Preparing for a new Kitten

Safety

Look for places a kitten can get into (holes in walls, fireplaces, etc.) and put barriers in front.
Look for personal items that they might hurt themselves with – pens, needles, scissors, knives, all dangerous!  Protect your cords too – especially electronic ones – they love to play with them.
Secure breakables (glasses, vases, etc.) on places they can easily reach.
Look for toxic plants (http://www.petmd.com/cat/emergency/poisoning-toxicity/e_ct_poisonous_plants) and get them out of reach (or ideally gone!)

Litter boxes

 You will need at least 1 per floor that that kitten will be on.  If you already have a cat; you should have one more litter box than cats.

Litter

Unscented, no clay litter is important for kittens.  They can easily eat it or breath it and that’s horrible for them.  For kittens we recommend: World’s Best or Swheat Scoop

Food

 We will provide either wet food or raw food on your choice. We’ll let you know the wet food brand your kitten prefers and you can start with some of that.  If you want to transition to a new food; please do it slowly to avoid upsetting their stomach.

Toys!

Toys are ridiculously important for Kittens and Bengals in particular.  Get a variety and see what they (and you) like!  We’ve started making our own; but there are lots of cool things out there.

Treats

 Treats aren’t that important at this stage; but they can be fun.

Food / Water Dishes

You need at least one of each.  If you are feeding wet / raw food than they won’t drink a lot of water – this is completely normal! Cats who are fed dry food drink a lot and that’s not normal.

Bed

Buy a soft bed to lie in – usually they want a much larger bed than you think!  Heated beds are a plus.

Brush

You will want to have a brush (a soft brush; their soft fur doesn’t need to be brushed so it’s more for enjoyment).

Nail Clippers

You want this style: https://www.amazon.ca/Ecloud-Shop-Clipper-Grooming-Trimmer/dp/B00N4RAYB6/  You can get them in all pet stores.

Feliway

it’s a calming spray which is a good way to help them adjust.  There is a diffuser or just a spray.  Amazon sells it, so do most vets.

Scratching posts

You need to get at least one scratching post.  We have 6 in our house; however 3 of them are also cat trees.

Cat Trees

We highly recommend cat trees – specifically Armarkat Trees – they are more expensive; but they last much longer.  Even the kittens love spending time in the tree as young as they are.  Here is our current favorite tree.  Don’t get a knock off (Go Pet or something similar) – they quality is so much worse.

Bonding with a Bengal

What’s the best way to bond with your Bengal?

Playing

Bengals are play-oriented. They are active, energetic cats who love to play. The fastest way to a Bengal’s heart is by playing with them!

Here are some quick suggestions:

  • Get a straw and wiggle it back and forth on the ground by their paws.
  • Make a ball out of tinfoil, wrap a string around it and then drag the ball around the room.
  • Get a long feather (or on a stick) and get them to jump in the air (ribbons are good too).

    Be Gentle and Non-Threatening

    Our daughter is constantly asking us why Xena is afraid of her, the simple answer is that she is loud and not so gentle. Cats learn and remember threatening situations. They pick up on your body language and queues (even when you don’t intend to – why do you think they “know” when it’s time for the vet?).

Constantly trying to get near them, trying to pet them (when they aren’t ready for it) can be considered threatening / aggressive; especially when they don’t know you!

Don’t Punish!

Punishment for bad behaviour is not the way to go and usually only teaches a cat not to do something when you are around to punish!  The other thing that it teaches them is that you are the cause of negative things! Not a good way to bond!

Don’t make the first move

Which leads us to not making the first move. When you go to them; try to pick them up and push yourself upon them – it can be scary! Big hands, big clumsy body and feet! Once they are used to you and your presence it’s different; however until then, let them come to you.

Let them come to you

Shinobi, our big boy, will never let you pick him up.  If you pick him up and put him on your lap – he’s gone as soon as you let him go. However, if you find a nice spot; encourage him to come join you and he’s happy to lie on top for hours.

Be Around

If you want them to be comfortable around you – let them get to know you, your scent and your behaviours – i.e. be there! The more they are used to you and what you are going to do and how you are going to behave, the more comfortable they will be with you.

