Bengal Cats: Not for the Inexperienced Cat Owner
A New Arrival
Three years ago, my twenty year old Siamese broke her sternum. It was devestating. The vet gave me the very bad news that she wouldn't live much longer. I've always had cats, so when I knew I would soon be losing my first ever cat, I was mortified.
My friend called with the news that a liter of kittens had just been born and I should come pick one. Their barn cat got mixed up with the neighbor's prized Bengal stud. I was intruiged. I'd heard about Bengals. Why wouldn't I jump at the chance to own a part Bengal? I drove to the house, and picked out a scrawny, lice ridden, flea infested, wormy kitten with conjunctivitis. She was promptly named Aurora (no not the princess. After the Aurora borealis because of her striking green eyes).
The vet looked at me like I was glutton for punishment as he took her into the exam room. I was told she probably wouldn't survive. The mother cat had not been taking care of her, and she was severely anemic. Too late though, she had already captured my heart so the trips to the vet continued. A few months later, I received the all clear. I was the proud owner of a very rambunctious, three month old, half bengal kitten.
Aurora promptly abolished all I thought I knew about cats. My Siamese hadn't prepared me at all for life with a half-Bengal. I wasn't prepared for her high intellegence. She often managed to let the hamster out, or get stuck in the bird cage. Imagine my surprise the first time she jumped in the shower with me. What kind of cat likes water? Stranger still was the mysterious toilet flushing at 3 in the morning. Once I realized a ghost hadn't taken over my bathroom, I strictly enforced the "toilet lid down" policy.
Another striking thing about Aurora is her vocabulary. My Siamese talked like most, but the Bengal is different. Aurora has a huge range of vocals. After 3 years, I'm able to tell if she wants food, attention, lost a toy, done something "naughty," or is just talking to hear herself talk. The funniest sound is when I'm sick. I like to think she's trying to comfort me (although that's a debate in itself). She'll sit right on my chest as I'm coughing, sneezing, etc, and fix me with her green eyes. Then, she'll talk. And when I say talk, I mean really talk. She just starts muttering away.
Energy: When you own a Bengal (or part Bengal) you need to be fully prepared for their high amount of energy. Toys, toys, and more toys will keep your cat happy. They need a lot of activity and really enjoy a good game. Mine likes to fetch. If you are gone most of the day, consider an additional cat, to help keep your Bengal active while you are away. Be prepared to spend a lot of time playing with your cat.
Heights and other fun things: Bengals love to jump. Keep this in mind. Many people can't stand cats up high, but if you have a Bengal, chances are good it will want to be up high. This may mean teetering on your door or hanging out on your highest cupboard.
Water: Bengals love water. I leave mine a bowl of water to play in. It's the best investment I have made. She spends all sorts of time in the water: splashing and playing. Remember to keep the toilet seat down to deter the cat from playing in that.
Attention: Lots and lots of attention. The Bengal demands attention. Be prepared to share a lot of your time with your new cat.
Environment: keeping your Bengal inside is one of the safest things you can do for your pet. Because of their on the go personality, and their curiosity, the outdoors is not the best place for them. If you really want to go outside with your cat, do it on a harness. Bengals love walks on a leash.
Rules: if you are going to have a Bengal, you should be prepared to lay down some rules. Because this breed is so intelligent, it doesn't take long to teach them the do's and don'ts of the house. I've used some basic conditioning on my cat which has helped tremendously.