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IS THE BENGAL BREED RIGHT FOR YOU?

June 17, 2017

So, you’re thinking about getting a Bengal?

Well, you came to the right place. I’ll give you my professional opinion as an animal behaviourist about the breed & breed traits, plus, as a Bengal owner, (Boomer is an F7 Bengal) you’ll know that my advice stems from first hand experience.

Many of the things I’ve experienced with the breed has also been experienced (confirmed)  by many Bengal owners (online, below in the comments, and or people I meet out in public.) It’s clear, they are not like your average cat. And I feel it’s my duty to alert others about important details that weren’t available to me during my research some 4+ years ago.

I understand there are exceptions to every rule. If you have a Bengal that is nothing like I’m reporting, or is everything I’m reporting and more, let us all know about your Bengal (and their temperament) in the comments below. I want my followers to hear all points of view and experiences. The bottom line… Whenever you’re committing to adopting “ANY” new cat/dog into the family, it’s important to do as much research as possible, nothing is worst then getting the animal home, only to find out a few short days or weeks later, they’re nothing like you thought, and you’re wondering if you made a big mistake. Unfortunetely this scenario happens frequently, these animals are then ignored, abandoned in the streets or brought to shelters. This is very sad ending to what could have been avoided if people did the research first.

I’m confident this article will help you see if the Bengal breed is right for you.

The Bengal breed is right for you:

