Buying a Bengal Kitten- Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Must my kitten be spayed or neutered before I take her or him home?
A: All Fractal kittens sold as pets will be altered (spayed or neutered) before they go to their new homes. There are several reasons for this. Early spay/neuter for cats has been safely practiced for many years in the US. Young kittens recover more quickly from the surgery and anesthesia than older cats. Kittens that are altered while still with their littermates and mother are subjected to less stress than a kitten who may be taken for surgery while still adjusting to its new home. New owners take their kittens home with the peace of mind that “everything” is already done and they can focus on bonding with their new kitten, not medical procedures.

Q: Why do your kittens cost more than others I see advertised?
A: To some extent, you get what you pay for. Maintaining a healthy cat breeding program is not an inexpensive endeavor. This includes good animal husbandry, lots of socialization of cats and kittens, good veterinary care, including screening for diseases like HCM; each HCM screen generally costs $200-500. In addition, Fractal kittens go to their new homes altered, microchipped, with age appropriate vaccinations, and with lifetime support from me. It is probably more important for you to pick your breeder than to pick your kitten based solely upon the pretty pictures you will see. I don’t produce many kittens. Each kitten is a special event at Fractal and that is the special kitten you will get to take home.

Q: Why do I have to fill out an application?
A: All of my cats and kittens are precious to me and I want to do the best I can to ensure they will have a lifelong home that is well suited for them and that the kitten you take home is well suited for you and your family. I try to match pets with their owners because I want you and the cat to be happy. I spent more than 3-years as an adoption counselor at a non-profit, no-kill animal rescue group where we were just as picky about where our cats went and where I learned to make these matches. Just as you have probably looked around at different breeders before making a choice, I like to get some information about where my kittens are going. I am happy to answer questions you may have about Bengals and my breeding program.

Q: What is HCM and why do you screen for it?
A: Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, or HCM, is the most common heart disease in cats. It is found in pedigreed and randomly bred cats. It is generally inherited through a genetic mutation in one of many cardiac-specific muscle genes, but we don’t have a genetic test for it. The best we can do is have our cats screened by a board certified veterinary cardiologist through an echocardiogram and only breed cats whose hearts are clear. Unfortunately, HCM can develop at any age, and so we have to continually screen to ensure that we are breeding only from cats with healthy hearts. For more information, please see this excellent article at the Winn Feline Foundation: HCM is prevalent in the Bengal breed and it is important for all breeders to screen their future, current and past breeding cats.

Q: Why do you breed Bengal cats?
A: The first answer that comes to mind is that I must be crazy. The most fundamental answer is that breeding Bengal cats enriches my life in some profound way. It is a lot of work. My house is generally chaotic and messy. It can be heartbreaking at times. It is nearly always frustrating, exciting and joyful too. As a PhD scientist who no longer does bench research, I find it challenging to keep up on the latest in feline health, work on feline genetics through breeding, and work to improve the quality of the breed and its overall health. I have loved cats all my life and the Bengal is an intense cat experience. I enjoy sharing the joy of Bengal cats with other people.

Q: What should I know about Bengal cats before I get one?
A: I encourage all prospective Bengal owners to learn as much as they can about the breed and breeders. Bengals are high-energy, intelligent cats. They are active and interactive—that is they like to be where the center of activity is in the house. Some people say they are not lap cats, but I don’t think this is true. There is nothing my cats love more than a warm lap or a person to snuggle with on top of or under the covers. But when a Bengal is awake, he or she is usually in motion. You should have a sense of humor if you are going to have a Bengal. They will get in to your kitchen cupboards and pull all the pots and pans out, climb the clothes in your closet and make themselves a nest on the top shelf, use you as a springboard to get from the book shelf to the couch, dig all the water out of the water bowl, try to get you to play fetch with them at 3 AM, when you are sound asleep. While you can certainly train them to be exemplary household citizens, they will still occasionally get into trouble. They are just curious and try to figure things out. If this sounds fun to you, then a Bengal is a great cat for you. If you would rather have a more mellow cat, you might want to look at some other breeds.

Copyright 2010, Marie A. Vodicka, PhD