How to buy a Bengal cat – due diligence and caveat emptor

This article on how to buy a Bengal cat covers some of the things that I would do if I were buying a Bengal cat. This is a very popular cat breed and there are very many breeders particularly in the United States. And nearly all of them are going to be good. But we don’t know where the bad ones are. And we don’t know, initially, without some checks and thoughts, which are the best cats and which cats are going to turn out to be the healthiest.

Bengal cat
Bengal cat. Photo copyright Helmi Flick. The cat is a breeding cat at DOUBLE GRR BENGALS.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Prices and quality

Prices vary a lot depending on what kind of Bengal cat is being bought. I recently noticed that a super high quality and very successful show cat and breeding cat was being sold for about $4,000-6,000 USD (at early 2009). But the usual prices will be the same for any purebred cat, $500 – $3000 in the USA depending on the cat’s quality (as at 2022). Quality depends on how close to the breed standard the cat is, I guess their results in competition, and if the cat is a show cat and whether the cat is a breeding cat.

Below is an example of a winning Bengal cat. The photo is by Helmi Flick. It gives you an idea as to what a top-quality Bengal cat looks like.

Winning Bengal cat
Winning Bengal cat

How to start? I would do a Google search and the highest listed catteries are likely to be the most established. This is a good sign but not a conclusive sign. I list some catteries here, that I considered passed the Google search test as at 2008 (things change of course).

TICA has a page of Bengal cat breeders worldwide. They pay to have their cattery listed on the TICA website. It may help some people looking to adopt. You can see the page by clicking on this link.

Inherited diseases

One thing that might not come to mind to a first-time purebred cat buyer is that some breeds carry a greater risk of showing genetically inherited diseases more than in another breed. This is due to the historical nature of the development of that breed over many years. The “problem” may originate in the founding cats and/or be exacerbated by the breeding program. I would visit this page on Genetic Diseases in Purebred Cats. For the Bengal cat these are the diseases associated with it, that I have found out about:

Of these, in my opinion, the most important is HCM, a heart disease that also affects some other purebred cat breeds. In respect of health issues and these diseases I would ask the breeder for full, original and authentic documentary evidence that three generations in relation to the cat that you are buying have proved negative in relation to HCM. And if possible, the other diseases listed but this is very unlikely to be produced.

If the parents have tested positive it may be handed down to offspring. It may be too early to test for HCM in a kitten but the parents should have been tested and not all Bengal breeders will test and of those that do not all disclose the test results for obvious reasons. HCM is a bad disease and it will affect you, the buyer (in terms of vet’s bills and worry) and your cat. This post explains HCM in simple language.

Without certificates from vets as to negative results on HCM I personally would not proceed. But this is matter of personal choice but is something that must be addressed in an article on how to buy a Bengal cat. The breeder will have a contract and all the papers to prove pedigree. The breeder may insist, in the contract, that the cat to be purchased be neutered. Sometimes unscrupulous buyers who present themselves as people buying a companion cat, in fact, want to breed and the seller won’t allow that. The contract should be read top to bottom despite the desire not to because of the circumstances. You might make initially enquiries and ask for a copy of the contract and vet certificates (mentioned above in relation to HCM etc.) up front before visiting the cattery as this will allow a more considered approach. It is essential to visit the cattery. An inspection of the cattery will tell a lot about the quality of care and socialization.

Character

And socialization is very important too. Bengal cats are known to have active, slightly different personalities because they are, after all, a wildcat hybrid. Although 4th generation cats are true domestic cats some wild blood remains. Bengal cats must be non-challenging (under the breed standard) and well socialized so a little (or a lot) of time spent with the cats before buying is time well spent as you will be living with this little companion for a long time, all being well.

Buying advice

Although, as I understand it, it is against Facebook policy to advertise purebred cats or any other animal sale on their website, it happens. The Bengal cat below was or is for sale on Facebook. It’s a beautiful Bengal cat. There is no doubt in my mind that this is a genuine pedigree cat with proper documentation which provides evidence that you are buying the genuine article. The point of this last paragraph is to flag a caution. You will see lots of purebred cats of various breeds for sale online. The advice from the experts is not to buy online sight unseen without first visiting the breeding cattery and talking to the breeder. And you need a contract. You also need to check the pedigree and registration documents. You have to do due diligence and it is caveat emptor – buyer beware.

Leopards Realm Bengal Cats
Leopards Realm Bengal Cats. Photo: the breeder.

There is no point buying a cat described as a Bengal cat if you end up with a moggy that looks like a Bengal cat because you bought her online and they were acute. You will be spending way over the odds and you will be disappointed. You must have documentary evidence that you are buying a pedigree. And you will need evidence that the cat is as healthy as possible. That means proof of vaccination and that they tested negative for the usual diseases.

Perhaps I am boring people because you already know these potential problems. I have a page on suing on a contract and a page on the laws on a cat contract. All purebred cat should be sold with a written contract. And above all else never, never send money upfront to a purported seller of a purebred cat. There are scammers out there and they will take your money and then disappear.

This is not intended to be a comprehensive page how to buy a Bengal cat. I want to cover some points that come to my mind on the subject, which may help. Buying any companion cat is a very big step as he or she will change your life, for a good 15 years or more. Preparation is vital. Budgeting is part of that process.

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