  • If you identify yourself more of a dog person. (Not recommended for people who identify themselves as a “cat person”). Why? They’re way too much cat for cat people, plus they don’t have the temperament that a cat person would be compatible with. I describe them as “high maintenance”, after all, they’re part wild. This requires more space, more of your time, more interaction. Not for one month or one year, but for years and years, like you would (should) do for a dog.
  • If you understand that MOST Bengals DON’T like to be picked up or carried around. Bengals ARE NOT considered “lap-cats” and most will struggle/cry if held.  I had one lady tell me her Bengal is super affectionate and a lap cat with her, but still doesn’t like being picked up by her. and will run away from other family members that try to pat/pick him up. (Make sure you understand this about them, because even with the best training, you can’t change a leopard spots).
  • If you’re NOT getting a Bengal for their “looks” but for their temperament, YOUR lifestyle/living arrangements, and that you are prepared for a life long commitment/expenses that goes with bringing an animal into your life. “Looks” should only be a bonus. As an animal behaviorist I wish everyone would put themselves in the animal position, (hypothetically) asking the animal what they think about being cramped up 24/7 in your small living space/cage, just so you can stare at them all day??? If they could speak, many Siberian huskies & hybrid “type” cats would say, “We are definitely NOT compatible“. The bottom line, always take into consideration the breed traits, and with a Bengal there are a lot of them
  • If you’re NOT going to let them ROAM unsupervised outside.
  • If you have a large living space.
  • if you understand they are big time climbers and need lots of things to climb on.
  • if you have some sort of outside containment/catio.
  • if you’re going to take them out for supervised play or leash walks.  They need lot’s of stimulation, but there are so many dangers associated with outdoor cats. They could be killed by poisons, people, cars, dogs (or other animals),  They can get lost, stolen, injured, catching diseases fighting other cats. They also kill innocent local wildlife “for sport”. It’s sport because they didn’t need to kill it to survive, most of the time they don’t eat the animal. (Bengals aren’t the only cats that kill animals I know, but the hunting instincts, power and heights these cats can jump, make them killing machines.) FYI – Boomer and Didga have not killed any animals outside. Didga learned in 2 weeks not to chase/lunge at birds, I’ve been trying to teach Boomer ever since he was a kitten applying training in text book fashion, but I still don’t trust him around birds, especially off leash. Hence why you see, in many of my pics and videos, Boomer is still on a lead and Didga is not. (Can’t change a Leopard spots)
  • If you know Bengals are considered “Talkers” and have a very loud meow. 
  • If your children are over 7 years old. (people hate when I say this)  but I feel raising a young child is already time consuming enough, so is properly raising any pet, let me repeat that “ANY PET” but the Bengal breed needs more attention than your average cat. Young kids are more likely to treat ANY PET as if it’s a toy. “Most” Bengals wouldn’t like that. It’s a myth anyway that small kids “need” to grow up with a pet, I didn’t until I was 18 and look how good I am with animals. (just saying) it’s okay if you wait until the kids have a better grasp about the responsibilities of caring for an animal. Even then the parents end up doing most of the work.
  • If you DON’T have a cat, or your existing cat is a Bengal, or you have a very very tolerant YOUNG playful cat. When I first got young Boomer, Didga and Boomer got along BRILLIANTLY!  then after a year and a half it started to go down hill. Boomer at some point must have hurt Didga, since then Boomer started stalking her taking advantage of her weakness by bullying her more and more pouncing on her back, bitting her in the back of the neck, with Didga screaming. No punctures marks, but hair comes out. I usually have to intervene by pulling Boomer off. Thankfully, I’m with the cats most of the time,  but even so, he still gets in a few attacks a week. EVEN with all I do to tire Boomer out, all the micro managing I do, all the training techniques I apply in textbook fashion, I’m still not able to manage the situation 100%. I feel sorry for Didga not having a playmate anymore. Unfortunetely if this keeps up, I may have to re-home Boomer to the right family and I’m guessing that won’t be easy to find. Didga’s well being is my main concern. With that said, Boomer did get along brilliantly with the younger kittens/cats I fostered, so I know he can get along with cats, just not older sensative cats like Didga. Yes I know, the scenario could of happen with any other cat, but the difference is bengals have more wild instincts and don’t respond to training like most other cats would. Again, they’re part WILD. Why take a chance and ruin the good life your existing cat has by adding a high maintenance energetic overbearing cat (Bengal or not)  At some point I’ll be fostering again and eventually adopting another kitten, we’ll see if that changes things having the younger kitten around.                                                                                           (UPDATE – a year later.  I’ve not only been fostering more kittens, I ended up adopting 2 of them, a brother and sister. One of them has been the distraction I needed. Almost daily Boomer and the two kittens, Bindi and Jeb, whom are very “dog like” run around and play, both of them don’t seem to mind the awkward social playful skills of the Bengal. So I can report good news that In the last 5 months since their arrival, there has only been 2 or 3 altercations between D & B v.s. 1 to 2 per week before. The kittens are still young, we’ll have to wait and see if things can stay this way.
  • If you understand “boundaries” are not a Bengal thing. you know, please don’t jump on that, hang on that, go behind there, etc. They’re just very thick headed, and unfortunetely, they don’t adhere to conventional deterrent methods because  of their wild nature. Teaching them most things requires extra-extra work. Example: jumping on the kitchen counter, Didga learned not to jump on the kitchen counter after a few weeks. With Boomer, every trick in the book was used, and to this day (at times) he still jumps on the counters even if I’m right there preparing food. Let me add, I’ve noticed him doing it less in the last month, so maybe the training is starting to sink in? (like I said, extra extra work). They just like to explore every nook and cranny of your home, and don’t see what all the fuss is about. Oh, they can be quit clumsy too. I was worried to leave Boomer home alone his first year. I had a somewhat escape proof sun room that I “mostly” felt safe leaving him, although after 2 years he found a way to break through one of the plastic windows, and if I didn’t see him hanging half way out he would have been on a mission around the neighbourhood. The fact is they are big time escape artist, the owners of a cat enclosure company told me, if a Bengal owner calls them to install an enclosure, they tell the person, “sorry we can’t help you.” In their experience Bengals eventually find a way to escape from their enclosures. (Now, I can see why)
  • If you’re planning on teaching your Bengal lots of things and taking them on adventures at least a few times per week. – Bengals take to the harness and leash quickly, but most (even with a lot of training) won’t be walking with you in a normal way. I spent 10x more leash training on Boomer than I did Didga, Bindi and Jeb and they walk on leash way better than Boomer. It was more difficult but I had to persevere as it’s a safer way to get him outside. IT would be cruel NOT TO teach them tricks and leash training to help satisfy their natural wild instincts to roam in nature. If you don’t take them out, they do this very loud annoying ritualised meow scream, several times a day. Neighbours I’m sure are wondering WTF is going on. Some people say, oh, I’ll just keep the Bengal inside, and ignore their demands, but  without fail, that annoying loud sound wears the people down. The owners let them outside, and that’s when the problems start.

The Bengal Breed was right for me (at the time)  I wasn’t looking for a lap cat, I was looking for a cat that would be adventurous, where I can take lots of places and teach a lot of things to. and the research did prepare me for a challenge, heck, If I can train police dogs in the Military, I can surely handle a Bengal. I admit I got Boomer for selfish reasons, let me explain…. As a dog trainer many so called “trainers” were training up border collies gaining notoriety as trainers, and I thought, that’s cheating, just because you can get a Border collies to do tricks, that doesn’t make you a dog trainer. So as a cat trainer I did my research to look for the “border collie” of the cat world. My research showed the Bengal to be one of the most teachable cat breeds. Fast forward a year and the research, I believe is misleading, and I think whoever labeled Bengals as one of the most teachable, aren’t animal behaviorists or trainers. Didga, Bindi are WAY closer to the smarts and trainability of a border collie than Boomer. The difference I’m talking about is once you get past that initial “smarts” of the Bengal, which definitely shine through as being very adaptable to things where other cats might have difficulty, you still have a part wild animal, and wild animals have a very independent nature. For training, this is not a good combination. “You can’t change a leopard spots.”  I often compare them to Huskies who are also extremely beautiful with the more active traits.  YES, there are exceptions to every rule, I’m sure the “wild traits” / trainability differ within each Bengal.

