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    Bengal Cat Health

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    Bengal Cat Health – How to Watch for, and Avoid Many Health Problems

    As a Bengal cat owner, Bengal cat health is an important topic to understand. Knowing the signs of illness in your Bengal cat can be the difference between a regular vet visit and an emergency vet visit. 

    At Buckaroo Bengals, we want to give all you Bengal cat owners a solid foundation for caring for your fur babies. Knowing the characteristics of a healthy Bengal cat is the first step.

    Healthy Bengal Cat Characteristics

    The easiest way to learn about Bengal cat health is to know what a healthy Bengal cat looks like.

    Physical Characteristics of a Healthy Bengal Cat

    Let’s start with the physical features of your Bengal cat.
    • Coat and fur condition: Bengals can have short or long coats. But regardless of coat length, they should be soft, sleek, glossy, and well-groomed. Bengals coats are very shiny and some may have the glitter gene that makes them sparkle in the sunlight. If your Bengal isn’t grooming themselves it can be a sign of a Bengal cat health issue. A sign of under-grooming can be a rough, dull, and oily coat. Overgrooming can also be a sign that your Bengal cat isn’t healthy. You may notice bald patches where your Bengal cat has removed all hair if they are overgrooming. Bengal cats should also shed less than normal cats as they only have one layer of fur. This makes them hypoallergenic. If your Bengal cat is shedding more than normal, there may be an underlying health issue.
      • Eyes: Bengal cats have large, round, bright eyes. They are typically green, brown, gold, blue, or aqua. If your Bengal has eye boogers, is squinting, or has tears and discharge leaking from their eyes it’s a sign of illness.
      • Ears: Keep an eye on your Bengals ears. Signs of ear problems can be excessive brown “dirt” buildup inside them. Or if your Bengal is shaking its head or rubbing its ears on things. They shouldn’t smell.
      • Nose: Your Bengal cat’s nose should be moist. They shouldn’t sneeze excessively or get snot anywhere. Some Bengal cats have a dry cracked nose. There is no known cause for this. Some breeders believe that it may be genetic. I believe that it may be a mix of genetics and dietary issues.
      • Teeth and gums: Your Bengal’s teeth should be clean and tartar free. Their gums should be healthy and pink. White or pale gums are a sign of dehydration.
      • Weight and body condition: Bengal cats tend towards a muscular and athletic build. They shouldn’t have excess fat. And while they come in a wide range of sizes, this is typically based on their lines and genetics. Bengal cats can be anywhere from 8-15 lbs with some outliers.
      Physical characteristics may be the first thing you notice to determine your Bengal cat isn’t feeling well. But their personalities can also provide a lot of insight.

    Healthy Bengal Cat Personality Traits

    Bengal cats are known for their boundless energy and their desire to interact with their people. Every Bengal is different though. So it’s important you know what is normal for your Bengal. 

    Maybe your Bengal gets the zoomies every day at lunchtime. Or they love a good game of fetch when you have a spare minute to play with them. Knowing your Bengal’s normal will make spotting their ‘abnormal’ easier.

    Bengals typically tend to stay close to their humans and sleep less than a normal cat would. Changes in these behaviors can be a key sign that tells you something is wrong.

    You should also keep an eye on your Bengal’s eating habits. If your Bengal is eating more or less than normal then it can be a sign that something is wrong.

    Finally, be on the lookout for a change in their litter box routine. If your Bengal is peeing outside the litter box can tell you a lot about their possible health issues. Pooing outside generally denotes an anxiety issue that needs to be addressed.

    You can also keep an eye on the consistency of their poo. If they are constipated or have diarrhea. Both of these can tell you a lot about your Bengal cat’s health.

    Knowing what is normal for your cat can be a great way for you to be proactive in keeping them healthy. There are a couple of other measures you can take to keep your Bengal cat healthy.

    Bengal Cat Characteristics

    A Proactive Approach to Bengal Cat Health

    First, make sure you’re proactive about taking your cat to the vet. An annual checkup is pretty standard. 

    Veterinary Care For Your Bengal Cat

    If your vet knows your cat’s baseline, it will make spotting any problems a lot simpler. 

    Your vet can keep an eye on your Bengal’s teeth and make sure that there aren’t any cracks, chips, or tartar buildup. Dental issues can cause some really unfortunate behavioral issues. As well as health issues.

    Staying up to date with deworming is also important. Discuss a plan for parasites with your vet. Make sure you aren’t over-utilizing dewormers. This can lead to resistance in your cat to healthy bacteria.

