Bengal Cat Personality Problems


If there is a conclusion to this discussion about Bengal cat personality problems, then it must be this: potential adopters should understand that they are going to live with a high-quality cat that is active, intelligent and in general more demanding than the average house cat and therefore they should ensure that they are in a position to deal with the challenge before taking the all-important step to adopt.


I have written about the Bengal cat personality before. I’ve played with a Bengal cat because one of my neighbors cared for a third filial (F3) Bengal cat. One of my first videos was of this particular cat breed. My initial impressions of this cat breed’s personality is that it is not that different from the personality of any other domestic cat.  However, it depends upon one’s expectations as usual.  Some people will say that the Bengal cat is nothing like a moggie or another purebred cat in terms of personality.  It also depends upon the individual cat.

Most Bengal cats are fifth filial cats which means that they are separated from the wild Asian leopard cat by five sets of domestic cat parents. Any wild blood that is in them has been hugely diluted. Also, it has to be said, that the domestic cat, in general, has a lot of wild cat in him or her. We know the adage that the domestic is a whisker away from his wild cat ancestor.

There is a lot of discussion about the inherent slight lack of domestication of the household cat which differentiates the cat’s personality from the dog’s personality.  The domestic dog is more domesticated than the domestic cat. The average domestic cat is a little wild in personality.

So if you take into account these factors it can be difficult to see the Bengal cat as anything other than a slightly more active than usual domestic cat. At one time I wrote an article in which I queried whether the Bengal cat was antisocial because somebody had suggested it. My conclusion was that it is not antisocial.

In this article, I re-explore the character of this very popular purebred cat. This is why, by the way, the title to this article is what it is. I am suggesting that there may be some problems. So what are these problems and are they genuine?

Photo: copyright Helmi Flick

The Problem

Having carefully considered Bengal cat personality problems, I have come to the conclusion that there are no “Bengal cat personality problems”. It is simply that the Bengal cat has a different personality from the average random bred cat and some people are not aware of it before they adopt a Bengal cat. As a result, their expectations are misplaced. When a person has misplaced expectations, the personality of the cat will be different to that which they expected and the person will be quite possibly be unhappy. This may result in the person relinquishing the cat to a rescue organisation.

So-called problems with Bengal cat personality may be exacerbated if the cat’s owner is away a lot of the time because this cat breed prefers interaction with his human caretaker. They are active cats. They are intelligent cats and therefore they need to be stimulated and mental stimulation can only come from another cat or the owner.

In respect of “another cat” a person with experience of rescuing Bengal cats, Debbie Connolly, says that she has encountered, on a number of occasions, breeders selling a pair of cats to an adopter and the cats ending up fighting. This seems to be a problem with this particular breed.  Or, is it a problem with the breeder?  Perhaps this breed is more territorial than your average cat and you cannot presume that they will get along in a confined space.

Behavior “Problems” A Person Might Not like

I mentioned misplaced expectations. Bengal cats enjoy climbing and being active and exploring. This is liable to result in some damage to the household. The owner should expect or at least recognise this possibility.

Back in 2000, two well-respected authors – Gloria Stephens and Linda P Case – writing about this cat refer to the early days of this breed’s acceptance by cat associations. The Cat Fanciers’ Association have never accepted this breed. The early breed standards included (still include?) a paragraph which states that “temperament must be unchallenging.  Any sign of definite challenge shall disqualify…”

This is a clear recognition that this cat breed can be aggressive or dominant or both.  It is said that they can sometimes terrorise the household and even actively seek neighborhood cats to enter their homes to hurt them. This must be territorial behaviour and with that goes the possibility that the cat may spray urine to mark territory.

However, I would be surprised if there were that many problems with Bengal cats spraying urine to mark territory but it is probably fair to suggest that this wild cat trait is more pronounced in this breed than in non-wildcat hybrid breeds and random bred cats and therefore the possibilities of it occurring are greater than in other cat breeds or moggies.

It is said that there are strong minded and will not want to sit around on your lap doing nothing. This leads to the fact that the Bengal cat does seem to like dogs more than is average amongst domestic cats. Apparently some live happily with dogs and some seem to prefer the company of dogs over cats. However, many random bred cats get along nicely with dogs too.

They have a high hunting drive. This must mean that the cat owner should be available to play with their cat.

The Bengal cat is curious and entertaining. Some of them like to play in water. If you keep fish beware of this! The Bengal cat is extremely talkative with quite a distinctive voice, it is said.  However, I don’t think this aspect of the cat’s character should be overstated because the voice of domestic cats varies anyway between individuals.

The Leopard Cat

This small wild cat species, the wild ancestor of the Bengal cat is particularly independent even in comparison with other small wild cats and difficult to socialize in any respects. Perhaps Jean Mill, the founder of this breed chose the wrong cat to start a new wild cat hybrid.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I am 70-years-of-age at 2019. For 14 years before I retired at 57, I worked as a solicitor in general law specialising in family law. Before that I worked in a number of different jobs including professional photography. I have a longstanding girlfriend, Michelle. We like to walk in Richmond Park which is near my home because I love nature and the landscape (as well as cats and all animals).

View Comments

  • I adopted two F-1 Bengals. One Asian Bengal and one snow Bengal. The Asian Bengal is 12 years old and cantankerous to say the least. The snow Bengal is 7 yrs old and is a cuddler, but if a strange cat comes into our yard he will try anything to get to that cat. The 12 year old is a typical Bengal who yells a lot and tells me No! All the time! Love them!

    • Thanks Pat for sharing your first hand experience of the Bengal cat. Very interesting and appreciated.

  • For the first time in my life saw a "Bengal Cat" in Jakarta in Indonesia.It was owned by the owner of "Six Degree hostel" and was found by her on a street , a accident victim.This cat was very docile and bold, prowling all over the small hostel . In fact it was the first individual to greet me on my arrival in Jakarta , inspecting my luggage, much before i made human acquaintance friends!I have posted a photo of the cat.I wonder if its a pure breed "Bengal" or a mix breed. Indonesia being a majority Muslim country would have more of exotic cats than dogs as pets.This "Bengal cat" must have been abandoned by its former owner and hence strayed onto the street and met with a accident.

    • It is difficult to know if this cat is a Bengal cat because there can be a fine difference between a very nice looking brown, spotted, tabby get and Bengal cat that is not of the highest quality although the Bengal cat coat glistens and is more silky normally.

      I don't know if they have purebred Bengal cats in Jakarta. It would mean that there are breeders there or not far away. Or perhaps the cat was imported internationally. There are breeders in Australia. Good photo Rudolph. Thanks. Interesting to see this.

  • Ofcourse, I'm not very learned about these cats; but I assume that they are best off being an only cat in the household. It seems that they require more attention than can be provided for them in a multi-cat home.

    • Good point Dee. Could well be true. Not all Bengal cats are going to be that much of a handful but sharing space might not be one of the cat's strengths.

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