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Bengal cat walking on grass

Breed overview

  • Weight — 10-15 pounds (male), 8-10 pounds (female)
  • Coat characteristics — Soft, short, rabbit-like fur that’s often ticked with bands of 2-3 color markings per strand. Bengals can come in about six different colors, with the most popular being brown.
  • Enrichment needs — Average
  • Intelligence — High
  • Vocalizations — Frequent and diverse
  • Life span — 12-16 years
  • Temperament — Loving, loyal and curious
  • Origin — California, USA

Bengal fun facts

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2024 database, the majority of our users name their male Bengal Cats Leo; Simba is the 2nd most popular male name. Meanwhile, most of our users with female Bengal Cats love Nala, then Luna.

  • Bengals are considered a hybrid cat breed. The first Bengal cat to be documented is attributed to a California breeder named Jean Mill who crossed a domestic shorthair with an Asian Leopard cat in 1963. The exotic-looking breed was officially recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA) in 1983.
  • Some Bengals have a “glitter gene.” Not all Bengal cats have “glittery” fur, but some can have a coat pattern that appears iridescent and like pixie dust in the right light.
  • They often love water. Unlike most cat breeds, many Bengals enjoy playing in the water. This may be due to their wild DNA, as Bengals descend from the Asian Leopard cat, a wild species of cat known for swimming and sticking their paws in water.
  • Bengal cats are illegal as house pets in some parts of the United States. Because Bengals are a cross between a wild exotic cat and a domestic cat, some U.S. states and cities may not allow them as house pets. These cats are prohibited as residential pets in New York City and in the state of Hawaii, while cities like Seattle and Denver have certain limitations.
Bengal cat with big blue eyes

Bengal temperament and characteristics 

Known to be fiercely loyal and highly intelligent, the Bengal cat is a unique, exotic-looking breed with lots of potential to learn a trick or two. Because these cats are highly trainable and eager to please, some even say they have dog-like personalities. However, Bengal cats are high-energy, need plenty of enrichment, and are incredibly vocal, so they may be best suited for experienced cat owners. When it comes to being kid-friendly, Bengals have a nice even-keeled temperament, but it’s essential that children respect your cat’s boundaries. In general, for those looking for a quiet lap cat, a Bengal may not be an ideal fit.

Common Bengal cat health problems 

Bengal cats are generally healthy, but the breed is prone to a few health conditions you’ll need to monitor with your veterinarian. Paying attention to your cat’s body language and behaviors can help you more easily identify when something seems off or concerning, and seek medical help as soon as possible

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). HCM, marked by thickening of the walls of the left ventricle, is the most commonly diagnosed feline heart disease. If left untreated, this condition can lead to elevated blood pressure and heart failure.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) . This progressive, genetic disease, which involves abnormal development of the photoreceptor cells of the retina, may eventually lead to blindness. Cats with PRA may become nervous at night, bump into things in the dark, and avoid dark rooms altogether. During diagnosis, your vet may determine that treating existing cataracts or retinal detachment can prevent further vision loss.
  • PK deficiency . Erythrocyte pyruvate kinase deficiency, commonly called PK deficiency, may lead to anemia in cats. This genetic condition is caused by insufficient activity of a regulatory enzyme and loss of red blood cells. Early signs of PK deficiency include lethargy, weight loss, jaundice and abdominal enlargement.
  • Patella luxation . This hereditary condition refers to loose kneecaps. When a dislocation occurs, the condition may potentially cause lameness or difficulty jumping.
  • Cataracts. When a cat develops a cataract, their lens becomes cloudy or opaque, making it difficult for light to reach the retina. This may ultimately significantly impair their vision. The most common cause of cataracts in cats is inflammation within the eye.
  • Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD). Overweight, diabetic, male, and older female cats are all more prone to contracting urinary tract infections  (UTIs), a condition or bacterial infection that affects the cat’s bladder or urethra. Pay attention to your Bengal breed and its bathroom habits. If you notice changes, reach out to your veterinarian.
  • Anesthetic sensitivities. Bengal cats — and other hybrid cat breeds — are highly sensitive to the common anesthetic ketamine. Reactions can include muscle tremors, aggression, and extreme hallucinations, among other serious side effects.