    Make sure your cat is vaccinated. We recommend finishing up the kitten vaccines and then getting a one-year vaccine for your cat. After that, you should get titers for your cats rather than vaccines. Just to ensure that your cat is still protected. Check your state laws to see if a rabies vaccine is required as well.

    Finally, you should spay or neuter your Bengal cat. There are many risks associated with unfixed cats. Both behavior and health can be impacted by choosing to leave your cat intact.

    Taking your Bengal to the vet isn’t the only way to be proactive in their health.

    Promoting Bengal Cat Health with a Balanced Diet

    Just like in humans, diet can play a large role in your Bengal cat’s health. Feeding a species-appropriate diet isn’t hard. Like all cats, Bengals are obligate carnivores. This means Bengals need meat.

    Bengal cats are hybrids with the Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) and can have much shorter digestive tracts than other cat breeds. This can lead to your cat having trouble digesting their food. Choosing an appropriate diet is critical to their happiness – and yours. Think really smelly poops.

    We recommend feeding a well-balanced raw diet.1 Grain-free canned cat food, high in animal proteins is another great option if you don’t want to deal with raw food.2

    Keep in mind that carbohydrates and starches are some of the ingredients Bengal cats can struggle with. Whether they inherited a shorter digestive tract or not.

    Also, don’t overfeed your Bengal as obesity can cause a lot of health issues in any animal. Exercise is another aspect of Bengal cat health that can impact your Bengal cat’s weight.

    Exercise Your Bengal Cat — Mentally and Physically

    Bengal cats thrive in highly interactive and energetic environments. Make sure your Bengal cat gets enough exercise. This can help with their psychological and physical well-being.

    Keeping your Bengal mentally stimulated and active can decrease obesity issues. Bengals should play hard many times throughout the day. This helps mirror what their experience would have been in the wild. With a hunt then eat pattern. 

    Playing helps your Bengal emotionally mature and increases their mental capacity.3 A well-adjusted cat is more likely to be a healthy cat.

    We’ve discussed some of the proactive ways to address Bengal cat health. Now let’s talk about some of the health issues that your Bengal cat can experience. We will go over these very briefly today and talk further about them in future and past articles. 

    Bengal Health Problems

    Short-Term Bengal Health Problems

    Sometimes your Bengal cat may not be feeling well but it isn’t a major health issue. Still a reason to go to the vet, but not something that will affect their lives long-term. These can be scary if you don’t know what you’re looking at. So let’s talk about them.

    Allergies and Sensitivities

    There are two different types of allergies that Bengal cats can be prone to:
    • Anesthetic Allergies: Bengal cats can be highly sensitive to anesthetics. Especially ketamine. This is why a lot of Bengal breeders spay and neuter their kittens before adopting them to families. They prefer to use a vet who understands the risks and is equipped to deal with them.
    • Food allergies: Just like you, your Bengal cat may suffer from food allergies. Some common signs include weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, farting, or poor coat condition. If you see your Bengal cat with these symptoms it may be time to change their diet.
    Food allergies go hand in hand with gastrointestinal distress.

    Gastrointestinal Problems

    Because of their short digestive tracts, Bengal cats often have diet-related gastrointestinal issues. But there are other GI issues Bengals can get as well. Most result in diarrhea.
    • Common parasites: Hookworms and roundworms. Keep your Bengal on a regular deworming schedule.
    • Tritrichomonas Foetus: A specific parasite that results in diarrhea. Not commonly treated for.
    • Giardia: A single-celled parasite found in water that can cause diarrhea.4
    • Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD): You could argue that this is long-term. IBD is the continuous inflammation of the intestines that causes diarrhea.
    Gastrointestinal problems aren’t the only issues that lead to potty problems. Urinary tract infections can also present with litter box issues in your Bengal cat.

    Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

    All cats can be prone to UTIs. A typical symptom is a cat that pees outside of their litter box. This means that at the first sign of your cat using inappropriate potty places, it’s time to visit the vet. 

    Another common short-term Bengal cat health problem is respiratory infections.

    Respiratory Infections

    Just like you, your Bengal cat may have a cold. There are several common symptoms:
    • Discharge from the eyes or nose
    • Coughing and sneezing
    • Swelling around the eyes
    • Ulcers in the mouth
    • Lethargy
    • Weight loss
    • Trouble breathing
    Sometimes your cat can recover from this on their own. But if your cat is really struggling, a vet visit may be a good idea.

