Last updated: October 23, 2017Cats, in general, are beautiful creatures. They have lovely voices, beautiful eyes, and I dare anyone in the whole world to show me a creature cuter than a kitten! So in choosing your breed of cat, how do you pick one? Well, it depends on whether you want a massive Maine Coon robustly rampaging through your house, or a tranquil and sweet Nebelung or Russian Blue, or even an inscrutable Siamese. They all have their good and bad qualities, just like we do, and they all have that intangible cat mystique – what mischief is being planned behind those eyes? But if you’ve never thought of owning a Bengal cat, maybe you should!
Table of Contents
- Part 1: Bengal Cat Characteristics and Interesting Information
- Part 2: Bengal Cats Behavior and Personality
- Part 3: Bengal Cat Weight and Size
- Part 4: Bengal Cat Health Problems
My cat is a is an ordinary short-haired tabby tomcat. I think if he had a Bengal pal he’d go nuts because these guys take no prisoners. You think you own a Bengal cat? Think again, Dude! THEY own YOU! Bengals are not to be underestimated. They are a force of nature! If you’re thinking of being owned by a Bengal, then get your ducks in a row and find out what it entails. Information is power, and believe me, you’re going to need all the power you can get! Read on!
Are Bengal Cats Hypoallergenic?
To know if a cat is hypoallergenic or not, you have to understand what allergies are. Your immune system is the almighty biological defense mechanism which keeps things like bacterial infections and viruses at bay, but if one of the nasty sneaky things gets in, it goes into attack mode and brings out the body’s heavy artillery to destroy it. This means sneezing to expel the germs, runny eyes and noses to wash them out, and other symptoms too numerous to mention. This is why your immune system exists, but sometimes it mistakes a perfectly harmless substance for a life-threatening illness and brings out the army of antibodies to see them off. But what is it about our furbabies that has this effect?
Usually, the problem lies in your cat’s dander (dead skin) saliva, or urine, and most allergy sufferers react badly to the proteins FEL D 1, secreted in the cat’s skin, and FEL D 4, which comes from his saliva.
Since cats are always washing themselves you can see where the problem lies! You can try bathing the cat frequently and giving him a diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids to keep his skin and fur in tip-top condition. You can vacuum and clean every waking hour, or take antihistamines, or just suffer and treat the symptoms of your allergies.
The good news is that YES! Bengals are hypoallergenic! This does not, of course, mean that you’re at no risk at all since there’s no such thing as a totally hypoallergenic cat, but the risk with a Bengal is much lower than say, a Maine Coon or a Russian Blue.
But Bengals make just as much of the offending proteins as any other cat, so what’s so special about them?
The difference is that the fur of a Bengal consists of only one layer of hair, as opposed to two in the case of other cat breeds.It is so fine that it needs only a fraction of the amount of grooming than other cats need, resulting in less time spent licking themselves, so their fur isn’t constantly drenched with allergy-causing saliva. They don’t leave hair all over the place either, which is good for you, your health, and your furniture!
Bengal Cat Scientific Name
Scientific names for all creatures on planet earth are called ‘Linnaen’ and are named after the man who invented the classification of animals, plants, and minerals, the 18th-century scientist Carl Linnaeus. They are almost always Latin and Greek, so the scientific name for Bengals is Felis Bengalensis, which means in English: ‘jungle cat.’ It was named after the Asian Leopard Cat, which was crossed with domestic cats to make a hybrid breed, now regarded as a domestic cat. And just in case you were losing sleep over it, here is its official Linnaean classification.
|Family:||Felidae||Cats & Catlike Carnivores (Mongoose & Hyena)|
How to Care for a Bengal Cat
There is no magic involved in taking care of a Bengal Cat, since he’s just a cat like any other, so do the usual things you’d do with your ordinary moggy.
