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The Bengal Cat Guide







Buying a Bengal Cat  








 

 

 






 

Here we consider how to make sure you get a happy, healthy, attractive Bengal, which is right for you and your home.

Is a Bengal right for you?

The first question you must ask yourself is - why do you want a Bengal? Are you looking for a family pet, a show cat, a "wild animal in the home", a companion for an invalid, an apartment cat, or are you thinking of breeding Bengals? You need to examine your reasons for buying a Bengal carefully before spending four hundred pounds or much more on an animal with very specific needs. Not all Bengals are alike and you must find one which matches your needs or this experience could be a stressful one for you and the cat.

A Bengal cat is one which is at least four generations removed from the original cross. These cats and any following generations make great pets and are incidentally, the only type of Bengal which is recognised by the GCCF for show status. The F1, F2, and F3 cats (first, second and third generation removed from the wild) are more independent and best left to the experts, who use these for specific breeding purposes such as establishing bloodlines.

Contact a Breed Club

I will presume that readers in the UK are looking for a Bengal Cat, registered with the GCCF, as many British pedigree cats are. Whether you are looking for a show cat or a family pet, it is imperative that you acquire a healthy, vaccinated, insured animal from a reputable breeder who will have given your Bengal a good start in life.

Because of the media attention given to Bengals and the high prices which these cats can command, it has been alleged that some irresponsible breeders have been attracted to the breed. Reports are that some silly sums of money have been changing hands and cats have not always been placed with suitable owners. To combat this, several breed societies have been formed where responsible breeders are dedicated to the welfare of the Bengal and to keeping prices reasonable. This magazine recommends that you contact one of these as they will put you in touch with reputable breeders in your area. Since the Bengal Cat was recognised for show status by the GCCF in 1997, earlier problems are in decline, such as the alleged practice of unrecognised breeders outcrossing to tabby cats in an attempt to save money, or even allegedly selling tabby cats as Bengals to unsuspecting customers!

Visiting Breeders

Once you have contacted one of the breed clubs and been given a list of reputable breeders, it is important to visit more than one of these. There are two reasons for this.

Firstly, it will give you more idea of what Bengal kittens and adults look like, and what are the differences between different breeders’ cats. For instance, some breeders’ cats may have a golden glitter over their coat, and others may have a wilder look to the face, or bigger spots, or rosettes, or a combination of several factors. All breeders are aiming for different things at different times in their breeding programmes in order to produce cats which meet the show standard and also improve it in some aspect. So you may well prefer one particular breeder’s cats.

Secondly, it is important that you buy from a breeder that you feel comfortable with and whose advice you value. Your breeder should act as your mentor whilst your new Bengal is settling in and will be able to help with any problems that might arise. Genuine breeders will be dedicated to their cats and will be keen to know what happens to them after they leave their care. Some breeders keep their cats in the home, others in catteries or in a combination of these. However they are kept, the Bengals should be friendly, well socialised and healthy, with shiny fur, clean bottoms and bright eyes. Do not buy from a breeder whose cats have runny eyes, or who has so many litters of kittens in one room that it is difficult to tell which kitten belongs to which parent.

Which cat?

When you have seen two or three breeders and played with their Bengals, you will be able to decide if you really want one of these active, attention seeking cats. If you are looking for a show cat or a breeding queen, you must buy the best you can afford. If you are after a family pet, this will cost less, as breeders will often have near perfect cats which are unsuitable for showing and breeding in some respect. For instance the cat may be more lightly built than the breed standard requires, or it may have a white spot on its chest. It will make a marvellous pet with all the Bengal attributes.

As a pet, it does not matter whether you choose a female or a male, provided that you have it neutered/spayed. Neutered male cats seem to be overwhelmingly loving in my experience, and spayed females a little more independent, but both make excellent companions. You may have decided on a breeding female (queen) or a female show queen for Championship classes. This will not be spayed and you should be prepared for some "calling" and flirtatious behaviour during your cat’s breeding seasons. The breeder will advise you. I do not recommend that you keep an unneutered male cat. Stud cats, as they are called, are best left to the experts as they have some antisocial habits, such as spraying in the house, fighting, roaming and siring unwanted kittens. A neutered cat will be a much cleaner, happier pet and can be shown in Premiership classes if you wish to have a male Bengal for showing.

The "Fuzzies"

While you are looking for your kitten and visiting breeders, you will see many different kittens of different ages, and you may notice that the older kittens appear to be fuzzy with less clear markings than the very young kittens. Like many baby wild animals, all Bengals go through an ugly duckling stage called the "fuzzies", where they lose the clarity of their markings before later regaining them with their adult coat. Unfortunately, the "fuzzies" are at their worst at about ten weeks old, when kittens are first ready to go their new homes. This is quite normal. It is best to see the kittens first (or a photograph of the kittens) at an earlier age, between two to six weeks old. This way you can see what the adult markings will be like, and that the kitten does not have a ticked coat or long hair, which are both faults. Alternatively, some breeders do not let their kittens go to their new homes until they are past the fuzzy stage, at around twelve weeks old.

Kitten or Cat?

When you choose your cat, you will have seen plenty of Bengal cats and kittens. Obviously kittens are quite adorable, and many people choose these because kittens fit in more quickly with other established cats and dogs at home. Young Bengals are quite hyperactive and excitable and take a few months to learn their manners. They have energy to spare, and seem to have two modes; the on mode, when they tear round the house, leaping, and climbing, and the off mode, when they flop into an exhausted heap.

Two Bengal kittens will exercise each other far more effectively than you can, and will love having a constant playmate should you not be in the house all day. If you have toddlers and find this prospect daunting, it may be worth considering a slightly older cat, who has sobered and matured a little. Many breeders "run on" promising kittens for possible show or breeding purposes and these cats may not always fulfil their early potential. So sometimes breeders will have lovely cats available at 6 months to a year old which will make great pets for the right home. Whatever cat you choose, make sure that the breeder gives you vaccination certificates, worming certificates, GCCF registration papers and insurance certificates. Keep in touch with your breeder, you may well decide you want another Bengal once you’ve lived with one!

How much will it cost me?

Prices vary somewhat from breeder to breeder, and often depend on the individual merits of specific cats. However, as an approximate guide, 'pet quality' Bengals typically sell for around £450 to £600 in the UK these days. For more advanced owners, top quality showing and breeding cats can cost from £900 to a few thousand pounds, depending on the quality of the individual cat.

Buying a Bengal kitten - Checklist

  1. Contact a Bengal breed Club.
  2. Show Bengal or pet?
  3. Kitten or cat?
  4. Male or female?
  5. Visit several breeders.
  6. Look for shiny fur, bright eyes and clean bottoms. There should be no runny eyes or noses, or pot bellies.
  7. Look for friendly, outgoing cats/kittens which are busy and active but do not mind being picked up or stroked. Some cats/kittens will be asleep!
  8. Ensure that you are given a GCCF pedigree, vaccination certificates and insurance certificates.
 

 


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