With its distinctive spotted coat, slender appearance and knowing glance, the Bengal cat has an exotic look with an unmistakable appearance and loud voice.
Bengal Cats: Brief History
In order to understand the Bengal, it’s important to be aware of its background.
This cross-breed combines domestic cats with an Asian leopard cat. As such, it has a mixed temperament – the mildness of the domestic, mixed with the wily nature of the Asian leopard. A strong combination that has earned its reputation as a playful breed, Bengals enjoy attention and pampering!
All cats have specific conditions that certain breeds may be more prone to. Here are a few specific to the Bengal.
Pedigree problems: Pedigree pets tend to suffer from genetic health problems than cross-breeds. Since a Bengal is pedigree, it may be prone to these. Always buy from a reputable owner with the right paperwork, to ensure you are aware of their health line. Furthermore, if buying a kitten, you should always be able to see it with its mother, as a sign of a good breeder.
Heredity Issues: There are some hereditary issues this breed inherits. This includes cataracts, retinal atrophy and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). Usually developing in old age, cataracts can be inherited and cause cloudiness of the lens of the eye, but can be removed with surgery.
Progressive retinal atrophy is another visual disorder which is degenerative and can lead to blindness. Sadly, there is no treatment for it and kittens as young as three months old have been seen with this. However, since it’s caused by a recessive gene, it’s important to know the history of your cat, which a responsible breeder should be able to provide to you.
HCM is not just specific to Bengal’s this is the most common heart disease in cats, resulting in enlargement of the heart muscle. This is another hereditary issue, and there is some suggestion that breeders should have their cars tested for heart murmurs annually.
Flat Chested syndrome: This is a deformity that can range in severity. It will be seen in kittens, although usually goes by time adulthood is reached.
Stealing: Bengal cats are precious and expensive, and sadly this means that they are prone to being stolen. As such, it is wise to get your cat microchipped and many prefer to keep them as indoor pets only.
Lifespan: The lifespan of a Bengal is relatively high compared to other breeds; generally speaking 13-15 years (most cats tend to live between 2 and 16 years). Some suggest that this may be in part due to their owners keeping them as indoor pets, and therefore they are less prone to harsh external environments.
Caring for your Bengal Cat
Like any short hair cat, your Bengal will need to be brushed and groomed, but unlike other breeds, this cat doesn’t mind water too much.
Daily dental hygiene needs to be maintained and as with other breeds, nail clipping every couple of weeks. A cotton cloth is ideal for wiping its eyes and face too.
The Cat Fanciers Association has a list of recommended breeders, who offer adoption from 12-16 weeks of the kitten’s life.
Consult with a local veterinarian if you’re concerned about health problems with your Bengal Cat.