Bengal cats are a unique breed of spotted cats. They can vary from 13 to 16 inches in height and 8 to 15 pounds in weight. In regards to size, Bengal cats are considered to be medium to large. However, generalizations and variations from one Bengal cat to another can’t be overlooked. Gender is also a factor. Male Bengal cats are larger than their female counterparts. Male Bengals average 10-15 pounds while females average 8-12 pounds.
In case you are wondering where they get their size from, it’s worth noting that Bengal cats are hybrid cats. They are a result of breeding domestic cat breeds and the Asian Leopard cat. The exact size of a full-grown Bengal cat depends on the original family line.
Factors Determining How Big Bengal Cats Get
I. Breed Of The Other Cat
Do Bengal cats get bigger than normal cats? Yes!
As mentioned above, the size of the Bengal cat is largely determined by the original family line. Asian Leopard cats (which are the 1st generation from which Bengal cats were bred) weigh 10 – 15 pounds. The largest Bengal cats hardly surpass this size. However, the final size can vary based on the genes of domestic cat bred with the Asian Leopard cat.
Asian Leopard cats bred with British shorthair cats can result in Bengal cats that weigh 11 – 18 pounds. If the Asian leopard cat is bred with Ocicats, the resulting Bengal will weigh 6 – 15 pounds. Breeding an Asian Leopard cat with an Egyptian Mau cat can result in a Bengal cat weighing 7 – 11 pounds. Bengal cats resulting from Bombay and Abyssinian cats can weigh 6-10 pounds and 6-11 pounds, respectively.
The dominant lineage also dictates the size. For instance, a Bengal with more dominant British Shorthair genes can grow larger than the average. On the other hand, Bengal cats with more dominant Bombay cat genes grow smaller than the average. All in all, regardless of the breeds in question, it's unlikely that a Bengal will grow out of the 8-15 pound range.
The age of a Bengal will also dictate the size. Bengal cats reach full size (height and weight) around 1.5 years of age. Some may take longer (2 years) to reach full size, while some may take less time.
Why Is My Bengal Cat So Skinny?
While Bengals are generally bigger, they tend to be skinnier than typical cats. There are many reasons for this. The most notable include;
As mentioned above, purebred Bengal cats are a cross between an Asian Leopard cat and a domesticated cat. Asian Leopard cats are small wild cats native to Asia (East, South, and Southeast Asia). They are slender with longer legs and small heads when compared to domesticated cats.
Bengal cats are the only cat breed to have successfully paired a domesticated and wild cat together. While there are different Bengal cat breeds today, the Asian Leopard cat originally crossed with a domestic cat still determines the size of Bengal cats today. Bengal cat breeding programs include larger cats like Ocicats that result in bigger cats. There are also smaller than average Bengals as a result of breeds with smaller cats like the Egyptian Maus weighing approximately 12 pounds.
Today's Bengal cats consist of many combinations of the original crossbreed coupled with other breeds. This makes it harder to determine how big a Bengal kitten may get without knowing the dominant genes. The parents of the kitten also dictate the size, as is the case with humans. Parents who are larger than normal can produce a Bengal kitten that grows above average size.
However, even with genetics in play, Bengal cats hardly grow past the 6 to 15lb range. Nevertheless, Bengal cats that are larger than normal will still look skinny because of the dominant traits of the original cross (Asian Leopard cat), which also contributes to the unique leopard-look and traits, including slenderness.
2. Activity Levels
Bengal cats also tend to be skinnier because of their activity levels. Bengal cats are extremely active. They have leopard genes in them which contribute to their intelligent, curious, and playful nature that makes them burn calories.
Bengals require more attention and stimulation than your typical cat otherwise, they’ll get bored. Their extreme need for running and play makes them athletic and skinnier than domesticated cats. Provided they are getting enough food and a balanced diet matching their unique needs and veterinary care, there’s no cause for concern even if they appear too lean.
3. Body Image
A Bengal cat’s image may be responsible for the skinny look. Bengal cats can have a similar size when compared to typical cats. However, their leaner/more muscular body makes them appear smaller. They also have smaller heads and medium to small ears, which contribute further to their lean look. As a result, a Bengal cat may weigh the same as a domesticated cat but still, look smaller.
Bengal cats also have a genetic makeup that contributes to their skinnier looks. Bengals don't get too bulky or fat. They have larger bones than domesticated cats, which contribute to most of their weight. Coupled with more muscular and learner bodies, they are bound to look slimmer than domesticated cats. Their body image may be mistaken for cats that are unhealthy or underfed, especially to persons who don't know much about Bengal cats.
4. High-Protein Diet
Bengals are descendants of a wild cat whose diet was composed mainly of protein like lizards, birds, and insects. Bengals need similar high-protein diets, which lead to a lean body. Some cats are actually free feeders i.e., they'll eat what they want/as much as they want. Others need specific meal times and rarely eat a lot and become overweight.
