readily or quits using it at
some point in time, don't punish him. He will only become hostile and
avoid coming around you (See TRAINING THE BENGAL CAT). There is
usually a reason for this behavior. A few questions to consider:
Is the cat ill? A trip to the vet is
needed to rue out a medical cause; frequently, cats with urinary
tract infections quit using their litter box.
Is the litter box in a private, quiet
area? Make sure the litter box is in a secluded, low-traffic area
where he won't be startled.
Have you changed the type of litter
you were using? Strongly scented litters may have too strong a
smell for the cat's sensitive nose.
Has the litter box been used by other
cats? If you have several cats in one area, you will need one more
litter box than you have cats (i.e., two cats, three litter boxes).
Are you keeping the litter box clean? Solid
waste should be scooped out at least daily, and the used litter
completely replaced frequently. It is a good idea to clean the
litter box thoroughly when the litter is completely changed. Good
habits on your part will insure proper litter box use by your cat.
If the cat is using a place other than
a his litter box, is there a reason why he thinks it is ok? Potted
plants have sand and/or dirt that is attractive to cats; you can
cover the soil with decorative stones to discourage this (make sure
you do not have any poisonous plants in your home!) Some Bengals
will use the bath tub as a litter box. If a medical cause cannot be
identified, this could be due to an inherited instinct to use the
bathroom in running water as the Asian Leopard Cat does.
Are the feces just outside of the
litter box? Remember that Bengals are longer than your average
housecat. He may be in the litter box but cannot fit in it entirely.
A large plastic box available at most discount stores will be the
solution to the problem.
TRAINING THE BENGAL CAT
Kittens are full of mischief and fun,
especially the intelligent Bengal. You will be amazed at the things they
can get into while you are not paying attention! It is important to
teach them good behavior. Bengals, because they are highly intelligent,
are easily trained.
As a first step towards having a well-behaved cat, you will need to
provide your active, intelligent Bengal with
toys to help him stay out of mischief (see
TOYS FOR THE BENGAL CAT).
You should never use force or strike your
cat with your hand; this will make him scared of you. He will not forget
and will avoid being around you. A water pistol is useful as a
discipline tool. You can also use a flyswatter or rolled up newspaper to
slap the table or ground, making a loud noise when you need to get his
attention (again, you should NEVER strike your cat). Kittens should not
be encouraged to play rough or to bite. Avoid putting the kitten on his
back and tickling or rubbing his tummy because this action gets him
excited and encourages biting. Any behavior which gets the kitten overly
excited should be avoided. Your kitten needs to learn that hands are not
toys. Give him a toy to play with if he continues to bite or attack your
hands. Children should not be allowed to play rough or tease the kitten,
because when he is grown, he will play too rough.
Bengals can be easily trained to walk on a leash, especially when this
is started as a young kitten.
Be consistent in your training, and firm.
Remember that the Bengal is self-centered, and will attempt to have
things go his way. Bengals do not do things to deliberately upset or
punish you. Often, a cat will develop a bad habit but he might feel that
what he is doing is natural or logical. In these situations, you need to
ask yourself why is he behaving in this manner? Once you find an answer
to this, look for a constructive way to change his behavior.
INSIDE OR OUTSIDE FOR
THE BENGAL CAT
Cats should stay inside due to the
dangers of the automobile and infectious diseases carried by stray cats
and other animals. If a cat is allowed to go outside, even if it is very
rare, he will start sitting by the door, ready to dash out every time
the door is opened. Then he will no longer want to be indoors with you.
A cat that stays indoors all the time is perfectly content. In addition, cats that are allowed to roam outside may start spraying to
mark their territory even if they are neutered/spayed. . This is a
territorial behavior trait, not sexual. When going outdoors, they
develop an awareness of the presence of other cats and so they feel the
need to mark their territory.
TOYS FOR THE BENGAL CAT
Bengal cats love to play and interact with
their owners. They are not loners and usually seek out companions. These
cats will be curious about almost everything so it is easy to find toys
they will enjoy. Even simple things like paper bags, cardboard boxes,
and wadded up newspaper will do. Avoid using small items that could be
swallowed and cause choking. Feather teasers are always enjoyed. Even a
single large feather such as a peacock feather is fun to chase. There
are fake mice available in stores with pet supplies; Bengals love to
'capture' the mice and frequently hide them in a special place.
Ping-pong balls in the bathtub or on the floor are great fun and chasing
a laser pointer can entertain your Bengal for hours.
All Bengal cats need a medium to large cat tree. Cat trees can be used
for climbing and for cat 'manicures'.
Wild cats use tree trunks for grooming and sharpening their claws; your
Bengal cat needs a cat tree so he can remove the older outer sheaths of
his claws to expose the sharp new claw beneath. All cats enjoy the
stretching and pulling activity associated with sharpening their claws.
This natural activity is necessary; if a cat tree is not provided, your
Bengal cat may find something else to use for sharpening his claws like
your furniture! When buying or building a cat tree, make sure that the
base is sturdy enough to keep it from tipping over when your Bengal
climbs to the top. Some cat trees will brace against the ceiling for
added stability. A cat tree with tall posts wrapped with carpet or sisal
rope are an excellent choice. The cat tree should have at least one post
that is tall enough to allow the adult cat to stretch all the way out.
There are elaborate scratching posts with hammocks, tunnels, shelves,
and different levels that go as high as the ceiling that Bengals
especially love because of their athletic abilities and love of climbing
to high perches. It is fun to watch your cat climbing his cat tree- and,
as an added bonus, he will be much less likely to scratch the furniture.
Bengal cats usually have a love of water. They enjoy splashing in
running water from a faucet and may even get in the shower or bathtub.
Many Bengals enjoy chasing balls or other toys in the bathtub.
NEUTERING OR SPAYING THE
Neutering (males) or spaying (females) is
highly recommended. Many vets do this at a young age. When Bengals are
purchased as pets, they must be neutered/spayed. It is critical for you
to neuter/spay before
your cat reaches sexual maturity, to prevent undesirable sexual
activity, such as spraying. It can be very difficult to stop a cat from
spraying once he starts. It should be noted that female cats spray as
In additional to preventing unwanted urination outside of a litter box,
neutering/spaying has other benefits:
Spayed/neutered pets are less distracted by sexual instincts and
bond more to family members.
Spayed/neutered pets do not try to get outside and roam to find
Spayed/neutered cats do not feel the need to fight other cats for
mates and territory.
DECLAWING THE BENGAL CAT
Declawing involves permanent removal of the
cat's claws. Stillmeadow Bengals does not support declawing cats. With
proper toys and minimal training, cats will sharpen their claws on a cat
tree or other suitable item. See the website
for more information.
ADDITIONAL TIPS ON THE
For more TIPS on raising, training, and
caring for your new Bengal, you can order Gene Ducote’s book, "Getting
to Know the Bengal Cat.". This book is a must for the new Bengal owner,
as it explains all details of caring for the Bengal kitten. It covers
topics such as selection of a kitten, the different colors, diseases and
immunizations, plus many more. Go to her website at
Gogees for more information.