F.A.Q.'s (Questions and Answers about Bengal Cats and Kittens)
Please note: If you require further help with buying a kitten...whether pedigree Bengal or any other, please do read our 'ADVICE ON BUYING A KITTEN' page where we feel sure you will find some very useful information.
Q1. Do Bengals make good family pets? A. Yes. Bengals are an extremely popular breed of cat. They are intelligent, lively, loving and affectionate and are great with children, dogs, cats and other animals (once used to the individual animal). All cats are wary of other strange cats/dogs and other animals, and may take a week or so for the kitten to get used to them...this is perfectly normal and time and patience must be given here.
Q2. Are Bengals good with children and other animals? A. Yes....as explained in the previous question, Bengals are great with other animals and are also good with children. We make it a priority here at Suntouched Bengals, that every cat and kitten gets to mix and interact with other cats and kittens so they are used to mixing when they get to go to their new homes. It must be pointed out that all new Bengal kittens and Bengal cats should be given 'space' when they arrive at their new home and be allowed to settle in completely. In this period of settling, they should be given somewhere to get away from young children and other animals (especially other cats and dogs), and left alone until they get their bearings and settle properly. It should be remembered that these young Bengal kittens have been taken away from their mother, siblings and surroundings and have recently received a full course of vaccinations (if coming from a reputable Bengal Breeder) at the Vets and now face a new home with strange people and maybe some unfamiliar animals. Stress at this time should be kept to an absolute minimum, as a stress-free kitten is definitely the way to a happy, healthy kitten!
Because we are often asked if Bengals get along with other cats we thought we would show you this photo of our Bengals. We think this is proof enough that our Bengal cats and Bengal kittens DO get along very well together! We rear our Bengal kittens in our home with all the other junior Bengals and queens that are running in the house. This ensures that they will mix with other cats when they go to their new homes. We believe that with some breeding Bengals that are kept separate from other cats, and their 'keeper' offspring are once again kept separate...... this could be breeding a 'solitary' line that may not help the Bengals as a breed when it comes to integrating with other cats in their new homes in the future.
Q3. What size do Bengals grow to? A. Average to large domestic cat size is normal, though Bengal cats are more muscular so will be heavier than a normal domestic cat. Male bengals tend to be bigger than females but we have some quite large female Bengals/queens here too!
Q4. What are the typical characteristics of the Bengal cat or kitten? A. Bengals are lively, intelligent, inquisitive, loving, affectionate and energetic. They love human company, get along well with children and also like dogs! This may be because Bengals are quite dog-like in their nature and will play 'fetch' and retrieve rubber balls or screwed up pieces of paper. Bengal kittens in particular love screwed up balls of paper and also love to play with something attached to the end of a piece of string on the end of a stick. Caution must be given with small parts as just like children with their toys, there is a risk of swallowing and choking with a young Bengal kitten (or any other kitten or puppy even).
Q5. Should I keep my Bengal indoors or should he/she be allowed to roam outside? A. Bengals love the outdoors, but it must be away from any main roads. If you live near a busy road, then you must keep your Bengal cat or kitten as a house-cat. They will be perfectly happy living as a house-cat once it is established that 'outdoors' is out of bounds. Sometimes a 'happy medium' can be established by building an outdoor run where your Bengal cat or (older) Bengal kitten may be placed in good weather. Caution must be given as kittens and cats can suffer from sunburn, heatstroke and frostbite just like humans...so it must be 'right' for the cat/kitten and cover/shelter should be available at all times, and must include food, water and heating (when cold). If you are NOT living near a busy road, your cat will love exploring the 'great outdoors' and will be one happy, healthy, fit Bengal.
Q6. Will my Bengal(s) venture out of my garden? A. Yes. Like all cats, Bengals love to climb and explore. Unless you have a specialist cat-proof boundary fence installed, then your cat or cats will enjoy climbing up high walls, fences and trees and will go exploring. If you decide your Bengal cat is to be allowed to roam outside (a great idea- where possible!), it is very wise to ensure that they are also vaccinated (as well as the basic vaccinations) for Leukaemia, as this is ultimately fatal should they be unfortunate enough to become infected by the local 'tom-cat' or any other cat nearby. (Leukaemia can easily be transferred from one cat to another via saliva). We would also recommend that your Bengal cat or kitten be micro-chipped in case he/she gets lost. A good time to micro-chip your Bengal cat/kitten is when your cat/kitten is around 6 months old and is being neutered (for reasons why to have your Bengal cat neutered...see Q14). Whilst under the anaesthetic the microchip can be placed under the skin and the kitten/cat won't feel a thing! People often ask about the possibility of Bengals getting stolen. Well, as with any other exotic looking animal there is always a risk, but Bengals are not always that confident around strangers so may not readily go with them if there was an attempt to steal.
Q7. Should we get a male or a female Bengal? A. There is no real 'correct' answer to this. Some people swear by the nature of a male, others prefer females. We would always advise people to ask the Breeder about each kitten, and take their advice as to each Bengal kittens' or cats' temperament and characteristics as they are all individuals. The main thing is that the kitten is born and reared in the correct surroundings, has been health checked (twice) and fully vaccinated by a Veterinary Surgeon and has been well handled and integrated into the everyday sights and sounds of 'normal ' household activities (more to be read about this later on, at Question 13 'What should we expect to receive when we collect our Bengal kitten or cat'?) Most people do not realise that female cats as well as male cats can spray in the home. This can be avoided by ensuring your Bengal kitten is neutered by the age of 6 months. Many Veterinary Surgeons still insist that kittens be a minimum of 6 months old before neutering, but this is a somewhat old-fashioned view now and both of the Partners at our Vets have been neutering the kittens* for the CPL (Cats' Protection League) for over 10 years now at a much younger age, with no adverse reactions. In fact, the kittens come home, feel happy once again and literally 'bounce back' into action! They can be seen playing happily a few hours later and interacting with their siblings quite happily the very next day. *The kittens referred to here are not only household pet 'moggies' but include pedigree cats and kittens such as Bengals, Maine Coons, Siamese, British Shorthair, Ragdolls, Sphynx, Bombay, Asian, Balinese, Oriental, Abyssinian, Devon Rex and any other breed of cat than you can think of! (Please read our 'Advice on Buying a Kitten' page...see link at Q14)
Q8. Is it true that Bengals like to play in water? A. Absolutely! Bengals can often be seen dabbling or wading in water, though not every Bengal is too keen on getting the 'full soaking' i.e. having a bath! They nearly always 'scoop' or skim the surface of their drinking water with their paws before taking a drink and it is advisable to keep their water bowl on a tray to catch any spilled water. Keeping the lid down on the toilet is a 'must', unless you want your Bengal dabbling in the loo!!
Q9. Will my new Bengal kitten already be litter trained when I collect him/her? A. Yes. Bengal kittens (as well as some other breeds of cat/kitten) are intelligent and quick to learn. They learn from their mother normally, and when they see what she does, they copy, so the process is quite simple. On occasions a Bengal kitten at his/her new home may become too scared to go looking for the litter tray, so it is advisable to keep the litter tray handy at all times and to place it close to the kittens bed/hiding place, until the kitten is totally adjusted to his/her new home and is confident enough to venture out as far as the litter tray. Reputable Breeders will make sure their kittens are fully litter trained before leaving home, so please do go to a well known and established breeder for your Bengal kitten.
Q10. Should I buy a Bengal kitten or an older, more mature Bengal cat? A. Only you can decide that. You need to consider things like: Do you have other cats at home? Would they readily accept another adult (Bengal) cat? Some young cats may prefer a kitten to play with, and likewise, an older cat would possibly find a kitten more acceptable in their home than an adult cat. However, there are some really nice retired breeding adult Bengals out there who deserve a good home to retire to as well, and would happily get along with other adult cats that do not really want to be bothered with playing, which a young Bengal kitten may be wanting to do! Adult Bengals would probably be used to being on their own too, and would possibly be better for someone out at work all day or an older couple who don't want to be playing with a young kitten all day, or having a young kitten underfoot all the time.
Q11. What toys and accessories should I get for my new Bengal kitten/cat? A. Basics such as a scratch post and jingley balls with a bell in. These are popular with Bengal kittens and adult cats alike. A scratch post really is a 'must' for Bengal cats and kittens and will be appreciated by both. There are also cat toys laced with 'catnip'...a herb that cats really love the smell of and can become quite ecstatic over, rolling around the floor and wrestling with the toy etc! Make sure you get the right kind of litter tray...one that your Bengal cat or kitten is used to using. For instance, a covered tray with a door may be quite alien to your new kitten who may have been used to using an 'open' type tray only. The covered type of litter tray may be too complicated and scary for your new Bengal kitten to try when he/she is already feeling vulnerable in their new surroundings. Most cats and kittens will use any type of litter, but it is advisable to ask the Bengal breeder which type the kitten is used to and get the same for your kitten to use in your home. Make sure you know what food your Bengal kitten or cat has been used to, and ensure you have a good supply of the same food at home. A change of food and diet for an already traumatised kitten can lead to problems. (Moving home can be rather traumatic for a young Bengal kitten or cat, so you must make him/her feel as much at home as possible).
Q12. I am thinking of having two Bengal kittens from the same Breeder....is this wise? A. Yes. Having two Bengals (cats or kittens) at the same time can be very entertaining! The Bengal kittens should already be used to each other (check with your Bengal breeder that the kittens have been raised together) so will settle into their new homes much more easily. This will quickly lead to lots of playing and running about and entertaining each other. This is great for people who are out at work a lot, and it means a single kitten will not be left at home alone all day. The stress levels are also much less for two kittens homed together as they have confidence in their sibling who is a familiar part of 'home'.
Q13. What would I expect to receive from the Breeder when I collect my new Bengal kitten? A. A reputable breeder should give you the following: A signed Pedigree Certificate, a Vaccination Certificate from the Vet, a Registration Document, a diet sheet, a sample of food that your kitten (or kittens) is/are used to eating, maybe a kitten pack with a few free goodies, and sometimes FREE insurance with Pet Plan for 6 weeks. It is advisable to take out insurance for your Bengal cat or kitten once the 6 weeks free insurance from PetPlan has expired. Vaccinations will require an annual booster and should be maintained in order to give your Bengal cat full protection and may be a requirement of your insurance policy. Before allowing your Bengal to roam outdoors, it is strongly advised that you ensure he/she is vaccinated against the different Cat 'flu's and also Leukaemia (see Q15). Leukaemia can easily be passed on when cats fight etc. and it is an ultimately fatal disease for all cats, whether pedigree Bengal, pedigree something else or your everyday household moggy! Bengal kittens sold 'unregistered' or having 'no papers' may actually be cross-breeds and not real pedigree Bengals at all. The Pedigree Certificate and Registration papers are evidence of a pure-bred, Pedigree Bengal. It is quite normal for a reputable breeder to retain the Registration Document and/or the Pedigree Certificate and/or ALL of the cats/kittens paperwork until neutering has been carried out and a letter from your Veterinary Surgeon is supplied to them confirming this has been done. This is to protect the pet kitten from being used for breeding, and possibly ending up in a kitten mill (feline equivalent of a puppy farm). Please ensure your Breeder is reputable and does actually have the parent Bengals on the 'Active' register..ie.the parents were originally sold for breeding and not just as 'pets' only. (See next question..14...'ADVICE ON BUYING A KITTEN')
Q14. Should I have my pet Bengal kitten neutered.....if so, why?...and when? A. This subject has been broached in Q7 and here we will explain some more. Your Bengal kitten may have already been neutered before he or she was collected from the breeder.This ensures that the 'pet' kitten is going to a pet home only, and will never be bred from by the new owner. This is neccessary these days are there are so many people out there who think they can buy a pet Bengal kitten and cross breed it with some other cat, be it a Bengal, Siamese, British Shorthair (BSH), Ragdoll, moggy or any other breed of cat, in order to make a 'quick buck' from selling cross-bred, unvaccinated kittens. These cross-bred, unvaccinated, 'cheaper' kittens are often taken away from their mums and sold at far too young an age, and may prove to be very expensive in the long run should they go on to develop illnesses or diseases (that need urgent Veterinary treatment) that could be ultimately fatal. There are some serious implications to be noted here with the cross-breeding, and we do not approve of, nor do we support the cross-breeding of Bengals for the very reasons stated in our 'ADVICE ON BUYING A KITTEN ' page, section entitled 'IMPORTANT...PLEASE READ!' So, before purchasing a Bengal kitten or cat...please read this information, and if you still feel you can support these people who cross-breed their PET Bengal, then go ahead. But...if you are genuine animal lovers like we are, you will not support these 'back-yard' breeders and will make sure you buy your pedigree Bengal kitten from a registered, reputable Bengal breeder. If your kitten is not neutered when he/she comes home, then it is advisable to get this done around 5-7 months of age. This will prevent spraying in and around the home, and applies to both males AND females, so do get your kitten neutered soon!