First, your Bengal needs to be vaccinated against the myriad of predatory viruses and bacterial infections which plague all cats. Fit a microchip so that if he’s lost or stolen he can be found and brought back to you. Have your males castrated and your females spayed. Male cats are sure to wander in search of mates, and they spray absolutely everywhere! It is NOT NICE!
Make sure your vet takes care of Bengals, because not all vets do. Many vets and even breeders believe that because of its wild ancestry, the Bengal cat is immune to Feline Leukemia. Sadly, this is not the case, so make sure that’s part of his vaccination program.
There are precautions you must take when inviting a Bengal into your home. Think of a mischievous two-year-old child and you’ll get my drift! Remember that they are highly active and very intelligent cats and if they become bored they’ll find things to do that may not be to your liking, like shredding the toilet rolls and knocking over the ornaments.
Keep all cupboard doors closed, especially ones which contain toxic cleaning materials and food. Remember that these little beggars are clever enough to watch you and figure out how to open doors, so it’s even better if you can fit child locks (two-year-old toddler, remember?)
Be careful of your valuables. The phrase ‘cat burglar’ was invented for these guys! They are not above stealing your most precious possessions, hiding them and breaking them.
Bengals are incredibly territorial. If yours is an indoor/outdoor cat try to do something to limit his wanderings, otherwise he’ll be the scourge of the neighborhood and you will be the subject of a dozen lawsuits! Install a cat proof fence around your garden or keep him in a catio, a covered indoor/outdoor space made especially for cats whose owners don’t want them to be indoors all the time but don’t want them to face the dangers of the great outdoors.
Bengals are wonderful hunters, so get him a collar with a bell on it. He won’t be stalking so much prey then because pigeons have excellent hearing! Make sure it’s one of those safety collars which can’t get snagged on bushes, though.
Give your Bengal a chance to bond with all members of your household, otherwise he’ll love one person to bits and ignore everyone else. Make sure every single one of the family gets the same amount of time to play with him.
Do Bengal Cats Like Water?
Well! What a silly question! You may as well ask if the sky is blue, if the grass is green, and if the sun rises in the east! Bengals not only like it – they love, love, love it! In fact, they’re obsessed by it. If you are in the tub your Bengal may decide to join you, just to be sociable!
If you have goldfish or an aquarium, your Bengal may decide to supplement his diet with a little morsel of fish, so do whatever you have to to keep it away from him. Don’t think putting your little golden thing on a high shelf will save him – Bengals are excellent mountaineers!
You’ll quite often see a Bengal scooping water out of his bowl and licking it off his paws – I suppose it just feels nice! They often dunk their food in it as well then watch the morsels as they swirl round and round. Oh, well, to each his own!
And by the way, keep all toilet lids down! This is the Bengal version of a paddling pool, and he doesn’t really care what that toilet is used for – eee-yuk!
Bengal Coat Colors
Since the Bengal was descended from a leopard, it has many spotted variations in its coat. They are all amazingly beautiful, but many Bengals have a silver or gold ‘glitter’ on their fur, and this makes them quite stunning. This is caused by colorless hollow hair shafts that catch the light and reflect it back. No other breed of cat has this kind of color variation.
Brown: Brown has many other colors behind it like golden, cream, tawny, honey, taupe, buff, tan, beige, caramel or red, usually with a black marble or spotted design. Their eyes are usually green or gold.
Silver: Silver is a pale gray that is nearly white, with black spotted or marble design, and green and gold eyes.
Snow: Snow is a group of colors with three variations, the Seal Lynx Point, the Seal Mink and the Seal Sepia.
Seal lynx point: The Seal Lynx Point is the lightest of the bunch, and its kittens are usually white or only lightly patterned. Their colors come in when they are a bit older, usually beginning at the points. The cat will have brown-gray, tan or buff spotted or marble pattern on a white or cream ground. They are the only Bengals with ice blue eyes.
