If you’re looking for a house pet, the age-old argument is always cats versus dogs. Admittedly, dogs are a bit more loyal, more engaging and better for socializing. But they also require a lot more work when it comes to walks, grooming and trips. Cats on the other hand, are easier to keep, compact and pretty low-maintenance. But they can also be a bit moody and disengaged. I like to think that I’ve found the best of both worlds, the Bengal cat!
If you haven’t heard about Bengals, they’re a hybrid cat cross-bred with the Asian Leopard cat, four generations removed. By the time most people own a bengals, they’re only 1/16 “wild” blood and pretty much fully domesticated. They are, however, bred for their coat so they still look “wild”. Bengals typically come in a marble or leopard spot coat and in a variety of colors ranging from brown, silver, seal, cinnamon and blue. And you have to get them from breeders from prices ranging from $400 (pet-quality) to the $1,000’s for show-quality. But in the end, you’re getting a companion for the home, so what makes them so special and cool to have around the house?
Let’s start with their looks. Bengals are typically long and muscular, a bit bigger than your standard tabby but they just look cool! Their coats can be SUPER-soft, especially the marble Bengal cats and often have a hint of gold glitter in their fur. Under the sun, you can catch the gleaming glints on your little Bengal beastie. Their paws are typically chocolate colored and their bellies, cream with dark spots. When I used to bring my male Clyde into the vet, all the techs would rush over, drag him off and then come back kissing him on the head and paws. Yeah, he loved the attention and when you look that good, why not?
Bengals are also super-athletes, jumping up to a high kitchen counter in one leap. The antics they go through when playing with toys like Da Bird are ridiculous. My cat Bear has defied gravity, running along the side of the couch, a la The Matrix. Or he’s jumped up to catch the bird mid-air, suspended upside down, before quickly landing on his feet. They’ve climbed up onto remote spots above my shower and run across beams in a loft, I’m just glad they didn’t get cut up by the ceiling fan. In the end, these cats are truly physical marvels but beware, sometimes in their energy you will get scratched up. And given their vigor, it’ll be bloody. Trust me, I’ve go the scars to show for it.
On the flip side, Bengal cats can turn off like Energizer bunnies. They’ll run around super-excited with raccoon tails and then 15 minutes later, be lazing on the couch. Or curling up on your lap and legs for body heat. They’ll stretch out, showing off their soft, creamy bellies with the most relaxed faces. And in my experience, Bengals are a lot more open to belly scratches and rough-housing. Personality-wise they can go to extremes, from wild-man to snuggling with you and giving you affectionate head-butts. But one thing is for sure, they are always curious as to what you’re doing.
While some Bengals tie into other cats in their litter, in general they are people cats. There’s nothing more interesting to them than what YOU are doing. They’ll follow you around from room to room, play fetch with you, and in general, keep tabs on what you’re up to. Often I’ll go downstairs to grab the mail or dump garbage and Bear will be waiting patiently at the glass door for my return. He’ll even press up against the glass for a scratch, acting as if we’ve been separated for hours. My Bengals would normally disappear when company came over but eventually, their curiosity gets the best of them and they’ll befriend your visitors. And talking, yeah Bengal cats are vocal. They’ll yip, purr and make all sorts of vocalizations to let you know what they’re thinking. And I guarantee you, that little furry brain is definitely thinking.
So why choose between a dog and a cat, just get a Bengal cat! The cat that acts like a dog but has the independence and ease of a feline. I’ve often thought about finding a new home for my lone Bengal cat Bear because it may be the most practical solution for the both of us. But it would be really difficult because Bengal cat are so hard to not love. When you’ve got a beautiful little animal with tons of personality, it’s hard to imagine life without them. These furry, energetic clowns will work their way into the heart of even the most cold person, beware!