Bengal Kittens & Cats – What are They Like - My Beautiful Bengal
What’s it like having a Bengal cat running around the house? What’s their temperament like and what does this hybrid jungle cat like to eat? This article is about the Bengal breed and Leo.
Leo is a five year old Bengal cat, who will dance, scream, growl and head-butt his way into your heart.
Bengal Cats – The Breed
The Bengal cat is a cross between a Domestic Short-hair or Burmese and an Asian Leopard. Bengals are one of the newest breeds of cats, first registered in the USA in 1983 by Jean Mill. Bengals as pets are bred fourth generation from the Asian Leopard Cat (F4). Any closer and they sometimes are too wild in temperament, and the males are infertile.
Bengal cats come in a two colors, brown or snow, although there are exceptions. All have the tabby markings, some with tiger spots and others with a marbled pattern. All pure Bengals will have touch of white under their chin, around their eyes and sometimes on the belly. The belly is always spotted. Without these white markings or if white is found elsewhere on the body the cat is not considered a Bengal, excluding the Snow Bengal as far as white goes.
What are Bengals like as Pets?
In a word; loud.
The trip home from the breeder with 8 weeks old Leonardo caged in the back seat was a loud one, he barely took breaths between screaming. Leo did not stop during the trip. He did not stop meowing until after two or three hours of being in his new home. Leo was protesting so loudly that he could be heard ten houses down the street. Poor thing.
After Leo settled he began to display his own personality. Leo was obviously a house cat, but with the wild traits:-
• Loud – One yard away and your ears still hurt.
• Growl meows when eating food – Which has nothing to do with fending off competitors, but more to tell the rest of his pride that the food is good. Violence does not enter his mind. If he receives attention like patting whilst eating then that's all the better. He is a social eater.
• Will hog the food – Even when Leo is not hungry he will hold his head in the food bowl preventing the other pets in the house from eating his food.
• Clean the surface of water before drinking – Leo wipes his paw over the water surface as if cleaning floating leaves away. Most Bengals do this but science does not have an explanation.
• Pick food up and throw it – It does not matter what food was placed before Leo, he will always pick up the first morsel and toss it away. Expect food on the walls.
• Approval before eating special food – Leo loves raw chicken wings and legs, he knows it is a treat. The feeding regime goes something like; put the wing in his bowl, he sniffs at it, and then takes a step back until others in the room have checked out the food by touching it. (If the food is not touched he will not eat it). That is his signal to dive in, flick the wing with his paw and then chow down. The whole time growling and meowing until not a bone remains.
• Head deep in water to eat scraps – Fill a dirty pot to the brim with soaking water and Leo will submerge his whole head in the pot just to eat the food on the bottom. Bottom feeder I guess.
• The Birds – Leonardo has a reputation with the local birds when he is outside. Five to ten, squawking birds will follow him where ever he goes. We always know where he is by listening for the birds. Weird.
• Got flies. Got insects – They are all treats. Leo spots the fly while walking at a normal pace; paw swipes it into his mouth and eats it. All without changing his stride.
Cats are Dangerous to Local Wildlife – Particularly at night
I have always trained my cats to stay indoors at night, but not so with Leo. I tried and tried for several months without luck. He is so bull headed and if he wants it he will have it.
It seems it is part of the Bengal's nature to be outside, if I tried to keep Leo inside he would burst. He would cry and scream, attempting any avenue of escape. Like climbing windows and scratching at doors. His relentlessness eventually wins over and he is let out for another night. Cat door installed.
My Bengal's Diet
I say my Bengal because I am sure other Bengals eat a greater variety. Leo only eats meat. It can be canned cat food, dry or unprocessed. As far as Leo is concerned everything else is not eatable. Milk, ham, ice cream, eggs, bacon and anything else expected of cats is no different than a rock to Leo.
Outside. A lizard per hour Leo would catch until he moved on to rats. Rats were only one each night. As a hobby it was insects swiped from the air, later graduating to Indian Minor birds. Built up quite a reputation with the Minors he did. They now follow him everywhere during the day, flocks in fact, squawking and squealing as they go. Good thing Minor birds are pests, and Leo has no history of bothering the native wildlife.
Bengal cats for the most part are much wilder than Fluffy down the street. They’re inherited hunting skills are sharp and they are way more dangerous to wildlife than most expect. I was not kidding about the insects. Do be mindful if you have a Bengal or thinking of adopting.
Leo's first roll as Leonardo DeCatrio in "The Dinner Dance (2013)"
All images taken and copyrighted by Stephen Hodgkinson (Quescout)