    Feline Herpes (FVR) Flare-Ups

    Feline herpes is a long-term health condition for any cat. While people often make a big deal about feline herpes, the truth is that 80% of all cats already carry it.5 Whether they experience flare-ups or not.

    FVR flare-ups often get misdiagnosed as upper respiratory infections (URIs). So if your vet is treating your cat for a URI and it isn’t clearing up, they may be experiencing an FVR flare-up. These can often be brought on by stress. Even if your cat already has FVR, getting them vaccinated can decrease the amount of virus they shed.

    Next, let’s talk about some of the long-term Bengal cat health issues that are harder to treat and diagnose.

    Long-Term Bengal Health Problems

    Sometimes long-term Bengal cat health issues are congenital.

    Congenital Bengal Cat Health Issues

    Congenital health issues are passed down through genetics. A good breeder will do their best to breed away from these conditions, and sometimes this is easier than others. The three most common congenital health issues (and most easily tested) in Bengal cats are:
    • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM): The thickening of the muscles in your cat’s heart walls.
    • Progressive Retinol Atrophy (PRA-b): A loss of photoreceptors in your Bengal cat’s eyes.
    • Erythrocyte Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PK Def): An enzyme deficiency affecting your cat’s blood and can cause anemia.
    There are a couple of other congenital health issues in Bengal cats that are less frequently tested for:
    • Hip dysplasia: When the ball and socket hip joints are loose and it causes dislocation while walking.6
    • Luxating patella: When the knee cap moves from its fixed position on your Bengal cat’s back legs.
    • Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD): when cysts form in the kidneys. Typically present from birth. They eventually cause kidney issues and finally kidney failure.
    • Feline Infections Peritonitis (FIP): A coronavirus infection. Recently a cure was found. Many kittens now recover.
    Not all long-term Bengal cat health issues are genetic though. Some of them can occur due to lifestyle or just plain bad luck.
    Bengal cat personality traits

    Non-Congenital Health Issues In Bengal Cats

    Early diagnosis is the key to long-term health issues. It can greatly increase your Bengal cat’s quality of life. Let’s go over the common ones.
    • Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV): This virus is passed from cat to cat through close contact or bite wounds. It can cause cancer, blood disorders, and lead to a compromised immune system in cats.
    Common symptoms of FeLV include:
      • Appetite loss
      • Weight loss
      • Poor coat condition
      • Fever
      • Pale, inflamed gums
      • Infections
      • Diarrhea
      • Seizures
    • Feline diabetes: often affects old or obese cats. Occurs when your cat no longer creates enough insulin to break down starches and sugars in their food.
    Common symptoms of Feline Diabetes include:
      • Excessive thirst
      • Excessive peeing
      • Weight loss
      • Excessive sleeping
      • Weakness
      • Vomiting
      • Nerve damage that affects his walking and gait
    • Chronic Renal Failure (CRF): Caused by age, genetics, other diseases, and environment. The kidneys are important for filtering out toxins in the bloodstream.
    Common symptoms of CRF include:
      • Increased thirst
      • Increased peeing
      • Loss of appetite
      • Vomiting
      • Lethargy
      • Weight loss
      • Loss of coat condition
    • Hyperthyroidism: Generally diagnosed in middle age. If your Bengal cat doesn’t have thyroid hormone regulation it can affect almost every organ in the body.
    Common symptoms of Hypothyroidism include:
      • Weight loss
      • Increased appetite
      • Increased thirst
      • Increased peeing
      • Vomiting
      • Diarrhea
      • Hyperactivity
      • Loss of coat condition

    As you can see, a lot of the symptoms caused by long-term health conditions are very similar. Getting your Bengal cat to your vet for early diagnosis is critical. As it may take some time to find the right diagnosis.

    The good news is that once you have your diagnosis you can come up with a game plan to treat your fur baby.

    Do Bengal Cats Have Health Problems?

    Bengal cats are not free from their fair share of health problems. While we haven’t hit them all, you should now feel confident about when you should take your cat to the vet. Bengal cat health is more achievable than ever.

    To stay up to date on news about the Bengal cat breed. Or to learn about our future litters at Buckaroo Bengals, sign up for our email list. Even better, shoot us an email about what you’d like to learn about next!

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      Resources:

      Raw Diet – Darwins

      Canned Cat Food – Daves Grain Free Pet food*

      3 The Role of Play – Quality Bengal Kittens

      4 Giardia – VCA Animal Hospital

      5 Feline Herpes – Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine

      6 Hip Dysplasia – Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine

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