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Home > Cats > Cat Breeds > Bengal Cat: Info, Pictures, Temperament & Traits

Bengal Cat: Info, Pictures, Temperament & Traits

bengal cat on carpet

If you’ve ever wanted to adopt a leopard, now you can! Bengal cats are domestic hybrid cats of the Egyptian Mau and the Asian Leopard cat. These spotted beauties are curious and playful, showing off their wild spirits in everything they do. Because of their wild heritage, these cats are not recommended for first-time cat owners as they can be hard to manage, even for experienced cat lovers!

Breed Overview


13 – 16 inches


8 – 17 lbs


10 – 16 years


Brown spotted, seal lynx point, sepia, silver, mink

Suitable for:

Experienced cat owners


Intelligent, energetic, playful

If you’re sure you can handle their wild natures, these are great water cats for cat parents who want to play with their cats in the bath. Just like their Asian Leopard cat ancestors, Bengal cats love water and might take it upon themselves to follow you into the shower or bath to play with the water!

Bengal Cat Characteristics

High-energy cat will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy cats require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a cat to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train cats are more willing and skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Cats that are harder to train are usually more stubborn and will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some cat breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every cat will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds' potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some cat breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other animals. More social cats have a tendency to rub up on strangers for scratches, while less social cats shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your cat and expose them to lots of different situations.


Bengal Kittens

bengal cat sitting on cat tree
Image Credit: Von Berlin, Shutterstock

Bengal kittens are pretty expensive. Because of the restrictions that many states have on owning these cats, you may also have to pay licensing and inspection fees to own your cat legally, and since they aren’t endemic to the USA, you might have to pay to import one from another country as well.

Temperament & Intelligence of Bengal Cats

blue spotted bengal kitten
Image Credit: Kutikova Ekaterina, Shutterstock

Bengal cats are brilliant and energetic. They learn fast, and many Bengal cat owners have reported their Bengals are natural retrievers who enjoy playing fetch. However, this intelligence can make them stubborn. They may challenge your authority and resist attempts to keep them in line.

Are Bengals Good for Families? 👪

Bengal cats are not recommended for families because they may still exhibit behavior reminiscent of a wild cat. They likely will not tolerate roughhousing and disrespect from young children, and their energy thresholds may be too high for them. While many cats will be gentle while your child learns to interact with them, Bengal cats will stand up for themselves if they feel they’re not being treated nicely.

Are Bengals Good with Other Cats?

Bengals are good with other cats who can stand up for themselves. Low-energy cats, tiny cats, and those who cannot defend themselves adequately might find themselves getting bullied by their Bengal siblings.

While it’s unlikely that your Bengal cat will intentionally bully your other cats, they’re medium-to-large breed cats with wild heritage, and their play may be too boisterous for their more thoroughly domesticated siblings.

Are Bengals Good with Other Animals?

Bengals have very high prey drives. Small animals should be kept safely out of reach of your Bengal, who might view them as a tasty snack rather than a sibling. Aquariums will need to be securely locked since Bengals will gladly dip their paws into your fish tank to torment or hunt your fish.

It’s important to remember that while Bengals are considered successfully domesticated, they are still generationally close to their wild ancestors and exhibit more wild behaviors like hunting and tracking.


Things to Know When Owning a Bengal Cat

Food and Diet Requirements

Bengals will need a high-protein diet to keep up with their high energy. A high-quality diet made of natural meats will keep them energized and able to play with you all day (and night.) Because they’re medium-to-large cats, they may eat more than the average cat. As long as they aren’t gaining excess weight, it’s okay to feed your Bengal as much as they want to eat.

bengal cat near food bowl
Image Credit: Photo_Olivia, Shutterstock

Exercise 🐕

Bengals need a lot of exercise to satisfy all their urges and energy. Providing them with big toys and playtime should be enough to keep them happy and mentally stimulated. Bengals will usually entertain themselves if they have the means.

Training 🧶

Bengals are very intelligent and learn quickly. Litter box training should be a breeze since naturally clean animals anyway. However, you’ll have to be firm with them since they’ll want to challenge your authority at every turn.

