How much do Bengal cats cost?
For a pet Bengal kitten, you should expect to pay $1,000 on the low end, and $3,000 on the high end. You can currently find a kitten from a great breeder right in the middle of this range, for $1,500-$2,000 USD. While prices may vary depending on your area and the type of Bengal you’re looking for, you will want to avoid a breeder that prices kittens too low, since price can indicate quality, health, and temperament.
In this article we’ll share what you can expect at each kitten price point, and we’ll cover in depth why Bengals cost what they do and why you never want to pay a low price for a Bengal kitten!
Bengal Cat Price Infographic
The infographic below breaks down what you can expect at each Bengal kitten price point. It’s been updated for 2019, and please note that the prices are an average for an SBT kitten purchased in the US.
What factors influence the price of a Bengal cat?
What affects the price of a Bengal kitten is not as simple as being pedigreed vs. non-papered, or supply and demand, though we will discuss these factors. There’s a whole lot more to it, and it’s important to understand cost factors when looking for your own Bengal kitten.
#1 – Generation
The prices above are for SBT (Stud Book Tradition) Bengals. These are kittens that are produced from Bengals being bred to Bengals, and are at least 4 generations removed from the Asian Leopard Cat. A higher generation Bengal will cost more.
#2 – Quality of the Kitten
Some people use the word quality to define appearance, health, and temperament of the kitten, but we’re focusing on appearance here.
When we talk about a quality kitten, we’re talking about a Bengal that beautifully exemplifies the Bengal breed standard. Yes, we all get excited about the beautiful coats, but there’s a lot more to a Bengal! I highly recommend taking a look at that breed standard to really appreciate what makes a Bengal a Bengal. In short, a cat as close in appearance to the Asian Leopard Cat as possible is the ultimate goal.
Breeding for quality means that breeders have to pay a good amount of money for cats from quality lines, with breeding rights. The result means preserving or improving the breed, but kittens that cost more.
Some breeders will also choose to price their kittens differently based on the quality of their appearance.
Note that when looking for a Bengal, you’ll want to understand the difference between pet vs. breeder vs. show quality. The typical Bengal you’d be looking for may be pet quality, but some exceptional kittens are identified as breeder or show quality.
Breeder quality indicates that a kitten has great traits that are ideal to pass down in order to preserve or improve the Bengal breed. This kitten would be sold to a registered breeder and include breeder rights, meaning they can legally breed it.
Show quality is a step above breeder quality. It means that the kitten has all the desired traits you want to see in a Bengal, and could do very well when judged in a cat show. You would pay more for a Bengal that comes with showing rights.
For those interested in showing or breeding Bengals, all pricing we discussed above can be thrown out the window. Prices that include breeding or show rights are much higher, usually starting at $2,500 on the low end and potentially increasing to an exorbitant amount. Pricing factors may include the appearance, lineage, or potential benefit the cat can bring to a breeding program.
#3 – Health Testing
Don’t assume that because your kitten comes with a certificate of health from a vet that the breeder is doing all the necessary health testing.
Any time you limit the gene pool in order to achieve a specific goal in an animal, in this case, a beautiful cat that looks like a leopard cat and has an awesome temperament… you’re also subjecting that breed to the possibility of doubling up the bad genes in addition to the good genes. A knowledgable breeder is going to be well aware of this, and will be diligent about keeping the health of the breed a prominent focus. But this requires testing, which costs money.
In Bengals, there’s currently 3 genetic conditions that we are actively screening or testing for: HCM, PRA, and PK-def. We cover these health conditions in detail in this post.
The most prominent factor to kitten pricing is HCM screening. This must be done by a cardiologist and can cost $300-$1,000 per cat, and it’s recommended cats are screened every year. A breeder selling cheap kittens cannot afford this screening.
In addition to genetic health testing, breeders must be diligent about routinely screening for infectious disease and address anything that crops up in a timely manner.
A kitten that comes from health tested lines will cost more than a kitten from a breeder who skips this.
#4 – Quality of Housing
It’s a fact of breeding that you can’t keep the males in your house. They spray.