Bribe em

Most cats are willing to be bought with treats (and yes, playing is a treat!); but in this case we mean food.  Find a treat they really like (Shinobi goes nuts for Temptations treats – we know they aren’t great for him; so they are very limited;  but, in small amounts, it’s a great treat for him!) and use the treats to interact and bring them close to you.  You can even build an E.T. type trail to lead them to you!

Introducing a Kitten

Introducing a kitten to household of existing cats can be a stressful time for you, the kitten and the cats.  Doing it careful and slowly is the key to reducing stress for everyone.

First of all, it’s really rare for the kitten to be upset about the new living situation; it’s really much more about the other cats – this is their territory and their environment that this kitten just invaded.  “That’s my spot! Mine!”.  So most of the effort needs to be concentrated on the current cats.

Isolation

You need to start by isolating the kitten from the rest of the house.  First you aren’t going to overwhelm them with too much to see / explore at once; but also to prevent the other cats from seeing them too soon.  The longer they go without seeing each other; the easier it will be between them when the time comes.  Overtime, increase that space.  Initially you could start them in an en suite bathroom and then allow them access to the bed and bathroom (or something similar).

What’s That Smell?

Cats are very smell oriented and smell driven.  As soon as they notice a new scent they will try to figure it out; especially from another animal.  It’s really important that the cats do not see the kitten for as long as possible.  The longer they don’t know it’s a new kitten, the more they will accept the new smell as just a part of the environment.

Spread the smell around!  If the kitten came with a blanket – get the cats with the blanket.  As the kitten puts their smell on various new things (blankets, etc) – spread those around.  A good thing to do is to swap spaces between the kitten and the cats.  Put the cats in the isolated space and the kitten in the rest of the house.  Try to avoid having them see each other!  Let the smells permeate so that they are swapping scents.

See No Evil

The next stage is to introduce them through a door.  Play with the kitten under the door so their paw comes through and make sure that the other cats notice.  This is their opportunity to link smell with something else; but to not see it.

Untouchable

The next stage is to introduce them face to face but in a controlled way.  Ideally through a screen or mesh.  We like to use a show cage or a screen between them to do the initial introduction.

Don’t worry if they hiss; it’s completely normal.  The senior cats will almost always use hissing and paw swipes to express dominance over the new kitten. By introducing it this way you are avoiding physical attacks and getting them use to each other.

The Big Moment

This is the final stage – the face-to-face, all out rumble between the kitten and the cats!  Winner take all!  Or more likely some hissing, paw swiping, the kitten submits and the cat walks away victorious.  This is totally normal and expected.  Cats must establish their own hierarchy – so let them interact and fight a little; however, there is, obviously, a point where you need to step in and protect the kitten (just don’t do it right away).

Trimming your cats nails

Cats nails grow quickly, as quickly as your fingernails.  They should be trimmed as frequently as yours do (at least once a month).

Some cats can properly maintain their nails (though they will be very sharp) and it won’t cause them any problems; however, a lot of cats can have problems if you don’t trim them (additionally they won’t scratch you as much).

You want to trim both the front and back nails (including the dewclaw (thumb)). You can start as young as 8 weeks old.  Talk to your breeder as to how they trim nails and how they can transition to you.

Select a quiet room with no distractions and calmly sit with your cat.  The basic process is as follows:

  • Gently press a paw to extend the nails:
  • Look at the nail from the slide and determine where the nail ends and the quick begins.
  • You need to avoid the quick as if you cut the quick you will cause pain and bleeding.  As well, it will make it harder to cut it in the future (your cat will struggle more).
  • Clip the nails quickly as it’s going to be hard to keep them still for long.
  • Give lots of praise / treats / scratches when finished, to create a positive experience and association with nail clipping.

Some tricks

  • Grab them by the scruff to show dominance if they try to run away.
  • Talk to your cat while clipping.  Give praise for being still (Good Girl/Boy!) or say NO if they try to escape, bite or growl.
  • Cover their head so they can’t see what you are doing.
  • Have a partner distract their attention while you clip the nails.
  • Lift them by the scruff and clip them while scuffed (this will usually work until they are 8 months or so).
  • Wrap them in a towel (only use as a last resort — your cats will hate this!)
  • If all else fails: bring them to your vet to get them clipped.

