Wednesday 4 March 2009

Bengal Cat is Antisocial

The Bengal cat is antisocial, a burglar and a criminal! Well, I know Bengal cats are more alpha cat types and their behavior can be different (more active, demanding etc. -see Bengal cat behavior) but there is some evidence that the Bengal cat is antisocial, which is a serious claim to make. A well known animal behaviourist in the UK, Debbie Connolly, believes that the Bengal cat is potentially dangerous and she calls them ASBO cats. The term ASBO in the UK stands for Anti Social Behavior Order and is a criminal court order that is usually dished out to feckless and minor offending youths (humans!) in the UK. So are Bengal cats the cat equivalent?

Well, apparently, there have been cases (I have no idea how many or whether this is significant) in the UK in which Bengal cats have been terrorizing the good old Moggie (mixed breed or non-purebred cat). Debbie says that they will break into a house with the intention of killing the home owner's pets (is that is true the Bengal cat is antisocial and worse). That makes the Bengal cat a burglar and a murderer as well as a feckless anti-social type! And they don't just attack other cats; they terrorize people too. One old lady was a prisoner in her own home because of the terrorisation of a local Bengal cat, it has been claimed. One Bengal cat keeper, Alison Jardine of East Leake in Nottinghamshire, admits that her Bengal cat, Sid, has to be kept in to prevent him attacking other cats.

Bengal cat
Bengal cat Ravi - photo copyright Helmi Flick, please respect copyright, thank you.

Debbie says that she has had to provide police with statements in the past on the issue of Bengal "beast" attacks. Well, I am a little shocked to hear this. As I said this cat breed is known to be more active and demanding with alpha (boss) type tendencies, even some slightly weird behavior traits but the breed has never been described as antisocial or dangerous. In fact that description goes completely against the breed standard for this cat. Knowing that the Bengal is a wild cat hybrid or at least as 4th or 5th generation cat it (SBT - stud book tradition) has a wild cat ancestor a number of generations away, the cat associations have stipulated that this breed must not be "challenging". The International Cat Association (TICA) breed standard clearly states that, "Temperament must be unchallenging; any sign of definite challenge shall disqualify.....".

This, of course, relates to a cat being shown in a cat show that is competing with others for prizes but breeders have a strong obligation to ensure that the Bengal cat is unchallenging as this is one area of potential criticism for this breed. There are some people who will argue that we should not be breeding wild cat (in this case the Asian Leopard cat) with domestic cats. The cat associations are sensitive to this, hence the breed standard and in any event I suspect that one or two cat show judges have had slightly disturbing experiences with Bengal cats early on in the development of the breed (they have been around since the 1970s).

OK -conclusion: The Bengal cat is antisocial, yes or no? In my view, no. This may be due to two factors. The cats in question are not socialized properly by the breeder and/or the owner (keeper) of the cat is not exercising sufficient control. Bengal cats probably need a more hands on approach from the human companion and some people are simply attracted to the Bengal cat appearance, which can be incredible. If the Bengal cat is antisocial something has gone wrong with us, the people, not with the cat.

Bengal Cat is Antisocial to Bengal Cats for Sale


  1. thankyou for your take on this article. i totally agree it's about the people & not the bengal breed. the wild cat in their ancestry is shy & retiring & would more likely run away than seek to attack. please see below my response to the original article which appeared in a national newspaper here in the UK.
    unfortunately the readers' comments were later removed from their site & only the biased view of the behaviourist remained.

    "the issue here is not the breed but the people.

    any breed of dog/cat which gains popularity so quickly is unfortunately going to be subject to unscrupulous people trying to cash in.
    any responsible breeder will tell you there is little or no money to be made in the average home hobby cattery. it is a labour of love with the intention of improving the breed standard, concentrating on health, temperament, type. any money made from the sale of these kittens gets put straight back into the breeding programme for breeding, veterinary, registration, upkeep & show costs. with the aim of furthering the breed with each next generation.

    when the back yard breeders (BYBs) start to show an interest things will go wrong.
    look at what happened when staffordshire bull terriers, rottweilers & german shepherds before them all gained in popularity. there was a "market" for the status symbol pet & the BYBs step in & try to cash in on that market.
    sadly, it is press like this that creates a want for that "viscious status symbol pet". there will be a demand for "the viscious bengal" as a direct result of this article.

