If you are on the lookout for an affectionate cat breed with exotic and striking coat patterns, the Bengal cat may be a good choice. This breed is a relatively new one but gaining popularity because of its luxurious spotted or marbled coat which displays a gold or pearl dusting effect also known as glitter not found in any other breed. However, some cat fanciers are reluctant to own one since it is rumored to be less domesticated, aggressive and has a shorter life expectancy compared to other breeds.
Bengal cat lifespan: How long does this breed live?
Bengals have an average life expectancy of 12 to 16 years or more if they are properly cared for and given an appropriate and good quality nutrition suited for their age.
These are the factors that affect a Bengal cat’s life expectancy:
1. The food that your Bengal cat eats
Nutrition is very vital to a Bengal cat’s longevity just as it is with any other animal and creature. Bengals need to have a nutritious diet for them to live longer. Those that receive poorly-balanced food or an inadequate diet are more likely to die earlier compared to those that are fed nutritious meals.
Cats are obligate carnivores so you should feed your Bengal with food that is high in protein and moisture but low in carbohydrates. Their food should also be based on their life stages since cats of various ages have different activity levels and nutritional needs. You should also consider any potential ailments or sensitivities that your cat may have such as allergies.
Wet cat food is also better compared to dry kibble as the former will better meet your cat’s nutritional needs. Also, while some food intended for humans are okay, there are some that you should not feed to your cat including garlic, chocolate, coffee, food with artificial sweeteners, grapes, raisins and fruits with pits.
2. The amount of exercise she gets
Bengal cats have muscular and athletic bodies and they are naturally active pets. This is due in part to genetics, thanks to their mighty ancestor, the Asian leopard cat which is known for its agility and being a skillful tree climber. Bengals need to have adequate, relevant and regular exercise to keep them agile, active and healthy. Make sure to provide some time off to walk your cat. Schedule playtime with her for at least 15 minutes twice a day and for at least three times a week especially if she is exclusively an indoor cat.
3. The amount of healthcare and veterinary care that she receives
Another vital factor to prolonging the life span of your Bengal cat is by taking care of her health. Bring her for regular visits to the vet, give proper dental care and get regular vaccinations. Aside from medical care, it is equally important to keep your cat well-groomed and to keep her surroundings clean and well-maintained to protect her from parasites and bugs.
These are the common health issues observed in this cat breed:
- patellar luxation – an unusually skipping or lameness on a cat’s affected leg when she walks, runs or jumps
- flat chested kitten syndrome or FCKS – disorder where kittens develop ribcage compression due to lung collapse; a soft-tissue problem not caused by bone malformation
- hip dysplasia – cats with this disorder have a loose and misaligned hip ball and socket, preventing the femoral head from moving well
- hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – a feline cardiac disease that causes the heart’s muscular walls to thicken, decreases its efficiency and creates symptoms in other body parts
- progressive retinal atrophy or PRA – a group of degenerative disease affecting the photoreceptor cells of cats and may eventually lead to blindness
- pyruvate kinase deficiency – a type of inherited hemolytic anemia observed in some cat breeds including the Somali and Abyssinian
4. Exposure to pollutants and other environmental factors
Cats, in general, are more prone to toxins and pollutants since they are smaller and physically closer to the ground. They use their sense of smell extensively and they are fastidious groomers. It makes them more prone to toxic materials since they use their tongues to groom their bodies including their paws that are exposed to various surfaces. Because of this, cats may easily absorb or ingest insecticides, dyeing agents, fertilizers and other types of chemical agents.
To avoid exposing your Bengal cat to toxic materials, make sure that her living area is clean and free of these toxins. Similarly, keep her away from plants that are harmful to her such as the day lily and geranium.
Aside from the above-mentioned factors, the breeder of your Bengal cat is also influential in determining your cat’s life expectancy. The breeder should be utilizing solid breeding technologies. Always opt for Bengal cat breeders who test their cats for genetic tests of PRAb and PK deficiency. These breeders should also scan their breeding cats’ hearts up to the age of five years old at a minimum and ideally at eight years old.
Bengal cats stand out from other breeds because of their striking and exotic coats, muscular built and affectionate nature. They have a lifespan of around 12 to 16 years or more especially if they are well cared for and given the proper food and diet. The vital factors that affect their longevity include nutrition, exercise and the amount of proper health care she receives. It is also essential that you obtain your Bengal cat from a certified and responsible breeder.
Image: istockphoto.com / mister Big