The Bengal put the "b" in busy. These cats are active, alert and agile. They study the actions of their people and learn how to open cabinets, doors and even windows. They are capable of scaling walls, roosting on top of refrigerators and other high places in the home.
- 10 - 15 pounds
- about 16 inches
Ideal Human Companions
- Busy, active families
- Experienced cat owners
- Households with other pets, including dogs
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- Beautiful leopard-print coat
- Agile and athletic
- Very vocal
- Highly intelligent
- Loves water
What They Are Like to Live With
Despite its rising popularity, the Bengal is definitely not a cat for everyone. They fare best with experienced cat owners willing to devote time each day for interaction. Bengals demand attention. They are quite talkative, capable of making a wide range of vocalizations from chirps and chortles to squeaks and howls. Some growl when they eat.
Bengals thrive in active households. They love to play long games of fetch, walk on leashes and play in water dishes and bathtubs.
Things You Should Know
Show-quality Bengals can cost $2,000.
Bengals take up to two years to reach maturity.
Bengals are ideal candidates for clicker training.
They like shiny objects and may steal them and hide them.
A new and controversial breed, the Bengal is fast growing in popularity, due in part to its wildcat appearance. The Bengal began as a hybrid breed, created by crossing the Asian Leopard Cat with the domestic cat. The first “pet leopard” is traced back to Japan in the early 1940s, but the first appearance of Bengals in the United States was in the 1970s.
As a breed, Bengals were first exhibited in cat shows in 1985. Today, The International Cat Association ranks the Bengal as its most popular breed, well ahead of runner-up Ragdoll with more than 60,000 Bengals registered with TICA. However, the Cat Fanciers Association, the world’s largest cat breed registry, does not recognize the Bengal as a breed. To compete in the show ring, the Bengal must be at least a fourth-generation descendant of a crossing between the wild Asian Leopard Cat and a domestic cat. The goal is to maintain the “wild look” with a pleasing domesticated personality. Any Bengal who displays paw swatting or other signs of aggression toward a show judge is disqualified from competition.
The Look of a Bengal
Coveted for its wildcat exotic looks, the Bengal prowls like a small leopard with its sleek, muscular body, oval eyes, broad nose, strong chin and wedge-shaped head. Its hind legs are slightly longer than the front legs, yielding a “stalking-like” gait.
TICA recognizes 13 different coat colors in competition, ranging from brown tabby and seal lynx point to spotted and marbled patterns on its short to medium coat that feels silky to the touch.
Females weight between 6 to 12 pounds and males average between 10 to 12 pounds.
Talk About Bengals
Get a pair!
We've had three different purebreds over the years and they all have their special place in our hearts, but when we got our first Bengal a few years ago, we knew we'd met our breed. Bengals are not for everyone, but you may be a possible Bengal caretaker, if you're OK with...
1. Cats literally using the walls (and sometimes the windows) as springboards to launch themselves to the other end of the house in their daily laps.
2. Highly intelligent, quick-learning companions.
3. Minimal snuggling - they LOVE to be pet, but they can't sit still for snuggling. Too much to do.
4. Chatters who don't always want to talk on your schedule.
5. a PAIR (at least) of cats - nothing else can keep up with them.
We LOVE our Bengals. We love their activity level and their athleticism. Their aerial feats while chasing their feather toys are awe-inspiring. They do "explode" periodically from something as simple as a book being dropped - we find these highly amusing as they leap in the air and off in all directions in a split second. They are very very active but they do have their quiet moments. We've taught them a few tricks and they'll improvise while doing them. One of ours is very friendly and loves visitors. The other is a scaredy cat with visitors and will hide the entire time. If found, he just tries to run away. Nothing aggressive about them, but they are awesome mousers. They get along very well with other kitties but nothing has been able to keep up with them in their play. At night they curl up with us on the bed, which they sometimes take over.
~Kay S, owner of two Bengals
A rather vocal breed
My cat Tigger is a Bengal. When I am in bed at night he sleeps downstairs but if he gets bored he will open my bedroom door by jumping up and hitting the handle with his paw until it opens. He's very vocal, when I come home from work I get a chirp, and I love his deep, rumbly growl when he purrs. I love him because he is clever and loves to watch water. He sits on the side of the bath when I'm in it and when there is about two inches of water left when I let it out he will jump in and paddle.
~Gaynor J., owner of a Bengal
Cats that will get into anything
Bengals are very unique in looks and style! The Bengal is hyper and loves to get into trouble - mine likes unrolling the toilet paper! The cat tree is fun for them to perch on as they they love heights. The bathtub is always a treat too because water is the best past time to play in! I would only recommend this breed to people who seriously love cats that will get into anything and everything but, are fun to watch and play with so if you have time, enjoy them as much as I do!
~Gidget S., owner of a Bengal
A cat that doesn't like being ignored!
My Tiger Lily is a very intelligent cat. She will answer me when I call her, and quickly learns things. She can be lazy at times and doesn't like when she doesn't get the attention she wants but loves to be wherever I am. She sleeps with me, loves when I keep my routine, gets upset when I leave and all excited upon my return. Tiger and I are attached at the hip so to speak. If you want a cat that acts human the Bengal is it. They are great and I love mine.