    responsible breeders do their utmost to place their pets with suitable new families who have researched the breed & are aware of the need for interaction, socialisation & stimulation. these are intelligent animals that will get bored & suffer behavioural problems if not raised with the love & attention they so desrve.
    most breeders will be very cautious as to who they sell breeding animals too.
    most breeders will have a clause in their contract that for the safety of the pet, it should be kept indoors & given enough time & love that it will not get bored, lonely or frustrated.
    most breeders will have a clause in their contract that if for any reason the new owner needs to rehome the pet, then it should be returned to the breeder for rehoming so that the breeder may then find a new suitable family & match the right animal with the right home. we know our animals & know which families they would fit best with.

    if somebody buys from a BYB who does not go to these lengths, is not breeding from top quality cats with the intention of improving the breed type, is not registering the cats with the relevant governing bodies, therefore not adhering to the code of ethics of the governing bodies, & is not a member of any of the bengal cat clubs...then they are going to get what they pay for.

    the message for pet buyers is do your research!
    before you buy, read as much as you can about the breed & make sure their level of energy & intelligence is right for you & your household.
    before you buy, visit cat shows or different breeders to see a selection of these cats in different environmaents.
    ask the breeder as many questions as you can think of, most will be pleased that you are taking the time to understand the breed.
    buy from a breeder who you trust.
    buy from somebody who will be there for you at any time if you need advice.
    buy from somebody who socialises their cats well.
    buy from somebody whose cats are healthy & happy.
    buy from somebody who registers their cats with a relevant governing body ie GCCF or TICA & is therefore bound by their code of ethics. you can read the code of ethics on the relevant club websites.

    in this throw-away society that we have today, people are too quick to blame others for their own problems. if you have a toddler who is playing up, are you so quick to put them into a home? no, you look at the reasons why the toddler is playing up. match that intelligance to a playful, energetic kitten & ask yourself why is it playing up? what are you not providing that the kitten needs?

    there will be the exceptions of course, but the majority of problem pets OF ANY BREED, are not problems at all, it is the owners who need to learn how to live with their pets & provide for their needs.

    there is a wonderful behaviourist based in america named Marilyn Krieger who will consult online or via the telephone around the world, she owns bengals & works with bengal rescue in the states. instead of insulting the breed & those working with it, she promotes the breed positively & helps people to live happily & at peace with their pets.

    also, for the record, there are a few breeders in the U.K selling early generation cats. they are highly desired for their beauty & personality but they are a specialist pet, anybody wanting a specialist pet of any kind must do their research to make sure the pet is right for them, not just buy it as a status symbol. the licensing laws were changed by DEFRA on october 1st 2007.
    taken from the DEFRA website
    "We have sought to clarify the position for domestic cat x wild cat hybrids generally within the revised Schedule (which came into force on 1 October 2007). Cat hybrids descended exclusively from excepted species (as shown on the Schedule), cat hybrids having a domestic cat as one parent and a first generation hybrid of a domestic cat and a non-excepted cat as the other parent, and cats which are descended exclusively from such excepted hybrids or from such excepted hybrids and a domestic cat, no longer require a licence"

    i spend much of my time online on various bengal forums alongside other admirers of this wonderful breed. we have a very understanding community who will offer advice & support to anybody who may need it with their pets. more often than not, people who have bought without researching first but who are learning from their mistakes & willing to educate themselves.

    the bengal cat clubs work tirelessly to positively promote the breed, educate the public & work with rescue cats who have been misunderstood. there is not a lot they can do to prevent the BYBs, it is down to the buyer to buy responsibly & treat their new family remember with love, respect & understanding.

    sorry for the incredibly long response, but understandably i am very passionate & protective about this subject."

    ren slaven, slavess bengals, south east U.K.

