Are Bengal Cats Prone to Certain Behavior Issues?

CatChannel and CAT FANCY cat behaviorist Marilyn Krieger, CCBC, explains why Bengals have the same cat behavior concerns as other cat breeds.

By Marilyn Krieger, CCBC

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Q: I want to adopt/rescue a Bengal Cat, mainly because of their fabulous look. I am hesitating and am confused because of information I recently read on the internet. At least one internet source states that all Bengals have litterbox issues and that they bite all of the time; other sources say Bengal Cats are loving and sweet cats with no behavior problems.

In my research about Bengal Cats, I saw that in addition to your being a cat behaviorist, you are one of the coordinators for Bengal Cat Rescue. Can you set the record straight?

A: The popularity of the Bengal Cat breed has increased dramatically in the last few years, probably owing to the Bengal Cat’s beautiful and wild look, its ancestry and its vivacious personalities. The Bengal Cat breed was developed originally by crossing a domestic cat with a wild cat. The majority of pet Bengals are at least four generations away from the Asian Leopard Cat, their wild ancestor. Unfortunately, due to their ancestry, there is a lot of inaccurate information published about them.

Bengal Cats are no more prone to behavior problems then other cat breeds or moggies. They have no more or fewer litterbox issues than any other cat breed, nor are they more or less aggressive then other cats. The same triggers that cause other purebred cats and non-breed cats to have behavior problems can trigger a Bengal Cat to have challenges.

Even though Bengal Cats do not have more behavior challenges then other cats, they are not the cat for everyone. Like all breeds of cats, they have special characteristics that may or may not fit into your lifestyle. Before adopting cats, do your homework.

Don’t base the decision to adopt a Bengal solely on its stunning looks. Bengals are very active and extremely intelligent. Many enjoy playing in water and they need high places to hang out. As a breed, Bengals are affectionate, but usually aren’t lap cats, although there are exceptions. They love to be with their people and they enjoy playing. Bengals are attention seekers. They will go to great lengths to encourage their favorite people to interact with them. Bengal Cats do not do well left all alone for hours every day without a companion to keep them company. Like all cats, they do need lots of environmental stimulation. One can never have too many toys or tall places when living with Bengal Cats.

If you do decide that a Bengal is the cat for you, check out the Bengal Rescue Network to find a rescue coordinator near you. There are many wonderful Bengal Cats of all ages up for adoption throughout the United States and Canada.
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Reader Comments

Kim    St Pete, FL

5/1/2014 8:59:12 PM

My neutered Bengal male is the neediest cat I've ever had. He's beautiful, and we love him, but be ready to commit a lot of time. This is a high energy breed. Would I do it again-yes.

Stephanie    Parlin, NJ

4/9/2014 6:59:45 AM

As far as Bengals go, I have a 4-year-old female Bengal that I've had since she was 12 weeks old. I've had cats all my life and have never had a more affectionate, sweet, smart, loving, funny, amusing on and on and on cat. We also have a 7-year-old Siamese and they are best friends. I don't think the Bengal would be happy if she didn't have a playmate. In my opinion owning a Bengal is in a completely different league as owning a normal domestic cat, they are so smart, you can actually see them thinking a situation out. I love her with all my heart.

Scarlet    Los Angeles, CA

1/13/2014 1:21:45 AM

A lot of people who work with animals at other rescues beg to differ. I also disagree. I rescued a bengal who has behavioral problems I've never seen on another animal and he is spoiled with my constant love, attention, and understanding (along with toys, the best food, etc). He also gets angry and intentionally destroys things in front of me when he is upset. The reason most bengals are surrendered to rescues (to the point where rescues surpass capacity) are for behavioral issues. They are a serious commitment I don't think should be downplayed.

jen    salem, OH

1/10/2014 2:22:31 PM

We have a bengal snow minx, he bites all the time, climbs on lamp shades, picture frames, he jumps and leaps at you, scratches with back claws due to front gone. No issues with litterbox. Is this normal behavior? We have tried numerous things to break him from biting and jumping on walls n lamps. Any information and ideas would be so helpful.

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