Since Bengals are so intelligent, it’s easy to teach them to do tricks, much like you would a dog. You’ll have to figure out what motivates your cat, but once you’ve figured out what makes them tick, you can get them doing tricks that will impress anyone!

Bengal cat running
Image Credit: Jeannette1980, Pixabay

Grooming ✂️

Bengal cats do not have particularly intense grooming needs. They will mostly groom themselves, but a once-over with a de-shedding brush each day can help them stay on top of their coat maintenance and prevent hairballs.

You’ll want to regularly trim your Bengal’s nails so that they don’t become unwieldy or begin to groom their nails on your furniture.

Health Conditions 🏥

Because Bengal breeding has exploded in popularity, many low-quality breeders aren’t taking proper safety precautions when breeding cats. You’ll want to make sure your breeder can furnish you with a genetic report, as you would ask for when purchasing any purebred animal. A responsible breeder should be able to provide you with a report on not only the cat you’re planning to buy but also their parents.

Minor Conditions
  • Conjunctivitis
Serious Conditions
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Cataracts
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Male vs Female

There are no notable differences between male and female Bengal cats.


The Legality of Owning a Bengal Cat

Because Bengal cats are so generationally close to their wild ancestors, many states classify them as wild-hybrid animals and restrict or forbid their ownership. Make sure you check your local laws before you start your search for a Bengal kitten to ensure you’re following all the legal procedures needed to give your Bengal a safe, loving forever home.

The following states, counties, or cities forbid the ownership of Bengal cats entirely:
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Seattle
  • New York City
The following states, counties, or cities place restrictions on the ownership of Bengal cats that must be observed during purchasing:
  • Alaska: Must be at least four generations removed from the Asian Leopard Cat, and a license must be obtained by showing a registered pedigree for all four generations prior.
  • Delaware: Permit required
  • Denver: Legal so long as all previous five generations have lived in captivity.
  • Georgia: License required
  • Iowa: Prospective kitten must be “the fourth or later filial generation of offspring with the first filial generation being the offspring of a domestic cat and an Asian leopard cat, and each subsequent generation being the offspring of a domestic cat.”
  • Massachusetts: Prospective kitten must be “registered with a nationally or internationally recognized breeding association or registry which certifies the pedigree and registration of such a cat to be without any wild felid parentage for a minimum of three generations.”


3 Little-Known Facts About the Bengal Cat

1. Bengal Cats Love Water

Asian leopard cats aren’t afraid of water as many desert cats are, and many Bengal cats have retained this part of their heritage. Bengal cats are known for following their owners into the shower or tub and jumping into pools of standing water to play.

However, this can make them especially dangerous to aquarium fish since they won’t be afraid to get their paws wet to fish out a new friend (or snack.)

2. They Used to Be Called Safari Cats

Their name was changed to Bengal cats to reflect the scientific name of the Asian Leopard cat, where their heritage lies.

3. Bengal Cats Bark

Bengal cats do not have a traditional meow. Their vocalizations are raspy and can resemble a bark more than a meow.

silver bengal cat laying down
Image Credit: MaryBog-Shutterstock

divider-cat Final Thoughts: Bengal Cats

Bengal cats are a popular exotic cat that is exploding worldwide. It’s hard not to fall in love with their playful and intelligent natures, and the uniqueness of these wild hybrids is part of the allure for most prospective owners. Before taking a Bengal cat into your life, it’s essential to ensure you’ll be able to handle the challenges that come with owning a wild hybrid animal.

Inexperienced cat owners may find themselves trying to control their Bengal cat at their wits’ end. It will be essential to understand cat psychology and behavior when bringing one of these gorgeous animals into your home.

It’s also important to read up on your local laws to ensure that you won’t face any legal trouble or repercussion for bringing the cat into your home. Wild hybrid animals are heavily regulated because they are hard to care for, and Bengal cats are no different!

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Featured Image Credit: Elena Sonmez, Shutterstock

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