Bengal temperament like?
Male or Female
How does this apply to picking the gender of a kitten? If you are looking for a cat who will be extremely loyal and devoted but perhaps a bit more independent, you may want to pick a female. Females often bond deeply and love at a level you may not have experienced from an animal before. But a female may have a higher tendency to pick a person and be that person’s cat. Females are more instinctively territorial as their instinct is to chase out any females that are not related.
Male cats instinctively use more body language signals to communicate to other cats that they mean no harm, easy going and loyal. Males will be less reactive to meeting new animals and is more likely to interact with the family indiscriminately, you may be better off with a male. For people wanting to harness train, the male instincts lend themselves better to meeting strange animals while out on a walk. But this does not mean that females cannot be harness trained.
Do Bengals need playmates?
Are Bengals hypoallergenic?
In terms of what the actual definition of hypoallergenic is I could agree that Bengals are hypoallergenic. However, I believe that most people seeking the answer to this question interpret the definition as meaning that they will not have any allergic reaction to Bengal cats. This is not always the case, as some people are still highly affected by the Bengal.
What is it that people are allergic to?
There are a number of contributing factors towards cat allergies. There is the fur/hair, skin cells, saliva and urine, all of which contain a specific protein, Fel d 1. It is this protein that some people are allergic. Research says that all cats have this protein so any being completely hypoallergenic is not possible.
Varying Degrees of ‘Allergic’
In regard to a typical domestic cat we know that there are varying degrees with which people are allergic. Some people may have a minor watery eye or sniffle after rubbing their face all over a cat while the next person will puff up like a puffer fish minutes after walking into a home where a cat resides.
The same goes for the Bengals, some people have very minor or no reaction to the Bengals, while others experience the same reaction that they do to a typical domestic. On the flip side, I have had people with cat allergies visit and intentionally rub a Bengal kitten all over their face in order to solicit a reaction and have not had one.
Inappropriately peeing? Your cat is trying to tell you something!
Medical: Check for UTI, kidney issues, stones or crystals
Cats don’t like change and bengals are even worse, has any of the following occurred:?
New litter including texture or scents
New perfume or cologne you or your family wears
Clean litter boxes and one for each cat PLUS one extra
New furniture or move of furniture
Change in work or school schedule
New cat, baby, other pet, girl/boyfriend moving in or out
Wandering animals outside
Another pet or child beating up or ganging up on them
New laundry detergent
Not enough boxes (some want a box to pee and one to poop)
Too clean (cats need to smell themselves)
Doesn’t like the litter (texture, smell etc.)
Doesn’t like the location (a noisy room)
Doesn’t like how to access it (hooded vs open vs high edge vs shallow, top entry vs. front etc.)
If the cat was successfully neutered/spayed (no uterine stump remaining or retained testicles)
If the cat declawed
It may be necessary to go back to the safe room steps!
Cats nose use this extraordinary sense of smell to see the world… which is why SMELL is the habit you need to most understand about your cat.
It is why your cat rubs against you and objects. It is why cats will notice changes such as new furniture, strong odors, scented litter. This sense of smell creates marking behavior, causes cats to be stressed and perhaps most importantly can cause behaviors that we humans cannot tolerate. Living with cats is living with a different species… while we ask a lot of these little predators to compromise their view of the world and live in ours, we need to understand their view of the world as it makes it much more pleasant to have them in ours!
Scent is the most important one to understand. Look at where you have their food and most importantly their litter box, the kind of litter you use, the placement and the type of box. One way to help with introductions of new people, pets, is to exchange scent. A simple way to do this is to exchange scents with a towel, shirt, etc allowing the cat to incorporate the new smells into their world. While we can change ours with knowledge and awareness of how we impact the life of our cat(s) the cat can only respond as it sees the world. Sometimes a simple awareness of a change in perfume can change the reaction our cat has to us.
There are excellent books and articles on feline behavior, one written by a fellow Bengal cat enthusiast, Marilyn Krieger the “Cat Coach” Marilyn has an excellent book available as well.
This is fun! Bring out the feather toy or the fishing pole toy and really keep everyone busy. Just like people meeting each other for the first time a toy that both find very interesting helps to ease the tension and allows everyone to play and get to know each other in a safe way.