For as much as I try to talk people out of getting the breed,  I have to say they are adventurous and want to be part of the action. Although the Boomer you see in the videos is not a good representation of the breed, because he was raised very differently . I do have over 35 years experience as an animal trainer, and I dedicate most of my time to my cats. FYI – I started working with Boomer when he was just 5 weeks old. But at the end of the day, he’s still a Bengal. For all I did/do, I still get the feeling I’m holding him back. BOOMER is an F7 – So I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have anything closer to the Leopard. I don’t think any wild animals should be in captivity.  I feel very sorry for these “hybrid” cats unhappily imprisoned in a home environment. Very-very-very few people can provide the space and stimulation these cats require to truly be happy. BTW – early next year, I’ll be adding a third cat to the CATMANTOO family, – Catmanthree? LOL – I won’t be doing the ‘pure breed’ thing anymore, it’s back to the shelter to look for another amazing “normal” cat like Didga. In the meantime look for me doing a few fosters before the end of the year, and stay tuned for more.

(UPDATE) As you’ve read above, 4 months ago, I fostered and adopted two new kittens (brother and sister) who are more “dog-like” than Boomer will ever be, one of them reminds me of Didga when she was a kitten. so look for some fun pics and vids of thing cats can do, posted on our social.

IF you found this post useful and informative please let me know below, that way I will be motivated to write more things for this site.

(If I think of anything new, I’ll update this blog)

IF you want to add anything, or just say “HI” feel free to comments below.

Robert, Didga and Boomer

10 Difficult Breeds

July 13, 2014

This is just a list of dogs I’ve read about and have come to know “personally” as difficult breeds to own. It’s NOT a list of stupid breeds or breeds that are bad. Obviously there are exceptions to every rule and don’t take this personally. I’m just informing people that, if they get one of these breeds, or they aren’t an experienced and very dedicated dog owner,  they may have trouble leading a normal dog-owner life, i.e. having a calm and orderly home, being able go to the dog park, allow the dog off leash, be around kids, dogs or other animals, or being allowed back into doggy daycare or a boarding facility. With that said, a few of these breeds get their “difficult” reputation because of lack of  proper early socialization (before 3 months old), training and or guidance from a professional dog trainer. 

In no particular order:

Siberian Husky

Jack Russell terrier

Chow Chow

Basenji

Akita

Alaskan-Malamute

Beagle

Samoyed

American Staffordshire Terrier (Pit Bull)

Presa Canario or American Bulldog

If you would like to know why a breed is on this list, ask me using the comment form below.

Dogs often make wonderful pets. However, every dog has the potential to inflict harm under the right circumstances – that’s why many other breeds could have made this list. If a breed is not listed here, it doesn’t mean they will automatically be a “perfect” dog without a lot of dedication from you.

If you are thinking about getting one of the listed breeds or any breed for that matter, do your homework and find a good breeder. Meet the puppy’s parents, as good sound parents produce good sound puppies. Learn everything there is to know about the breed. Proper early socialization (before 3 months old), training and exercise is the key. whether your dog is younger or older than 3 months, hiring a professional dog trainer can really make a difference.

If your dog shows aggression or other negative behavioral issues, get help right away. Don’t make excuses for the dog and don’t be in denial. It’s OK to ask for professional help.  My recommendation is if you have a known ‘aggressive breed’, a puppy from aggressive parents, a puppy you don’t know who the parents are or a puppy who is showing aggressive behavior, you should have them neutered as early as possible (usually before 4- months of age). All other dogs can be fixed at 6 months old.

Top 10 Smartest Breeds

July 10, 2009

bordercollieSome of the more-trainable breeds were tested to determine which breeds might be smarter. The tests judged how quickly they learned obedience commands and how quickly they solved problems. Regardless of who’s #1 a lot of our dogs potential depends on us, the more active we are with them, the more knowledge we have, the more training we do, our dogs will become smarter.  So keep reading from blog sites like mine and your dog will be competing for a spot in the top ten. However, don’t get your hopes too high as I think the breed in the #1 spot has nothing to worry about.

10. Australian cattle dog

9.   Rottweiler

8.   Papillon

7.   Labrador

6.   Shetland Sheepdog

5.   Doberman

4.   Golden Retriever

3.   German Shepherd

2.   Poodle

1.   Border Collie

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