5 Things To Know Before Getting a Bengal Cat

Exotic. Playful. Hyperactive. Intelligent. Mischievous. You can use words to sum up the unique and wild-looking Bengal Cat’s appearance and personality.

Sep 9, 2023By Andrew Olsen
things to know before getting bengal cat

Bengal cats are known for their exotic coat pattern, their hyperactive nature, and their sweet and loving personalities. This is the perfect cat for a household that can keep the cat entertained and meet its affectionate demands. If you’re looking for a lap cat, this one will not fit the bill — they love exploring and are always up to something.

Bengal Cat Overview

Group of bengal cats
A group of young Bengal cats
  • Weight range: Females weigh between 6 and 9 pounds (2.7–4 kg), and males between 9 and 15 pounds (4–6.8 kg)
  • Life expectancy: between 9 and 13 years, sometimes 16–20 years
  • Coat length: short, mainly shedding in the spring; otherwise, little shedding
  • Coat color: brown, seal, melanistic (black), among others
  • Coat pattern: variety of patterns like spotting, ticking, tabby
  • Social, affection, and attention needs: high
  • Dietary requirements: high protein, age-appropriate food

5- Wild Origins

leopard cat by thomas najer
Photo credit: Thomáš Najer

The Bengal cat may be a domestic cat, but its origins are as wild as can be — the breed was developed in the 1960s and 1970s by a breeder named Jean Mill, who aimed to create a domestic cat with a distinctive coat pattern and wild appearance of the leopard cat. Jean Mill initially crossed a female leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) with a male domestic cat, specifically an Egyptian Mau, in the early stages of the Bengal cat’s development. The offspring were then bred with domestic cats over several generations to establish a breed with a stable temperament and appearance.

It’s important to note that Bengal cats are considered domestic cats and are not a hybrid or wild cat species. Although they retain the visual characteristics of their wild ancestors, they are bred for domesticity. They are recognized as a pedigreed breed by various cat registries, including The International Cat Association (TICA) and the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA).

4- Living With a Bengal Cat

two bengals in a sink
Photo credit: The International Bengal Cat Society

These exotic cats have certainly not forgotten about their wild roots and are highly athletic and ‘busy’ cats. They need ample space to run around and play. Vertical height is also important because they love climbing anything and everything they can find. They might start destroying your furniture if they get bored or do not receive enough attention! You must play with your cat and have many cat toys to entertain them. They are known for their high intelligence and need mental stimulation.

Bengals love water, so don’t be surprised if your cat joins you in the shower or prefers drinking from a dripping tap or faucet. Bengals are also the perfect cat thieves, and they will ‘steal’ anything that appeals to their curious nature. Bengals love learning and performing tricks — this will depend on the cat’s personality.

Like many other cats, affection will be on their terms, but they are known to be cuddle bugs. They like to be involved in your life. They love being around other cats and pets once properly introduced and monitored. Don’t forget, they’re chatty cats and love communicating with you.

3- Feeding Requirements

Bengal cat stalking
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

If Bengal cats have enough space to run around and play, they’ll easily maintain their weight naturally. A high-protein diet is recommended due to their wild ancestry. A combination of wet and dry food meets their dietary requirements — remember, cats are obligate carnivores. Always speak to your veterinarian to get the recommended food for your exotic ball of energy.

2- Grooming Requirements

instagram bengal cat thor
Photo credit: Instagram (@bengalthor)

Thankfully Bengals love grooming time and see it as another form of play or affection time with their human servants. They do not shed heavily and require moderate grooming. They’ll shed a little more in springtime when they get their coats ready for the warmer months ahead. Daily brushing during the spring will help to keep their silky, glossy coats in top condition.

1- Known Health Issues

Angie Moreland bengal cat in water
Photo credit: Angie Moreland

Unfortunately, their genetic ancestry makes them prone to some health problems. This doesn’t mean every Bengal cat will experience these issues, but they are in a higher risk group than other cats. Three genetic conditions may crop up during your cat’s lifetime:

  • Pyruvate kinase deficiency is an inherited disease. The pyruvate kinase enzyme is part of the red blood cells that carry oxygen. When this enzyme is lacking in your cat’s blood, its red blood cells’ lifespan is shortened, leading to anemia. Signs to look out for include lethargy, weight loss, weakness, or enlargement in the abdominal area.
  • Progressive retina atrophy, or Bengal PRA or PRA-b, affects the cat’s retina. It is a degenerative disease affecting the retina that eventually leads to blindness. This condition affects your cat’s night vision – they can come across as clumsy in low light, avoid the darkness, or appear nervous at night. Currently, there’s no prevention or cure for PRA.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is one of cats’ most common heart diseases. With this condition, the heart walls thicken, and the heart cannot perform in peak condition. In most cases, it is a genetic condition, and there is no known cure. Symptoms of severe HCM include difficulty breathing, mouth breathing, and lethargy.
Andrew Olsen
By Andrew Olsen

Andrew is a proud cat dad of three spoiled cats, Schopenhauer, Poppy, and Empress Sisi. Growing up with various pets instilled a lifelong love for animals in him. His work in environmental management, particularly water governance, gave him first-hand experience with the delicate balance between humans and animals — domestic and wild. His favorite hobbies include browsing and buying cat toys, gardening, growing fresh catnip for his cats, drinking tea, and reading with a cat on his lap.