Therefore, most breeders choose to build separate buildings with outdoor enclosures to house the boys. These buildings need to be cleanable and have plenty of space and environmental enrichments to keep the boys happy. It could be as simple as a modified shed, with added insulation and heating/cooling. Or it could be a custom build. Either way, it is extremely expensive.
Regardless, breeders who care about the wellbeing of their cats will never house their cats in cages.
Yes, a cage only costs about $60 and an enclosure could cost upwards of $6,000. It’s a massive difference and the quality of housing can hugely impact the price that kittens must be sold for.
When looking for a kitten, it’s incredibly important that you know about the housing conditions of the adults so that you only support an ethical breeder.
#5 – Quality of Breeder Care
The more money, labor, and knowledge that goes into a program, the more the resulting kittens will cost.
We already talked about housing and health testing, but it’s good to have a well-rounded overview of what goes into breeding to understand the level of breeder care.
Breeding takes money
Just to get started, breeders often have to put down tens of thousands of dollars to buy cats with breeding rights and build appropriate housing.
Other large expenses include health screening and vet bills, often thousands of dollars each year.
Then there are all the little expenses, which quickly add up. Food, litter, toys, bedding, trees, scratchers, supplies for kittens, business expenses, utilities…
You might think that, despite all the costs, if kittens are being sold at $2,000 each, surely there’s great profit involved!
The reality is that it can take many years for a breeder to start to see profit, and when they do, it’s often negligible. The nature of working with living, breathing animals means unexpected medical emergencies or unpredictable situations can occur without warning and cut deeply into any potential for profit.
A breeder who’s charging very little for kittens is cutting corners to save money! Whether that’s keeping cats in small cages instead of expansive outdoor enclosures, skipping health screenings, feeding them low quality food, or something else, these breeders are sacrificing the wellbeing of the animals for profit.
Breeding takes time
Breeding takes an incredible amount of time. Taking care of the cats is the first thing a good breeder does in the morning and the last thing they do before going to bed. Cleaning. Making food. Communicating with clients. Vet trips. Education and research. Kitten socializing. And the list goes on! For larger catteries, caring for the cats is a full time job.
Many breeders will tell you that the amount of money they make does not compensate for the time and energy it takes to raise a litter of Bengal kittens!
A breeder who’s charging very little for kittens usually does not take the time to socialize their kittens and keep a properly clean environment, because those are the easiest ways to make back their time cost in money.
Breeding takes knowledge
Breeding cats is not as easy as putting two cats together. If you’re curious about some subjects that breeders need to have a good working knowledge of, you can take a peek at the book “Feline Husbandry” by Niels C. Pedersen, DMV, PhD. Topics include genetics, a good knowledge of reproduction and reproduction disorders, common infectious diseases, behavior, nutrition, and cattery design and management.
Day to day, breeders need to know how to work to keep their cattery free from diseases. How to keep their cats free of stress. How to help deliver kittens. How to know what to do in an emergency. How to save a day old kitten. How to provide a nursing mom with a nutritious diet. How to raise kittens to be loving and social. How to provide assistance to their adoptive family whenever needed.
A breeder who’s charging very little for kittens often demonstrates a lack of knowledge. They’re usually not breeding high quality cats, are not following good husbandry practices, and don’t take the time to help their kitten buyers through the adoption process or any issues that may come up.
#6 – Kitten Going Home Age
Kittens that are weaned too early are prone to life-long behavior issues, including fear and aggression. It’s in your best interest and the best interest of the kitten to go home at a suitable age, between 12-16 weeks.
However, these kittens grow like weeds and are expensive to feed, and it takes a lot of time to clean up after them! When you see a kitten going home at 8 weeks or earlier, this is a red flag that the breeder is trying to cut down on their own expenses at the expense of the kitten.
A kitten that goes home between 12-16 weeks old may be a little more expensive due to the extra cost to raise them, and the extra socialization time, but it’s well worth it to allow your kitten to learn vital social skills from mom and siblings.
#7 – Demand
Supply & demand may have some influence on the price of a kitten.
A breeder who is reputable may have a long waitlist of individuals waiting for a kitten from them, and this may mean higher prices. It could also be that the demand is high in your geographical area, or there is a lack of breeders near you.
