Learn about Bengal Cats nutrition, temperament, health and coloration.
Cats are Carnivore- not omnivores and not vegetarians. Somewhere along the journey of pet ownership we have forgotten this simple fact. When you look at commercial pet foods today they contain very little meat and quite a lot of corn, wheat, oats, soy, potatoes, rice, and other 'non-meat' foods. Commercial pet foods have only been around for the past 50 -60 years and I am pretty certain that the cat has not evolved into an omnivore since that time. Why all of the veggies? Simple answer: they are cheap.
Do they provide your cat with enough nutrition to survive? Yes.
Do they provide your cat with enough nutrition to thrive? No.
Is there an alternative to commercial, omnivorous cat food? Yes, a raw diet.
Raw Diet:Put simply a raw diet is feeding your animal raw meat, bones, and organ meat. I am always surprised when people react negatively to the concept of feeding their cat (or dog) raw meat and bones. What could be more natural? What do you think cats have been eating for the past 9000 years? What do you think pet owners used to feed their pets 60 years ago? A raw diet is not only healthier and easier to digest but it is also cheaper then a quality canned cat food diet (dry can be cheaper but you will pay more for the diabetes, skin allergies, heart problems, and other conditions your cat is sure to get on a dry food diet). Raw feeding is also easy if you don't over think it.
Below are the basic guidelines for raw feeding:
- 80-85% raw meat (chicken, beef, venison, lamb, duck, you name it)
- 10-15% edible bones (this means raw and an of appropriate size)... If bones are not available 1 tsp. of ground eggshell to each pound of meat will work
- 5-10% organ meat (half of that being liver)
- Cut into small chunks for kittens and larger pieces for cats
- Make sure the meat is fresh - old meat cannot be fed to cats (give it to your dog, they can handle it)
- Most cats like their food room temperature or warm, but mine really don't care and will eat it half frozen
- If you wish you may include eggs, yogurt, raw milk (not pasteurized), fish oil, or other supplements that are unprocessed
I highly recommend this website to get you started on raw feeding: Raw Fed
Commercial Feed Issues:Another issue that needs to be brought up is what kind of meat is put into pet food. This is not the lovely chicken or beef steaks you are seeing at the supermarket. This meat is the culled crap that is not fit for human consumption. I have worked at a meat processing facility and trust me, you do not want to see what goes into the pet food bins (tumors, abscesses, glands, inedible fat, and many other things I would certainly not call meat). Animals that were too sick or too highly medicated for human consumption are added to the pet food bins. I don't know why meat that is harmful for a human is supposed to be safe for an animal.
Corn, wheat, soy, and rice are routinely added to pet foods as fillers. Your cat cannot digest these things. It is not only a waste of money but it is quite harmful to your pet. The extra starches and sugars from the veggies and grains contribute to diabetes, heart conditions, allergies, and obesity.
In addition to all of the extra 'crap' and poor quality of meat that goes into commercial food there is the very huge problem of cooking the food. Cooking depletes the already dubious food source into an almost useless mass of matter that is very difficult for a cat to digest. This is why litter boxes from commercially fed cats are so horrendously smelly and full! This is why dog feces stay in your yard for months on end until you clean it up. With a raw fed animal you get significantly smaller feces that smell less and will naturally break down in your yard. No preservative in the food means no preservatives in the poop!
The Bengal cat in particular requires very high levels of Tuarine (found in muscle meat and organ meat). Dry cat food will not provide enough of this essential acid. Canned food will barely supply enough, but I still do not recommend only canned food. A raw diet is the answer - or at the very least a partial raw/canned diet. Throw out the dry food entirely.
As intriguing as the beauty of a Bengal cat is, the temperament is even better! In general Bengal cats are outgoing, active, playful, and social. They can be trained to walk on a leash, use the toilet, or do tricks.
I often have people ask me if Bengals are safe to have around children – since they have some wild cat in them. While every cat has its own individual personality most Bengals do wonderfully with children. The natural curiosity and active nature of the Bengal cat tends to work very well with the enthusiasm of a child. I have two young children in the home and find that the cats not only enjoy playing with the kids but are extremely tolerant and gentle. I have never had one of my cats strike at the kids or bite them even when provoked. I do recommend that you ask the breeder to help you choose a kitten with a temperament best suited to an active household if you have small children – sometimes personality should take precedence over pretty markings.
The early generation Bengals (F1, F2, F3, and F4) have more Asian Leopard Cat in them and don’t always do as well with the chaos of a home that includes children. For this reason I recommend that a SBT Bengal (F5 and later) is purchased in a home with young children.