Seal Mink: The Seal Mink will usually be born with an observable pattern that becomes darker as they age. The background is usually ivory, cream or buff and their spotted or marbled pattern is caramel or chocolate brown. They have turquoise or green eyes.
Seal Sepia: This is the darkest of the group and the kittens are nearly always born patterned with a seal brown to dark seal brown spotted or marble pattern and green or gold
Other Colors: There are many other colors, too many to go into here, unfortunately, but here are a few:
Charcoal, black, and blue are all other variations of gray background colors.
Spotted patterns include Single-Spotting, Cluster Rosettes,
Paw-Print Rosettes, Doughnut Rosettes, Arrowhead Rosettes and, Embryonic Rosettes.
Marbled Patterns include Tri-Colour and Quad-Colour, Horizontal Flowing, High Acreage or Reduced Pattern, Chaos Pattern, Sheeted or Closed Pattern and Bull’s-eye Pattern.
Phew! If you want any more color patterns I’m afraid you’ll have to paint them on yourself!
Summing-up Bengal Cat Characteristics
So you want to be owned by a Bengal cat? Good choice. Not only will you have an energetic, loving companion who will keep you on your toes – AND won’t make you sneeze – but you’ll have the animal equivalent of a comedian – because this cat has an irrepressible sense of humor! OK, so he may be the feline tsunami too – but you’ve gotta love him!
Bengal cats as pets
Bengal cats are descended from domestic cats which were mated with Asian Leopard Cats, a small breed of wild cat. The aim was to produce a breed with the personality of a tame cat and the colors of a wild one. I’m not entirely sure they succeeded in achieving tameness! Do they make good pets? Well, that depends on your circumstances. If you love to be active but hate going to the gym, get a Bengal cat. Forget about a cat that loves sitting or sleeping on your lap all day. This is an Action Cat! If you like being with your cat in the sense that you snooze or watch TV together, forget about a Bengal.
This cat is very clever, very lively and requires lots – and I mean lots – of play and fun. He likes dashing about, climbing up on things and looking down on you from high places. Amazingly he has several very dog-like qualities!
He likes chasing a ball and playing fetch – and he will happily go for a walk on a leash. An ideal place for a Bengal is a catio, a large enclosed outdoor space where he can be outside watching birds without any possibility of doing them any harm. Like Maine Coons, Bengals are very fond of water, so if you have an aquarium full of goldfish – beware!
All little darting things will catch the eye of any cat, since nature has programmed them that way, and Bengals are not above dipping a paw in the water and indulging in a bit of fishing! Given half a chance, they’ll be happy to join you in the bath or shower. Unlike most other breeds, Bengals are not afraid of getting their paws wet and have a tendency to dip them into water when they’re drinking and lick it off. Well – why be like your bog-standard moggy when you can be a Bengal, for goodness sake? They’ll run into fountains and play with faucets. Because of their fiendish cleverness, they can even turn them on and flush the toilet just so they can be mesmerized by the splashing of the water.
How do they do this? Why, from watching their humans, of course! And be careful of your valuables! These crafty little beggars can even learn how to open doors! Because they are only a few generations away from being wild beasts they’re champion hunters and slayers of small mammals, so if you have any, either keep them out of his way or train him not to kill them! I’d take the first option, since cats are hardwired to hunt and fish, and this instinct is very difficult to override.
Since Bengals are the Einsteins of the feline world, it’s best to keep them stimulated, since they are easily bored. You know the old saying: “the devil makes work for idle hands?” (Or in this case, paws!) They were talking about Bengals! They steal things and hide them, they destroy objects just for fun, and they intimidate other animals just for a laugh. By the way, if you ever hear a pathetic little meow like a kitten trying to get your attention, it’s your big, grown-up Bengal. It’s one of their ways of saying “I love you.”
Bengal cat personality disorders
I wouldn’t really call them “disorders” but the Bengal breed has several distinctive and quirky personality traits, many of which we’ve discussed above, which make the breed problem cats for some people.
