Whether cats should be allowed to go outdoors is a tough topic which has many proponents on both sides. It’s a decision that everyone has to make, not just Bengal owners; however, there are a few additional factors for Bengal owners that don’t apply to a rescue cat. So let’s start with the Cons and then talk Pros.
Why you shouldn’t let your Bengal outdoors:
The average life expectancy of an outdoor cat is significantly shorter than an indoor only cat – by over 10 years. In an urban/suburban area, you are reducing their expected life by over 50%!
Here are some quick things that can happen to a Bengal who roams outdoors:
- Getting Hit by Car
- Eating something poisonous
- Fighting with other cats or animals
- Catching a significant disease – while we vaccinate for rabies or other common diseases, things like FELV and FIV do not have a good vaccine.
- Catching a parasite
- Killing wildlife – cats are amazing hunters and watching them bring down a bird is a sight to behold – except for the bird.
- Bringing back “gifts” – once they caught it, they aren’t hungry – so it’s a present for you to clean up off your steps!
- Stolen / Hurt deliberately – especially bad for Bengals, they are expensive cats and can be easily resold by someone malicious.
- Picked up by rescuers/animal control – with the overpopulation of strays a lot of shelters do not keep strays alive for long
Reasons to let your Bengal outdoors:
- They seem to like it – Bengals like to explore and are generally curious. This works well for them and gives them an opportunity to see more surroundings.
- Feeds into their “wild” side – they get a chance to hunt and be “one” with their mojo cat.
- Fitter – Outdoor cats generally get significantly more exercise and are fitter. It’s very rare to see a “fat” Bengal though; so this usually doesn’t apply to Bengals.
- Cleaner Litter Box – If they are outside; they have to go somewhere! Outdoor cat owners can sometimes get away with no litter box (isn’t that nice!)
So what do you do if you want to let your cat go outdoors but don’t want to stress over all the cons?
- Leash / Harness – Bengals can definitely be trained to walk on a leash/harness. The downside is that they don’t associate the outdoors with a leash/harness so if they go out frequently they can start demanding to go out more and even try to escape out.
- Catios – This is a great solution if you can afford it. There are some great Catios out there and some great ideas. Basically, this is a “patio” in your backyard that has a mesh fencing completely around it (including the roof) so the cat can’t get out or have major interactions outdoors. They can be expensive though!