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Bengal Cats Need Great Socialization

by Deborah-Ann Milette (New York)

Find the kitty… sorry not a Bengal!

This is my response to the vets article: F3 Bengal Cat a Problem to a Vet. I am a true exotic rescuer through probably insanity (!) because of my love for the big/small cats. But one breed I sincerely am extremely guarded about any interaction with and especially when they reach the age of two is the Bengal.

I believe that mother nature kicks in, in full force, in any leopard cat breed. I call them my time-bombs of the cat world.

I have seen Bengals explode for no reason and attack a judge on many occasions and they were not just a little bite or scratches. I mean it required medical attention. This past year was the worst I have seen.

Yes other felines sometimes go nuts too but not like the Bengals. I have seen Bengals be as nice as playful kittens still in wonder with the world but have learned through talking with people in the cat fancy that lots of socialization is a true demand for this breed and that means more than just trust of it’s owner.

Constant exposure with people and other cats is a necessity to help the leopard cat (Asian Leopard cat) mentality to not over power the domestication of the cat and to explode or for the cat to become a four-legged time bomb.

The serval is a very mild mannered wild cat and has a flight rather than fight nature whereas the Asian Leopard cat does not. But I try to prevent a possible nurture vs nature and expose my cats to anything and everything to have them be the best ambassadors of their breed, in case. From the first day I get them I spend time learning their personality, then the socialization of walks, meeting people, dogs children, whatever.

Then they do pet therapy to learn and see elderly people will not hurt then, then we progress to the reading programs that I think my cats have the most fun and express themselves more freely. If they show fear of something, we work through it and they learn what ever it is will not hurt them. My cats are not locked away when I have company, they are part of my family and learn that being social with people, dogs or cats they are still the number one animal in my home.

Also my breeders, A1Savannahs, had lots to with Motzie’s first 20 months of his life giving him love and his children interacting with and allowing him to be important in the house by being the teacher, disciplinarian and acting father figure to the growing babies in the house.

So between Kathrin & Martin’s way of raising these precious babies from birth to new owner makes for all the difference in how these cats are with others.

Yes, when Motzie goes to a vet he complains but never shows aggression, just in case, though, we do muzzle him but once the muzzle is off he smooches up to his vet as if to say, “thanks, no it didn’t hurt but want you to know I was healthy and really wanted to grumble my two cents worth”.

Even at a cat show Motzie does what I call a serval hum and I tell people he is just a typical male voicing his opinion that he would rather be home sitting on the couch watching the football, baseball game whatever but he thinks, “my mother had other ideas and dragged me here!”

Many people hear me explain the behavior and I put him in their arms and he hums for a minute and they sometimes get the message better that way.

I was very lucky that I had 12 servals and 4 caracals rescues live with me and I learned so much from them and not once did a fight ever break out. The most I had was a humming match between my Noah (who came from a very abusive situation including starvation) and Cleopatra (my New Jersey strip-joint cat) face off and all they did was hum to each other and paw tap each other and as fast as it came about it ended.

I rescued 2 Asian leopard cats that were totally off the wall and had to be tranquilized before moving them to protect me and themselves. I also moved 3 true (panthers/leopards) and 2 were totally psycho at about the age of 3. The other one was about 1.5 years and reaching that point where nature was ready to take over full blast and all of it was because of the lack of human bonding. So I am not all surprised by the lack of socialization in Bengals and going off unexpectedly with people. Hybrids need lots of work, time and effort and I am fortunate being a disabled vet (army veteran) to be able to dedicate my time to do what I do and I hope people see my gentle giant, Motzie as a proper gentleman.

Deborah-Ann Milette
Owner of the Best Known Savannah

Bengal Cats Need Great Socialization to Bengal Cats For Sale

Comments for
Bengal Cats Need Great Socialization

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Sep 13, 2010Miss-Informed
by: Anonymous Well, it’s all been said before. The problem always lies with the people, not the animals. This article is absurd. I have had the pleasure of living and working with many wild animals in South Africa and currently have a F1 savannah and bengal and an F2 bengal.

From my experience this article is totally unfounded. That is my point here, that to make a general statement from limited exposure to a breed is to say the least irresponsible.

Both these species are amazing animals and should be reverred not slandered.

Mar 18, 2010Totally Unture!
by: Anonymous I can’t believe you have the nerve to say that bengals are attacking Judges like they’re a cat that has too much wild and the Savannah doesn’t?? Totally unfair and unfounded?? Only someone who has something against bengal’s for PERSONAL reasons would make sucha comment. I have seen Domestic Cats bite Judges and still get finaled in shows.. Let’s be realistic here, we all have our passion’s but that doesn’t give you the right to put down other people’s cats just because your passion happens to be different. This is so upsetting to me that anyone could say such a thing when many bemgals have been known to be frinedly loving wonderfully temperted pets. Good with all ages and even Therapy cats on ocassion. I think this is not about facts but about being motored by something totally personal and it’s not based on facts if you don’t like bengals and you do like Savannah’s so I think it’s all about interpretation.

Sep 08, 2009bengals
by: kathy i agree that bengals need socialization even from the time they are born. So do domestic cats. My rescued domestic had 4 kittens when i found her and her kittens were already about 5 weeks old. They in turn had not been socialized and only 2 became tame and two are still not social. All my bengals became tame, i handled them every day from the time they were born. I never had any of them become “TIME BOMBS”. I bought one from a breeder and she had not been socialized and she never became tame, but she also never was aggresive. I live with a bengal who never has shown any aggresive behavior.

Sep 08, 2009Hi Deborah
by: Michael Thanks for sharing. I think you are right about socialisation. It is important generally. And A1 Savannahs do a great job on socialisation, don’t they? You do the same. It is something you don’t see right away. You see a fine glamorous cat but not what is inside!

And Martin and Kathrin Stucki really work on getting the socialisation aspect right and it shows in Motzie, for example. He is a great ambassador for the wild cat hybrid when socialised to a high standard.

See Savannah Cat Motzie Caught a Snake! and

F1 Savannah Cat MAGIC

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • I received 2 female, spayed, littermate Bengals to rehome in Dec 2017. They will be 2 Feb 2018. It clearly appears neither of these cats was socialized with humans and although they are not aggressive, they run and are still terrified. I have them in one bedroom with their food, litter, toys, beds and a tall bed and two large windows to pear out. They love to play with a string and feather on a pole but want nothing to do with human contact. I have a resident Main Coon mix who sneaked into the room and all was fine until the Bengals started to run which immediately triggered his predatory instincts and he went on the chase before I could stop him. Although they never made contact with each other it sounded like WWIII. I got his attention and he just walked out like he had conquered the beast. I want these Bengals to happy, healthy, loving kitties, but I fear that's just not going to be. Any advice would be appreciated.

    • Phew, is my initial reaction. I think you may struggle to 'domesticate' them. They say cats are socialized in the first 7 weeks of life. When their characters are fixed it can be hard. I think you'll just have to be very patient and gradually socialise them by interacting with them day in and day out. Plenty of play and gradual improved contact with humans will make progress. It is is about time and patience. Good luck. Thanks for sharing.

  • Well, I know this is old post but I am responding anyway. I have owned lynx, serval, f1 Savannah and f1, f2, f3 Bengals. The secret is socializing the kittens early. I recently purchased a Rag Doll kitten 9 weeks old and is very very wild. Has bitten and scratched me and constantly hisses. It is obvious this kitten was ignored. So my point is, it doesn't matter the breed, socialization by the breeder is important and it does not end there. The new parents must be sure to keep up the socializing. This little Rag Doll has been the hardest to tame out of all the wild and early generation cats I have had. At this very moment I am holding 10 day old f3 Bengal kittens to start the socialization. Never have had any of my cats go ballistic. That may be an owner issue.

    • Laura, you are so right!
      I’ve watched Bengals at cat shows and they are lovely, even tempered, and seem to enjoy the shows.
      This article is nonsense.

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