Help on making your mind on a Bengal kitten
I first discovered Bengal cats at the RDS (Royal Dublin Society show grounds) supreme Cat Show in 2004, which is an excellent place to familiarise yourself with a multitude of cat breeds and their characteristics, chat with breeders, so that you can narrow your search to one breed. You can find cat encyclopedias as well to help you make up your mind.
Now, you have decided on a Bengal because of their beautiful markings and their amazing character !
My advice would be to observe the personality and speak with the breeder about it. Genetic heritage, social and living conditions when growing up, and good old random individuality makes the cat!
Let the kittens get used to you, try to attract them by playing with a feather, pen or other toy. Check if it looks vivid, interested, and playful as it should be. If after a good while the kitten is still too shy to approach you, it might grow into a timid cat.
Look out for runny eyes, sneezing, red bottoms, dirty ears and question the breeder. Kittens are a lot more fragile than adult cats and it is often benign, but a fragile and skinny kitten sneezing or with constant diarrhoea that is not getting any better quickly is a bad sign. You could ask the breeder if they have encountered any health issue with this litter, any problem known in the blood lines that they know of, are all the kittens produced before by this sire and dame all alive and well to their knowledge ? If there has been a problem, assess if the problem has been dealt with properly so you are happy your kitten is healthy. Check out if the chest is strangely shaped (condition called flat chested), if the kitten can see properly by waving a toy in front of its eyes without making noise, to see if it follows it. Check the ears too. If the dame and sire are over two years old, they are eligible for a HCM test (genetic heart disease present in some bengals), you could ask the breeder if they do those tests and ask to see the negative certificate reports. Check if the kittens walks properly, legs straight and no hip problems. No breeder should ever let a kitten go with a health issue. Make sure the kitten is in a perfect health condition when you collect it. If necessary, be patient and wait until your kitten is better before collecting it if it has had a bout of diarrhoea or a cold or still a bit fragile after vaccination.
Check the queen and stud as well to see if they are friendly and their physical appearances, and see where all the cats are living, including your kitten and its littermates. Ideally the nursery should be clean, cozy, well illuminated (natural light), safe, with toys for mind and agility development, and close to human activity and contact for sociability.
Don't feel under investigation if the breeder asks you a lot of questions, we care about our cats and that they are going to good, suitable, responsible families. Try to be open about what sort of life the cat would have at your place and the environment to encourage the breeder to feel good about you as an adoptive family.
Take your time and visit several catteries if you can, don't rush your decision as you will have the cat for a good 15 years !
At Wild Waters, we pride ourselves in our honesty, we like questions !
Don't forget as well that when you pick a cattery you also sponsor a breeder. So please only buy a kitten if you liked what you saw, if you agree with the breeders ethics. Don't buy just a price, you are purchasing a life, don't encourage a breeder to produce more lives by participating in making their business a success if you think what they are doing is not great.
Some breeders are passionate about what they do and are knowledgeable. They go to shows to assess their cats, see what other breeders have produced, and question their knowledge of the breed to improve and produce the best kittens in character (it is taken into account at shows) and match the bengal breed standards. It is a continuous training. Going to shows is expensive (travel, hotel, entry fee...) and you don't win a cash prize, but a fabric Rosette ! Good breeders produce a reasonable amount of kittens a year (a moral ratio between experience-knowledge and amount of kittens produced) and select their breeding cats very carefully sometimes waiting a year for a nice kitten, costing a lot when importing from abroad. Others are doing it as a pure business and don't spend money on something that has no direct financial return. On the long run, the kittens from good breeders have better personalities, are healthier and better examples of the breed. It is granted you will get support from a good breeder. For you to know who is who, you will have to ask questions !
Remember as well you are going to be responsible for that cat for a long time. Sometimes changes happen in our lives and owning a cat might make things a little more challenging. Can you take that responsibility at that stage of your life ?
There is a wide variety in quality within the bengal breed (pelt, colour, rosettes, contrast, glitter and type) and they are very difficult to take pictures of ! I've been often surprised at the difference between a photo of a Bengal and the same cat in the flesh, in both a good and a bad way !
Kittens appearances may change a lot until their definitive coat is acquired by one year old usually.
To get a good clue as what your kitten is going to look like, ask if you could see a picture of an adult sibling. It would be your best indication.
This is a time when, like wild felines, our Bengal kitten will lose their rosettes which will become all fuzzy, blurred. It usually starts from about 7 weeks old for two to five weeks. There are exceptions though like Ephrussie who started her fuzzies very early at 5 weeks old and lasted until 11 weeks old.
Male or Female?
There is not a huge difference once spayed. The angel sex!