Cat scratching

Every cat has a need to scratch and if you don’t supply them with sufficient items that they can use for scratching then you will find your table, chair, couch, bed or rug scratched.  So what do they need?

Every cat needs

Both a horizontal and vertical scratching item.  Some cats like to stretch out high or long and some flip between them.  

Cardboard makes excellent material to be scratched.  Avoid carpet as it can confuse the cat into scratching things they shouldn’t (like your favorite rug). You can buy lots of great scratching items on Amazon or your neighborhood pet store.  Here is one of our favorites:

Pet Fusion Cat Scratcher

To encourage scratching you can use cat nip or play with them on /around the scratching post.  A laser pointer can work really well to direct them into the scratching post.

Destructive  Scratching

If you find your cat is destroying your favorite chair or table here are some tips:

  • Move a scratching post directly beside what they are scratching.
  • Gently lift and transfer the cat to the nearest scratching post any time you catch them in the act.  
  • Place tape or aluminum foil on the item being scratched.
  • Spray the spot with Felaway.
  • Clip your cat’s nails more frequently.

Spraying your cat with water usually won’t help as they only learn to not scratch when you are around.

Litter Boxes

How to choose an appropriate litter box

Cats prefer unscented, fine textured litter.  People prefer scented but cats do not, if you switch to a scented litter you may find the don’t use it as much or at all.

Cats like clean litter boxes.  If you don’t clean it regularly that can easily avoid it until it’s clean.

A good depth is 2-3 inches of litter.  Too much and they will spray it all over the place.  Too little and they can avoid it or make a big mess.

Make sure you get a box big enough for your cat.  Bigger cats need bigger litter boxes.  Overweight and large cats will like litter boxes with larger sides. This is an excellent choice as well for stand up pee-ers and those who like to play and dig deep.

Electronic litter boxes

Open Air Litter Robot

We’ve had both success and failure with these litter boxes.  We currently use an Open Air Litter Robot; however, these are expensive and only work for full grown cats. Additionally you need to user only certain types of litter. Quick clumping and fine litter is necessary.

Other electronic litter boxes we used still need to be cleaned really regularly and basically don’t twice the burden very much.  Just not worth the cost.

Flushable litter

Flushable litter is great and we use it for our kittens.  We’ve used a few different kinds and they all seem to work similarly.  The key thing is the cats liking them and the smell to you.

Location

Like in real estate it’s all about location location location.  Find a quiet private location away from their food.

It needs to be easily accessible

You need multiple litter boxes (one per cat minimum and usually one more extra).  This is especially important with multiple cats to avoid litter box guarding.

Maintenance

Daily cleaning is important or they will stop using it.

You can use a covered litter box but not all cats will like it.  If it’s covered you need to clean it very regularly.

Change all the litter at least once a month and you should clean the entire box at that time.

If the litter smells or the bottom of the box is wet then replace the litter.

Replace the box when it’s cracked or smells and can’t be cleaned.

Understanding Cat Shows

So we when decided to show Xena and Shinobi in a cat show we had no idea what to expect. We scoured the internet and various resources trying to understand how a cat show works and it was super confusing. It wasn’t until we actually participated that we truly understood how they worked. This is our attempt to bring some clarity to the world of Cat Shows.

Shinobi and Xena at their first cat show

Where can you find a list of shows:

USA: http://www.catshows.us/
Canada: http://www.catshow.ca/

Here’s some basic information on Cat Shows:

Rings are individual cat judgings

Each cat show typically has ~4 rings (I’ve seen as few as 3 and as many as 6).

Each ring has its own judge and is completely isolated from the other rings.

Each day is separate from every other day

If the show goes multiple days then the only difference between each of the days are the judges. Each day will have a new set of judges — everything else is the same! So if you have a 2 day show with 4 rings each day you really have 8 completely judgings going on over 2 days.

Awards

When your cat is being judged they are first judged against the other cats of the same breed, sex and colour. It’s very possible that a cat may be the only cat of that sex, breed, coat and colour, especially with cats of lots of different colours. We have Brown spotted Bengals (Male / Female).

Next they judge against the same breed, coat and colour. We have Brown spotted Bengals.

