You can easily spot a Bengal cat because of its striking, exotic look and muscular body. This breed is popular in the US and other countries although there are legal restrictions on ownership. A major reason why owning Bengal cats is illegal or restricted in some areas is that they are considered a biosecurity threat because of their wild cat genes and they are less domesticated compared to other breeds.
Are Bengal cats aggressive?
Not necessarily. Bengal cats may be aggressive but they are no more prone to aggression and other behavioral issues than any other domestic cat breed. These cats may have retained the wild and exotic looks of their ancestors, the Asian leopard cat, but they are domesticated just like other breeds and they can be very affectionate as well.
Like other typical domestic felines, Bengals experience behavioral issues like spraying or even aggression if their basic needs are not met or if there were sudden changes at home.
Possible reasons why your Bengal cat may act aggressive include the following:
1. Your cat is not spayed or neutered.
If your Bengal cat is acting aggressive it may be because it is not yet spayed or neutered yet. Cats tend to have territorial issues when they reach maturity and during the mating period and when there are no outlets for the mating desire, they may become frustrated and lash out on you.
What to do:
The best thing you can do is to spay or neuter your Bengal cat but also make sure to consult your vet so he can assess if the behavior was due to hormones or other factors.
2. She is play-aggressive.
Play aggression is observed not only among Bengals but in cats in general. It may just be more pronounced among this breed since they are so energetic and need to burn it off. However, if there is no way to burn all the pent up energy they may resort to being play-aggressive.
What to do:
Provide your cat with ways to burn her energy such as cat shelving or a cat tree. This breed enjoys climbing and jumping around so these fixtures will suit them fine. Also, try to play with your cat for at least an hour each day using interactive toys.
3. She has a history of abuse or under-socialization.
Your Bengal cat may be acting mean or aggressive because she may have been abused by former owners, attacked by animals before or was poorly socialized. This is often the case if your cat was from a rescue or pet shelter.
What to do:
If your Bengal cat was poorly socialized or abused before, you have to be patient and give her time to adjust. Do not be frustrated but show her and let her feel that she is loved and cared for. In due time, your cat will eventually warm up to you. Give her treats to build positive association as it may also help in building trust.
4. Your cat is ill.
Your Bengal cat may be acting mean and aggressive because she is not feeling well. Common illnesses observed among this breed include heart disease, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, anesthetic allergies and joint problems.
What to do:
Consult your vet to assess the behavior of your cat since Bengals and cats in general are good at hiding their illness. Your vet will make a thorough checkup and may also do laboratory and medical tests to get to the root of the problem.
5. There were changes in her routine or environment.
Bengals and cats in general are creatures of habit so if there are sudden changes in their routine or surroundings they become stressed and may resort to aggression. These changes may include a recent move, a new family member or a new furniture or litter box.
What to do:
If you think that the aggressive behavior was due to routine alterations, give her time to adapt to the changes. See to it that she has a regular feeding schedule, a comfortable sleeping area and a litter box that is regularly cleaned. You can try a calming pheromone product such as Feliway.
Bengal cat breed: Physical traits and personality
Bengals are large, muscular cats. They have an exotic, sleek and luxurious marbled or spotted coat, wide heads, small ears and eyes that are black-rimmed and almond-shaped. Their tails are thick and tapering to a black tip and some have a glitter effect in their coats. This breed comes in a variety of colors like brown, snow, silver and blue, charcoal, cinnamon and chocolate.
Most Bengals have white or light-colored tummies and their eyes are green, gold or blue. Male Bengals weigh from 4.5 to seven kg while females are around 3.5 to 5.5 kg with a lifespan of 10 to 15 years.
Character traits and personality
Bengals are very energetic, playful, agile and they love to climb on furniture, shelves and high places at home. They are very vocal and they are known to coo, chirp and meow in different tones. They demand companionship so if you are not at home during most of the day this may not be the right breed for you. These cats need companionship as they easily get bored and need to be constantly stimulated through playtime.
This breed is very intelligent, thus, puzzle toys are a great mental exercise for them. They also love water and if you have goldfish in an aquarium better secure it since Bengals love to catch fish! These cats are affectionate and seek attention but they are not lap cats and they do not like to snuggle or cuddle.
Bengal cats get along well with kids and other pets but be sure to properly introduce them. They are easily tamed and trained to do tricks like sit, lie down and do the high five. However, this breed may be pricey and cost from $400 to $7000 depending on the breeder, pedigree and age and owning one are not considered legal in some US states.
Bengal cats are best known for their exotic and striking looks as well as intelligence. These cats get along well with kids and other pets if properly introduced and they are gentle and affectionate. However, while they are not generally mean they may tend to become aggressive if they are unspayed or unneutered or if they become stressed due to sudden changes in their routine and environment.
Image: istockphoto.com / Seregraff