If you want to have a Bengal, make sure you have it castrated or spayed as soon as possible, otherwise, you will have both Eau De Tom and Eau De Queen liberally sprayed all over your house! They can be extremely aggressive sometimes although they do well with therapy.
Bengals with other cats
A word of warning – Bengals do NOT take kindly to trespassers on their patch, ‘hood, territory! They are not partial to new cats in the house, and if a new one is introduced things can get very unpleasant, so perhaps it’s as well to keep one as an only cat. They don’t like interruptions in their daily routines and find them quite stressful. Well, if Mommy and Daddy dumped a new brother or sister on you and said: “play nicely, now!” Wouldn’t you be just a bit upset? So it’s good for these cats to have a little sanctuary like a box or cat tree where they can go for a bit of peace and quiet. Bengals have been known to go in search of other cats to attack, not in play, but with the intention of hurting them. They like digging in the garden! They like doing a lot of talking! They love, love, love climbing – especially up your curtains!
Oddly enough, Bengals get on well with dogs, so perhaps if you want to get another pet that’s the way to go because it seems that any cat in the same house as a Bengal is one cat too many. Before you get one, it’s best to consider carefully and do your research. Bengals are not for the faint of heart!
Cross- Bengal kitten temperament
The main differences between the crosses and purebred Bengal kittens seem to be the level of aggressiveness, with the purebreds being more fierce and territorial. Their markings can also be quite different, with the crosses being less definitive and more blurred.
Toys for Bengals
All cats, including Bengals, love to “kill” things, so get them toys that will stimulate their natural hunting instincts. Things like fishing rod toys, crinkly balls, ordinary balls, stuffed mice that squeak or are filled with catnip, and rubber snakes. You can even try blowing catnip-scented bubbles! Cats love string, but contrary to popular belief, it is VERY DANGEROUS to leave a cat alone with a ball of string. Because of the backward-facing barbs on a cat’s tongue, it cannot spit it out if it happens to swallow it. If it goes into the digestive tract it can cause real – even life-threatening damage.
Training a Bengal cat to do tricks
Clicker training is an easy way to train your cat to actually do what you want! Bengal cats learn fast, and love to learn, so this method is ideal. Because your cat will repeat a behavior if there’s “something in it for him”, you reinforce the desired behavior with a click, then give your kitty a treat. The clicker is a small gizmo that makes a click when you push it.
The cat only associates this sound with a reward – so
desired action = click = treat
and in no time flat, you have a well-trained kitty! You can teach him to do tricks, use it to reinforce positive behavior or discourage bad behavior. Don’t ever punish your cat by hitting or shouting. He won’t understand it, and it will only make him scared of you.
Do your research on clicker training before you start, and remember that if you are the impatient type like me, you will just have to bite the bullet! Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know!
First, do a quick click, then a tiny treat. Repeat. Some cats will take longer than others, but eventually, they will get it. Click = yummy thing! Once he figures it out, you can go on to the next step. Bengals are clever little devils and learn very quickly, so if you want him to come to you, or sit, lie down or roll over, it shouldn’t take long with a Bengal. Of course, you can do it with the sound of your voice as well. I’ve taught my cat to come when I whistle – but that’s usually because there’s tuna involved! You can eventually stop the treats but never stop fussing and praising – they love it!
How to train Bengals to go on a leash
First of all, a word of warning for the sensitive: walking your cat on a leash is not for the faint of heart. He will be fine, but you may be stared at, laughed at and maybe even ridiculed, so if you don’t have broad shoulders, a thick skin, and a tongue like a whiplash, think carefully! (Fortunately, I have all three!)
Don’t expect cooperation from the cat. Most likely he’ll look at the leash, look at you, then meow: “you want me to do WHAT?” Harnesses come in two types: jacket or straps. Whichever one you use is a matter of personal preference. It mustn’t be too tight or too loose – you should be able to put two fingers between your cat’s fur and the harness. Now to the nitty gritty!