🚨 Male neutered cats are susceptible to urinary tract infections (UTIs) which can lead to fatal blockages if left untreated. Make an appointment with the vet immediately if you notice that your cat is having accidents.

Cost of caring for Bengal cats

Bengal cats are a relatively low-maintenance breed, but it’s important to be aware of the basic costs involved in caring for your cat. Common health issues such as FLUTD, HCM, PRA, PK deficiency, cataracts, and patella luxation range between a few hundred per month to a several thousand to diagnose, treat, and manage.

One way pet owners can reduce out-of-pocket expenses is by purchasing health insurance. You may also consider creating a pet budget

When it comes to buying a purebred Bengal cat from a breeder, you can expect to spend up to $3,000 from a reputable breeder and even more if it’s young. The average cost of adoption from a rescue is $100-$150 for a kitten.

History of the Bengal cat

The origin of the modern Bengal cat is credited to California breeder Jean Mill, who is believed to have crossbred an Asian leopard cat native to Southeast Asia with a domestic black California tomcat in the early 1960s. A decade later, a zookeeper named Bill Engler, also bred his Asian Leopard cat to two domestic cats and created similar hybrids. This explains the Bengal cat’s wild appearance, as they’re known for their striking facial markings much like their ancestors.

The breed earned its name in 1974 and received official recognition by the International Cat Association (TICA) in 1983. Though Mill is considered the founder of the Bengal cat breed we know and love, the first mention of the Asian Leopard cat hybrid actually goes back to a late 1800s book by Harrison Weir titled Our Cats and All About Them.

Today, there are estimated to be around 500,000 to 1,200,000 Bengal cats in the world and they remain among the most popular breeds in America.

Bengal cat in a tree

Caring for your Bengal

Bengal cats are fairly low maintenance, but being a responsible pet owner means being proactive. This begins with vaccinations and should continue with proper health and wellness maintenance throughout your feline friend’s life.


Bengal cats are susceptible to many diseases, including distemper, which is also referred to as feline panleukopenia or parvovirus. Your vet will likely recommend your cat receive the common FVRCP vaccine, which protects against rhinotracheitis (herpes virus), calicivirus, and panleukopenia, caused by feline parvovirus. There is no single vaccine for feline parvo. The rabies vaccine is legally required for pets in the United States and the American Association of Feline Practitioners also recommends vaccination against feline leukemia based on individual risk.

While no one likes to think about losing their new pet, FidoAlert provides a free Fido ID and tag, so you’re prepared just in case of any accidents.


Unlike some other long-haired felines, the Bengal cat is relatively low maintenance when it comes to grooming, but that doesn’t mean you should skimp on regular grooming habits!

  • Brush in the direction of your Bengal’s coat. Bengal cats are low-shedders and have short to medium-length coats that are often soft to the touch, meaning you probably won’t have to brush them more than once a week to cut down on hairballs and shedding. When you do, brush in the direction of the hair to loosen any dead fur, beginning first at the head and moving toward the tail. A soft bristle brush or fine-toothed comb is just fine for short-haired cats like the Bengal. It’s helpful to start early in your feline’s life to make the experience enjoyable for everyone involved.
  • Don’t ignore dental hygiene. When it comes to feline dental hygiene and dental disease prevention, routine dental care is key. Bring out a finger toothbrush (or a toothbrush safe for human babies) and some pet-friendly toothpaste a few times a week.
  • Trim those nails. You should trim your Bengal cat’s nails every 2-4 weeks to help minimize damage to your home (and to you!) Overgrown nails can curve around into the paw pads, ultimately leading to infection.
  • You probably won’t need to bathe your Bengal. Most healthy cats don’t need baths because they tend to groom themselves. However, if you brought in a stray or your cat needs a bath due to health or physical issues, it can be easily done at home
Bengal cat lying on floor

Diet and nutrition

The exotic-looking Bengal, like most cats, needs a balanced, high-protein, meat-centric healthy diet to thrive. In general, when it comes to cat foods, canned food tends to have more protein than dry alternatives. Always refer to your vet’s advice when adding to or changing your cat’s nutrition plan.

