by Keira Marie Nguyen
(Gardner, MA, USA)
Mystre Dillinger meets Lady Kianna
Are Bengals Dangerous? Are they safe with children? The Bengal cat originated from hybrid crossings - The Asian Leopard Cat bred to domestics, so the question of safety is sure to come up from time to time.
Some might be quick to make judgment based on the Bengal cat's wild looks, amazing aura, and wild heritage. The truth of the matter is that is what initially pulls us onto the Bengal wagon.
Several years ago, just like any other family that takes a peek at the Bengal cat, our family was taken by the striking looks of the breed. Bengals have an awesome resemblance to a Asian Leopard Cat - later we found that there was a lot more about the Bengal cat that would "take" us!
We had the chance to go from one cattery to another and speak with several different breeders. We read up on the breed, got involved in several online groups, and we found that Bengal cats were more than just a fascinating cat to look at! They are highly intelligent, loving, and playful cats with the antics of a child. There was so much to learn about the breed.
We discovered that our youngest daughter, who suffered from asthma (having been hospitalized at 2 weeks of age), had no problems with the Bengal in regards to her allergies or asthma. The Bengal was the "purrfect" cat for us. We knew there were no guarantees. No breeder would be expected to make any regarding how you might react as far as allergies or asthma go.
All of our family, having an incredible love for all types of cats, found that the Bengal Cat provided the perfect combination of low allergens, low grooming, and high quality entertainment!
Our fears, regarding their safety with our children, were quickly relieved as we saw firsthand that Bengals were obviously safe. So, we purchased our first Bengal, Dillinger. We taught our children to respect our Bengal kitten, just as we would any other breed or pet. We found Bengals to be incredibly loving and tender. We ended up looking for another Bengal boy because we couldn't just have one! We were honored to announce that Julie Calderon of "Callista Bengals" was going to "Bless Us" with our newest addition Callista Strike Force. He was coming from, in my opinion, the Top Quality Breeder when it comes to socialization and ethics of the "Dream Cat". Striker was our very first Foundation Bengal, whose Father, "Elias Of Callista", is an actual Asian Leopard Cat and his Mother a Silver SBT Bengal.
Many people had told us stories about the problems of owning a Foundation Cat, especially and F1. I must admit, we weren't quite sure we could handle it, but after seeing "Callista Strike Force", aka Striker for the very first time, I fell madly in love and knew he was the dream cat of a lifetime. Still with some concerns I spoke at great length with Breeder Julie Calderon and my fears subsided.
Many wanting the most exotic looking cat, yet with a loving and sweet temperament, have looked far and wide for the right match of breeder and Bengal, this I find being the key.
Julie at "Callista Bengals" makes it a point that when Breeding Foundation Cats or SBT'S, to ensure the sweetest most loving temperaments bred into her lines. She only breeds for quality and uses the most loving females with her Leopard Cat.
This she says is to ensure that her Foundation Cats will have the most potential to be family cats with the exotic look of the ALC, that everyone so desires.
She believes, that people have this common misconception when purchasing a Bengal or Foundation Cat. That is why it is so important not only to breed for the exotic/flashy looks but most importantly for temperament to ensure the betterment of the breed.
The socialization of her kittens is an inspiration to me! Our foundation boy is not only the sweetest most loving Bengal Kitten we could ever dream of being owned by but he has become a large part of "The Dillinger Gang Therapy Group" which visits Nursing Homes and local Elementary Schools in our area and teaches others about the Bengal Cat, ALC, and Foundation Cats as well as our work in Rescue, and about how these cats touch our everyday lives. They can help us in so very many ways. This yet again proving that Bengals have so much love to give and have proven over time to be anything but dangerous, as their feline counterparts found in different regions all over the world, from deep in the jungle, high in the trees, to the African Safari.
The kids spend a great deal of time playing with, eating with, and sleeping with their Bengals. Dillinger and Striker. They follow me through the house every day during my daily work routine, which now includes a game made up of making the bed, and playing peek-a-boo from under the covers. I find myself telling my youngest daughter, Dillinger and Striker, to come out from under the covers so I can make the bed. I eventually give up, or we all end up in a HUGE pillow fight with everyone including the cats tumbling about (pouncing) and sometimes falling to the floor in laughter! Something uncanny about Bengals is they will find anything and they can and turn it instantly into a game! Who needs TV when there are Bengals in the house?
Sometimes we'll take one of the cats for a ride in the car with us, and we might get a strange look from a neighbor, or two. When the children have visitors, occasionally a parent has concerns about the safety of the cat, because Dillinger and especially Striker do look so wild, and will question us regarding their children's safety, due to the common misconception that many people have about the Bengal Cat. I guess we've just taken their wonderful temperaments for granted! Our Bengals approach every child that comes into our home just to have the most heart-warming conversations, and hopefully play a game of fetch. How could anyone doubt they'd be safe with their children?
We've seen the media articles saying the Bengal Cats and Foundation Cats are too wild for showing in a certain Cat Associations, but the Bengal breed is recognized in many registries. They show wonderfully and are 100% "pussycat". We've enjoyed showing, and our Therapy work with our Bengal Therapy Gang! I truly believe the proof is in the "puddy"!
Bengals have so much love to give! It speaks for itself every night when Dillinger climbs under the covers for a bedtime story, or our Foundation Boy, Striker actually swims in the tub with the girls making bath time fun time for everyone, something that used to be a "hard sell" for the girls" when they didn't want to or would rather watch TV, there are so many ways the Bengal Cat has become a "model citizen" in our home for our daughters. Yes, it may be hard to believe, they have actually taught us a few tricks and something about love and kindness to others in ways you couldn't imagine:-) How can this ever be misconceived as a cat that could be in anyway dangerous??
Our Dillinger gets along wonderfully with our 6 month old American Eskimo puppy and for an F1 that people think is such a danger Striker will run away from our Kianna and then growl as a playful way of talking to her then turn tail and tag Kianna with his paw, to jesture to her like a child's game of "You're it!" and off they go in the back in the other direction this is his way of getting used to the new baby of the house.
It just goes to prove as someone was once quoted in saying and I so agree Bengals are like potato chips you can't have just one! I also can promise that once you've jumped on the Bengal bandwagon and found the perfect combination of Breeder and GreatBengal/Foundation Cat that we have been so blessed in finding, in our Breeder, Julie Calderon of "Callista Bengals". Adding a Foundation Cat will bring you double the fun!!!!!
We LOVE Bengals, they are AWESOME!
Keira Marie Nguyen
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