#8 – Registration
It’s assumed that registered cats are more expensive and non-pedigreed Bengals are cheaper. Some argue it’s not worth “paying for the papers” if all you want is a nice pet.
Pedigreed cats are more expensive, but not for the reasons you might think. It only costs $35/year to be a TICA member and $13 to register a litter. Breeders do not avoid being registered because it’s expensive. They avoid being registered because they did not pay for breeding rights, which means they don’t have breeding rights and can’t register.
By buying a kitten from someone without breeding rights, you’re supporting someone who is simply irresponsibly breeding their pet to make some money. That also likely means they aren’t doing anything else we talked about above.
#9 – Extras
Some breeders include microchipping, spaying or neutering, pet insurance, or even a cat wheel! This may mean the kitten itself costs a little more.
Avoiding Scams & Backyard Breeders
In general, we recommend avoiding a breeder who advertises prices less than $1,000. A kitten priced this low usually means a scam or a “backyard breeder”.
One common scam is someone who takes your money but never delivers a kitten. Don’t fall for a scam! One obvious red flag is a price that’s too good to be true.
Another type of scam is someone who’s selling “half-bengals” for a few hundred dollars. While these kittens may be cute (and lower priced!), don’t fall for it. This scammer will tell you a convincing story about how the litter was an accident, and now they’re just trying to find good homes. But make no mistake, it’s usually intentional because this “breeder” knows they can make money from unsuspecting people who are looking for their first Bengal! Don’t give an irresponsible person your money. You can find JUST as cute of a kitten in need of a home at a shelter if you’re not looking for a purebred Bengal.
A backyard breeder, on the other hand, is someone who’s breeding purebred Bengals but is cutting corners in order to reduce their expenses. They’re able to attract a greater volume of buyers with their low prices. The result is that they can make more profit than ethical breeders as long as there are buyers willing to support their practices. Please don’t be one of those buyers!
Backyard breeders may use any of the following methods to reduce expenses:
- Keeping cats in small, inexpensive cages instead of spacious enclosures.
- Skipping health screenings (and potentially breeding and selling cats affected by HCM, PK-def, or PRA).
- Not following good husbandry practices (like keeping a clean environment) in order to save time and money, which leads to the spread of disease and general poor cat health.
- Choosing to feed a poor/low quality diet.
- Sending kittens home way too early, sometimes at 8 weeks or younger (kittens should be going home at 12-16 weeks old). It’s very expensive to feed a litter of growing kittens, and much cheaper to “get rid of them” fast!
- Choosing inexpensive breeders cats that do not exemplify the breed in terms of appearance or temperament. The resulting kittens do not improve the Bengal breed and the effect is a “watered down” breed.
At the risk of stating the obvious, no unethical breeder should ever be supported. It’s just not worth the small cost savings for you. In fact, in many cases, a kitten from a backyard breeder will be brought home in poor health and need vet bills that add up to much more than the cost of a kitten from a reputable breeder!
Note: Not ALL backyard breeders will be selling at cheap prices. Some are actually still getting thousands of dollars for their kittens because buyers don’t know what to look for. Make sure you use our “Choosing Your Bengal Breeder” worksheet when searching for a Bengal kitten!
When considering Bengal cat price, remember that there is no such thing as a free pet!
Whether the upfront cost is $2,000 or free, ALL pets require food, supplies, and vet care. In fact, by paying a little more for a kitten with a known health record and health guarantee, you’ll likely avoid the costly vet bills that can add up when you pick up a stray kitten or buy a kitten from a non-reputable breeder.
Articles like this one have evaluated the annual cost of owning a cat to be approximately $1,000! And this is an animal that you hope to have as a member of your family for 10 to 15 (or more) years!
With this perspective, you can quickly see why choosing your breeder with care is so much more important than trying to save a bit of money.
What kind of breeder will you support?
As you can see, the price often represents the time and money cost that goes into a breeding program, and this has a direct impact on the quality, health, and temperament of the kitten that is going to be your family member for years and years.
Price is a big deal to most buyers, no doubt. By knowing what to expect when looking for a Bengal kitten and not trying to find the cheapest kitten you can, you have the opportunity to reduce the demand for unethical or unknowledgeable breeders looking to make a quick buck, and support breeders that care about preserving and loving this incredible breed.