Then they judge against the same breed. We have Bengals.

Finally they judge against all cats in the same rank: Kitten, Open / Championship, Premiership, Household Pet. Note that Open / Championship compete together; however, the rankings are Open -> Championship -> Premiership.

Read more about Awards / Ribbons

Xena finishing as the #2 overall kitten

How do I enter a show?

Once you have found a show and decided you want to enter the process is really simple. Just contact the clerk for the show and fill out the form. They’ll be able to tell you anything you need to know for requirements. Typically you’ll need to be registered with the association for that show (TICA, CFA, CCA), fill out the form and pay the entry fee. You can usually do it all by email.

What should I bring to my first show?

  • Cage (optional) — they will provide a cage in the show, you do not need to bring one. If this is your very first show — don’t buy a cage. You should wait until you see if your cat takes to shows (quite a few do not like it). The cage they provide is adequate.
  • If you don’t supply your own cage then you should supply the following:
  • Cage Curtains. You need to surround the cage with curtains so that your cat cannot see the other cats or what’s going on around then. Super important (and mandatory by the show)
  • Cage Floor. We liked to get a soft bottom (rug or something similar) that they can lie on instead of the table (note that the cage is sides and top only — there is no bottom to the cage).
  • Absorbent Padding. Basically if they have an accident or spill water you don’t want them lying in it all day — a padding on the bottom to soak it up makes it so it doesn’t spread and you can clean it up easily.
  • Bed (optional) — somewhere for them to relax — it’s going to be a long day.
  • Litter Box — the show will provide litter (though we’ve found that frequently it takes the show a while to provide it) however, you should consider bringing some of your own as they may not like the show’s litter. The show does NOT provide a litter box though and you are expected to bring one.
  • Toys — it’s going to be a long day — they need something to do.
  • Paper Tower — super useful for any messes that may happen.
  • Food / Food Bowl — it’s good to get something stable that’s not easy for them to knock over.
  • Water / Water Bowl — if you can get a water bowl that hooks to the side of the cage — that’s best — otherwise something super stable. We like the metal bowls with rubber bottoms.
  • Brush / Comb — something to straighten out their coat with

Anything beyond this list is really up to you. There are cleaning / coat sprays, baby powder, ear cleaners, the list goes on and on.

What should I expect to happen at the show?

  • When you arrive you will check in with the clerk who will tell you your seat assignment, your cat’s assigned number, give you the schedule and take your money if you owe it.
  • Take your cat(s) to your table and setup your cage. If they are providing you with a cage and one isn’t there, go and ask the clerk. Leave your cats in the carrier until you have fully set up your cage.
  • Put your cats in the cage, try to settle them down. Give them a chance to go the bathroom, eat and drink.
  • Checked the schedule and look at each ring and when your times are. They should be spread out throughout the day.
  • Wait for your number to be called — they will announce the numbers and the ring to go to.
  • Take your cat to the ring and put them in the cage with your number on top.
  • Close the cage and get out of the judging area — they don’t want you hanging around.
  • Feel free to watch the judging and when the ring clerk takes your number down that’s your cue to take your cat back to the cage.
  • If you won any ribbons (congratulations!) they will be on the cage before they take the number down.
  • Wait for your number to be called again.
  • Talk to visitors, talk to neighbours, check out other cats, read a book — there’s a lot of waiting.
  • If you are in a multi-day show then it’s expected to leave your cage setup for the next day. Take your valuables; but it’s fine to leave your litter box or other inexpensive items at the show.

Finding a Cat Breeder

Do they belong to a respectable association or society?

There is no reason any reputable Cat Breeder wouldn’t be a member of a respectable association or society.  They don’t cost a lot of money and they make sure that you are getting the pure bred cat that you are paying for. There’s no reason they (or you) shouldn’t be able to register a kitten.  It costs very little (under $20) to do so.

In Canada they should be associated with TICA (The International Cat Association) or CCA (Canadian Cat Association).

Do they provide a pedigree with your cat?

You should be able to get a 5 generation pedigree with any Bengal Cat.