Starting indoors, put the harness on for a short while and give him a treat. Do this for a few more times in the next few days, increasing the amount of time on each occasion. Let him play with a toy to get his attention off it. After a while he should be used to it, so attach the leash and let him pull it around for a while. Be careful he doesn’t catch it on anything and harm himself, though. After a few days, he should be accustomed to the feel of it.
Then try outside. Ooooh! Big bad and scary world for your poor little cat! Well, it will be a bit like that at first, (remember you’re used to all that noise!) but he’ll get used to it! So keep it short and close to home at first, going a bit longer and farther every day. Your Bengal is the cleverest cat in catdom – he’ll soon get the hang of it!
Summing-up Bengal Cats Behavior and Personality
However hyperactive and unpredictable your Bengal is, and whichever method of training you choose, you won’t achieve a single thing if you don’t do it with LOVE!
Well, as we’ve already discovered, one Bengal cat in the house is the feline equivalent of three ordinary cats. He is cheeky, demanding, hyperactive and playful. He is also super intelligent and loves to get in the bath with you! If you want to take him for a walk he’ll usually have no objections provided he goes in front. He can find his way around the house by opening the doors and if you’re not careful he’ll be raiding the tuna supply in the fridge without your permission! Bengal cats are not just handfuls – they’re TRUCKFULS!
How Big Does a Bengal Cat Become?
If personality counted in his overall weight, a Bengal would weigh about ten tons. He could never be described as fragile or fine boned. His physique could be called Olympian because he’s an athlete of note. He has more muscles per square inch than any other domestic cat in existence – in fact, he still has the look of a wild jungle cat! He has a wide, wedge shaped face, fairly small ears, and enormous, almost round eyes. His neck is solidly muscular – you know the kind of neck a weightlifter needs? In fact, Bengal cats are the most muscular of all domestic cats. Maybe that’s why they cause so much trouble! He has average length legs, with the hind limbs being longer than the forelimbs, and big paws. His tail is thick and black-tipped, and he has the most endearing polka-dotted tummy!
Bengal cats are not small cats: boys weigh on average between 10 – 15 lbs (4.5 – 6.8kg) and girls 8 – 12 lbs (3.6 – 5.4 kg). Like humans, though, individuals can vary greatly, so don’t worry if yours are bigger or smaller bigger than the average. Mother Nature doesn’t like conforming to rigid rules!
What Should Bengals Eat?
Serving any cat raw meat can be risky. Yes – I know what you’re going to say: that’s what they eat in the wild! Of course, it is, but how do you know which diseases and parasites they suffered from? Besides, animals change when they become domesticated or semi-domesticated. Raw meat can upset their digestion and cause tummy upsets and sometimes even food poisoning, so if you’re going to feed them raw meat, leave it uncovered at room temperature for a MAXIMUM of twenty minutes, then discard what is left. You can give them cooked boneless meat without salt on it, though. Be careful that it has absolutely no bones, since swallowing things like chicken bones can lead to choking and may be lethal. At best you’ll have an emergency dash to the vet! The best food for Bengals – indeed all cats – is a diet rich in protein, (50% – 80%) with the rest consisting of fiber, moisture and minerals.This can be supplied by good quality dry kibble, wet food like tinned meat or meat cooked at home without seasoning or a mixture of both. If in doubt, consult your vet.
Keeping Your Bengal Cat in Shape
There is nothing worse than a fat cat. Excessive weight can mean your cat is in danger of all sorts of nasties like joint problems, strokes, heart attacks and diabetes. Your Bengal, as we’ve said, is a playful and active breed, but like all animals, including us, if he’s allowed to overindulge he probably will! So what do you do to avoid having a Bengal who drags his aristocratic belly on the ground? If you have a fat cat, first assess the problem.
