This article looks at how Bengal cat owners perceive the behaviour and health of their cats. A study looked at the relationship between 256 Bengal cats and their owners. They lived in Flanders, Wallonia (Belgium), and the Netherlands. This is a European outlook on the Bengal cat.
These are the findings (I have added some personal views along the way):
- 60.5% of owners chose the Bengal cat breed due to a combination of looks and character which is very typical as this breed has both strong looks and a strong character;
- 99.2% of the owners did some research about the breed before adopting the Bengal cat. This is excellent to see and it no doubt helped to create a good relationship between cat and caregiver;
- 9.9% of owners reported overweight cats. This amounted to 24 cats. Obesity was the most common health issue reported. Note: from my perspective, this is, at root, a human behaviour issue more than a cat health issue because these cats are being overfed and under-exercised. I suspect that most of them are full-time indoor cats which are more common on mainland Europe than in the UK. In an ideal world, full-time indoor living for Bengal cats is not a great situation because they are active and therefore need plenty of space in which to enjoy themselves and behave naturally. This is not a criticism of keeping cats indoors full-time but a simple observation of what might be arguably a mismatch between the character of a wildcat hybrid and the environment in which they live;
- The most frequent behaviours observed by the Bengal cat owners were climbing in 89.7% (229) of the cats participating, vocalising (I take that to mean that they thought their cats were particularly vocal) in 88.7% (227 cats), playing with water in 79.7% (204) and hunting at 78.9% which was 202 cats.
- These behavioural traits were not described as problematic by nearly all the owners and, from a personal perspective, they are descriptive of a normal domestic cat although the Bengal cat is known to be, in general, more active than your typical domestic cat and therefore more prone to climbing. They are also known to like water more than normal. Being more active they may hunt more than typically and I would hope therefore that they are less likely to be obese. Although at 9.9% the prevalence of obesity as perceived by these owners is at one in ten cats which is much higher than normally encountered. The numbers probably depend upon their perception of obesity. Perhaps European cat owners are more sensitive to obesity in domestic cat. Also, it is probably likely that obesity in Bengal cats is going to be more noticeable because they are a known athletic cats and our perception of them is as perfect athletic specimens;
- The most frequent problematic behaviours are described by their owners were: destructive behaviours in 33.2% or 85 cats, pica (eating non-nutritious objects) in 16.4% cats and aggression towards animals at 16% and inappropriate elimination 13.3%.
- The statistics in the bullet point above strongly indicate human behaviour issues such as a possible failure to provide an enriched environment, a failure to ensure that there is harmony multi-cat homes and a failure to ensure that the litter box is well-sited and it is cleaned adequately and frequently enough but not too frequently so as to reduce the scent of the cat using it. Also, possibly, a failure to provide enough scratching posts of suitable size and heft. I sense that in this study most of these cats were full-time indoor cats because they are Bengal cats and therefore, they have to be kept indoors for their own safety. The problem here is that Bengal cats are very active and therefore unsuited to being confined to apartments. In my view, Bengal cats confined to apartments should be leash trained and they should be taken outside to the common areas of an apartment block for daily exercise and mental stimulation;
- A good aspect of the study is that most of the owners did their research on Bengal cats before adopting which probably helped them to cope with what might otherwise be seen as behavioural issues.
The study title is: Behavior and health issues in Bengal cats as perceived by their owners: A descriptive study. It is published on Science Direct and was conducted from: Department of Nutrition, Genetics and Ethology, School of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Merelbeke, Belgium and Odisee University College, Sint-Niklaas, Belgium.
Below are some more pages on Bengal cats.