There are 2 large problems without a pedigree:

  1. Frequent medical issues.  Frequently “kitty mills” or “backyard breeders” are producing cats that don’t have clean, pure bloodlines.
  2. Are you sure you are getting a purebred cat?  The whole point of these registry is to guarantee that they are purebreds and to monitor the breed.  It costs a very minimal fee to be a member of these associations and registering a cat / kitten is a fraction of the cost of the cat itself.  You have to wonder why anyone would pay a large sum of money for a purebred cat which isn’t actually a purebred.

Do they provide a health guarantee?

There are lots of congenital defects for various breeds.  Bengals are prone to: PRA (blindness), HCM (heart disease), PKD (kidney disease) among other congenital diseases.  There are tests for all of these conditions and a responsible breeder will test for and ensure that they are not breeding cats with these conditions.

All cats can have FeLV, FIV, Coccidia, Giardia, etc., which are easily tested for and can be avoided.

It’s absolutely horrible when someone brings home a new family member and then has to watch them die from one of these conditions.

How old are the kittens when they leave their mother?

Everyone wants a kitten as young as possible.  Ideally as soon as it’s weaned!  While it seems like it would be awesome and cute to have a young kitten, understand that it’s very vulnerable – the immune system of a kitten doesn’t kick in until 8-10 weeks, before that it’s entirely from its mother; it’s not socialized – kittens learn behavour from their mothers and their littermates.  The most important age for this is between 6-11 weeks old. Separating kittens too early will make them socially maladjusted and can easily lead to behavioural issues.

What do the breeders feed their cats?

There is so much information now on cat nutrition that anyone who breeds cats has a responsibility to know about it.  Cats are obligate carnivores (meaning that they do not have the ability to make certain amino acids and vitamins that are found in meat.  A simple well-known example is the amino acid Taurine.  Cats must get this in their diet and without it they will suffer from blindness, bone decay and eventually heart failure.  This is why you can’t feed dog food to a cat – it doesn’t contain Taurine).  A good breeder will know something about cat nutrition and be feeding a high quality diet to their cats and kittens.

Here’s some basic information on what to look for in Cat Food and what to avoid:

  • Avoid dry foods as much as possible.
    • Cats get most of their water from food (despite having a water dish they are usually under hydrated if they eat only dry food).
    • Carbohydrate content in most dry foods are too high.
    • Many Dry foods contain high plant-based protein instead of animal protein.

Try Raw Food

Wait, did you say Raw?  As in uncooked?  That – Is – Disgusting!  Perhaps, but what do you think cats are eating in the wild? Do they have a little campfire and cook their mouse, fish, bird? They do just fine on raw food. Their digestive track is very different from ours and they simply don’t have the same problems we would.  For more information, see our  information on feeding Raw Food.

Do they monitor who breeds their kittens?

Any ethical breeder will not let just anyone breed more cats.  As you can see from these points, it’s not just as simple as have a boy and a girl and letting them make kittens.  If the breeder will let you buy a breeding cat without any questions and ensuring that you will be a responsible breeder, then you should probably stay away from that breeder.

Good Homes for Bengal Cats

Are you aware of and up to the responsibilities of being a cat owner?

  • This cat will be part of your family for 10-20 years.  There is a lot of work and commitment involved.  Are you ready for it?
  • Litter boxes, trimming nails, vomit, hair balls and diarrhea, visits to the veterinarian.  It’s not all fun and games.

Cost

  • The price of purchasing a Pure Bred Cat is just the beginning.  Food, litter, toys, treats, veterinarian visits, and insurance are just some of the things you have to be prepared to pay for.

Outdoor or Indoor Cat?

  • An indoor cat can live 17-20 years while an outdoor cat live on average 2-5 years.
  • Outdoor cats catch many more diseases (FeLV and FIV being common).
  • Outdoor cats can get into fights, hit by cars or killed when they drink poison like antifreeze.
  • Pure bred cats can easily be stolen – Your expensive exotic cat could easily end up as someone else’s exotic cat.
  • If you really want your cat to go outdoors, we recommend you build a secure outdoor enclosure or walk them on a harness and leash.

What will you feed your cat?

  • Dry food has been long suspected to cause urinary tract issues and diabetes.  This poor diet leads to dehydrated cats. More Info Here
  • We want to see our cats live long, happy and healthy lives and diet is a big part of this.

