Bengal Characteristics

by Janet Saltzman

We have had a few adoptions not work out because of misunderstanding the characteristics of Bengal cats/kittens. We decided to list a few of the things our personal Bengals do and some of our foster cats have done. If these behaviors make you smile or laugh out loud, you are Bengal owner material. If these behaviors shock or disgust you, the Bengal breed isn't your breed.

Bengals are not lap cats, or are they?? For the one or two Bengal lap cats there are 50 that will never sit on your lap. Mine do not sit on my lap, sometimes the 8 month old will sit on my husband's lap. A few of the fosters have sat in laps for a short period of time but the majority are too busy to be bothered with lap sitting.

Bengals make great leaps, both vertically and horizontally. Some can be on top of the refrigerator in one leap, others can span 5 or more feet when jumping from their cat tree to the couch. In the course of these leaps, lamps get knocked over, knick-knacks get pushed on the floor. Fireplace mantles are just challenges. I have a very high mantle, my cat will try to get to it and end up hanging from the bricks by his claws.

One of my cats decided to try and get to the light in the cathedral ceiling foyer by jumping up on the door frame. Of course he got stuck half way up and I had to dislodge him and his claws from the wood. Another use for touch up stain.

Two of my three cats walk a 2" railing, located on the loft banister overlooking the great-room. They stop and turn and go the other way. There is no reason for them to do this, they just want to.

Two of my three cats respect my wishes not to get on the countertops and tables in the kitchen, the third one does not. I have yet to devise a deterrent to stop this behavior.

My cats like looking out the window, no matter what kind of window treatment or covering is used. That means if they can't see out, they will find a way.

Toys are temporary; you will have to continue buying them as toy destruction is a Bengal thing. Toys with strings, while a favorite, must be put up when you are not holding one end, otherwise the string will be severed with one bite. Da Bird is a Bengal favorite, but if you forget just once to put it away, the feathers will be torn to shreds.

Small mice are a favorite toy, however buy them in bulk because most will reside under the stove, refrigerator, or any other thing that is hard to get them out of.

Toilet paper shredding is a cat thing, but Bengals take delight in doing a thorough job of destruction. How would you feel if one day, you come home after a long day of grocery shopping to find your male Bengal has torn up and shredded through your house the new bulk size toilet paper you just brought home - 24 double size rolls to be exact - and is covering your living room top to bottom. If you're not laughing, you should be thinking twice about a Bengal....

One of my cats stands up and uses his paws in a scratching, digging motion, on all mirrors, windows, and pictures with glass. He will yowl while doing this. I haven't a clue why. The same cat will sit in a corner look up, yowl, and then jump up as far as he can. After that he will run as fast as he can. He is just playing, not sick, or mentally deficient.

Bengals like water, whether dirty water in the kitchen sink, bath water, toilet water, you run it they will come. Some Bengals are pigs with their water bowl, some use their paw to swipe the surface clean, knocking water two feet in either direction.

Bengals are messy with litter. Several I've had including one of mine, build pyramids with their litter. Others aren't happy until more is out of the box then in it. Some like to pee on the plastic surface after all the litter has been scraped away. When the litter is again covered over, the clumping litter turns to cement in the bottom of the box. Use Pam to lightly spray the box before adding litter. Some Bengals are perchers on their litter box, using all four feet in a corner, a front and back paw on each side of the box. Others stand when they pee, use tall boxes or risk the overshoot. Yet some insist on using things like your kitchen sink or bath tub. Either way, Bengal lovers find a way to make it work.

Bengals chew things like a dog or puppy. Two of mine unless corrected, chew wooden knobs on the bed and bookcase.

Bengals have large, strong claws and large feet. They use their front paws to pick things up. When they land on your shoulder or back and feel they are off balance they dig in. Who's up for love marks?

Bengals don't like shut doors when they want in somewhere. They will either talk until it opens or leave scratches on the wood.

Bengals like to sleep with their people, either under or over the covers. Some sleep on their owners, anywhere from the head to toes.

Two of my three Bengals like to chew paper, especially needed receipts that haven't been put away and coupons. But in a pinch any paper will do. What hasn't been gummed up by saliva has been punched out with teeth in an intricate pattern.

Bengals love dumpster diving, whether or not food garbage is in the waste basket.

One of my Bengals will eat bread, cereal (Fiber One), potato chips, or anything is a cat proof bad. We use the oven and microwave as bread-boxes.

Nightly races are a Bengal pastime. They zoom at the speed of sound, sending area rugs askew as they race through the bedroom, across the foyer, up the 8' cat tree, around the loft, down the spiral stairs where the lead changes and now the chaser is the chasee. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

All cats love and need to scratch, Bengals really love to scratch. Provide a sturdy, large, scratching post with a choice of carpet, sisal, or burlap to satisfy this need or they will find their own. Bengals are long cats, the scratching post should provide enough height so they can fully stretch out. Our scratching posts are 4' and they can stretch to the top. While you're at it, add a platform to the top so they can look out the window. Make sure it has a sturdy base and won't tip over. Think heavy duty for a Bengal.

Bengals are party animals at night - just imagine waking up at 2 am to hear a loud break in the kitchen. You dash down stairs to discover your Bengal has broke open and splattered one pound of mustard all over your kitchen.

Bengals are smarter than your average cat. Some things they have been know to do is: break into human food, open doors & toilets with paws, fetch like a dog, and get to and from places that were never meant for cats.

After hearing all these stories about Bengal behavior, your reaction should tell you if this breed is for you. True Bengal lovers enjoy swapping stories of their Bengals doing naughty things, however people who don't appreciate this type of behavior are the ones that return their Bengal after getting it home. Bengals truly are quirky cats for quirky people.

If you've found your self laughing through out this, and day dreaming of when your own Bengal will be doing things like this, you will be a good candidate for a bengal companion. If you find your self totally disgusted and wonder why anyone would want to own such an active cat, please seek a more docile breed or a stuffed animal.: