What is a Bengal Cat?
The Bengal Cat is the only widely recognized breed with a background as a hybrid between the domestic cat and a wild cat species (i.e. the Felis Prionailurus, or the Asian Leopard Cat). This unusual background is the reason why Bengal breeders and owners of Bengal cats are often asked questions about the character and behavior of the Bengals. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
Bengal Temperment and Personality
CAN YOU KEEP Bengals WITH CHILDREN?
Answer: Yes, Bengal cats are excellent family pets, and they love to play and sleep with the children of the family. Numerous Bengal breeders are themselves parents of small children, and they can attest to this being an excellent combination. However, please remember that children must be taught to treat animals correctly – this applies to all animals, and it is of course the parents’ responsibility to teach them.
IS A Bengal VERY WILD?
Answer: Not at all! Although it has a beautiful wild looking appearance, the Bengal behaves like other cats in most respects. Years and years of goal-oriented breeding have resulted in a Bengal Cat with a beautiful and exotic look and a pleasant and affectionate nature. Bengals are active, curious, and almost dog-like in their dealings with the owner, and they prefer to accompany the owner everywhere. The only areas, in which the Bengal Cat has retained a “wild” behavior is in the way it moves and in its handling of water. The Bengal is usually fast as lightning, and it uses its paws for picking up things (just like a squirrel). Moreover, numerous Bengal cats and Kittens enjoy playing with water – just like their wild ancestors in the jungle.
IS THE Bengal AGGRESSIVE?
Answer: NO! Unfortunately, some people, unfamiliar with the Bengals, spread this opinion – perhaps because in the early days of the Bengal history, a few Bengals did not behave very well in the exhibition halls (at least, this is the only explanation we Bengal breeders can come up with). However, due to responsible and caring breeders, the present-day Bengal has a loving and affectionate nature.
Moreover, the Asian Leopard Cat is not aggressive by nature. But unlike most other wild cats, large and small, it is not cut out to be kept in captivity, as it maintains its natural shyness (and will not use a litter box!). In addition, the first generations after crossing a leopard cat with a domestic cat (the first three generations are called F1, F2, and F3 respectively – F stands for “foundation”) may have inherited the shy nature, although this is not always the case. However, Bengals sold as pets are four or more generations away from their Asian ancestor, and they have the pleasant character of the domestic cat. Sometimes, a litter of Bengal kittens comprise a kitten, which has inherited the shy character of its forefather. Such a kitten should be taken into special consideration by the breeder, as it is neither suited for being a show cat nor a family cat. It may, however, turn out to be an excellent companion for a single owner.
In addition, the The International Cat Association (TICA) Bengal Standard mentions that a Bengal must not show aggression. Therefore, Bengals bred by responsible breeders are loving and devoted family cats – as a visit to such a breeder will most certainly attest to.
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO LIVE WITH A Bengal?
Answer: In most respects, the Bengal behaves more like a dog than like a cat! It will follow its owner everywhere and is interested in the family doings. It enjoys helping with floor washing or doing the dishes and may even accompany its owner in the shower. It is curious and playful (many Bengals will entertain themselves for hours playing with a drinking straw) and it loves being cuddled when it has finished its chores. It likes to be in high positions – in this respect, their wild ancestry does not fail them. A tall cat tree is popular, but a Bengal will make do with an open door (not without danger), a tall bookshelf, or other tall piece of furniture. From this high position, it will survey the activities of the household.
IS THE Bengal SO WILD THAT IT MUST BE WALKED ON A LEASH?
Answer No. When numerous Bengal Cat owners teach the cat to walk on a leash, it is only in order to be able to give the Bengal exercise, if the cat does not have an outdoor run – and because they love when people swoon at the sight of their beautiful cat. All cats can be taught to walk on a leash and love the adventures they experience on a walk in the park.
Based on initial work written, translated from Danish, and reproduced here by the generous permission of Annette Lerche Trolle, Trollspotting