Are these “wild” cats suitable pets?

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A review of research on common health problems and behavioral traits seen in Bengal that may play a role in keeping these cats as pets.

Bengal cats are of wild origin and are even illegal in some states. Breeders created Bengals by crossing an Asian leopard cat and a domestic cat. They are known for their wild looks, their love of water, their intelligence, and their playfulness. These sought-after pets are identified by their generation of offspring or the subsequent offspring from a genetically controlled mating

The offspring of the Asian leopard cat and a house cat are referred to as the first branch generation or F1 generation. It is believed that early generations (F1-F4) exhibit more predatory and aggressive behavior than later generations (F5 and beyond). In the September 2021 issue of the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, Belgian researchers examined the behavioral differences between earlier and later generations and Bengals with and without outdoor access. From an owner perspective, the researchers also attempted to assess the suitability of bengal pets to determine how likely it is that owners will give up their cat

The researchers provided respondents from Belgium and the Netherlands with an online survey with 28 questions. The questionnaire asked about demographic characteristics, living environment, behavior and health problems of the cat. Behaviors that owners found bothersome included aggression towards people and animals, urinating outside the litter box, urine syringes, and pica (eating things not considered food). Reported health problems include fertility problems, obesity, and blindness. 1

In this study1, the results showed no significant difference between Bengals from earlier or later generations, or between Bengals with or without outdoor access. Although Bengals prefer the outdoors, keeping them indoors can reduce unwanted pregnancies and aggression towards other animals, but it can also increase the likelihood of inappropriate elimination or pica

Most respondents said they did research on this breed prior to purchasing it and this could explain a lower incidence of Bengal chores as owners are aware of its general behaviors and health issues. The pre-acquisition knowledge was mainly gained through the internet and breeders. 1

Respondents did not indicate that veterinarians were not mentioned, so veterinarians should make greater efforts to present themselves as a trusted source of medical and behavioral information

The results of this study did not indicate that the Bengal’s general health issues and behaviors affected their suitability as pets from the owner’s perspective. Although some behaviors were not considered problematic, they can indicate problems with the cat’s welfare. Further research is needed to determine the suitability of keeping Bengal pets from a feline perspective

Isabella L. Bean is a 2022 PharmD nominee at the University of Connecticut.


Martos Martinez-Caja A, Rosseau J, Vervaecke H, Moons CPH. Behavioral and Health Problems in Bengal Cats as Perceived by Their Owners: A Descriptive Study. Journal of Veterinary Conduct. 2021; 41: 12-21. doi: