If you are considering buying or adopting a Bengal cat, you might be wondering about their health and if they inherit certain medical conditions or not?
Do Bengal cats have health problems? Like any other feline or animal, Bengals are prone to certain diseases. However, these medical conditions are not much different from other domestic cats. Moreover, there are also certain diseases that Bengal cats have inherited through the transfer of abnormal genes.
All of these diseases, their solutions, and preventions will be discussed ahead that will help you devise a health plan for your cat and might even help you detect possible health conditions before it’s too late.
The lifespan of Bengal cats
Bengal cats enjoy a long life with an average lifespan of 12-16 years.
Anecdotal evidence claims that Bengal cats live up to 20 years of age.
Inherited health problems in Bengal cats
Although Bengals have a long lifespan, they are not immune to hereditary diseases.
Inherent health disorders are not unique to Bengals or other felines but are prevalent in all animals.
These conditions occur due to abnormalities in the gene pool which are passed on from one generation to another.
Some of these inherent disorders are apparent and can be diagnosed since birth.
However, there are others that are harder to diagnose and are only found much later in life.
Selective breeding and inbreeding of pedigrees make them more prone to these diseases compared to mix-breeds.
Selective breeding & in-Breeding of Bengal cats
Selective breeding and inbreeding are methods most breeders use to develop a certain trait in a breed.
However, more often than not:
These breeding tactics harm the breed’s overall health.
How do such tactics harm the breed?
Sometimes breeders need to establish their breeding programs on certain gene abnormalities to attain the desired characteristics in a breed.
Although these gene abnormalities fetch the desired results, they tend to harm the breed’s overall well-being.
Inherited health problems in Bengal cats
Bengals, unfortunately, tend to develop the following inherited diseases:
“Cataracts” is an eye disorder that affects the lens of the cats’ eyes.
The transparency of the lens of eyes slowly reduces and becomes opaque.
Due to it, cats develop a blurred vision.
In severe cases, cats are also known to turn blind.
However, the slivering is:
“Cataracts” does not affect the lifespan of a cat.
And cats are fairly good at adjusting their lifestyle around blindness.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
PRA is another inherited eye disease that is prevalent in Bengals.
The rods and cones of the infected cat’s eyes gradually deteriorate until the cat becomes completely blind.
Sadly, there is no proper way to clinically diagnose this disease.
However, experts have linked PRA to a taurine deficiency in a cat’s diet.
So, to minimize the chances of your Bengal getting PRA:
Make sure you are giving an adequate amount of taurine to your Bengal.
A can help you know the right amount depending upon your cat’s size, weight, and age.
Although this heart condition is common among other felines, Bengal cats are more susceptible to it.
It is a heart condition in which the inner muscles of the heart get thick.
Consequently, blood flow is restricted, thus, interrupting the normal functionality of the heart.
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy can be fatal in certain cases.
This hereditary disease normally occurs when a cat is just a little kitten.
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy gradually weakens the muscles until the cat can barely move.
As a precautionary measure, annual visits to the vet are highly recommended.
Early diagnosis can help control the disease so that your Bengal can lead a healthy, happy life.
Distal Neuropathy is a severe hereditary neurological disorder common in Bengal cats.
It is estimated that:
9 out of 100 Bengal cats suffer from Distal Neuropathy at the young age of one year.
Following are some of its symptoms:
In the end:
The affected cat gets paralyzed.
Not much is known about the disease.
However, recent research has brought forth some data that is being used to devise better treatment.
Entropion is another eye condition that Bengal cats are prone to.
Cats suffering from this illness suffer immense pain because their eyelids get inverted.
In this congenital disorder, the eyeballs of the cat roll in the direction opposite to that of the cornea.
The condition can affect both eyelids; however, the upper eyelid is most likely to get affected.
Entropion is not fatal; however, it is extremely irritating.
Your cat will scratch its affected eye to stop the irritation which can cause further damage.
Scratching can lead to partial blindness or in some cases total loss of vision.
If you find your Bengal with the following symptoms, know that it is time to pay your vet a visit:
Squinting of eyes
Rubbing the eyes
Excessive discharge of mucus (from eyes)
Once diagnosed, treatment of Entropion should not be delayed because:
It is painful
Can lead to complete blindness (if left untreated)
The normal course of action is eye surgery.