Be sure to take your time. Remember that you are looking at lifelong relationships and though it seems you want everything to work out as quickly as possible… it is a good idea to watch and observe, let the animals set the pace for what is comfortable for them. Observe. Play. Pay special attention. Kittens under 6 months of age are usually readily accepted into multi-cat households.
Scratching and Climbing Posts
- Scratching posts. Cats tend to scratch close to where they sleep… combining the art of relaxation with their yoga stretches and territorial marking! So a good place for that tall scratching post is next to their favorite sleeping place.
- Sisal wrapped as it does not feel like furniture.
- Get your kitten used to claw trimming. Shower them with treats to make this a fun experience… And always end on a good note, i.e. do not let them squirm away, instead put them down when they are calm.
All our cats are tested and/or screened for the following diseases:
- DNA tested @ Optimal Selection Genoscoper
- FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus)
- FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
- PRA-b (Bengal blindness).
PK Deficiency (Hemolytic Anemia) This disease can only be passed on genetically and can cause anemia in infected cats. Like PRA-b, a cat that only carries a copy of the gene will have no detrimental health defects but cannot be bred to another cat that is also a carrier.
HCM (Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy – heart disease). a common disease in cats in both the purebred and mixed ancestry cat population. A cat can be born with HCM or develop it as an adult later on in life. It affects the heart causing an enlargement and thickening of the heart wall. This disease is hereditary in origin as certain proteins mutate causing the wall thickening. Excessive growth hormone and parathyroid hormones are other genetic causes of the disease. In severe cases heart failure and fluid accumulation surrounding the lungs results eventually leading to death.
Currently there is no genetic test specifically for HCM, but regular screening via an echocardiogram by a board-certified feline cardiologist is highly recommended to measure the heart and monitor its growth as well as listen for murmurs which indicates a restriction of blood through the heart. This screening is not a guarantee a cat will never develop HCM, it is simply a precautionary practice. Keep in mind murmurs can be the result of other problems than HCM such as other defects, age, stress and more. While research is still being done on this particular disease, it is generally believed that two negatively screened cats cannot produce a positive kitten.
Breeding cats should be screened every year to year and a half and reputable breeders will not only do these screens but provide the results for each cat. Scientists are currently working on finding the gene that causes HCM in Bengals (there are DNA tests for Mainecoons and Ragdolls).
I also want to take a moment to mention FIP (feline infections peritonitis). This is a viral disease caused by certain strains of feline coronavirus. This is a common virus, and most cats that carry the virus never develop FIP, however roughly 5-10% of cats with the coronavirus develop FIP. Unfortunately, there is no way to screen for this disease, as a Titre test only tells you if a cat carries the coronavirus but cannot tell you if it will develop into FIP.
Creating Kitten’s Safe Place
The successful transition of the kitten to your home goes most smoothly when use of the safe room is implemented. During the kitten’s time in the safe room, he will have the opportunity to get a gradual sense of some of the smells and sounds of your home, thereby easing his stress with each passing day he spends in your home. A bathroom works very well as family members will be coming and going, talking to him, petting him and playing with him, but leaving him to his quiet and safe area when you are not in there with him. This is not cruel – this is exactly what the new kitten needs in order to feel safe and protected now that he doesn’t have any of his litter mates or family with him. Everything is new to him and he’s scared. The room will be his safety zone during the transition. Make sure the room has areas in the for hiding – a box, or a tunnel would work well.
Smell is Key
Lower Kitten’s Stress with Play
If the kitten decides to confidently wander beyond the zone you’ve created, let him do so. Follow him quietly while you observe him taking in the sights and sounds of his new home. Make sure the home is relatively quiet at this time – kids are at school, home reno construction is not occurring in your kitchen, etc. Also, remember to be careful about putting away and removing any and all triggers for inappropriate peeing before letting him out to explore. (See “Litter Box Training” for a list of trigger items to watch out for).
Keep it Short
Meet and Greet at Last!
At the end of the quarantine period, begin to leave the door of kitten’s safe room slightly cracked open while you stand back and carefully observe. Watch to see who comes to the door first – the kitten to see who’s on the other side, or the existing pet to finally meet the secret occupant. Either way, carefully monitor the meet and greet – from a bit of a distance, but not too far away that you can’t intervene to separate them and close the door again if need be.
