Bengal Kitten Development

Successful Bengal Kitten Development

A lot goes into Breeding Bengal Cats in a positive way. However, that is only half the story. The other half is how a Bengal kitten grows from birth until they reach your home! Bengal Kitten development follows the same path that all domestic cats do. But it is fun to know the details.

Bengal Kitten Development at Birth

Bengals can be born in a wide variety of sizes. We have had kittens born here as low as 66 grams and as big as 115 grams. Size depends on the size of the sire and dam. Ideally, you want a medium weight for a kitten. At 66 grams a kitten doesn’t have a lot of reserves to draw on should they struggle with nursing. 110 grams is a medium-weight kitten. Some kittens can be born at 120-125 grams. However, the larger the kitten, the harder the birth will be on the mother and the baby, especially if the kitten has a big head. Bengals can also be born in a variety of colors and patterns that are determined by what genetics the Sire and Dam carry. 

The first step after a Bengal Kitten’s birth that the Queen, or mother Bengal Cat, will take is to chew through the cord attaching the Bengal Kitten to the placenta. She will also lick the kitten to remove it from the birthing sack and help to dry them off. Next, the Bengal Kitten’s instinct will cause them to seek out their mom’s nipple to nurse. This can take some time as the Queen continues to birth the rest of the litter.

0-1 Week of Bengal Kitten Development

We try not to handle the kittens very much for the first week of their lives. In a successful litter, the Queen, or mother Bengal Cat, should do all the work. Once the kittens have started nursing, we weigh them daily. We hope they will gain at least ten plus grams a day. If a kitten isn’t gaining weight on their own for a few days, we will have to supplement feed. But the goal is that the Queen should be able to care for all her kittens by herself. The only contact we have with the kittens during this stage is to weigh them, but for the most part, we try to leave the Queen alone to care for her kittens in peace. Depending on the Queen, she is often protective of her kittens and desires to be left alone. For the most part, the kittens will be fairly quiet, if they are loud or crying, then often something is wrong and you should make sure that the Queen is caring for them and giving them adequate time to feed.

Week 1-2 of Bengal Kitten Development

For the most part, from 7-14 days, the kittens continue to develop at the same rate and we continue to leave the Queen and her kittens alone. However, between days 10-14, the kittens will begin to open their eyes! We like to check and make sure they are opening properly and that there is no discharge, as that may require minor interventions. They will be a little light-sensitive, so it’s good to have the lighting dim in their area. This is an exciting time, somehow with their eyes open they seem to start developing more discernible personalities immediately and we can’t wait to be able to start playing with them!

Beautiful Bengal kitten
2 week old Bengal Kitten (Orion) crawling around

Week 3 of Bengal Kitten Development

Week 3 sees a lot of changes in Bengal Kitten’s Development. They start to sit up during this week and often will wiggle around their birthing box a lot more. They will still sleep and eat for the majority of the day and night, however.

Week 4 of Bengal Kitten Development

At one-month-old, Bengal Kittens will start walking (or stumbling) around their enclosure. During this week we like to give them a bigger playpen. We add a litter box with nonclumping litter (as they are liable to eat it. We also add food and water for them to possibly explore with. They will begin exploring, gaining strength, and will start playing with toys. This is when the true socialization begins to take place. This is also when the cleaning begins for the breeder or caretaker… Bengal Kittens can make a mess pretty quickly! This is also when they gain the ability to retract their claws. For their first month, they are nonretractable, perhaps to help with milk stimulation. At this point, we start cutting their claws once a week to teach them about grooming and make it easier when they reach full size.

Week 5 of Bengal Kitten Development

At 5 weeks old, kittens play hard! They are learning their “hunting” skills by playing with their siblings and they are not shy about pouncing on each other! At this point, they start to display a lot of the traits that characterize adult Bengals. They should be starting to get the hang of the litter box and by this time they should all have been experimenting with eating food other than mama’s milk. Generally, we register the litter at this point with TICA, The International Cat Association.

Silver Marble Bengal Kitten for sale
Silver Marble Bengal (Rockie) exploring his new room!

Week 6 and 7 of Bengal Kitten Development

Bengal Kittens continue to rapidly grow and gain strength. At this point, they are generally very good about the litter box and they are at a point in their Bengal Kitten Development where they can jump out of their playpen so they get the whole room to play in. They play hard, eat hard, and sleep hard! The Queen has been in the room with them ninety percent of the time up till now but will now start to take some longer breaks from her kittens. At 7 weeks of age, we like to take them to the vet to get checked by a licensed veterinarian and get the first round of their kitten vaccinations and dewormer.

Week 8 of Bengal Kitten Development

We watch the Bengal kittens very closely after their first round of vaccinations. Bengals can have some adverse reactions to different kinds of shots and certain anesthesias, so it is important at this stage to be very aware of how the Bengal Kittens are doing and to address any lethargy you may see. At week 8 we put them in their harnesses when we are in the room with them. This is also when they start to make their way downstairs. This is a very new experience for them, and it usually takes lots of coaxing with toys to get them to make the trek downstairs. But once they make it down there they love the extra space that they get to play in. At this point, we are very careful to make sure that we are constantly putting them in a litter box as they get so busy playing that they forget to go to the bathroom until it’s too late.

Week 9 and Week 10 of Bengal Kitten Development

We like to take the kittens outdoors as a new socialization experience. This is also the week that we like to introduce them to the dogs and other cats in the house. They learn a lot by being around animals that aren’t their mom. It is a whole new way to make sure that the Bengal Kittens are ready to go to a new place and have had lots of experiences.

Brown Bengal hunting
8.5 week old Bengal (Rosie) exploring the outdoors

Week 11 of Bengal Kitten Development

We like to schedule the Bengal Kittens Spay and Neuter appointments during this week. They are generally over three pounds and the vet generally gives the ok to schedule the appointment when they have their first appointment at week 7. The kittens go in for their surgery and the second set of shots in the morning, and by the time they get back home they are generally already so full of energy that they have to be crated to make sure they don’t play too hard and hurt their fresh incision sites.

Week 12 of Bengal Kitten Development

The Male Bengal Kittens can go home at twelve weeks of age as their neuter surgery is much less invasive and requires a lot less recovery time. Often they go home this week. The females are still under observation of their incision sites to ensure that they don’t pull any stitches and will keep quiet enough to not hurt themselves.

Week 13 of Bengal Kitten Development

The female Bengal Kittens are finally able to go to their new homes! A whole new life and experience await them! We can only hope that we have prepared them properly for their new home.

In Conclusion...

Every Bengal Breeder is going to do things a little differently and every Bengal Kitten is going to have a different personality. However, it is important to know that a lot of work goes into making sure that a Bengal Kitten has gotten enough socialization to be successful in your home! They develop fast in the first 3 months of life, both physically and mentally and how they are brought up will impact them their whole life long. All of these aspects of Bengal Kitten Development are taken into account when determining your Bengal kitten cost.

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