Wondering what it would be like to live with a Bengal cat? Are they wild or skittish? Or would it be more like having a dog’s personality in a cat’s body?
Bengals are often described as intelligent, curious, and active. Some people even go so far as to say they’re more like a dog than a cat—in fact, that’s one of the top three reasons that people want a Bengal cat (the other two are beauty and hypoallergenic coats).
Let’s take a closer look at five interesting Bengal cat personality traits.
So, what’s a Bengal cat personality really like?
1. Bengal cats are curious
Bengals are very curious, always up in your business and wanting to see what’s going on. If something is happening, a Bengal will be checking that something out. I call Sadie, one of my Bengals, “Inspector Sadie” for a reason! Every time I come home from grocery shopping, Sadie is waiting on the kitchen island to check over the produce, inspect the meat, and sniff every can.
If you have something you don’t want “explored” and it seems to have captivated your Bengal’s intense attention, you’ll have to move it far out of paw’s reach!
QUICK TIP: “I hear Bengals love water!”
Early generation Bengal cats (closely related to the Asian leopard cat) have shown some willingness to swim. Most Bengals are going to be curious about water, just because they’re curious about everything! But if you have some fantasy about a cat that will go swimming, don’t get your hopes up.
2. Bengal cats are vocal
If you own a Bengal cat, you can throw out your alarm clock. Once your Bengal knows that feeding time is 7:00 AM, she will promptly (and loudly!) remind you at 6:50 AM. And when you come home after a long day out, you’ll be welcomed home with a symphony of why-did-you-leave-me? meows.
Bengals always have a lot to say! Whether they talk to you softly or scream at you, they don’t usually hold back. Some people find this charming, and others… not so much. Personally, I think it’s fun to have a conversation with my Bengals. Sadie loves to be talked to, and given the chance, she will voice exactly how she feels!
3. Bengal cats are intelligent
Expect your Bengal to learn how to completely manipulate you within the first week of coming home 😉 Bengals know exactly how to get what they want. And they know how to express their distaste for a situation. Their silly antics and little games will keep you entertained for hours.
One of my kittens, Bella, likes to collect and hide all the house knickknacks, from chapstick to keys… and sometimes puts them in the dogs’ water bowls! Another kitten, Gus, learned how to play fetch when he was only 10 weeks old.
You can thank Bengals’ Asian leopard cat heritage for their intelligence. They’re very clever and catch on quickly to new things. But their intelligence is especially prominent on an emotional level. They can read the atmosphere of a room, your posture, and even the tone of your voice instantly. They always know exactly how you’re feeling, and your energy can easily influence their behavior.
Due to their intelligence, they have increased social and physical needs compared to other cats. Which leads us to…
Leaving your Bengal at home alone all day is just. not. gonna. fly.
Bengals need companionship. Most importantly, they need you. One of the best things about a Bengal cat is the strong bond you can form with her. Leaving your Bengal alone for extended periods of time will be distressing to her, and a bored or lonely Bengal can quickly become a destructive Bengal.
It can be time-consuming to fill their social needs by yourself, and so most Bengals do best with another pet at home!
Are Bengals social with strangers?
Even the most social, loving Bengal probably won’t run up and greet a stranger like many dogs would. They are still cats! Some Bengals are naturally shy, but many who are well-socialized as kittens have more outgoing personalities. They’ll usually be curious about newcomers but may prefer to watch from a distance, depending on their individual personality.
Are Bengals cuddlers?
Some are, and some aren’t! Just because your Bengal is bonded to you doesn’t mean she will be a cuddler. Some Bengals are very cuddly, but like most cats, they’ll want it to be on their own terms. Other Bengals show their attachment by just being near to you, never far away, but rarely sitting right on your lap.
5. Bengal cats are active
You can expect a Bengal to be PLAYFUL! Bengals are full of energy as kittens, and quite active even into adulthood.
Have you heard about Bengals biting or destroying things or “acting out?” That’s usually because they are desperate for play. For a Bengal, “play” is not just some fun weekend activity. It’s an outlet for their drive to hunt, and it’s as essential to them as food and water.
Bengal cats still spend plenty of time napping—after all, they need to regain their energy for more play time. But their time awake will be spent following you around and looking for ways to be entertained.
Should I get a cat exercise wheel?
Many people laugh at the thought, but with Bengals, cat wheels are typically very well-used! Many Bengals like to run to release pent up energy, so a cat exercise wheel is a fantastic investment. If your house has smaller rooms or your Bengal struggles with boredom, I highly recommend it.
Is a Bengal just like a dog in a cat’s body?
It may be tempting to think so! After all, Bengals often greet you at the door, follow you around, bond to you, are a bit high maintenance, and can even be trained to fetch or walk on a harness.
BUT, Bengals are still very much a cat (not a dog!) in a cat’s body. If you start to think of a Bengal like a dog, you’ll lack a proper understanding of what it needs, and this is turn will affect your overall relationship with it.
To better understand how Bengal cats compare to dogs, we’ve made this handy infographic:
At the end of the day, each Bengal cat is unique!
I have two Bengals who fit all five of these personality traits to a T… and I also have a Bengal who is the most chill, laid back, cuddly cat you’ve ever met. Although each cat has its own unique personality, the majority of Bengals resemble the breed stereotypes. Bengals always keep life interesting!
Are you nervous about bringing home a shy or timid Bengal?
While it’s normal for Bengal kittens to be scared when first introduced to a new home, a reclusive cat is not our goal with the Bengal breed.
Here are some tips for finding and nurturing a confident Bengal kitten:
- Look at the personalities of the kitten’s parents. Genetics play a large role in temperament, and it can be almost impossible to determine the personality of a kitten younger than 7 weeks. You may also be able to look at the temperaments of other kittens those parents have produced in the past.
- Ask the breeder about their socialization process. Are their kittens exposed to people, children, dogs, other cats? Are they handled daily? Are they desensitized to common household noises? If you’re able to observe the kittens in person, you can make sure they’re confident and playful.
- Once adopted, transition the kitten carefully into your home. The key is to not give her access to large areas immediately. Allow the kitten’s confidence to build and gradually increase her territory size.
- Continue to give positive experiences. Although the most critical socialization period is with the breeder, a kitten is still very adaptable and can learn a lot during its first few months with you! Early on, give her positive experiences with things she will face throughout life—from car rides to interactions with dogs, young kids, and visitors.
Does a Bengal cat personality sound purrfect to you?! Head over to our resource section for “Finding Your Bengal!”