Does the Bengal breed fit your lifestyle?

  • Purebred cats tend to have personality traits that are inherent in the breed.
  • Bengals are active, human loving cats.  Their way of bonding is through play.
  • They want attention and are energetic.
  • They are not lap cats and don’t sit quietly on the sofa arm all evening.  If you want a placid cat, a Bengal is not for you.  That isn’t to say a Bengal won’t sit in your lap; just don’t expect them to sit all night!
  • If you plan to leave a single Bengal alone for long periods it’s going to make for a sad, problematic cat.

Bengal Cat Personality

Bengals have a lot of personality and are lively, intelligent and interactive cats.  They, typically, don’t ignore you nor are they dull cats.  They will be an active part of your family.  They are outstanding athletes: running, climbing and jumping to huge heights.  They’ve been known to play fetch and can be trained.  They love attention too and will frequently nuzzle your face, flip on their backs and crave affection.  Don’t be surprised to see your Bengal jump on the bed and kneed the covers with their paws and sleep with you until morning.

Bengals are NOT wild animals.  Unless you specifically buy an early generation Bengal, then your Bengal will be many generations removed from the Asian Leopard Cat and they have been domesticated with lots of skill and work from dedicated Bengal breeders.  They will be no more aggressive or wild than any other domestic cat.

How are Bengals With:

Kids: Great!  Bengals love kids and enjoy their high levels of energy.  All of our Bengals have been socialized with some very energetic, grabby and loud children so they will be familiar with most behaviours that children do. Just remember that children need to be coached on how to approach a kitten and how to be gentle.

Dogs: Great!  With all other pets make sure that they are gradually introduced and have an opportunity to get familiar with each other’s scents before they physically meet.  Bengals can actually bond with dogs and become great friends.

Water: You wouldn’t believe that a cat would like water so much.  Most Bengals love to splash and play with water.  Running water from a sink or a fountain is a blast to play with.  Watch your toilet (especially if you use cleaning agents like bleach) and running hot water.  It’s rare, but some Bengals have also been known to swim or to shower with their owners!

Basic Bengal Genetics

So this is a massive topic and there is a lot of information about feline genetics that you can get into.  What I would like to focus on is purely the most commonly asked information about Bengal Genetics.  I’m going to brush over all the complicated details of genetics and just say this at a high level.

One chromosome comes from the father and one from the mother.
The father’s chromosome can be dominate over the mother’s or vice versa.
If one is dominant then that is the trait that applies.  If they are the same, then you get that trait.
Dominant chromosomes are denoted with capital letters while recessive ones are lower case.

Coat

The coat contains a bunch of different genes:

Agouti: this gene controls whether the hair of the fur contains a single solid color or alternating banded hair.
A (meaning banded) is dominant and a (solid color) is recessive.

Charcoal is from the ALC agouti allele and is recessive to A and dominant to a.

Brown: this gene controls the color with B (Full Colour), b (brown), b(l) – Cinnamon and b(s) – Snow as the options.

Dilute: this gene controls color dilution with D being Full Colour and d being dilute.

Inhibitor: this gene inhibits the color and creates silver colours.  With I being inhibits and i being not.

Pattern: Sp is now thought to be the pattern gene and (T was previously thought to control pattern).  Sp is spotted and sp is marbled.

Glitter: this gene controls whether their coat has glitter (g) or not (G)

Example Bengal Colours

This shows you how changing one gene changes the colour of the Bengal.

Brown Spotted Bengals: They must be Brown Full Color (B), Full Colour (D), Not Inhibited (ii), Spotted: (SP)

Snow Spotted Bengals: They must be Brown Snow (bsbs), Full Colour (D), Not Inhibited (ii), Spotted: (SP)

Blue Spotted Bengals: They must be Brown Full Color (B), Dilute Colour (dd), Not Inhibited (ii), Spotted: (SP)

Silver Spotted Bengals: They must be Brown Full Color (B), Full Colour (D), Inhibited (I), Spotted: (SP)

Brown Marbled Bengals: They must be Brown Full Color (B), Full Colour (D), Not Inhibited (ii), Marbled: (sp)