- The reason the Bengal breed (or any hybrid cat) makes the worst pet is…
Before I tell you, it’s important to know my professional background and Bengal experience. (credibility)
I’ve been an animal behaviourist/trainer since 1981, starting in the US Military training police dogs, then moving to Hollywood to teach animal actors, training different domestic and exotic animals. Then moving to Malibu, where I opened my own dog training business, also managed at a pet hotel offering boarding, training, grooming, and doggie daycare.
I currently have two cats with Guinness world records, one cat (Didga) is the most talented cat in the world. I provide an extensive library of cat training and behaviour fixing tutorials on my Patreon page (a few on YouTube)
I’m a Bengal owner. (Boomer is an F7) What I’ve experienced with the breed and shared with my large social media following have been experienced (confirmed) by many Bengal owners (online, below in the comments, and or people I meet out in public.) I’m just the messenger; this article will end up helping the breed, not hurting. I’m sharing information you can’t find elsewhere, and information that wasn’t available to me during my extensive research some 4+ years ago.
I understand there are exceptions to every rule. Please, If you have a Bengal that is nothing like I’m reporting, OR, everything I’m reporting, let us ALL know about your Bengal (and their temperament) in the comments below. I welcome all viewpoints and experiences. The bottom line, when adopting “ANY” new cat/dog into the family, it’s important to do as much research as possible. If you’re not fully committed to your pet, they get ignored, abandoned in the streets, or brought to shelters. All this could have been avoided if people did the research first.
- They’re part WILD! Not the same temperament as a purely domesticated cat. and they wouldn’t be happy stuck in your house. I compare the breed to a husky dog, high maintenance, requiring a ton of space, a lot more of your time (caring for), and more direct interaction (Lot’s of training, exercise, supervision in and outdoor) Not for one month, or one year, but for years and years, like would be required (or should be) with a dog.
- Pure breed cats are overrated, especially hybrid cats; they’re rarely as advertised (what you expected) Bengals are WAY too much cat for those who consider themselves a cat person, even too much for a “dog person”. Also, why “buy” a cat when there are so many amazing cats/kittens in shelters, that’s where I got Didga, Bindi, and Jeb. Did you know: To produce a hybrid “domesticated” cat, they do “selective breeding.” This means a lot of cats/kittens are killed litter after litter after litter until… they reach “breed standards”: Appearance, temperament, and or health. (very sad)
- Bengals have a very loud meow. More than just “talkers,”; they are known to pace around your home a few times+ a day, (because they’re part wild animals) doing this very loud meowing ritual, Your neighbours will probably be concerned about your cat. A client of mine who lives on a farm tells me every time they leave the house, their Bengal screams the whole time their gone, sometimes for hours, and they know this because a few neighbours on adjacent farms can hear the cat. They’re also known to be escape artists. Boomer checks for a way out, scanning the construction, sometimes pawing at the front doorknob. The owners of a cat enclosure company told me, if a Bengal owner calls them to install an enclosure, they say to the person, “Sorry we can’t help you, In our experience Bengals eventually find a way to escape from their enclosures.” Boomer has escaped but because I’m home most of the time, I found him quickly and I’m able to stop him from getting any ideas.
- “Looks” are the most common reason people get these cats, and turns out to be the worst reason to get ANY animal. Or a cat you grew up with, or a friend has one, etc. What’s more important is the animals needs, temperament and compatibility with your CURRENT lifestyle and living conditions. (“looks” are only a bonus.) I wish everyone would “look” at it from the animal’s perspective. (hypothetically), asking the animal what they think about potentially being cramped up 24/7 in your house/apartment, alone most of the day, maybe only having a few walks around the block per week? all so you can look at them all day?? If they could speak, Siberian huskies, hybrid cats, birds, or any animal in cages (aquariums) would say, “We are NOT compatible, please DON’T BUY ME.” A true “animal lover” puts the animals needs before their own, and for 99% of you, not getting a hybrid cat, makes you more of an animal lover. Note: this doesn’t include rescuing a Bengal from a shelter, obviously this is a good thing, there is a need for this service as so many are given-up to rescue centers because a lot of people got one because of the way they look. Surprise!
- They hate being picked up, cuddled, or carry around. Bengals are NOT considered “lap-cats.” the reason is, they’re part wild (did I mention that?) I had one lady tell me her Bengal (finally after several years) became affectionate and a lap cat with her, but still doesn’t like being picked up by her, and will run away from other family members that try to pat/pick him up. For the first year of Boomer’s life, every time someone patted him, or if I picked him up, I gave him food to make it all a positive experience. A whole year of this and it didn’t seem to help much, he still hates being picked up, I mean hates it. So even with the most dedicated training, you can’t change a leopards spots.
