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

Olga    International, NJ

11/20/2014 1:16:53 AM

Naturally, such a regal cat as the Bengal couldn’t but attract celebrities. Renowned fashionista and socialite Jemina Khan and boyfriend Hugh Grant announced a generous reward for the return of their two missing cats in London.
Halle Berry, while filming Catwoman, said she fell in love with the breed and wanted one for herself. Among other famous Bengal cat lovers are Donatella Versace, Nicole Richie, Cher, Calvin Klein, Jonathan Ross, Saudi Prince Saud-al-Faisal, Sir Jeffrey Archer. And the list goes on. LINK

chickenfootbroth    chickenland, CA

11/17/2014 1:18:16 PM

Add me to the bengal club. I got one recently to go along with my one year old cat and he's smart. Not going to lie he is far more high energy than any cat I've owned (he'd be my 4th ever) but I look forward to it! That's why I got him, and I have no doubt that as he finds outlets for his energy that I don't like, I can meet them with the proper response to encourage good behavior. He's smart and cuddly when he wants to be and I think these things can be encouraged. I adore him so far!

Maria-Elena    Tarpon Springs, FL

10/19/2014 11:40:39 PM

I fell in love with an 8 year old Bengal cat the moment I saw him. The owner could not keep it, and asked me to; I gladly agreed. I have five other cats, all seniors, and pretty good-natured. They share a large litter box made out of a tall 4 ft long storage bin, which gets scooped 2-3 times a day. Bengal would have nothing to do with it. He peed on the tile floor and on the carpet on the stairs. In the beginning, he was aggressive with the others until the alpha male cat of the house put him in his place. He also go for our legs when we were going up the stairs at the beginning, but he calmed down eventually. I bought kitty a cat wheel, expensive toy but worth it. He loved using it. He was also the only one interested in it. And as the expert said, he wanted attention. He would run on the wheel for a little bit, then stick his head out to check if I was watching him, and when I praised him he would continue. If I would call him he would, go "Ah?" He was adorable, but also a problem child. We had to take him to the box and gently encourage him to go. He would growl on the way, but once in he would use it while I praised him for being a good cat. However, reinforcement would not stick, he would go somewhere else if not supervised. I can't decide if he was forgetful or just determined. I put up a fence at the top of the stairs, so that he would not go downstairs to poop on the floor, I also bought Scat, which I placed in three different spots to deter him and an aluminum foil cover for the furniture, but he did still made it downstairs past the booby traps. He also started to pee and poop on the leather sofa (now discarded). As much trouble as he was, I could not see myself getting rid of him. He was a innocent creature, who did not know any better. I attributed his behavior to lack of training when he was younger, but now that I read these posts, it may just have been his wild nature. All in all, he was worth having. I would have enjoyed this little troublemaker for years, but unfortunately, from one day to the next he had to be euthanized because an undetected tumor in his stomach burst and could not be fixed. It seemed unreal to be playing with him and admiring him one day, and saying good-bye the next. I miss him. His cat wheel is a sad reminder of the void he has left behind. I had him for almost a year, and I am glad to had been with him till the end. In any case, if you are considering a Bengal, beware: Yes, they are lovely, intelligent creatures in a McGiver sort of way, but they require plenty of exercise, and early bonds with other pets to be happy. Also, never yell at Bengals. They are not intimidated and may want to stand their ground or attack.

William    International

8/14/2014 7:59:21 AM

One of our neighbours got a bengal cat about a year ago and now it terrorises the neighbourhood and all the other cats are terrified to go outside. Our cat has run away twice and now will not go out the house. This bengal cat even goes into the other houses to find the cats that live there plus it. I've had a few cats over the years and I've never seen anything like this animal -- the other cats have no chance against it. Of course its owners are not interested in doing anything about the problem.

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