And if you want your Bengal to partake in a breeding program an additional surgery will also be required that will help eradicate this genetic congenital disorder.
Although Psychogenic Alopecia is not a serious or fatal condition it still affects the well-being of your cat.
Psychogenic Alopecia is, in everyday terminology, over-grooming.
Self-grooming is a relaxation mechanism for most cats.
So, whenever a cat will feel anxious it will groom itself.
However, sometimes self-grooming gets out of hands and become a cause for concern.
Sometimes, due to some underlying issue, Bengal cats tend to groom themselves excessively.
Bengal cats tend to lick off their fur and tufts of their pelts during this excessive self-grooming.
A cat suffering from Psychogenic Alopecia will lick around its groin and abdomen or inside its thighs.
If that is the case with your Bengal:
Don’t hesitate to bring your cat to the vet.
Normally, the vet will take a sample of your Bengal’s skin to diagnose the cause of this ailment.
After which, he/she will prescribe the appropriate medication for the treatment.
Although this issue is not much of a concern, it should still not be ignored.
In this condition, an ulcer starts to form on a Bengal cat’s nose.
The following can be the reasons:
So, the best way to prevent your cat from getting this disease is to provide adequate diet (a vet will help you in that) and proper hygiene.
All the ailments described above are genetic disorders of Bengal cats.
However, it does not mean that your Bengal will definitely develop these health conditions.
It only means that Bengal cats are more susceptible to these diseases.
Non-hereditary diseases in Bengal cats
Following are some other health risks that your cat might run into that are not caused by gene abnormalities:
Obesity is one of the leading health risks prevalent in all domestic cat breeds.
Moreover, owing to the active lifestyle of Bengal cats, cat owners are always concerned about their diet.
This concern often leads to over-feeding one’s cat.
Obesity might not be a major illness in itself but it can lead to certain life-threatening diseases.
Studies reveal that obesity can shorten a cat’s life by two years.
Moreover, it can also lead to the early development of arthritis and is a major factor in the development of diabetes.
Hepatic lipidosis, also known as fatty liver, is another concerning health risk that tends to develop in overweight cats.
But, guess what?
Cats have no set time table for eating which makes it harder to keep a track of their daily nutrition.
Most cats like to take a few bites every now and then.
An average cat will eat 10 to 15 times a day.
However, if a cat gets bored, it is more likely to eat more (just like some of us).
So, make sure you keep your cat entertained.
One way would be to have a few puzzle games at home with little victory treats for your cat at the end.
What to do if my cat is overweight?
If you’ve found out that your cat is gaining extra pounds, it is time to take serious measures.
The best way to go about it to visit your vet that will let you know the best weight for your cat.
And he/she will also prescribe you with adequate nutrition for your Bengal.
Another method you can use is this:
Measure the weight of your cat, subtract 2 from it and feed your cat according to the new weight.
Do this, until you see prominent changes in its health and activity.
Not sure how much nutrition by weight is required?
Well, on average, 25 to 30 calories per pound is enough for an adult Bengal cat.
Kittens require significantly more calories than adults as they are in the process of growing stronger muscles and bones.
Dental problems for Bengal cats
It is common for most cats to develop dental problems.
That is because most cats are negligent of their teeth hygiene.
And your very own Bengal is one of them.
This utter negligence calls for external help.
What happens is:
Food residue gets stuck in the cat’s teeth.
This residue hardens over time into tartar.
Eventually, this buildup starts covering the visible portion of the teeth and leads to infection of the roots of the teeth and gums.
These dental infections cause your cat to develop bad breath which can be extremely inconvenient.
Dental treatments of cats tend to be quite expensive and sometimes the cat’s infected teeth have to be removed.
Therefore, precaution is better than cure.
Regular brushing of your Bengal’s teeth will ensure a happy (nice smelling) Bengal. In our Bengal cat checklist, we suggest our top choice for a cat toothbrush and toothpaste for your Bengal alongside 19 other MUST-HAVE products.
It goes without saying:
The toothpaste and toothbrush that you use for your Bengal should be specially designed for cats.
Cats are hosts to different kinds of worms, bugs, and fleas that are not only discomforting but also harmful.
These pests can also transfer from cats to humans.
Therefore, these parasites pose a grave danger to cats and humans alive.
Preventive medication is available, such as flea spray, which should be given every now and then.