Please Note: If your other pets include a dog, ensure the kitten has a way to explore where the dog does not have access. The kitten will need to easily be able to get to their litter box without worry that the dog could get them. Using baby gates to keep your dog in certain areas works very well. Our kittens are all socialized with our dog, so they are familiar with them. However, it may still take time to adjust to your dog. And if your dog has never been around a cat, you will need to be extra watchful, and never leave them alone together until you are 100% certain there is no threat to the kitten.
Introduction to Existing Pets
Gradual is the name of the game
Create a United Front
Once the introduction has taken place, and you are confident that it is going well for the most part, leave the door to the safe room completely ajar for all of the pets to come and go as they please. Continue to observe and monitor the interaction. Leave a litter box and your kitten’s tree in there so he can go back into the room when he feels like it for comfort and add a few more litter boxes to the other areas of the house. ** Best practice is to bring the litter box he’s been using in the safe room out into another area of the home for easy recognition and replace the one in the safe room with a new box.
For at least another week or so, continue to put the kitten in his safe room when you need to leave to do errands or go to work, etc. You don’t want to risk undesirable behavior such as unsupervised brawls (unlikely, but you never know!) or peeing accidents while you’re unable to monitor. For an even longer period of time, keep placing the kitten in his safe room overnight to rest and use his litter box. We have some adult cats in our home that we continue to do this with. This is a sure way to avoid waking up to broken lamps, torn papers all over the desk, and a host of other “bengal mishaps”.
Once we rule out a lack of consistent confinement combined with gradual, supervised introduction in order to avoid stress, for instance, we can move on to looking at what items in your home are acting as “triggers” for your bengal to pee outside the litter box.
A messy, unkempt house is like a giant litter box to a bengal. Keep your home tidy, items picked up off the floor, bags, drawers, lids and doors closed, and you will not experience what we call “offsite peeing”. You are ASKING for your bengal to pee inappropriately if you allow him instant access to a large, unfamiliar home, with unfamiliar smells and items present – all are begging for him to pee on them. Leaving your bengal to roam free in a MESSY home is just like putting icing on the cake for him. You will never have been so tidy as you will learn to be once you own a bengal or two!
Trigger items for a bengal kitten include (but are certainly not limited to!) the following:
- Sinks, showers and bathtubs. These places are seen by Bengal’s as a natural place to pee as they are aware that water runs in these places (they’ve probably seen you turn on the tap or step out of the wet shower – they are SMART, don’t forget)
- Goose or duck down comforters and pillows on beds (beds in general are a hot ticket item – keep bedroom doors closed! We still have one adult female bengal that will run into our bedroom and pee on our bed as soon as she sees the door left open. Some Bengals will do this for life. It’s just a simple fact). Unmade beds are especially inviting. To a bengal this just looks and feels like a giant clean litter box!
- Leather items – shoes, jackets, couch cushions, purses. These items are often soft and cushy, and smell like animals. A bengal will leave its scent on these items to ward off intruding animals. Put shoes and jackets away in a closet, prop up couch cushions, zip up purses and bags and don’t leave them laying on the floor.
- Wool and other natural fabrics with “animal” scent on them (as above).
- Pet beds for your dog or cats. Cats like to sleep up high on a cat tree or high shelf. There is no need to put a cozy fabric bed that looks like a litter box on the floor for them. If you must, use pet beds (for your dog) that are easy to machine wash and dry as your bengal will most likely pee on these at least once.
- Plastic or plastic shopping bags. These items have a nice crinkly sound and texture – not very unlike the sounds made while scratching in the litter box. They shouldn’t be left lying on the floor – pick them up and keep them in a closed cupboard.
- Recycle boxes left full of newspaper or other items. Again, obviously a large litter box in the eyes of a bengal.
- Laundry baskets with clean or dirty laundry in them. This one should be obvious. Empty laundry baskets, for that matter. Again, obviously this is a giant, clean litter box! Turn them upside down when not in use or close them off in the laundry room.
- Messy piles of clothes or other items left on floors or in children’s rooms. Pick up or keep doors closed. Anything that the kitten can dig around in (i.e., piles of clothes or bedding) will present itself as nice soft litter material to him.
- Potted trees and plants. Some Bengals will never touch these items, but some will be instantly attracted. Use your judgement – if they go for it once, it will likely be an ongoing trigger item and should be removed.