Q15. How important is it to buy a vaccinated kitten? A. VERY important! A Bengal kitten will be exposed to all kinds of unfamiliar viruses and diseases once it leaves home. Like all other kittens, Bengal kittens will receive some immunity from viruses and diseases through the colostrum in their mothers' milk. This can give the kittens some immunity until around 6 weeks of age, at which point the immunity/protection starts to wane. It is crucial that the first vaccination is given to the kitten when they reach around 9 weeks of age. This is when the antibodies from mum's milk will have ceased, so the vaccination can work on the kitten's own immune system without interference from the antibodies received via mum's milk. A second vaccination is required for the kitten at around 12 weeks of age, and one week after this second vaccination the kitten should have all the protection needed to help it fight off viruses like Feline Influenza (Cat 'flu), and Feline Infectious Enteritis. Your Bengal kitten can also be vaccinated against other diseases like Feline Leukaemia (FeLv) ...so do check if your kitten is protected against this before allowing him/her outside where they may meet up with infected cats. Kittens sold with no vaccinations are often taken away from their mothers far too early and can easily contract the above diseases and viruses, some of which may affect them for the rest of their lives. It could be extremely costly for you, the owner, if you were constantly needing to seek Veterinary treatment for your sick kitten. A bad dose of Cat 'flu could even kill your unprotected kitten, likewise Feline Aids and Feline Leukaemia are often fatal, though there is no reliable vaccination against Feline Aids at the moment. Another issue with an unvaccinated kitten is that they are unlikely to have had the all-important Health checks given by the Veterinary Surgeon when they are taken for the vaccinations. Normally two health checks are given...a more thorough one initially (when the first vaccination is administered) and a second health check is given at the next vaccination. This is when the Vet checks that your kitten is generally healthy, has no heart defects or breathing problems that could mean they may not be healthy enough to deal with the effects of a vaccination if administered. Once the course of (2) vaccinations ahs been done, your kitten will be covered for the next 12 months, and then just 1 Booster vaccination annually will keep the kitten/cat protected. Many insurance companies insist on your kitten/cat being vaccinated, so please do ensure the boosters are maintained or your insurance for your cat/kitten could become invalid.
Q16. Where/how did the Bengal Cat originate? A. The Bengal cat as a breed was originally started by Jean Sugden (Jean Mill after marriage) in the 1960's. Originally, spotted domestic cats were crossed with Asian Leopard Cats and sometimes Egyptian Mau's, Abyssinians and other breeds were introduced to widen the gene pool. All first generation male offspring from the ALC (Asian Leopard Cat...first generation crosses are referred to as F1's) are sterile, so it was essential to find other cats for the programme. Around 50% of the next generation (F2's) of males are infertile and 25% of the F3's are infertile so it was no easy task! Eventually the breed was established and we now have a broad gene pool for Bengals, though some aspects are still very much considered as 'early days yet'. A domestic Bengal is only considered as such when it has reached the fourth generation (or F4) from the Asian Leopard Cat (ALC), and although some lower generation cats can be very friendly, the F1's, F2's and some F3's of Bengal type are not generally considered as 'ideal family pets' due to some of them being shy animals and needing more understanding and knowledge than the standard Bengal cat.
We hope this may answer some of the many questions we get asked....but please do CONTACT US for further information if there is anything else you need to know.
You may also find our articles entitled 'The Asian Leopard Cat' and 'From Asian Leopard Cat to Bengal Cat' very interesting, both of which can be found via a link on our ABOUT US page. We also have a useful and informative guide entitled 'ADVICE ON BUYING A KITTEN', so please do read this before deciding where to buy your Bengal kitten or cat. There is one section entitled 'IMPORTANT...PLEASE READ' on this advice page and we feel it is essential that people get to know this useful piece of information before buying a kitten.