Moreover, a bi-annual visit to the vet will ensure the well-being of your cat.
A fecal examination is the best way to detect a parasitic infestation.
So, don’t forget to bring a fresh specimen the next time you visit your vet for your cat’s checkup.
Like humans or dogs, cats also are susceptible to certain serious ailments that can be prevented through vaccinations.
Following are the most common diseases that can be prevented through vaccinations:
There are high chances of a cat getting these diseases.
Therefore, the vaccinations devised for them are called core vaccines and are prescribed for all cat breeds.
There are also other diseases, such as feline leukemia virus, that have vaccinations.
Neutering or spaying your Bengal cat
If you don’t plan on breeding your cat then having it neutered (or spayed if it’s a female) is recommended.
Neutering a cat has a lot of advantages:
Eradicates chances of certain cancers
Reduces urine spraying or “marking territory”
Provides an opportunity to diagnose any other ailment/s
Taking precautionary measures for your Bengal
It is better to take precautionary measures beforehand than to deal with extra stress at the nick of time.
Know the blood type of your Bengal cat
Cats, like humans, also have a variety of blood types.
Although most cats have an A blood type, purebred cats such as your Bengal can have different blood types such as B or, in rare scenarios, AB.
It is crucial to know the blood type of your cat in advance.
It will save you a lot of trouble and time in desperate times.
A simple blood test will let you know the blood type of your Bengal.
Micro-chipping your Bengal cat
Microchipping your cat is important because of many reasons:
Easily locate your cat in case it is stolen (happens a lot to Bengals as they are quite expensive)
Feed crucial information such as blood type so that fast action can be taken in case you’re unavailable
If found by a cat shelter, they can easily send it your way
Saves a lot of worrying in case your Bengal wanders off
Playtime routine for your Bengal cat
If you own a Bengal cat, you know how much trouble they can make.
Therefore, it is crucial that you spend a good amount of time with them.
It will help increase your bond and affection with the cat.
And your cat will be less likely to play on its own; hence, saving it from trouble.
Having a proper routine helps.
Devise an appropriate routine around your lifestyle so that you can cater to the needs of your cat and also carry on with your everyday duties.
Grooming your Bengal cat
Bengals are shorthaired meaning they do not shed a lot.
Hence, a grooming session every once a week would be enough to remove dead hair and dander from its coat and renew the coats original shine.
However, during autumn and spring Bengals tend to shed more than usual because they are developing a winter and summer coats respectively; therefore, they have to shed their old coats.
During these times increasing the number of grooming sessions would help remove its old coat.
Moreover, you would not have to deal with fur on your furniture and carpets.
Cleaning ears and eyes
It is common for cats to get ear infections because of the lack of proper hygiene.
Therefore, keep an eye for any dirt or infection your cat’s ears.
Although frequent cleaning is not necessary you should clean it with a damp cloth every now and then.
Cleaning ears would require you to twist and turn your Bengal’s ears a bit.
So, make sure you do it gently without causing any inconvenience or irritation.
Cleaning your cat’s eyes is also crucial.
To do this:
Take a damp cloth and gently apply it at the corners of your Bengal’s eyes.
Use different portions of the cloth for different eyes so that if one eye has an infection it does not transfer to the other one.
Bathing your Bengal
Bathing is not often necessary and should be only done when your Bengal’s coat gets really dirty.
Bengals have a natural affinity towards water.
Therefore, it is relatively easy to bathe a Bengal as compared to other domestic cats.
You should only use cat shampoo to bathe your cat.
Because typical shampoos might harm its delicate coat and skin.
What to do if my cat does not like to get its teeth brushed? It is common for cats to dislike dental sessions and hesitate, initially.
It can be uncomfortable for both you and your cat.
A solution for this hesitation is to initially use your fingers instead of a brush.
Once your cat gets used to these sessions you can switch to a toothbrush.
How to know if my Bengal cat is overweight? On average a Bengal cat would weigh in the range of 10 to 15 lbs.
Whereas, a female Bengal cat weighs around 8 to 12 lbs.
However, this is just an average and your Bengal can have more or less weight than this and be perfectly fit.
As a rule of thumb, if you cannot feel your cat’s rib cage from the sides, it means it is overweight.
However, for a more precise and educated guess, a visit to your vet is recommended.