If you’re a member of any online cat communities, you may have heard some Bengal cat behavior horror stories.
“Wakes me up at 2 AM.”
“Claws my sofa.”
“Chews on my shoes.”
“Bites my fingers.”
And the list goes on…
Are you nervous about getting a Bengal due to supposed Bengal cat behavior problems?
There’s no reason to be nervous about Bengal cat behavior issues!
Can a Bengal act out in all of the ways we mentioned? Of course! But the truth is that none of the behavior issues we listed above are unique to Bengals. Any cat can have the same behavior problems.
If you take the time to understand the nature of a Bengal cat (and all cats) and meet their needs, you’ll have no reason to worry about “Bengal cat behavior issues.”
TIP: Always keep in mind that you typically hear about the bad, not the good. Nobody posts on Facebook that their Bengal peed in the litter box for the 956th time. But they do jump on Facebook when they’re fed up, exasperated, and maybe wanting to vent a little!
What about Bengal cats’ wild heritage?
Bengals were originally bred from the Asian leopard cat (ALC). Through careful, selective breeding, a typical Bengal cat shares many of the beautiful appearance traits (and high intelligence) you’ll find in an ALC, but with a very predictable temperament. Asian leopard cats are naturally reclusive, but this shyness has been bred out of Bengal cats. You can expect your Bengal to be very social!
While Bengals’ ALC heritage does not directly cause behavior issues, some behavior issues can be related to their increased intelligence. Bengal cats’ intelligence leads them to having somewhat heightened emotional and physical needs. For example, they need to have daily play time and don’t do well when left alone for extended periods of time.
When their needs aren’t met, Bengals are smart enough to communicate this to you—often in the form of behavior that we consider undesirable.
It’s all about understanding, compromising, and redirecting
To avoid Bengal cat behavior issues, it’s important to understand what they need and what they are communicating to you. Then, it’s up to you to compromise and/or redirect the behavior to something that’s suitable to you.
Here are a few practical examples of behavior issues, and how to address them:
The destroyer. Your Bengal (we’ll call him Mr. Kitty) is left at home alone all day and becomes destructive. There’s no reason to become angry and frustrated with him—he’s just bored! You control his life situation, and you also have the power to fix it. Provide him a cat wheel, toys, or ideally, another pet as a playmate! By redirecting his behavior to something that’s acceptable to you, you both win.
The couch scratcher. Mr. Kitty instinctively needs to scratch. You don’t want him scratching the couch in your living room, so you buy him a scratcher. But you put it in your bedroom, far away from the main living area. Mr. Kitty continues to use the couch as a scratcher. In this situation, it’s best to compromise and meet in the middle. Add the scratcher next to the couch and redirect his behavior to the scratcher. Your couch is saved, and Mr. Kitty still gets to scratch something. Is it the ideal location? Maybe not to you, but Mr. Kitty needed to scratch something to make that area his.
The litter box snob. The litter box is kind of a big deal to Mr. Kitty. He prefers several litter boxes in important locations in the house. He would like a nice sandy texture that feels good on his paws. He would like the litter to be 1.75 inches deep, no more, no less. You would like one litter box tucked in a corner where you don’t have to see or smell it. But if you try to do that… Mr. Kitty might just find somewhere else to go. This is a battle you really don’t want to enter, but you also don’t want to resent Mr. Kitty if you’re tripping over his poop box all the time. You can compromise by choosing a couple of relatively accessible locations and giving him the most appealing litter substrate possible.
Any time your cat suddenly starts avoiding the litter box, the possibility of a medical condition should be considered. A vet visit should be scheduled to rule out medical causes.
While much of a Bengal’s behavior can be influenced by you, personality, genetics, and upbringing can also play a role, so we’ve got a few extra tips for you.
5 Tips for having a well-behaved Bengal cat:
- Get a well-socialized kitten from a great breeder and bring him/her home after 12 weeks of age.
A Bengal kitten’s early development period in the breeder’s home is so influential to the rest of its life! For more on this, read our resource on choosing a great breeder. Also, studies show that early weaning is linked to aggression, so don’t allow your kitten to be separated from its mother too early.
- Introduce the kitten to your home in a thoughtful way.
Your Bengal kitten’s homecoming can have a huge impact on how well he integrates with your family. Make sure you use a “safe room” or “base camp.”
- Help your Bengal kitten develop good habits.
Set your Bengal up for lifelong success by quickly addressing and correcting little problems as they crop up.
- Understand and meet your kitten’s emotional and physical needs.
From play to territory to diet to managing stress and more, there are many Bengal needs to understand and meet. When a Bengal cat exhibits “behavior issues,” he’s often trying to tell you something.
- If issues do arise, work to find the cause.
There’s always a reason Bengal cats do what they do. If you don’t like a behavior, do some investigating to find the root cause!
With a bit of knowledge and effort on your part, those Bengal cat behavior “horror stories” are preventable. And if behavior issues do arise, they’re usually fixable! The joys of Bengal ownership are well worth the extra effort.
Thinking you may need to dive a little deeper into what your Bengal cat needs? We’ve got a ever-expanding resource section dedicated solely to this topic!