  2. Thanks for your comment. Comments are always welcome long or short.

  3. There is no "evidence" that Bengal cats are antisocial!!! Debbie Connolly has made all of this up. Her "shelter" was closed down, she has been rejected by the Bengal Rescue community, and now she's trying to sell pet behavior products. What better way to get free publicity than to attack one of the country's most popular pets and claim that they need behavioral help? Is it a coincidence that she sells such help? I think not.
    It's important to keep in mind that Connolly's statements are not backed up by any credible sources. None. Nada. Zilch.

  4. I agree with Anonymous, Ms Connolly is trying to drum up interest for her cat "behavior" business.

    BTW, the full name of the cat in the photo here is RW SGC Junglebook Ravi Singh, owned by Diana Starr of Goldcharm Bengals
    (me). He was shown at TICA cat shows and obtained supreme grand champion status, the highest a cat can get. He may have a very wild look but he is a sociable, easy-going neutered housecat who never ever has any litterbox accidents, is not noisey, and has never bitten or scratched anyone.

  5. Hi, thanks for the comment and I agree. I am just reporting what I see and read. Would you know why she made this statement if it is so incorrect?

  6. Is this woman mad or stupid. She obviously has neither met a bengal cat or knows anyone who owns one. I can not believe such ignorance. I own three of the most sookiest, sweetest and interesting cats. They are all bengals. Do your homework first Debbie before you malign a beautiful cat. Beris M.

  7. I am also a Bengal breeder. I have 6 of them living in my home with my family. They all sleep with us on our beds purring as we go to sleep. Not one angry bite or scratch has ever happened to them. They are great little mothers to their kittens and my Rascal LOVES to have his tummy rubbed. They love to play and are often curious about what you are doing.
    They are beautiful cats with the jungle look and a domestic personality. This Debbie Conolly person is very misinformed. Some humans are murders and thiefs. So should we classify ALL humans as such? No, I think not.

  8. I am actually having problems with my bengal as we speak. He lives with two other cats and initially got along well with both of them. Approx. 7 months ago he broke his back leg and had to be in a cast and collar for months. Since the removal of both he has been attacking one of the other cats to the point that she will not go into confined spaces because he attacks her. She won't go in the liter box and is afraid to eat because when her back is turned he attacks. He is still very friendly with the other cat (who is also female) but is absolutely terrorizing the other. The bengal is 2.5 years old and has been well socialized with both dog and cats and has been a total sweetheart until about a month ago. I don't know what his problem is or what to do about his behavior. When I bought him I was informed that bengals typically have a sweet, calm demeanor, but his personality has done a complete 180. Has anyone ever heard of this happening? Any suggestions about what to do? I can't allow for my other cat to keep being terrorized, she is absolutely traumatized from this as it is. Please help!!

  9. My gut feel and this is only a rather vague gut feel is that he is in discomfort making him irritable because of the injuries. The discomfort makes him aggressive to the cat lowest in the pecking order. Just a guess.

  10. Bengal cats are not anti social or any of that bullshit people who claim this are ignorant and dont have any idea what there talking about just cuz they are a ancestor of a wild animal people assume and make up stories i have owned 2 for many years true they dont go well with other cats when we got the second one my cat hated it but now she loves him to death and they will attack unknown cats there intruders any cat would do that

  11. Please help! We just adopted a bengal kitten in Canada... about a month ago. He is around 16 weeks old. When he arrived, he was sweet as a button. My 2.2 year old son has been quite rough with the cat, despite our constant help and instruction. The cat hasn't seemed to mind, in fact he seeks my son's company out and will follow him around the house.... always wanting to be where he is.

    After being with us a week, my husband and I witnessed a bone chilling behaviour from the cat. My son and he were racing around and playing, with high spirits, and my son came up onto the couch, facing my husband and I who were behind it. The cat, who was on the floor in front of the couch, literally FLEW into the air and lunged at my son's neck, wrapping his paws around his neck and biting it. Slight scratches seemed to indicate that this was 'play', so we laughed it off as very odd behaviour. But it has continued and strenghtened. The cat will attack my son when he has his back turned, when he is sitting and eating, or when he is otherwise occupied, by lunging at his back, head and neck. We are very concerned.

    This morning another attack happened, with me right there. I stopped the cat and threw him to the ground. He simply picked himself back up and, with a VERY strong wilful energy, lunged BACK at my son's head. I threw him down again, with a strong 'NO', and he did it again. And again. And again. He lunged at me instead of my son, as I intervened. A very violent and serious form of play.

    My son is also quite rough with him. Despite constant instruction, he will push the cat, pull the cat, squeeze the cat when he's trying to hug it. Though he knows how to be gentle, it seems like there is a 'dominance' battle occurring. It is unnerving to watch this unfold, and I feel quite unable to stop it. My efforts have not bore fruit.

    The kitty also never makes eye contact, which is so strange. I have had cats all of my life excepting the last 8 and they ALL made strong eye contact and 'connected' with me. I feel like I am not creating a relationship with him and that he is just, well, almost spastic in his energy. His eyes never stop moving, never come to a calm resting point. I just don't know what to make of it.

    I am newly pregnant and wondering if this cat should be staying with our family, or finding another home. If anyone has any experience that might help, I implore you to reach out to me. Please! I am fully aligned to taking 'responsibility' for whatever part of this might be my fault. And I have the cats interests at heart. If our home is not the best environment for him, I will find a better home where he will get what he needs to thrive.

    Please help!

  12. Well first you need to make your son be more gentle with the cat alot of cats though dont get along with babies or little kids and I'm guessing the reason he attacked you is cuz u were interfering and u did throw him his behaviour with his eye contact is natural for this type of cat and they have these moods they go into and act wild jumping around and going a little bit crazy where they puff up there tail but that's normal i think you should separate your son from the cat and not be rough with the cat at all for about a month if that doesn't work the you should find the cat a new home and just because you've never seen this behavior in other types of cats doesn't make it unnatural cats have very distinct personalities and are very different from each other especially this type of cat even if you've been with other cats for 20 years these type are way different from the norm

  13. I own a Bengal and she is the best cat I've ever owned. She is extremely social, extremely lovable and very playful. She is intelligent. She's the best companion anyone could ever ask for. I understand there are exceptions with any breed and any animal, but these claims seem ridiculous...

  14. In response to the woman whose son is being rough with the cat and the cat rough back--get rid of the cat. Yes, possibly it was your son's "fault," but a dominance struggle between a toddler and a large, athletic cat is going to be annoying at best and dangerous at worst. Wait 'till your son is older and can appreciate that an animal is not a stuffed animal.

    But here is my Bengal story. I purchased a spayed female four month old Bengal kitten from a VERY reliable breeder. The cat had obviously been well handled and socialized.
    However, it still bounced off the walls for several days (literally) charging from room to room, up and down the curtains--which were eventually all totally destroyed as she always liked to climb them non-stop.

    She calmed down after a while, but was remote and not very connected to people. The turning point came when we took her on a car trip--12 hours worth--and I finally got tired of the constant howling and restrained her gently gut firmly in my arms until she settled. She never offered to scratch or bite, showing her good initial handling. And after that my relationship with her changed, much for the better. When I wanted to pick her up and cuddle, I just did--no waiting on her whim. And she loved it, purring and cooing.

    But here is a Bengal part that people don't talk about and they should. Both the Bengals that I know personally were inveterate "pee on your partner's things" cats. The one I knew first, hit its owner's pillows whenever she had someone to dinner, and if a guest stayed over they could expect a cat present on the bed.
    Mine started this behavior and began going everywhere. Any clothing left on the floor was hit, the stereo speakers, my husband's shoes, my grandmother's dresser, the list went on and on.

    We tried it all: trips to the vet, isolated areas, hormones in the air. They all failed. Immaculate litter boxes (in every room) did nothing to help. I was like a madwoman following her about, sniffing in the corners.
    Finally I had had enough. She went outside to live in the barn.

    (I had called the breeder for advice, and her comments were helpful. I later learned that she kept one of hers locked in the bathroom whenever she went out as it always hit her belongings. The comment, "they can be difficult to keep house trained" might have been a real help at the start!)

    I know some will call this cruel, any everybody I know says never let them outside (and yes, it is an expensive barn cat) but she is happy, happy, happy in the barn. And so am I. She has a heated bed in the feed room (which is now mouse-free) heated water and food all the time. She hunts constantly, bounding up to people for pats and cuddles and then bounding off to the roof of the barn, the rafters, the top of the tractor, whatever she pleases.
    Visitors ignore my goregous horses and say: "What an amazing cat--look at the coat!"

    Attention grabber that she is, I adore her, purring in my ear, hanging over my shoulder in the barn isle.

    And I would never have one again!
    In my opinion and experience, this is not a good house cat--if you like your house.
    Best to all!

  15. Hello, I have used Marilyn Kreigner, Cat Behaviorist, for my own Bengal Cat. She is excellent. She is on-line and just google her name for help with your bengal problems. I agree that it is the breeder/owner issue. All animals cats and dogs must be properly socialized. Bengals require much attention so I take my bengal and walk him on a leash to our lobby where he meets and greets the tenants of the building. One has to be mindful that he is a Begal Cat understand his quirks...understand cat behavior...they are fine.

  16. Any Bengal owner will defend their own cat and deny any accusations of agression to other cats. We have new neighbours with Bengals who are terrosising the whole village and the village moggies who are nervous wrecks and keep sustaining terrible injuries. Read up on the story of Kofi the killer cat and you have it. The more I search the more I find villages all over the country being terrorised by the rotweiler of the cat world. They are beautiful animals but they are dangerouse to our own moggies and my beloved Tonkinese. Magnetic catflaps are nothing to them as they are so strong they can barge through. The owners are in denial saying "But he is so loving" One of them even began entering the house at night to attack my cats while they were sleeping. They picked up a neighbours cat in its own house and shook it like a rat. Why should we all keep our cats inside because of two newcomers to the area? All you Bengal owners and breeders will be in denial but you can not deny my experience. Debbie Connolly has it right!!

    1. Helena,I agree with you,we have the same problem,A Bengal cat is terrosising are neighbourhood we are up all night by this cat fighting spraying everwhere.some breeders might be very good,but a lot are not and only in it for the money.

    2. Interesting comment. It is very possible that the Bengal cat referred to is not neutered and without wishing to defend the Bengal cat, any male roaming domestic cat who is not neutered will tend to be very territorial and more aggressive. Also they will spray to mark their territory. So this could be about neutering or not neutering rather than the Bengal cat breed.

      It may be the case that Bengal cat owners are more reluctant to neuter because they want to breed from them.

  17. I don't know what you're talking about but you are obviously very ignorant concerning the bengal breed they are the exact same as everyother cat except they can be a bit more hyper NO CAT GETS ALONG WITH NEW CATS AT FIRST I can't understand why people are so dam stupid and can't understand that. And helena whatever your looking up in probably talking about the Bengal LEAPORD OR LION you are obviously ignorant on this subject and have no knowledge concerning this breed please go elsewhere and spew your bullshit.

  18. My cat has been attacked twice in the last week by a new Bengal cat in the area. I think it is very irresponsible of Bengal cat owners not to take responsibility for their choice of breed and it's behaviour. If I find out who the owner of this cat is I will hand them my vets bills along with a piece of my mind!!

  19. My bengal cat is shy of other cats.
    So this is bollocks.

    1. Thank you for your comment. As mentioned elsewhere, I was simply reciting what some other people have stated. Clearly, individual cats have their own personalities and in your case he or she is shy. Perhaps things have changed. When this breed of cat was first was created and shown at shows, as I understand it, there were some concerns about the character of these cats. That is why the CFA breed standard makes a specific reference to the character of this cat. The character should be “unthreatening". The CFA would not refer to that unless there was a potential problem.

  20. Um excuse me almost all of this can be said about other cat breeds. This blog/artical is very wrong.

    1. Thank you for commenting. I agree with what you say actually. I was just discussing what other people were talking about namely that this breed of cat can be antisocial. I do not agree with the people who say this. The fact of the matter is that the Bengal cat has a temperament that can make it a little more active and possibly aggressive on occasions than the typical domestic cat. This is because this breed of cat is a wildcat hybrid and therefore you import into the personality a bit of the wild cat and that simple fact might on occasions make this domestic cat less suitable for living with people at home than a typical domestic cat.


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