[dropcap]B[/dropcap]engal cats have been popular for several years now but like many other breeds there are trials & tribulations. We’ll take a look at some of those concerns and provide some helpful advice.
Where has all the time gone? Eight years of owning Bengals. Eight years and millions of meows, hundreds of hours of video footage, various broken house lamps, litter trays, shelves… plants constantly eaten or knocked over, torn speakers and carpets that will never be the same!
Do Bengals always require attention?
It would be dishonest of me to say that Bengals were for everyone and unfortunately a few acquaintances have had to pass on their cat to other owners. This can be down to the realisation that Bengals are often very playful, vocal and in need of human attention, especially if they are the only cat in the household. This is an opportunity to say that the Bengal cat breed often requires a certain amount of attention and patience from an owner. Bengals love to play and interact and though they will often do this with each other it’s important to have plenty of human input too.
What can you provide to help with stimulation?
We have noticed over the years that if left to their own devices for too long the level of mischievousness increases! Feather wands, cardboard boxes and fabric tunnels are all great ways to alleviate any tension and keep Bengals occupied. All three of our kitties will play differently but twenty minutes of activity will satisfy and tire them out. If you time it right this will play into your hands at bedtime and unruly cats may be more inclined to settle and sleep along with your own night time patterns. A few dry treats before bed won’t hurt either!
Our two brown sisters Pixel & Sushi adopted this pattern after we persevered for around 8 weeks. Little sleep was had to start with and I wore ear plugs for a while but now I wouldn’t have it any other way. We created beds atop wardrobes and provided ways to jump up. Frequently they will spend the first half of the night up high but will migrate to the bed for the latter half (more so in the winter for human warmth!). We have the occasional burst of late-night energy of course and an overenthusiastic joint grooming session may turn into a wrestling match (on top of your legs) at 3am.
Important! Do you crave a quiet life or need to concentrate?
Having owned quiet cats earlier in my life I had hoped for talkative cats this time. My wish was granted and more! If you enjoy your quiet time at home or need to concentrate, especially if you don’t have a quiet space to retreat to, you may find that you are challenged by the vocal characteristics of the Bengal. Personalities vary of course but all three of our cats are loud and insistent – I do struggle to concentrate at times and I regret turning a spare room from a meditation space to a storage area.
I’ve been working from home more due to the Coronavirus pandemic so in these instances I will ensure that feeding time coincides with something that I might need to focus on. In the maddening scenario where the game being played is ‘meow tennis’ through closed doors I will surrender and feed or pay attention to them, just for an easy life!
Appreciating the amazing vocal characteristics of the Bengal
Our YouTube videos are ample examples of the chatter we hear on a daily basis and the ‘Noisy Kitties’ video is our most popular. Some of the best experiences I’ve had with our fluffs are the conversations and responses – with Pixel in particular who will return certain mannerisms, slow blinks and airy whispers. It is extremely cute and I receive many comments about her chattering (often aimed at birds outside admittedly!).
I often feel that I have a proper connection with her, that we understand each other quite well. It’s one of the most rewarding feelings and I treasure it as much as I can. I think some people look at me strangely when I tell them this and I can understand; many people have pets but don’t really interact with them. For me it’s not only therapeutic it’s about helping them out too, stimulation & progress – Pixel just last night was so excited to see me finally come to bed that she bounded up the stairs and was trotting out circuits on the bed in anticipation of her nightly belly scratches.
You might need to rearrange the layout of your home
Unfortunately, due to the acrobatics that our crazy kitties perform on a daily basis it’s only fair to warn about the dangers of being house proud. Keeping rare/expensive/fragile items on units and shelves is asking for trouble! Small items will end up under storage units, beds and furniture if not tied down. The amount of lip balms, Christmas decorations and pens that I have found under furniture always makes me smile :)
Rocket has broken two litter trays by jumping on their plastic lids from high above. I think 3 small lamp shades were destroyed before I gave in and removed the lamp completely from that area. Floating shelves and 5kg acrobatic cats are a no-no! My tables and units are covered in scratches and not because they dig at things, which has rarely happened. No this is from the high speed pursuits around their assault course (translation: any room).
DIY is a challenge! Whenever the tools come out I have to mind the sharp bits. Small items are taken. Screws I’m about to use are knocked off whatever surface I put them on. Bags are used as hiding places… on the plus side they run away from any drilling :)
I wouldn’t have it any other way
So, 7 years later and a terabyte and half of video recordings. I’ll thank my partner for picking up my cheque book after I put it back in the drawer before our trip to see some kittens (I was in a grump at the time as I didn’t think my allergies would allow me to function around two felines). Now I can’t imagine life without our Bengals – they are like three naughty toddlers, complete with their own personalities and challenges. I hope to share my life with them for a long time yet.