rantpets.com By Joseph Chung April 19, 2016
Important Note: Please do not try this at home unless you have consulted with a professional animal trainer. Things can always go wrong!
Do You Agree That Bengal Cats Should Be Banned?
I recently read a disturbing update from one of my favorite feline bloggers, Bagheera the Diabetic Cat. Bagheera is a Bengal cat, and he shares his California home with two other Bengals and a dedicated human who is hoping to open a cat caf├® in their home city.
Unfortunately, some organizations are lobbying to regulate (that’s most likely code for "ban") Bengal cats like Bagheera and his feline housemates. The groups argue that these "frankencats" are more likely to exhibit behaviors such as spraying, fighting, biting, and escape artistry, and therefore animal shelters hesitate to take these "dangerous" cats after they’re abandoned by owners who can’t deal with their "wild" behavior.
The thing is, anyone who’s ever worked with cats or watched an episode or two of My Cat From Hell knows that "tame," "domestic" cats of other breeds are quite likely to engage in similar behaviors.
I understand and share the organizations’ concern that people are going to buy Bengals because some brain-dead reality TV star like Kourtney Kardashian buys one, without thinking about how a particular breed of cat works with their lifestyle. After all, her equally brain-dead sister Kim did the same thing with a teacup Persian kitten, and we all know how well that ended.
However, I don’t think it’s fair to ban a breed because people are stupid. If we banned things because people are stupid, we’d be living in padded cells and eating with dull sporks out of unbreakable plastic dishes.
To characterize most of the Bengal cats in homes today as wild creatures is not accurate. When the breed was founded in the 1980s as a result of a cross between a domestic cat and an Asian leopard cat, the Bengal was much wilder. But the breed has been around long enough that today’s Bengals are many generations removed from their original foundation stock.
The thing is that many of these regulations are also so poorly written that they could be interpreted to be a ban on the entire breed.
But even the tame domestic Bengal is not for everybody. Bengals are renowned for their high energy and great need for stimulation. They are not for mellow families or for people who want a low-key "lap fungus" of a cat. They need lots of exercise in order to avoid behavior problems, and this is even more true for earlier-generation Bengals. If you don’t have a way to provide that, you shouldn’t bring a Bengal into your family.
According to the International Cat Association, Bengal cats are no longer cross-bred with wildcats. They are only bred to other Bengals, and kittens sold today are domestic cats through and through.
Sure, there’s always going to be some jackass who is going to be in the market for a foundation-stock Bengal to add to his collection of living trophies, but it seems unfair to use these boneheads as an excuse to penalize people who just happen to have fallen in love with a Bengal (or a Savannah, or a Serengeti), then did their research to ensure the breed was a good match for them and bought their cat from a responsible breeder.
OK. Let's say you get your Bengal kitten from a "responsible breeder." For most people, that means buying a registered cat - usually a cat registered with the CFA. (Cat Fanciers Association) But here's the problem:
The CFA is a lot like the AKC. (Oh, you don't think that's a problem? Well watch THIS ) Inbreeding, with it's attendant problems is becoming a serious issue. Pedigree cats are bred for the same reasons that pedigree dogs are. They are bred for how they look, and they are bred to make money, often unscrupulously. If it has a beautiful coat it's a good cat. It's temperament and/or health come in second place. (Or third place, or not at all.)
Here's an example of what I mean:
Bengal cats are magnificent creatures, they are active and healthy individuals but like many other pedigrees, they are prone to certain genetic and other health disorders, some of which are explained below:
Bengal cats are prone to cataracts, an eye disorder which attacks the lens of the eye. The lens becomes opaque and loses its natural transparency which result in blurred vision.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
This is another inherited eye disorder Bengal cats are prone to suffer from. The conditions can occur at any time during the cats life but is a painless condition that does affect both eyes until they are completely blind.
This is a heart condition that Bengal cats are prone to develop although this particular disease does affect most cats. The condition is caused by a thickening of the inner muscle in the heart and as a result, blood flow is interrupted which affects how the heart works. In Bengals, the condition can occur very early on in the cats life and can even be fatal in some kittens.
It's recommended that Bengals should have an annual scan to make sure they are not suffering from the condition as it is a hereditary condition that's quite commonly seen in the breed. The condition affects muscles and will eventually weaken the cat until they can barely move.
This is another quite serious hereditary neurological disorder that affects Bengal cats with an estimated 9% of the breed being affected at the early age of 1 year old. The first sign a cat may be suffering from the condition, is weakness, constipation and if the cat has a wound, it appears not to heal.
Eventually, paralysis sets it. Sadly the prognosis is not brilliant for cats who do suffer from the condition although recent advances in veterinary medicine has seen some success in understanding more about distal neuropathy and therefore treating it.
Other Less Serious Health Issues Seen in the Bengal Cat
Although the following conditions are less serious than the ones already mentioned, the disorders still have to be followed closely for the well being of your feline friend because all of them will affect the overall health of your pussy cat.
Psychogenic alopecia in layman's terms is “over-grooming”. It is thought to be a stress-related disorder and when it gets out of hand becomes an obsessive compulsive behaviour that Bengals are prone to suffer from. Self-grooming, for most cats is seen to be a relaxing behavioural action, so when stressed, one of the first things they might do is groom themselves in order to calm down.
However, when it goes a stage further it becomes a real issue with Bengals often grooming themselves so much they lick off their fur and can even pull out tufts of their coats. Commonly, a cat with the condition will lick inside their thighs, around their abdomen and groin area.
The first thing you need to do if you notice any bare patches as a result of your Bengal's excessive grooming, is to get them to a vet as soon as you can so that a correct diagnosis can be made, followed by the right sort of treatment. Your vet will take a sample of skin to determine what the root cause of the condition actually is and then prescribe the right type of medication for you cat to take over a period of time.
This is another eye disorder Bengals are prone to suffer from, and it's one that needs to be treated as soon as you see there is a problem because Entropion is a very painful condition where your cat's eyelids become inverted. Immediate treatment is required because if left untreated, it can lead to total blindness.
Entropion is a congenital disorder where the eyeball rolls in the opposite direction to the cornea. Usually it only affects the lower eyelid but it can affect the upper one too. Although, the condition should not be thought of as a fatal disease, if left untreated your cat will scratch at the affected eye and cause a lot of damage which may cause them to lose part of their vision. In the worst case scenario, the constant scratching can lead to loss of vision altogether.
The irritation is caused by your cat's eyelashes constantly rubbing on the cornea of the eye. Not only will your cat find the irritation very hard to cope with but perforation and ulceration of the eye may occur making the condition that much worse.
The key symptoms to look out for are as follows
- Constant blinking
- A lot of mucus discharge from the eye
- Inflamed and swollen eyelids
- Aversion to any sort of light
- Pawing at eyes
You need to get your pet to the vet as soon as you can where they will normally recommend surgery to resolve the problem. Your cat may need further surgery to correct this genetic eyelid disorder.
Bengal Cats are gorgeous looking creatures but they do tend to be prone to inherited disorders, one of which is the “Bengal nose”. This is another condition that causes ulceration to develop on the cat's nose. Although the condition may not be genetic but caused by an allergy or a poor diet. To find out the cause would mean a visit to the vet as soon as you can. If you are thinking about getting or adopting a Bengal, the issues above should not put you off doing so, because these lovely creatures make wonderful family pets although they do tend to be very busy little beings!
Do yourself a favor. Do cats in general a favor. Go to the pound and get a cat or a kitten. Keep it indoors, or train it to walk on a harness and leash. Yes! Most cats can learn to enjoy leash walks if started early in life. Life will be better, for you, for the cat and for the world at large.
|My cat Mugen in his wire-enclosed outdoor run.|