The answer has to be an unequivocal YES judging by the information on the Internet and you can extend the sensitivity to include the gastrointestinal tract. Sadly, there is a lot on the Internet about Bengal cat diarrhoea and smelly poo. A lot of ‘experts’ have thrown their hat into the ring in providing their ‘cures’. It appears that the Bengal cat is food sensitive and I don’t see easy answers.
I have tried to make this article as comprehensive as possible, picking through the various strands of information scattered over the internet.
Inherited health problem
It appears to be a genuine and unsettling problem for Bengal cat owners. Regrettably, you can add this to other health problems inherited by the popular Bengal cat including HCM, Bengal nose, progressive retinal atrophy, and anesthetic sensitivity (ketamine).
RELATED: Bengal Nose
Having researched Bengal cat sensitive stomach issues causing chronic diarrhoea, in my mind, this is a complicated area. I say that because there’s a lot of advice on the Internet but little consistency in that advice. Most of it is anecdotal – non-scientific. The point is you will see various suggestions for the reason for what appears to be an inherited health problem.
Short digestive tract?
One breeder says that Bengal cats have a particularly short gastrointestinal tract but I don’t have any evidence to support that. It is unlikely. The breeder does agree that Bengal cats have a “very sensitive digestive system”. This is led to the “infamous Bengal diarrhoea”. But what causes that sensitive digestive system?
Artificial selection – creation of the breed
It almost seems to me that in creating the breed humans created this problem.
This health problem might have occurred because of selective breeding resulting in a cat with a digestive system which is not quite up to the task of digesting food. I mean it might be a direct result of the fact that this is a wild cat hybrid. Although the Savannah cat is also a well-known wild cat hybrid but there are no general reports of Savannah cats suffering from diarrhoea problems as there are for Bengals. Therefore, the problem may be linked to the Asiatic leopard cat, the wild cat half of the Bengal cat.
As mentioned, Bengal cats can also suffer from a condition that I call ‘Bengal nose’; a crusty nose. Scientifically speaking this is nasal hyperkeratosis. It appears that even today, the scientist don’t know the cause behind it. In my view it’s another health issue resulting from the creation of this breed through artificial selection. It may be God’s way of saying that humans should not be creating wild cat hybrids (note: I am not in any way religious!).
It might be possible to categorise the reasons for Bengal cat smelly poo under two headings (a) intestinal parasites and (b) the type of food including foods containing a high percentage of grain. I guess that is common sense when you think about it.
Why the Bengal cat should be particularly predisposed to having a range of parasites in their intestines is another matter. It is a point worth making. It does not make sense to state that this cat breed is more likely to have a parasitic infestation of the intestines.
That said, below is a list of possible intestinal parasites causing Bengal cat smelly poo:
- Worms in the intestine (parasites)
- Giardia as mentioned
- Tri-Tich – Tritrichomonas foetus. This appears to be a favourite of one website but there’s no strong science on this in respect of Bengal cats. It is known that this microscopic single-celled flagellated protozoan parasite is a cause of diarrhoea in domestic cats generally. In one study they looked at treatments and used “4 naturally infected Bengal cats with a history of T foetus-associated diarrhea.” That hints at the Bengal cat being predisposed to being infected with this parasite.
- Helicobacter canis (this is as per a study published online (https://doi.org/10.1128/jcm.37.10.3271-3275.199). This is an interesting study which should be read by Bengal cat owners and breeders. The study concerned four Bengal cats in a cattery all of which had chronic diarrhea to the point where it was a serious health problem jeopardising their lives almost.
The suggestion that Giardia causes Bengal cat diarrhoea comes from a Maine Coon cat breeder. Guardia is a tiny protozoan parasite. It affects one in 10 to one in five cats in Tennessee or did so in around 2010. It can be killed with a pill: Panacur.
Good and bad foods
Years ago, I did some research on this topic and came up with a list of USA manufactured Foods (2008) that might be good to minimise Bengal cat smelly poo and diarrhoea this is the list:
- Prairie naturals
- Holistic select kibble
- Fromm salmon/duck
- Normal Innova
- Chicken Lover’s Chicken Soup – this is the best by all accounts *. This is I believe, “Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul” a product manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods. It doesn’t contain corn and Franny Styufy (the About.com cat specialist and author) recommended it. Note: Nov 2019: Franny has retired from writing about cats.
Certainly, it makes sense to try various commercial foods including hypoallergenic foods which are foods for sensitive stomachs. Grains come up a lot so check the ingredient and minimise them. The better the quality the lower the percentage of grains.
Bengal cats are also sensitive to meat or chicken with unnecessary spices but who is going to feed their Bengal cat with spicey chicken!? Bengal cats might be sensitive to wheat, corn and soy, canned tuna or chicken and as mentioned grain-based foods. But once again, you wouldn’t feed your cat these foods if you stick to high quality commercially prepared cat food.
Going back to basics – raw
I have read some Bengal cat breeders or owners resorting to home-made raw cat food diet to resolve the problem. That might be a desperate measure to avoid providing their cat with commercially prepared cat food which can contain a lot of grains to fill out the food to provide the manufacturer with a greater profit margin.
RELATED: Feline IBD and a Raw Diet
I can recall one person saying that it fixed the problem. Certainly, going back to natural cat food is not a bad idea but you have got to be careful when handling raw products because she could make things worse by introducing bacteria into the food through poor handling and storage. A raw diet can help treat IBD in domestic cats according to my research.
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