~Melissa C., owner of a Bengal
Smart, athletic, and chatty
I have a pair of "snow" Bengals -- right now one is helping me type, the other is editing. They are extremely intelligent. They come when they're called, and will play with you until they (or you) drop. You must devote play time with them daily, as you would an energetic dog -- otherwise all that energy is directed at the furniture, toilet paper, chandelier, etc. These two have managed to turn on the washing machine, which is now unplugged until needed.
The male cat is a big momma's boy; the female constantly talks in a variety of chirps and tones. They are not lapcats -- there's minimal downtime -- but they demand attention and adoration, and are extremely affectionate in their own way.
I had some idea of what the breed was like before I got them as kittens because I've had cats all my life, but my husband finds them overwhelming at times. So you probably should not get this breed if you're at work all day -- you do need to be there early on in their little lives to shape their natural boisterousness.
These cats are amazing. I love mine to pieces, and they love me right back with their strong personalities.
~Sydney V, owner of two Bengals
A perfect alarm clock kitty
My Star is the most vocal cat I've ever owned, and LOUD! She makes it known when she wants something. She was my cat alarm at 4 to 5 a.m. until I finally got an automatic feeder. And she's not even the gobbler cat! She likes to be close by and comes to sit with me, but isn't a big fan of being held.
She LOVES her ball and I am glad she uses that for exercise. I have to keep a few lying around, but I make sure to pick them up at night or else risk hearing an exercise session at 3 a.m. She also loves her scratches. Not easy scratching, but super-rough scratching.
I got her as a rescue at about a year old. Someone had tossed her with a broken leg. She started out skittish of people, but now after two years she will come to the people she knows are cat lovers. She was my first breed to get after years of shelter kitties because I fell in love with one I saw at someone's home.
~Catherine E, owner of a Bengal
A jumping cat that plays fetch
Sanari, my cinnamon Marble Bengal, plays fetch with a covered keyring and plays fetch human -- she catches the ring and dumps it on the floor, waiting for a human to pick it up!
On command, she will sit, lie, kiss, and get on her hind legs. She listens when we speak to her. She understands "NO," and will bring her toys and chirp till we play with her.
She likes to jump -- she has a 1.8-meter scratching tower she runs up and down, and she can also jump 1.5 meters high. She drinks water from the tap and in the bath. She sleeps on our bed, specifically on my legs, till they are lame!
She loves soft materials, and adores the rough industrial carpets on her scratch tower. She is very curious and like getting into any bag. She hates being in a car and walks on a leash, though not very far. She is highly intelligent, active, lovable, and likes people!
~Ce F., owner of a Bengal
A wonderful one-person cat
Sasha is my best friend. She is so intuitive, so smart, so wonderful. Her eyes speak volumes. When I go outside, she stands by the door and screeches (the Bengal screech is unique) until I come in. She hangs out with me in the bath or shower. She wraps her paws around me in bed and will growl at anyone who comes near.
Please do not get a Bengal if you have children -- these cats need to be shown absolute tender loving care, not roughhousing, if you want them to trust you. I recently got a lovely Tonkinese, and my Bengal adjusted well after showing her that she was NOT being replaced in my bed or my heart.
These are very special cats, not leopard rugs with heartbeats. If you aren't a cat obsessive, don't even think about a Bengal. They are true companions, and will fill their human's life with as much love and happiness as the human is willing to give.
Re: one-person cats -- I don't know if this is true for all Bengals, or is merely the result of an extremely close relationship between myself and Sasha. Our vet says they do tend to "imprint" with one person, but it -- like anything else -- is based on both nature and nurture. Sasha definitely likes my partner, and tolerates visitors, but I am her snuggle person and jungle gym.
~Kit F., owner of a Bengal and a Tonkinese
A super-active family pet
I had never heard of a Bengal until this little kitten that had been dumped at my mom's farm walked up onto the outside deck and placed himself in my lap like he belonged there. Skinny, worm- and flea-infested, and hungry, he managed to make his way into our hearts. We took him home AFTER we took him to the vet. It was only after I did some research because of his marbled and silky coat that I found out he was a Bengal.
Sammie tried to play with my other two kitties but has too much energy for them. He has taught himself how to play fetch, loves watching the water swirl in the commode, chirps and talks, and is by my side no matter what I'm doing. Yesterday he sneaking into the kitchen cabinet where I keep my pots and pans. I just the door not realizing Sammie snuck in. IAs I stood there peeling an onion, I heard a pan drop, then another and before long, the entire shelf of pots and pans fell, the door swung open and out FLEW Sammie.
He has already learned our routines and knows when we do specific things, he will be able to go into a long hallway to run and waits by the door for us to open it. He loves climbing on his cat tree. He's not a big catnipper -- guess he's high on life!
He's a joy and so different from our other feline kids. He is demanding, is not big on being picked up, but loves to wake me up by licking my nose. This is the best breed I have ever owned, so interactive. If you have no patience, get a turtle. If you want a pet that will be an active part of your family, consider a Bengal.
~Sharon B, owner of a Bengal