Bengals need more food i.e., one can daily mostly protein because of their activity levels. Domesticated cats need half as much food a day. Their predisposition to high-protein food coupled with higher activity levels makes them leaner even if they tend to eat more than regular cats.
Bengal cats are fully grown by the time they reach 1.5 years. Some may take two years to grow to full size. Generally, Bengals are slow-growing cats, which makes them appear smaller than regular cats of a similar age.
The size of a cat at different stages is influenced by many factors, including birth order, sex, and other factors like if they are "fixed" or not. Their parents’ overall health and the number of kittens in the litter also influence size. However, there’s no precise way of determining the weight and height of a cat.
A healthy diet, adequate activity levels, enough fresh water, and good general care can ensure proper growth at the right time. However, Bengals can still take longer than usual to grow to full size even if you take all the above measures.
Diseases can stunt growth in all cat breeds, let alone Bengals. Although Bengal cats tend to be healthier, they are not immune to hereditary diseases that stunt growth and overall health. Bengals tend to suffer from diseases like Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This disease is inherited. It is also a silent killer heart disease. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy may be recessive in the parents but active after generations of breeding. The disease thickens heart wall muscles causing blood clots and heart failure. Bengal cats with this disease hardly grow to size.
Bengals are also prone to PK deficiency (also known as Erythrocyte Pyruvate Kinase deficiency). This type of hemolytic anemia causes Bengal cats to have a poor appetite resulting in weakness and lethargy. Considering Bengal cats need to eat a lot to stay in shape and size, cats with this disease will look skinnier than normal. They’ll also have growth and development problems i.e., grow slower than they should for their age.
How Do You Care For Your Bengal Cat So That He/She Grows To Healthy To Full Size?
The uniqueness of Bengal cats calls for unique care. As seen above, Bengal cats need diets that are more protein-rich than the typical cat diet. They also need to be more active. Grooming is also a critical part of caring for Bengals.
1. Grooming: Like all cats, Bengals will groom themselves adequately. However, their hair needs to be brushed regularly to keep them looking good and free of skin infections that can affect their immunity and overall growth. Luckily, they aren’t big shedders. An occasional bath is enough to keep them looking good and healthy.
2. Activity needs: Bengals need more activities than the typical cat. It’s important to keep your cat engaged outdoors. When indoors, use interactive toys or safe puzzle toys to keep your Bengal cat self-entertained and active. You can even set up boxes for your cat to run around in or use ping pong balls to keep your cat active in an inexpensive way. Bengal cats can struggle to get to full size if they aren't engaged fully. In fact, they love activities like climbing. You can set up climbing trees, window perches, and scratching posts to satisfy their climbing urge.
3. Environment: While Bengal cats have “leopard-blood” this shouldn’t be mistaken to mean they should stay outdoors. If you want your Bengal cat to grow to full size, he/she needs to be protected from diseases and pests that thrive outdoors. The risks of growth-stunting injuries and illnesses are also higher among cats that stay outdoors. This is why the ASPCA recommends for all cats, including Bengal cats to be kept indoors.
Keeping your cat indoors also protects them from theft. Bengal cats are coveted for their appearance. They are more prone to theft than other cats. Keeping your cat indoors also protects small wildlife, and domesticated birds like chicken since Bengals love to hunt.
4. Veterinary care: Most importantly, you should take your cat to the vet for regular checks and professional teeth brushing. Bengals should go for annual exams. Proper care can reduce disease risks that affect a cat’s growth and overall health.
5. Love and care: Your Bengal cat also needs to be showered with love and attention to thrive.
Should You Get A Bengal Cat?
Absolutely! Bengal cats are great. However, you must make some considerations before making a final decision. First and foremost, you must be sure you want a Bengal cat over any other cat breed. It's not advisable to get a Bengal or any other cat on impulse. Cats are great pets. However, they shouldn't be treated as accessories. You should research a lot about Bengal cats before deciding to get one.
It's also important to meet the cat in person. While this may not be possible in some cases, a Bengal needs love and care, as mentioned above. As a new family member, he/she deserves a visit.
You should also purpose to choose the best Bengal breeder you can find. When you bring him/her at home, introduce him systematically. There is a good and bad way of introducing a cat to your home. The process should match that of a new baby being introduced to their new home and family with love, care, attention, and toys.
Lastly, follow the guidelines for feeding, training, and overall care to the letter. Kittens need to be trained to live in harmony with their new owners. This is particularly important for Bengals, which are highly active with love for heights.
The size varies from 8 to 15 pounds. The size varies based on factors like gender and nutrition to care and genetics. A Bengal resulting from parents who have "big" genes will obviously be bigger. Males Bengals also tend to be bigger (2-3 pound difference). Nutrition is also a critical factor. Bengals need a high-protein diet to reach their growth potential. They also need special care to protect them from health problems that affect size directly or indirectly.