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Bengal Cats

This is Maiya, she is a 5th generation Brown Rosetted Bengal and an absolute joy to have around.

Bengal CatBengal Cat

My wife Samantha and myself have had the pleasure of owning Maiya for some time now, and I would recommend this beautiful breed of cat to anyone. Maiya is our pet and she has a wonderful playful attitude (but nervous of strangers, this is a problem with Maiya rather than this breed of cat). Maiya sees everything as a toy to play with and loves climbing. I sometimes have to calm this cat down as she can become a little over enthusiastic and she can destroy the average cat toy in seconds.  

A Bengal is a crossbreed between an Asian leopard cat and a domestic cat. This has produced a number of different Bengal cats.

Oddly, this breed of cat enjoys water and she will jump in the bath as soon as the bathroom door is open. This can become a bit of a problem because the cat will jump into a bath or sink without checking the temperature (which could hurt the cat) or the depth of water which can be a surprise to both the cat and the occupant of the bath!.

Buying a Bengal

Make sure you want a cat, be aware that cats can live a long time (12 to 15 years or more) and do need to be taken care of. Bengal kittens can be expensive and so you may want to consider an older rescued Bengal cat, keep in mind that a kitten is not a kitten for very long and your cat will be an adult cat for most of its life. 

Bengal through a pink tunnel

I used to think the best thing to do was to go to a formal group which lists breeders and cats available and information about the breeder. However I am starting to wonder if such lists and groups is more about elitism than about the cats, I have yet to be convinced either way. An advantage of these groups is that is does give the added benefit of being able to make formal complaints about bad breeders.

The groups/breeders seem to have better examples of these animals, however, you have to put up with the god like attitude of some of the breeders who seem to believe they are the law on the subject (this was not the case for the breeder where we got Maiya from, that breeder was nice), do some research on the breeder or whoever is selling the cat before getting in contact.

Some groups themselves (e.g. GCCF) do recognise issues and seem to be taking steps to sort out abusive breeders, this is a really good thing, hopefully in time this will help to improve all breeders. Keep in mind that not all breeders are bad, you just have to find the good ones from the bad ones. This all suggests that some kind of "Breeder reviews" site would be appropriate, where cat owners could leave feedback (rate the breeder) which would help those better breeders and encourage the not so good ones to improve (I may consider creating such a review site).

Beware of scammers, in our attempt to find a Bengal kitten we ran straight into a scammer who tried to sell us a kitten by getting us to send them money and then they claimed they would send us the cat through the post (maybe it would have been a flat packed cat!).  Never send money to people, make sure you see the cat, the cats parents and how they are living and consider getting a vet to check over the cat.

Cages

In order to let our cat get to know us and to keep her under some control, we used a dog/cat cage and left that in the front room. During the first few nights and when we went out, we found it useful to put the cat into this cage and in that way we knew the furniture and plants would still be as we left them. These cages can also be used to put the litter tray in and provides a useful one location where water, food and cat little (try not to put these too close to each other) can be contained.

Bengal in a cage

However, two big problems....

We used a black cage and left the door open most of the time, this became a problem as our cat during playtime would run around the room and sometimes run into the door. Now while running into the side of a door that moves is not too bad, running into the edge of a door at speed can be damaging and could hurt the cat. I think this happens because of two reasons:

  • The colour of the cage (being black it is difficult for the cat to see). Maybe this is just Maiya that has problems seeing black things, but I am not sure.

  • The door moves and the cat does not expect it to be in different positions, we have seen the same problem when we moved a coffee table in that the cat did not expect that and managed to crash into it.

The cats like sitting on top of cages, which have holes in them. Whilst the cat is on top this is fine - BUT when the cat tries to jump off you will find that a cat can get its back legs stuck in one of the holes (potentially breaking the cats legs). We solved this issue by using a carpet on top of the cage (make sure you secure the carpet).

Things to remember about cages

  • Don't leave the doors of these cages open, keep them shut when you cat is not in them (always make sure your cat has access to water and the little tray).

  • Always cover the top of the cage with a firm covering that will not move so that the cat cannot get its legs caught in a hole (over the complete top - not just most of it).

  • Don't leave your cat in these cages too long as the cats do not like it.

  • Make sure you get a good size cage both in terms of its size and the size of the holes (so that a cat won't get its head stuck in the gaps). Consider a big cage as being bad (the cat will not like being restricted), so a small cage is even worse!

A jumping bengal

How to get a shy cat to be friendly

Our cat was very shy when we got her (she still is), she avoided almost all human contact and ran whenever someone approached her, although she was never aggressive and never hissed. We attempted to give her lots of toys and we tried to play with her, however she would just run and play with another toy away from us.

After a few weeks of this, we put all of her toys away except one (and that was not her favorite), this one toy we kept on the settee next to us and we played with the toy with the cat whenever we could. After two days of this, our cat started to jump up next to us to play without us moving the toy, after a few more days she started to sleep next to us when we watched TV. This changed and went backwards after we introduced another cat into the household and it has taken much work to calm her down again, but she still hides and get stressed when visitors are in the house. I'm not sure what alerts me to someone at the door first, the door bell or Maiya running for cover.

The point of what I am saying is, don't put out lots of toys as your cat will ignore you and play with all the toys available. Just have one toy that you keep next to you and play with the cat with that toy until the cat gets used to you.

Cat Trees

Its nice for a cat to have a place to relax, somewhere they can stretch out, have a good scratch (without tearing the furniture apart) and have a bit of a climb. All sorts of cat trees are available and we decided to get a nice big one (more than 8 feet tall with all sorts of hiding places) so that our cat could climb to her hearts content.

The problem with this is that your cat will start looking down on you and can become aggressive and territorial, our cat became very unfriendly within a few hours of having access to a tall cat tree and it took several days before she calmed down again (after taking the tree away). I think the cat starts to think it is better than you and it is in charge when it looks down on you.

We removed some of the higher levels of our cat tree, yet it is still taller than us and have allowed our cats to use it. Maiya has over time calmed down and is no longer aggressive when she sits at the top of the tree, although it remains difficult to get her down should we need to.

So I would recommend a cat tree that is not taller than you.