Information about Male Bengal Cats and Female Bengal Cats
About Bengal Cats
In this section we describe some of the things we have observed about Bengal cats over our years as Bengal breeders.
We also address the questions lots of people ask about Bengals.
Differences Between Boys and Girls
Male and female Bengal kittens are similar in terms of playfulness, but things tend to change as the kittens grow older.
That said, it’s usually the female Bengals who first venture out of the birthing nest, which suggests they tend to be a bit more courageous and inquisitive than their brothers. There is usually a size difference from birth; male Bengals tend to be bigger, but that is not always the case, some girls can be bigger than their brothers. However, in general, male Bengal cats are bigger.
Although boys are bigger, a neutered boy will never look like a Bengal stud cat because they lack the testosterone that causes the development of big jowls and neck muscles, giving Bengal studs a ‘front heavy’ appearance.
As they mature, female Bengal cats tend to remain more active and inquisitive, while the boys tend to become more laid back. One thing we’ve read about Bengal cats is that boys are more affectionate than girls. However, in our experience, if handled properly from the beginning there is no great difference. If raised properly from the beginning most Bengal kittens will develop into cats with soft and affectionate natures.
Bengal Breed – Leopard Traits
Especially in New Zealand, Bengals are now genetically far removed from their wild leopard ancestry. However, their old leopard genes do reveal themselves in lots of little ways. A few other issues are covered under the heading ‘Special Veterinary Requirements and Understanding’.
In general, adult Bengals have impressive teeth and claws, usually being noticeably bigger than your average cat. This combined with their strong prey drive makes them awesome ratters and mousers, but the down side is that they will also prey on birds. For this reason, it’s a good idea to restrict their access to bird wildlife.
Rather than having normal cat fur, they have a short and very dense pelt similar to the texture of a leopard. It’s like stroking extremely soft silk velvet. A huge bonus to this is that they have little to no allergy-causing dander and don’t shed hair everywhere. Just stroking them, and stroking with a damp hand during changes in season, is all the grooming they need.
Bengal Cats and Kittens Can Be Easily Startled
No matter how well handled and laid back a Bengal kitten or cat tends to be quite easily startled. Loud noises like a vacuum cleaner can send kittens into instant panic mode and they rarely come to accept it well. Even adult Bengals tend to leave when a vacuum is being used. Walking into a room unexpectedly sends kittens running for cover until they see that it’s only you and come running back out from their hiding places. Strangers coming into their environment also send Bengal kittens running.
What we need to see is a fast recovery from fright. However, a kitten that bolts and stays under cover is a different matter, and that needs to be addressed. Adult Bengals are also startled easily by unexpected loud noises and sudden movements. When outside in an open environment even adult Bengals will often appear to be quite nervous, even if usually not of a generally nervous nature. This is shown by a crouching, slinking kind of walk with the tail held low and a lot of environmental scanning. In contrast, a confident Bengal will stand tall with the tail held high and bounce around the place… until there is an unexpected loud noise.
Bengal Health – Choosing a Vet
Choosing a vet is an important decision for Bengal breeders and Bengal owners alike. Even though Bengals are generally healthy and vigorous, there are a few things that may make a trip to the vet necessary. Vaccinations, injuries, illness from eating something bad or picking up a virus, and teeth cleaning are some examples. We use two vets: one close to home for products, one-off vaccinations, on-the-spot advice and so on, and although a bit further away, the other is the main vet for everything else, including emergencies.
Obviously, a vet needs to be handy to where you live, ideally no more than 30-40 minutes away, because this reduces the stress on both you and your Bengal.
It’s helpful if the vet has a dedicated boarding cattery because it makes things so much better when you need to board your Bengal when you go on holiday or move. You know beyond doubt that they will have the best of care and chances are they already know your Bengal.
The vet and vet nurses need to be experienced in handling Bengals or prepared to research the specific needs of the breed, such as anaesthesia as outlined below.
Special Veterinary Requirements and Understanding
Vets and vet nurses also need to understand the Bengal ‘thing’ about being picked up and carried around. A few are fine with it, but the majority are a cartwheeling ball of flailing legs when being carried around. Getting annoyed with them or restricting them close to the body just makes things worse. Carrying a Bengal requires the knack of holding onto them while letting them feel at least a little bit free.
