Bengal Cat Behavior

Bengal cat
Bengal cat: SGC SavoirFaire Golden Storm. Photo copyright Helmi Flick
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This is an article about Bengal cat behavior. The Bengal cat is a wild cat hybrid. The public might know that cats of this breed can be first-generation (F1) or, for example, sixth generation (F6) from the wild. The first-generation Bengal cats have a lot more wild cat character than the average domestic cat. In a basic sense they are half wild cat, namely the Asiatic leopard cat, and half domestic cat. Whereas the wild cat element is diluted in a fifth-generation Bengal cat. You can see therefore how the behavior of the Bengal cat depends upon how much wild cat there is in them i.e. whether they are an F1 or F5.

Fifth filial Bengal cats (F5)

These cats are almost standard domestic cats. You couldn’t tell the difference in character except perhaps that they are a little more energetic, curious, inquisitive and perhaps entertaining than your average random bred cat. It is said that many Bengal cats like water by which I mean bathing in it and drinking running water from faucets. They are extremely talkative, possessing an exceptional vocabulary including a low, gravelly voice. There is a hint of wild cat in their behaviour which is the precise reason why people like them and adopt them. They are a reminder of the wild cats of the world.

There was a time, at the start of this breed, when cat breeders were under a warning to make sure that their Bengal cats had a temperament which was ‘unchallenging’. This demand was in the breed standard. Obviously the cat associations felt that a wild cat hybrid could be too challenging for their owner. They must have meant that they could be too independent-minded and perhaps on occasions aggressive.

The breed standard stated “temperament must be unchallenging. Any sign of definite challenge shall disqualify. Cat may exhibit fear, seek to flee, or generally complain aloud, but may not threaten to harm. Bengals should be confident, alert, curious and friendly cats”.

You can see in this section of the Bengal cat breed standard that the cat associations recognise that the Bengal cat has a strong voice and is particularly alert and curious but must be friendly. In a way it describes the Bengal cat. The current TICA breed standard retains the same criteria as you can see from the screenshot below.

Bengal cat breed standard
Bengal cat breed standard (section on possible character ‘defect’).

First-generation or high filial Bengal cats

The first-generation Bengal cats are much more of a handful. They are very rare and I believe that you have to be a particular sort of person to want to be a cat guardian of a first filial Bengal cat. You’ll like it that your cat companion is more demanding than usual. To most people there would be too much Asiatic leopard cat in them. And the Asiatic leopard cat is a very independent-minded cat with the usual small wild cat fierce and aggressive tendencies. Years ago a woman contacted me about her F1 Bengal cat. She was struggling to manage him and I feel that she had decided that she’d made a mistake in adopting an F1 cat. Her story is interesting for those contemplating living with such a cat (and also click on this link).

Years ago I lived next door to a man who owned an F3 Bengal cat (in the video above). They lived in a flat and he took the cat out into the communal garden on occasions. The cat was a bit of a handful and unsuited to living in a flat and being taken out into a communal area because it was too dangerous for the cat. The cat was quite large, certainly larger than normal but all-in-all a pretty standard domestic cat except for this heightened alertness. I actually made a video of this cat and he attacked me as I held the camera over him. Perhaps I deserved it but the cat’s attitude was perhaps typical of a third-generation Bengal cat. A tad fierce and hyped up.

Conclusion

Many terms have been used to describe this breed of cat including: agile, active, intelligent, athletic, cunning, busy, curious, powerful, determined, loving, social, outgoing, affectionate, independent and confident.

That’s a wide spread of terms. If you could hold them in your mind and bring them together you’d create a picture of the character and behavior of the extremely popular Bengal cat.

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