Adopting Your First Bengal Cat?
Adopting your first Bengal cat is a big decision. Adopters are always asking us “What should we expect?” Our answer is usually “How much time do you have?”
Let’s start with the basics. Bengals are Domestic Cats, recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA) and the Cat Fancier’s Association (CFA).
Bengal cats are descendants of the Asian Leopard Cat, which was first outcrossed with a domestic cat in 1963 by the legendary Godmother of the Bengal Breed Jean Mill.
Initially, the Bengal breed was created by taking an Asian Leopard Cat and crossing it with a Domestic cat. Today, this practice is no longer necessary, or desired. The Asian Leopard Cat should stay in his / her natural habitat. Today’s domestic Bengal cat comes only from breeding Bengals to other Bengals. For more about the history of the Bengal Breed visit TICA.
The Asian Leopard Cat is shy by nature. This is not a gregarious cat, but rather a more solitary, nervous cat. This is why early generation cats do not make great pets. When the Asian Leopard was bred with a domestic tomcat, the Bengal breed was born. Next the Egyptian Mau was brought in to be part of the breeding program. As decades went by, the domestic cat personality began to take over the more “wild” Asian Leopard cat personality. Today’s Bengals are completely domesticated, and make wonderful feline companions.
So You Want to Adopt your First Bengal Cat?
We wouldn’t be here encouraging you and supporting this breed, if we didn’t fully love and understand them. Every Bengal cat is unique, yet they do share many common traits. Like all cats, they are individuals and have their own likes and preferences.
Important Bengal Facts
- Bengals are intelligent and curious cats. They can figure out how to open doors, drawers, and tuck away in places where you simply can’t find them!
- Bengals are playful, and athletic. They require lots of regular play and stimulation. For this reason they do not do well being left alone for hours at a time. If you are not home often, they may not be the best cat for you.
- Bengals are devoted and loving. They absolutely bond strongly with their human(s). If you want a cat that likes to be wherever you are, a Bengal cat just might the the right choice.
- Bengals love water, however some Bengals don’t. Most Bengals definitely love water fountains.
- Because of their athletic nature and high energy, Bengals love catios, exercise wheels, tall climbing towers and toys.
- Bengals are low-shed / low-dander; they can be easier on folks who are sensitive to allergies. That said, they are not hypoallergenic. If you have allergies, you should be sure to spend a few hours with the Bengal you wish to adopt, to ensure that you are not allergic. A list of hypoallergenic cats is here: https://www.petfinder.com/cat-breeds/collections/hypoallergenic-cats/
- They should eat a species-appropriate diet, high in protein, moisture, and appropriate fat content.
- Rescue Bengals come from a variety of backgrounds. Most of the time we don’t know if they have been around other cats, dogs and children. For this reason we like to provide adopters with proper literature on introductions.
- Some Bengals love to snuggle up for a long movie; others prefer to watch the movie from their tall cat tree. No Bengal cat is identical.
- Some Bengals LOVE to chatter – LOUD. They may not be the best choice, for Apartment-dwellers.
Before You Bring Your New Cat Home
These articles will help you prepare for adopting your first Bengal cat:
Rescue Bengals – Explained
In Rescue, this playful, loving, intelligent cat has just lost his / her home. Your cat is now living with unfamiliar people, in unfamiliar surroundings. This will only compound his stress, at first. Right now, he doesn’t know how lucky he is; he’s just confused. We know that you are excited about adopting your first Bengal cat, however we advise you to let him decompress to get his bearings. Give him time.
We can only imagine how stressful your cat’s prior home was – yet it was all he ever knew. You would be wise to know that your new Bengal doesn’t know how much you want him, or how badly you are hoping for him to love you back. Although you are likely very excited about adopting your first Bengal cat, we hope that you realize that your new Bengal cat isn’t yet feeling confident. The only thing your cat knows for sure, is that his world has been turned upside-down.
During the first few weeks, your new Bengal cat is likely to be shy, however if you give him time, space, and patience – after that, he should get comfortable and blend in with your family in a month or two.
Here’s a helpful Infographic:
Upon Arriving Home
Your new Bengal cat should spend the first few weeks in a private room, which will allow them to acclimate to the new surroundings. All of the smells, sounds, and routines will be unfamiliar to him, and it will be sensory overload.
Give him a nice soft bed to sleep in, and a tall cat tree and a nice windows to gaze from. Give him good food, a water fountain, and come spend time with him, which will allow you to get to know him – on his terms.
Watch a TV show with him; read a book with him. Turn on a radio or TV set to a talk channel, set at low volume; it can be quite calming. A good sound buffer really helps to minimize the disruption of unfamiliar sounds on the other side of the door.
If you have other pets that you are hoping to introduce successfully in the future – please read the Tips for Introducing Cats or a Cat to a Dog, below.
Your cat will need a few weeks to acclimate; after that, he should be relaxed and ready to explore. Now is the time to take the next step and let your cat familiarize himself with your home. Please ensure that your home is quiet. Secure any other pets in the home in a safe room. By giving your new cat one-on-one attention, without rushing pet introductions, you will set up your new cat for success.
If after a few weeks, if your new cat is feeling confident enough to take the next step, here are some great articles that will help you introduce your cat to your other furry family members:
Your Bengal’s Future
As always, we will be here for you to help you with any questions you might have about your Bengal. No question is a bad one! Please always remember:
- Bengals don’t like surprises or change. They want a stable home environment, where they know what to expect. They love consistency, dependability, and routine.
- Bengals need time and patience for any changes in routine, changes in family members, new additions.
- Bengals don’t urinate outside of the litter-box because “they are mad at you” – should your Bengal stop using the litter box, please review our Litter Box Issues article.
- Bengals require regular Veterinary care.
Other Articles About Bengals – for Newbies
If you are adopting your first Bengal cat, we highly recommend that you read these articles:
Bengal Cat Communities on Facebook
There are many online communities that are helpful for Bengal owners. These communities are helpful for seeing what new and longtime owners ask or comment about (with many “Pros” commenting). In these groups, many Bengal owners post about issues they are having with their Bengal, and you will see the many reasons why Bengals are surrendered. We recommend that you join these informative Facebook groups, whether you’re adopting your first Bengal cat, or are an experienced Bengal cats owner.