When it comes to how much to feed your cat, active Bengals should be eating 25-30 calories per pound, but kittens may need up to 100 calories per pound. Because male Bengals generally weigh about 10-15 pounds and females 8-10 pounds, an average male Bengal needs about 350 calories per day compared to about 270 for females. As your cat ages, your vet may recommend monitoring their diet to prevent obesity.

It’s important to remember that all cats also need proper hydration to stay healthy. However, most cats struggle to get the water they need. To get a cat to drink more water, consider adding wet food to their diet and investing in a cat water fountain.

Enrichment and environment

Bengal cats thrive in small and large environments, but there are a few ways to make their home feel more comfortable. Providing enrichment and entertainment will help keep your cat happy and reduce the risks of them developing depression or anxiety issues.

  • Add climbing perches and scratching posts. A sturdy, vertical cat tree with an equally sturdy scratching post and multiple climbing perches throughout the home will give your Bengal the chance to expend energy, let loose and relax.
  • Hide treat-filled toys around the house. Encourage your active Bengal to tune into its hunting instincts by placing treat-filled cat toys in your home’s nooks and crannies. Not only will the adventure be mentally challenging, it’ll keep them physically satisfied, too.
  • Invest in a variety of toys. To keep your Bengal stimulated, mix it up with feathers on wands, balls, fake mice, catnip toys, boxes, and whatever else you can find for safe playtime.
  • Try puzzle toys or slow feeders. Yes, even cats like puzzles! Puzzle toys can help offer mental stimulation and enrichment to your furry friend.
  • Bring out the kiddie pool. Bengals are notorious for loving water, so let them in the tub for a bit or fill up a kiddie pool for some waterplay. To keep your kitty safe, stick to just 3-4 inches of lukewarm water.
  • Prioritize time together. Bengal cats need attention and want to be around their humans as much as possible, so avoid being away from home frequently and for long hours if possible to reduce chances of separation anxiety.
  • Train them to do tricks. Bengals are known to be highly intelligent, so why not train your new feline buddy how to do a few tricks? These cats can be trained with positive reinforcement to retrieve toys, sit, high five, and more.
  • Get your cat a cat. A cat companion is ideal, especially if you’re often away. Two cats, when introduced properly, will not only enjoy each other, but they’ll be able to keep each other entertained, stimulated, and out of trouble. Bengal cats in particular generally get along with other pets, including small or medium dogs.
Bengal cat playing with man‘s head

Breeds similar to the Bengal

Not quite sure that a Bengal is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Ragdoll. Considered one of the most popular cat breeds in the world, the blue-eyed ragdoll is beloved for its people-pleasing, dog-like behaviors.
  • Siamese. These affectionate, intelligent cats have been celebrity favorites among James Dean, John Lennon, Kesha, and Syd Barrett.
  • Bombay cat. Bombay cats, known to be highly social and chatty, are the only domestic cat breed that comes solely with black fur.

Frequently asked questions

How much does a Bengal cat cost?

When it comes to buying a purebred Bengal cat from a breeder, you can expect to spend up to $3,000 from a reputable breeder and even more if it’s young. The average cost of cat adoption from a rescue is $100-$150.

What are Bengal cats a mix of?

Bengal cats are a hybrid of a domestic shorthair and an Asian Leopard cat.

Are Bengal cats high maintenance?

Though they are a fairly low-maintenance breed when it comes to grooming, Bengal cats are high energy, need plenty of enrichment and are incredibly vocal, so they may be best suited for experienced cat owners.

What does a Bengal cat’s fur feel like?

Bengal cats have silky soft fur that feels luxurious to the touch.

Do Bengal cats like to be picked up?

Though Bengal cats are very affectionate and crave human attention, they don’t necessarily like to be picked up and held.

Are Bengal cats illegal?

Because Bengals are a cross between a wild exotic cat and a domestic cat, some U.S. states and cities may not allow them as house pets. These cats are prohibited as residential pets in New York City and in the state of Hawaii, while other cities like Seattle and Denver have their own limits.