Bengal cats have slightly thicker skin than normal, which becomes an important issue for vets to know when giving injections and conducting surgeries.
Big cats like lions, tigers and leopards are notorious for being very sensitive to anaesthesia and things can quickly go wrong. The same is true for Bengals so we account for this when desexing by increasing the standard weight of 1kg at desexing to 1.1kg for male Bengals and 1.2kg for the female Bengal cats, thereby ensuring they have the resources to better handle anaesthesia.
Make sure your vet uses the best and newest anaesthesia system for cats. Some vets still use older equipment not designed for cats, which puts their systems under extreme and unnecessary stress.
Bengal Queens and Motherhood
Some Bengal females can be savagely protective of new-born kittens up to around 4 weeks of age, even if they have been the friendliest, smoochiest girl that loved you to bits before giving birth. They will let you know very clearly that you are not welcome to touch the kittens and will take no-claw swipes at your hand or grab your hand in their teeth without actually biting. The savagery comes about with other cats. Sisters with whom they’ve shared their lives, good friends they’ve made, even their own mothers are given clear warning to stay away by way of loud growling and open claw swiping. These mothers follow their wild ancestors by slowly giving up the battle to keep a solo grip on babies once they start to wander around to explore their new world. Fortunately, most Bengal mothers are not so protective and let you handle their kittens without stressing.
Bengal Kittens and Coat ‘Fuzzies’
A cute, but quite frustrating thing about Bengal kittens is that they get a thing called the ‘fuzzies’. This is where they develop a fine layer of long guard hairs over their entire body from about 4-6 weeks of age to become better camouflaged while mum goes out hunting. The problem is, when you look at them with the fuzzies their pattern can be quite blurred. Given that many people choose to have a pet Bengal because of their stunning coat patterns with contrasting colours, this blurring becomes awkward for a while. The fuzzies are shed from the head toward the tail between 7-12 weeks of age and shedding continues until the Bengal kittens become sleek and shiny at about 14-16 weeks of age. Note that Bengals cats that live primarily outside will have slightly longer pelts.
Bengal Cat Temperament and Companionship
Another wonderful thing about Bengal cats is that when treated well, Bengals deeply ‘love’ their human family and tend to become particularly attached to one person. In order for this to happen they need time spent with their human family and to get lots of physical contact through stroking and playing. If everyone is out all day, and often out in the evenings and weekends, a Bengal cat is probably not the best breed of cat for you.
Without human companionship Bengals are likely to become quite aloof and reclusive, some say depressed. We have read that Bengal cats can become destructive if bored when alone, but we have never had a destructive Bengal, None of our cats has deliberately ruined anything like furniture and furnishings.
If human companionship is not available most of the time, a cat or dog friend can help to fill the gaps. As a general rule Bengals adore dogs and will settle in with any other breed of cat and moggies alike. We often hear that a Bengal kitten has given an older cat a new lease on life.
An Endearing Trait of Bengals
A particularly endearing Bengal trait related to their love of human contact is that they usually come when called by the people they have bonded with. This is very handy when they have unexpectedly disappeared, or you need them for some reason. If lost, most other cats won’t come when called because they are too scared, but a Bengal can’t wait to get to you. So if they disappear, get out there calling as soon as you can. On the other hand, check first that your Bengal cat is not just being a cat and can’t be bothered moving from some comfortable spot in the sun.
Bengal Play – Clumsiness
The joy of watching a happy, healthy Bengal cat scale huge heights and leap around in the tree tops is hard to describe. On the other hand, there is another aspect of the way they can be: clumsy. Of course, their clumsiness is only occasional; in general they are a graceful cat.
You will have no doubt read that Bengal cats are courageous, athletic and energetic. And they most certainly are all those things, but sometimes even the most graceful adult will take a leap that’s just too far, crashing to the ground while flailing around and taking anything within range down with him or her. Bengal kittens in particular are still testing their skills and limits and it seems to us that it involves a lot of pushing the limits. The upshot is that Bengals will leap from high places over your shoulder directly onto your computer keyboard, will clear a shelf trying to climb onto it from below, will clear out a bookcase while climbing to the top using books as a ladder, and will from time to time misjudge a leap distance, with varying results. So, being courageous, athletic and energetic has its benefits but can also have drawbacks, especially when young.