Keeping your Bengal safe

When you bring your Bengal kittens home, it will quickly become a much-loved part of your family. Here, we look at ways of safeguarding your pet Bengal cat from loss, injury and unwelcome attention.

Protecting your Bengal from loss

 Keep your Bengal indoors. This keeps it safe from traffic and getting lost.

 Keep an identity tag on the collar, with your phone number and area code. The area code is very important, as animal rescue centres will only try the number you have written on the tag. Don’t put your name or the cat’s name on the tag.

 Microchip your pet. This is painless and very effective. Ask your vet for details.

 Keep open windows netted. Bengals, like many cats, are great escape artists.

 Keep your Bengal in a travelling cage when travelling. Keep him faced away from onlookers; some cats do not like to be stared at.

 Teach your Bengal to come to its name.

 Insure your Bengal cat. This won’t bring back a lost pet, but it will really help with vet bills, should your Bengal have an accident.

If your Bengal cat goes missingBrown spotted Bengal cat pawing head

During the first few hours, search the area, calling its name. Search in ever increasing circles from wherever it was last seen. Shake its food box. Recruit a pair of local teenagers (they move more quietly than younger children) to search quietly. Don’t allow your search to become a bedlam, or the cat will be frightened further away.

If the cat has not returned by the next day, ring the local vet, the police, and animal rescue centres. If they have not got your pet, they will take a description. Some people will never have heard of a Bengal, or be particularly knowledgeable about cats; the best description, in this case, is a “pedigree spotted brown tabby cat” ” or “a pedigree cat with spots”. If you go out searching, leave a message on your answering machine.

Put up notices (with photo) in the local area/shops, asking people to check their garages. On the notice, give your phone number, but not your address. Offer a small reward.

If the cat has not returned after a week, try advertising on the local radio station and in the local papers. If your cat is insured, the insurance company may pay for this. Your cat may have found a doting new owner, who needs to be informed that your Bengal is missed at home. This is why microchipping can be invaluable.

If your wanderer has still not returned, don’t give up hope. Do persist in visiting the animal shelters; your cat may have slipped through checks as an ordinary tabby. Some cats do disappear for weeks and eventually return and Bengals are adventurous fellows.

Preventing theft

If you know your Bengal to have been stolen, inform the police straight away. Inform local pet rescue centres and if your cat is microchipped, inform the microchipping company. The beauty of microchipping is that if a cat is handed in elsewhere in the country, at a vet’s, the police or a rescue centre, it will be scanned and returned to you.

Inform your insurance company if your Bengal is insured. Advertise locally, and nationally if you can afford it as if your Bengal were lost. The thief may have a change of heart, or they may have passed your pet on to someone who sees your advert.

Do not give up hope. A pet Bengal, even of show quality, is of little use to anybody but its owner and a thief will find it hard to sell on or make use of in any way. Because all true Bengals are registered with the GCCF, your Bengal is protected from showing or breeding by an impostor and is therefore of little monetary value.

Non GCCF kittens from your stolen Bengal, if it was not neutered, cannot be registered or shown and they will have no pedigree. If anybody tries to show it or breed from it, it may be recognised, as the Bengal world is such a small one, and believe me, breeders know their animals!

Despite silly, uninformed stories in the papers about Bengals with a fabulous value, Bengals are NOT worth an absurd amount of money these days and almost nothing to a thief. Bengal breeders have worked hard to make Bengal Cat prices realistic, thus making Bengal cats available to many, many people and in fact are now the 3rd most popular breed in the UK!

So if your cat is stolen, the thief may give up on Bengals as a bad loss, especially as your pet is bound to have been very noisy whilst missing its home.

Try not to let your imagination run away with you and don’t upset yourself by imagining worst case scenarios. Somebody may have taken your cat because they fell in love with it.

Avoiding injury in the homeBrown spotted Bengal cat with paw in the air

Because Bengals are inquisitive and like to play with water, they can get themselves into all sorts of trouble! Here are a few troubleshooting tips ;

 Always check the washing machine/washer dryer prior to use. Inquisitive kittens love to curl up in washing and explore interesting holes.

 Always leave the loo seat down. That means you, gentlemen! This prevents unhygienic drinking from the toilet bowl and fatal encounters with bleach.

 Never leave the hot water tap running unattended, especially if you allow your Bengal to play with a cold stream of water. I always fill my bath with the bathroom door shut.

 Teach your Bengal the word “No!” Sometimes you are too far away to prevent disaster physically and a sharp “No!” can save the day.

 Shut your pet away when doing dangerous DIY or interior decoration.

 Keep nasty chemicals safely shut away. Bleach, slug pellets and creosote are all fatal to cats. Household cleaners, garden chemicals and medicines should all be kept out of harm’s way. Cats can absorb chemicals through their paws, so be careful with chemicals on kitchen surfaces.

 Don’t keep poisonous house plants. Your Bengal will eat any plant it can find (make sure it has access to grass) so keep clear of nasties such as ivy, leopard lily, cherry laurel, chrysanthemum, cyclamen, castor oil plant, poinsettia, polka-dot plant, philodendron, croton, oleander, dieffenbachia, azalea, devil’s ivy and caladium.

 Keep electric cables neat and out of the way.

 Check your cat before you leave the house. Is he shut in a cupboard? Has he got fresh water? A visitor once left our house with a kitten in her handbag!

 Keep your windows and balconies cat proof. Cats are not fall proof, despite the ‘old wives’ tale. They may land on their feet, but this won’t help them survive a fatal drop.

 If your cat is injured, keep it quiet and dark while you seek veterinary attention.

Other people and your Bengal Cat

Your Bengal cat is a domestic pet. If you are looking after it properly, and have a GCCF pedigree to prove your cat’s Bengal status and you are not living in rented accommodation with a “no pets” clause, you have every right to keep your Bengal cat. Bengal Cats are friendly, affectionate domestic cats, not wild animals. You need a license to keep a wild animal. You do not need a license to keep a Bengal.

Because of the original wild cross involved in the development of Bengals and because of the “wild” patterning and features of the Bengal Cat, Bengals can attract unwelcome attention from uninformed people. Like any domestic cat, a Bengal has teeth and claws, and if badly frightened, stressed, in pain or mistreated it will legitimately use these to defend itself.

Any cat which is frightened or stressed should be left alone and this as true of the Bengal as any other cat. If a cat which has been well-socialised scratches you or bites you, it is probably your own fault. All cats, unlike dogs, like their own space and no cat or kitten is a suitable pet for an unsupervised toddler, who may be accidentally scratched if a tail is pulled. All cats, unlike dogs, are small, and cannot inflict as much damage as a dog can when driven to defend itself.

So above all things, your Bengal is a domestic cat first and a Bengal second. To keep your cat safe from being mistaken for a “wildcat”, keep it indoors. Only introduce your Bengal to people who have been invited to your home. Do not emphasise the “wild blood” but the personality and beauty of your pet. Do not allow toddlers to play with your Bengal (or any other cat or kitten) and allow nobody to tease your pets.

Walking your Bengal cat in the park can attract the wrong kind of attention. Some people do this and enjoy the comments and questions that arise from this kind of exhibition. Public places are, however not the best place to take your Bengal, partly because of dogs which can panic (or even injure) your pet, which may then escape.Brown spotted bengal kitten on the floor

Taking your Bengal out in public is likely to be a stressful experience for you and your pet, although training your cat to take walks in the garden on a harness and leash can be a very positive experience for cat and owner.

Keeping your Bengal cat safe, secure and socially acceptable is your responsibility as a Bengal owner. With care and attention, your Bengal cat should reward you with years of love and affection.

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