Are Bengal Cats Legal?

Are Bengal Cats Legal

Bengal cats are popular because of their unique and striking coat markings. They are also sought after by cat fanciers and pet lovers because they are intelligent, agile, and have large muscular bodies. However, there are restrictions when it comes to owning a Bengal cat in the U.S. and it is illegal to own one in some states if they are four generations or closer to their wild ancestors. 

Are Bengal cats legal?

Yes, Bengal cats are legal in the USA, Europe, and  Australia. However, they should be at least five generations separated from their ancestors, the Asian Leopard cat. This breed is illegal or banned in some states and cities in the USA regardless of filial stage including Hawaii, New York City, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Seattle. 

Why are Bengal cats banned or illegal in some areas?

The Bengal cat breed is relatively new since it only received full recognition as a breed in 1993. It is a hybrid breed, resulting from breeding a domesticated cat with the wild Asian Leopard cat. 

Here are the reasons why these cats are banned or illegal in some areas:

  1. This hybrid breed tends to be more aggressive, dangerous to people and wildlife because they are less domesticated compared to other breeds. 
  2. These cats may pose a biosecurity threat and may transmit infectious diseases that could affect wildlife and other animals. 

Lawmakers are concerned that the Bengal cat breed may endanger humans because of their wild instincts. This resulted in bans and restrictions on this breed among various states in the USA. However, Bengal cats from the F5 generation and onwards are considered domestic felines which makes them legal in certain states. 

US states where Bengals are illegal or have strict restrictions 

These are the US states with strict restrictions or bans for the Bengal breed:

1. New York

Pet owners cannot own Bengals with F1 to F4 generations in this state while all generations of this breed are banned in the City of New York. 

2. Georgia 

In Georgia, you can only own a Bengal cat and be able to secure a permit if it is beyond F5 or F6 generation. The state’s law bans hybrids of all non-domestic cat breeds.

3. Iowa

The State of Iowa laid out strict regulations on Bengal cat ownership since 2007. You can still own a Bengal cat but it entails a long process to be able to secure a permit. 

4. Alaska 

In Alaska, you need to secure a proper license as well as proof of the cat’s ancestry. Bengals should also be F4 generation and above. 

5. Delaware 

The State of Delaware requires a special license for exotic animals and bans hybrid breeds like Bengals since 2010. 

6. Connecticut 

Bengals are banned in Connecticut. 

7. Indiana 

The State of Indiana requires Bengal cat owners to secure a permit especially for the F1 generation of this breed. 

8. Seattle 

All generations of Bengal cats are banned in Seattle. 

9. Colorado 

The State of Colorado bans Bengals from early generations specifically F1 to F4 generations. 

10. California

California strictly regulates Bengal cat ownership for the F1 and F2 generations and also prohibits declawing the breed unless it is necessary. 

11. Hawaii 

The State of Hawaii strictly prohibits Bengal cat ownership regardless of generation.

Interesting facts about the Bengal cat breed 

Bengals are consistently in the top five of the most popular cat breeds. They weigh around eight to 17 pounds with a length of 17 to 22 inches excluding the tail. They have a lifespan of 10 to 16 years and are expensive since kittens are priced around $1,500 to $3,000 especially if they are from reputable breeders and depending on their pedigree.  

Here are some interesting facts about Bengals:

  • This breed originated from the USA and was created by cat breeder Jean Sudgen Mill. She developed the breed to obtain a cat with wild-like markings  but with the disposition of a domestic cat. 
  • Bengal cats have notable patterns and their base color may be speckled or marbled with various kinds of coat markings. These are bi-colored, arrow-point, open, and closed rosettes. Others may also have the glitter gene which gives a sparkling effect to their fur.
  • This breed has an excellent memory and can be taught tricks like sit, lie down, and high five. They can also learn how to open doors and turn light switches on.
  • Bengals love to play with water. However, if you have a fish aquarium you have to secure it or else your goldfish will disappear since Bengals love to catch fish!
  • These cats are very intelligent and sensitive to their owner’s moods. They can also recognize human gestures and expressions. 
  • Bengals are vocal and chatty and if their owners ignore them they will meow in a louder tone. 
  • They tend to play with little objects and items around the house and hide it in various areas. To avoid this, keep your Bengal cat entertained by giving her interactive cat toys


Bengal cats are popular among cat lovers because of their striking appearance, unique coat markings, and muscular bodies. They are among the most popular cat breeds around the world because they are intelligent, affectionate, and playful. However, while this breed is legal in some states and countries, there are areas in the U.S. that have strict restrictions especially if they are four generations or to their wild ancestors, the Asian leopard cat.

Image: / Seregraff