Once a week, run your hands over him to see if his ribs and waistline can still be felt easily. Stand over him and look down. You should be able to see a narrowing or “waist” just behind his rib cage. If you can’t do any or all of these things your cat is probably becoming a bit lardy.
The first thing to do is see the vet since she’s the best person to determine if there’s an underlying medical problem like an under active thyroid gland. If there is no health problem then kitty is probably just eating too much or eating the wrong things. The vet may recommend a special food formulated specifically for weight loss, and give you directions on how and when to use it. Some vets may even let you use their scales free of charge! Yay!
Train your Bengal when to be fed
If you’re allowing your Bengal to free-feed from a bowl, it’s easy for him to put on weight. Nature designed cats to eat small, high protein meals one at a time with several hours in between. That means one mouse for breakfast, one mouse for lunch, and one small pigeon for dinner. Unlike herbivores, who need to be constantly digesting food, cats eat, then digest, then eat again, so letting him eat all day at will is simply not what he was meant to do. Try to give him a portion in the morning and a portion at night. You may have to do this gradually if you want to avoid a mournful-looking, pitifully meowing kitty, but you have to be cruel to be kind. Your cat’s diet needs to be high in moisture and high in protein, and this normally means more tinned, or wet food, and less dry food. Wet food tends to be more expensive though, which is why most people settle for kibble. Only give the proper portions and don’t allow high-calorie treats. Catnip is great if your cat likes it. The weight loss should be slow and steady, and once you have got both of you into good habits again, make sure you stick to them.
Exercise! Bengals are naturally very active cats but if yours has fallen into slothful habits then maybe you need to get him into the exercise groove again. Bengals love to climb, and if you don’t give him a place to do it, he’ll figure one out using his considerable intelligence! This may mean your curtains or bookshelves. OOOPS! There goes that rare first edition! Get him a cat gym, which has plenty of nest boxes and platforms for him to play on. If you put it beside a window he can watch the world go by and he won’t ever be bored.
You and your Bengal will both enjoy play sessions at least twice a day. These should last about ten minutes each or until one of you is tired, – and I’ll lay odds it won’t be the Bengal! Give him lots of toys to play with, but nothing that he can swallow or get stuck in his throat. Balls are great – but NEVER balls of string! If you have the time and patience you can even teach him tricks. This ought to keep the pounds at bay.
History of the Breed
Bengals are called after the Latin name for their ancestor, the Asian Leopard Cat, or Felis Bengalensis. (You thought it was a province in India, didn’t you? Or a great big tiger?) In the 1950s these beautiful wild cats were available in pet shops, and that is how a female was acquired by a breeder called Jean Mill. She hadn’t intended to start a new breed, so she got her an ordinary bog-standard domestic tomcat to play with, thinking that their DNA would be incompatible. This proved not to be the case, however, since the two became such good friends that they had kittens together! Jean Mill kept a spotted female, which she mated with her father, and she gave birth to a litter in which some were spotted, and some were of one color only.
Simultaneously Dr Centerwall in the University of Loyola was mating Asian Leopard cats with domestic cats to see if they could find a way of passing on the jungle cat’s immunity from Feline Leukemia. Cat breeders took note, and before long an interest had taken root in developing a new breed of cat. Jean Mill, who had been out of the picture for a while, decided to start cat breeding once more. Having laid her hands on some of Dr Centerwall’s female cats, she was hunting for mates. She found a ginger short hair in India and a spotted tabby from an animal shelter. Amazing! With these, she began the new bloodline. Bengals are no longer considered wild cats, but to be recognized as true domesticated Bengals they must be at least four generations away from any cats with wild jungle cat blood. Unfortunately, after all that trouble, the breeders didn’t get the immunity from Feline Leukemia they were looking for, but they have managed to give the world a beautiful new breed.
The International Cat Association first recognized the Bengal as an “experimental” breed in 1983. They acquired full breed status in 1991. It is also regarded as a breed by the American Cat Fanciers Association, the Canadian Cat Association, and the United Feline Organization.
Today, they are one of the most sought-after breeds in the world, with many breeders and individuals willing to pay exorbitant prices for them. What a blessing they don’t know – they’d be auctioning themselves off and keeping the money!
Summing-up Bengal Cat Weight and Size
Well, your Bengal may be the Olympic gold medalist at jumping, running, swimming, door-opening, thinking up how to rule the world and making mischief, but at the end of the day he’s still an ordinary moggy, and he doesn’t mind telling you in no uncertain terms that what he really wants is love. Then more love. And after that a bit more, and so on and so on…
So you’ve got your first Bengal cat? Well done on having acquired your leopard-spotted, curtain-climbing, water-splashing, door-opening, neighborhood-terrorizing, mischief-making little savage! You will never have to go to the gym again because your Bengal will keep you exercised all day and most of the night too. And just when you think you’ve got the better of him he’ll figure out something else to drive you crazy! But when he’s snoozing you can take the opportunity to stroke his shimmering fur with its strange and exotic colors. Having a Bengal owning you is nothing short of an adventure, but now and again your little terrorist will run into problems. Here are a few:
One problem that afflicts Bengals is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. This condition usually presents itself when the cat is a bit older. It’s common in many other breeds of cat too. It’s caused by a thickening of the walls of the left ventricle of the cat’s heart, which is the primary pumping muscle. This means that the organ has to work much harder to circulate blood around the body. This can lead to some very unpleasant symptoms like blood clots, pain in the limbs and even paralysis, usually in the hind legs. At first, the cat doesn’t seem to be ill at all, but a couple of the early symptoms are lack of energy and labored breathing, so if you see anything like this you should take him straight to the vet. Many breeders now have their stud cats tested every year to make absolutely sure that they are free of this problem and are fit to breed.
Allergy to Anesthetics
If your little furbaby is going in for an operation, no matter how minor, such as spaying and neutering, it’s a good idea to discuss with your vet the possibility of complications when the cat is under anesthetic. Bengals tend to be very prone to allergic reactions to anesthetic, some of which can be severe enough to cause cardiac arrest and even death. Of course, your vet knows that some cats will always have bad reactions, but there isn’t yet a high population of Bengals, so she may never have experienced this breed’s extreme sensitivity to them. So let your motto be: “better safe than sorry!”
Your Bengal may show signs of food allergies that mimic the symptoms of flea, tick or mite infestation. The signs are mainly: scratching to the point of self-mutilation, runny nose, sneezing and even diarrhea. It’s best to go to your friendly neighborhood vet to rule out these pesky little critturs before you do anything else since fleas, in particular, are an absolute mission to get rid of, as well as causing your cat great distress.
When you go to the vet, she’ll most likely take skin scrapings and blood samples to check if your Bengal has any of the common allergies. With food allergies, it’s been speculated that the main culprits in tinned pet food are chicken, salmon, and pork. Most likely the reason for this is caused by the manufacturers, who market the food as an expensive meat while substituting most of it with a cheaper one, usually chicken. This means that if your pet’s food is, say, lamb, there may be a small portion of lamb and a big portion of chicken. The vet can help you find out the allergen and treat your kitty with antihistamines, then, of course, you’ll have to put him on one of the brands that are specially made for allergy prone cats. Your vet should be able to help you with this.
Phew! There seems to be no end to the number of things a poor Bengal cat can be allergic to! Cats can get hay fever just like we do because of seasonal things like pollen, which can give them the same symptoms as ours. They can present with runny and itchy eyes, snotty noses, coughing and sneezing. These can also be signs of a respiratory infection, though, so please check with your vet. He will prescribe antihistamines or antibiotics accordingly. Other allergens can include dust and dust mites. Dust mites are truly disgusting little creatures who live in carpets, bedding and any other place they can find their staple diet of dead skin cells. (Mother Nature really stuffed up when she made these sweethearts!) Your poor Bengal will scratch and lick himself till he has bald patches and scabs. He will always be itchy and uncomfortable and may have repeated ear infections. So before you do anything else – except go to the vet – do that first – clean! Put your cat’s bedding out in the sun for at least half a day.