Most Bengals enjoy other pets just as much as they enjoy other cats. They will bond with dogs, pigs, birds, or whatever other small animal you have in the home as long as you introduce them when young. I would not recommend introducing a Bengal to rodents, lizards or small birds since they will probably end up as lunch. Bengals have a lot of prey drive and will almost certainly want to hunt your tiny pets if they are not put away securely.
If you like mellow, laid back cats don’t get a Bengal! These gorgeous felines look beautiful on the arm of a couch, but they rarely stay there for long. Bengals like to run, jump, pounce, and race. They are extremely athletic and hard muscled. When playing with my cats they will often jump as high as my head to reach the toy I am dangling. They will jump on the table, counters, bed, or any other surface if you let them. They love to crawl into small spaces or hide under blankets waiting to pounce on the first thing that moves. As an owner it is your responsibility to teach them what is allowed in your house. Bengals do require some basic training in order to be a good citizen in your home.
There are two basic patterns in the Bengal cat breed: Spotted and Marbled. Sometimes people will refer to a cat that is in between the two as a Sparble.
Spotted: The spotted pattern is the traditional (and dominant) color of the Bengal. The variety in spotting is enormous - form tiny numerous spots to huge random spots. All can be beautiful and all are acceptable. Vertical spotting is discouraged and a horizontal flow resembling the Asian leopard Cat pattern is the goal of most breeders.
Marbled: Marbled Bengals have swirls in a horizontal flow that create the look of an ocelot or clouded leopard. A round bulls-eye patter is discouraged since it resembles a domestic tabby as opposed to a wild cat. In general marbled Bengals have a silkier, smoother coat. Marbles are recessive.
Bengals come in a variety of colors, some accepted by TICA and some not.
Brown: Brown is the normal, traditional color for a Bengal. It is dominant and therefore the most common color. Brown is such a drab, ordinary name that simply does not describe the beauty of the color. Browns can be tan, red, golden, mahogany, charcoal, or any shade in between.
Snow: The snow color is recessive and come in 3 varieties (listed below). The snow coloration is due to a color point restriction gene. Snows are ivory or cream based with contrasting markings ranging from light tan to deep brownish black. Categorizing which color a snow is can sometimes be difficult since they do not always follow the rules, but DNA test can confirm coloration.
Seal Lynx: These cats are born white or with faint markings. They take about three years for their color to fully come in. They have blue eyes at maturity. Mature coat is generally cream with tan markings.
Seal Mink: Minks are born with light markings that darken over a three year period. They have aqua or light green eyes as adults. Mature coat is generally ivory/cream with dark tan – deep brown markings.
Seal Sepia: This is usually the deepest snow color. These kittens are born with dark markings and generally have green eyes at maturity. Mature coat is generally cream/ivory with dark brown to black markings.
Silver: Silver is caused by an inhibitor gene that limits the production of the yellow color in the coat. So, these cats are browns without the brown so to speak. Sometimes the inhibitor gene does not work fully and you will have silver with 'tarnish' (brownish tones around the face, ears, or sometimes back). Silvers have a bluish grey background that can be quite striking with jet black markings.
Melanistic and Blue: These colors are not accepted Bengal colors at this time. Melanistic is a solid black Bengal (in reality it does have spots but they are not visible). Blue Bengals have a bluish body with gray markings. Both can be stunning.
Charcoals: Charcoal Bengals can be brown, silver or snow, but have a smoky overlay over the back and head. They generally have a ‘mask’ around the eyes and ‘cape’ down the back. While Charcoal is not recognized as a separate color at this time it is believed to have its own gene association. It can be quite a stunning color that is starting to be specifically selected for by some breeders.
Rosettes: Rosetting refers to the markings on top of the base coat; if they are two toned they are considered rosettes. Personal preference dictates whether solid markings or rosettes markings are sought after. Marbles or spotted cats can be rosetted.
Glitter: Glitter is a trait that Bengals may or may not possess. A glittered cat has a hair shaft with little air pockets along it that catch light and make it look like it has been sprinkled with gold or silver dust. Glitter is not only beautiful but is also seems to aid allergy sufferers and renders the cat's hair less likely to carry dander or stick to clothing. Bengals may be unglittered, lightly glittered, or heavily glittered depending on the individual. Glitter is believed to be a cumulative gene.
A good website with a variety of Bengal colors and patterns is: Kingsmark Bengals