- Not a good match with small children (under 7) People hate when I say this, (and most of the time don’t listen anyway). but I’m thinking of the pet, they’re the ones who end up not getting the attention they deserve, and Bengals require WAY more of your time than your average cat. In general, cats are less tolerant of young children and more likely to avoid them at all costs once something unfavourable happens. FYI – It’s a myth that small kids should grow up with a pet, I didn’t have any relations with a dog or cat growing up, and look how good I am with animals. (just saying) it’s okay to wait until your kids have a better grasp of the responsibilities when caring for an animal. (even then, the parents end up doing most of the work.)
- They may not get along with your current cat(s), especially cats older than 2-3 or those who arent super social with other cats. (unless maybe it’s another Bengal) Note: When I first got young Boomer, Didga and Boomer got along BRILLIANTLY! Then after a year and a half, it started to go downhill. Boomer at some point must have hurt Didga; since then, Boomer stalks her, bullies her, takes advantage of her weakness, pouncing on her back, bitting her on the neck, lots of screaming. No punctures marks, but the hair comes out. I usually have to intervene by pulling Boomer off. Didga hates him now. I bring this up because, I’m a professional trainer, I’m home most of the time, I try to keep Boomer stimulated, I apply training techniques in textbook fashion, and I’m still not able to manage the situation 100%. I felt sorry for Didga not having a playmate anymore. Yes, I know, the scenario could of happen with another cat, but the difference is because Bengals have more wild instincts, they don’t respond to behaviour modification techniques like regular cats. Again, they’re part WILD. To rectify my situation, I had two options, find Boomer a home OR find a younger cat that will be more tolerant of his temperament. and give Didga a much needed break. I GOT LUCKY! after a few years on and off fostering about 10 kittens total, I finally found the right cat, well, two cats that are the perfect match. I’m a family of four and things are WAY better than before. Bindi and Jeb are giving Didga a much needed break. Q: Why take a chance on ruining the normal life of your existing cat, by adding a high maintenance energetic overbearing cat? (Bengal or not).
- Can’t let them roam outside (unsupervised.) OR ANY CAT. There are too many dangers outside that cats face, killed by poison, people, cars, dogs (or other animals) and tortured. They can get lost, stolen, injured, catching diseases fighting other cats, or just the fact they’re forced to defend/fight other aggressive cats. They kill innocent local wildlife “for sport”. It’s a sport because they didn’t kill to survive, 99% of the time they don’t eat the animal. Bengals aren’t the only cats that kill animals I know, but the hunting instincts, power, and heights these cats can jump, make them killing machines (30-40% more successful killing animals than other domestic cats, plus they can take down larger animals). FYI – Boomer and Didga have NEVER killed any animals outside. After applying a training technique, Didga learned in 2 weeks not to chase/lunge at birds, I tried to teach the same to Boomer, and after a few years of this, I still don’t trust him around birds, especially off-leash. Hence why you see, in many of my pics and videos, Boomer is still on a lead, and Didga is not. (Can’t change a Leopard spots).
- They’re not as trainable as advertised. (I fell for it.) I wasn’t looking for a lap cat, I was looking for a cat that would be adventurous, one I can take lots of places, teach a lot of things to, I was looking for a challenge, I figured if I can train police dogs, I can surely handle a Bengal cat. It wasn’t “looks” that attracted me to the breed, it was their supposed “trainability’. Let me explain. As a dog trainer, many so-called “trainers” were training border collies, gaining notoriety as “trainers,” and I thought, that’s cheating! Just because you can teach a Border collie tons of tricks, doesn’t make you a dog trainer. So as a cat trainer, I did my research to look for the “border collie” of the cat world. My research lead me to the Bengal breed as being one of the most “teachable” cat breeds. Fast forward a year, and the research, I believe, is very misleading, and I think whoever labeled Bengals this way, are NOT animal behaviourists or trainers. Didga or Bindi are WAY more trainable, Bindi being WAY more dog like than Boomer. What I didn’t for-see is how “wild” natured I would come to see the Bengal, which started to weight on me, as I don’t agree with wild animals in captivity, (plus I was indirectly promoting the breed which made me sad as most of the people wouldn’t be right for the breed.) Once you get past that initial “smarts” of the Bengal, and there are a few things they pick up faster than other cats, you still have a part wild animal. Wild animals have a very independent nature. For trainability, this is not compatible. “You can’t change leopard spots.” I often compare them to Huskies, absolutely beautiful, but not as trainable. Note: I’m aware that there are exceptions out there, I’m sure the “wild traits” / trainability differ within each Bengal.
I feel very sorry for these most of these “hybrid” cats unhappily imprisoned in a home environment. Very-very-very few people can provide the space and stimulation these cats require to truly be happy.
Those very few people have super large living area, and hike (travel) with their cats at least a couple of times per week. or they rescue a Bengal and a loving home is better than living in a small cage/kennel run, just be prepared for their wild animal instinct.
IF you found this post useful and informative, or you’d like to add your Bengal cat experience? please let us know below,
(If I think of anything new, I’ll update this blog)
Robert, Didga, Boomer, Bindi, and Jeb