Get new mattress covers made of microporous fabric. Cover his bed in a dust mite repellent sheet and wash frequently. Wash the cat’s bed at least once a month in very hot water. Replace all carpets in the bedroom with tiles or lino. Steam clean mattresses, bedding, and furniture. Vacuum all furniture and carpets thoroughly at least once a week. Show the mites that they are not welcome!
Many vets go the immunotherapy route. This consists of injections or drops. As a last resort, they can prescribe immunosuppressants.
To lessen contaminants in the air, invest in an air purifier.
Bengal cats are martyrs to a condition with the very exotic name of Luxating Patella. This means that the patella, or kneecap, slips out of its socket, causing extreme pain and lameness in the affected joints. There are varying levels of severity in this condition.
Grade 1 is bearable and many cats can live with it for most of or even all their lives.
Grade 4 means that the kneecap is permanently dislocated and the cat can’t walk on that leg at all.
If the two kneecaps are affected each one may be disabled to a differing degree. Luxating Patella almost always needs surgery and this, of course, presents anesthesia problems. Handle this one VERY carefully! Of course, prevention is better than cure, and you won’t be doing your Bengal much good if you let him get fat and lazy. This puts much more strain on the joints, so keep him trim and slim!
Unfortunately, although Bengal breeders can test for many congenital conditions, Progressive Retinal Atrophy is not one of them. Bengals carrying the defective gene may have no symptoms at all, so eliminating the disorder from the gene pool is impossible until such time as there is a test to indicate whether a cat is a carrier or not. The disease causes the rods and cones (light receptors) in the cat’s eyes to degenerate, which progressively causes it to go blind. Kittens and young cats can also suffer from it, and sadly, this condition seems to be becoming more and more common, especially among the very young. Even if you’re given a guarantee of good health from the very best of breeders, he can’t rule out the possibility of your cat having Progressive Retinal Atrophy, because there’s simply no way to tell.
The normal lens in the eye is transparent and allows light to pass through to the retina at the back of the cat’s eye. If anything comes between the lens and the retina the light will be partially or totally obscured. A cataract is a thin film of tissue that blocks the light to varying degrees according to its severity.
There are many factors which can cause them, for instance, injury to the eye which causes infection and inflammation. It may be caused by an underlying disease, and in a few unfortunate cases, it may be inherited. Malformation of the lens is another cause, as is bad nutrition when the cat is very young. In every case, however, there is an underlying cause which must be investigated thoroughly.
Signs that your furball may have cataracts: There will be a blue, white or gray film inside the front of the eye. You can usually see them bumping into things, and they won’t want to climb or jump (unusual for a Bengal!) They will be very cautious in places they don’t know, and there may be inflammation and pain.
Treatment: depending on how the Bengal acquired the condition, the cat may be a candidate for surgery. However, if, for whatever reason, he can’t be operated on, he will have to become accustomed to blindness for the rest of his life. You can help him to do this by getting rid of clutter on the floor, keeping all your furniture in the same places, avoiding sudden noises, and gently talking to yourself or making quiet noises whenever you’re near. If he can’t see you, he needs reassurance that you’re still there. His routine will also become more important; everything around him needs to be kept as normal and reassuring as possible. Many cats lead a long and fulfilled life even though they’re blind.
Bengal Cat’s Life Expectancy
The average life span of a Bengal cat is between 12 and 16 years, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy him. This is only an average, though, and many live much longer than that. I hope yours is one of them.
The Last Word
Your little fun loving tearaway wild cat may only be a paw’s breadth away from the jungle, and his big cousin the leopard may be a tad more closely related to him, but don’t forget that he’s still just a pussy cat and he needs all the love he can get!