Bengal cats have a wonderfully soft coat with beautiful markings. To a child, they may come across as cute, cuddly, furry creatures. But are Bengal cats good with kids? Is it safe to have a Bengal cat and a newborn baby, toddler or child?
Bengal cats do get along with children, toddlers and babies. It’s generally safe for children to play with Bengal cats, as their temperament makes it safe enough to have around children. However, there are clear boundaries that must be respected to ensure the safety of your child around a Bengal cat.
Read on to learn more about whether your Bengal cat will get along with your newborn, toddler or child. This article is based around information gathered from vets, research, and through my own personal experiences of introducing a newborn baby into a house with a 2-year-old Bengal cat.
I’ll also explain what to be careful of as a parent and how to ensure that your child, toddler or baby is safe in the presence of a Bengal cat.
A very brief explanation about Bengal cats
Many people are uncertain whether Bengal cats are good with kids because of the common association with the wild Bengal tiger (certainly not a child-friendly choice of pet). However, a Bengal cat is a domesticated cat breed that’s a mix of the Asian leopard and an Egyptian Mau.
Although Bengal cats have come about from a mix of a domestic cat and a wild cat, it doesn’t mean that they are wild cats themselves. Bengals are in fact a domestic breed because they are usually at least the fourth generation (or much much further) down the line from mixing an Asian leopard with an Egyptian Mau.
Are earlier generation Bengal cats good with kids?
Now that we’ve touched on different generations of Bengal cats, it’s important to cover the the topic about earlier generations of Bengal cat and what their suitability is to households with children.
The first, second and third generation cats that result from breeding the Asian leopard and Egyptian Mau are not Bengal cats. They’re what’s known as “Foundation Cats”, which have yet to develop the desired traits, behavior and qualities that people seek from a domestic cat.
Foundation cats would not be suitable for living with children. However, you’re unlikely to be buying one from a normal breeder, as these are not Bengal cats and are usually very precious. If you are being sold a foundation Bengal cat, you’re likely to already know about it from the listing or information supplied by the breeder.
If you’re concerned that you aren’t buying a Bengal cat that will be suitable for living with kids, ask your breeder and make sure that it’s at least a fourth-generation Bengal cat and make it known that you have, or plan on, having children around the new pet.
To sum up, a fourth-generation (or beyond) Bengal cat will be just like a domesticated cat that everyone knows and sees wandering around gardens and climbing trees. It will have a good temperament, loving personality and attachment to their owners.
Do Bengal cats make good house pets?
The Bengal cat is a highly intelligent, vocal and active breed. Although self-awareness of emotions has yet to be proven in cats, Bengal cats are very sensitive to their owner’s moods based gestures, expressions, and behaviors.
In fact, Bengals are one of the most intelligent cat breeds in the world. There are very few breeds that have the same intelligence and characteristics of a Bengal. For example, a Bengal cat can be trained to do many things, just like a dog, thanks to their curiosity. Bengal cats have the will to learn – a major reason why they’re often compared to a dog by anyone who already has a Bengal.
On the other hand, Bengal cats are very demanding. So if you’re wondering if Bengal cats are good with children, then you’ll need to consider that they meow a lot and need plenty of activity. However, don’t let this put you off – Bengals will meow in response to things you say or imply they want food or attention, just like a normal cat. Bengal cats just seem to do it a little bit more often.
Where a normal domestic cat may meow for food, a Bengal will meow to let you know how they feel about something. They will meow when they want something, whether that’s food, or for you to play with them, so be prepared to use plenty of cat toys with your furry friend.
Because Bengal cats are active, so you will need to find time in the day to play with them. Although this may be less ideal if you have a newborn, an older child will have plenty of fun with a never-tiring Bengal cat, and your kitty will love them for all of the attention that they’re getting.
On top of this, they will love to join in with what you’re doing. They may try to stand on your laptop, get up onto your kitchen counter and rub against your legs in the toilet. They love to have fun with their loyal owners, so they’re likely to follow you around and meow lots in the process – making Bengal cats good with children.
Just like normal cats, Bengals love being dominant. Therefore, a tall cat tree or somewhere where they can see the whole room is a must. Personally, I bought a floor-to-ceiling tree on Amazon for around $70 (£58). It’s not only a great climbing structure but also a scratch post and cat bed that my cat, Coco, has loved for the past 3 years we’ve had it.
However, a Bengal cat might not be the right choice if you expect it to lay around and take care of itself all day. Lounging around in the sun is too boring for these cats. Bengals love their families and are very loyal furry friends, but they need plenty of attention and playtime.
If you have a dog, then read our article about whether Bengal cats get along with dogs.
Bengal cats and children
Still wondering if a Bengal cat is a good choice if you have a baby, toddler or older child? Well, don’t be scared of their wild name, vocal or active traits.
Just like humans and other cats, every cat is different, and once introduced to your family, they’ll blend right in! Most often, a Bengal cat will pleasantly surprise you with how much it adapts to your personality, and how much affection it’ll show for your child, toddler or baby.
A major reason why Bengal cats get along with children so well is that children and Bengal cats share quite a few behavioral characteristics. Odd, right?!
Children and Bengals love to play with anything, are often quite vocal and are hugely curious about anything and everything! If you have a child or Bengal cat already, you’ll know that the least cat/child things are often the most fun, eg. a TV remote or that important document.
Bengal cats around babies and toddlers
The best thing about Bengals cats playing with children and other people is the fact that they don’t use their claws, no matter how instinctive the game is. I personally learned this when my three-year-old Bengal cat, Coco, started playing with a two-year-old toddler she has been living with since his birth. I couldn’t believe how careful she has been around him, and that her claws never extended – not even when pouncing or chasing things in the garden.
Bengals are known to identify children and will treat them much more gently if they notice that you’re also very caring of the child. Whenever engaging in physical play, they will keep their claws in as to not scratch the child or the owner(s) that they’re loyal to, making Bengal cats perfect if you have a baby, toddler or child.
When we first introduced a newborn to our house, Coco stayed well away, only sniffing the odd blanket. She didn’t get jealous and kept her distance at all times. To date, she’s more afraid of the energetic two-year-old that she shares the house with than he is of her. The multiple times that the toddler has pulled her tail, threw a ball or pulled some hair out, she did nothing other than run away. This tells a completely different story than the scars on MY arms, which shows just how caring a cat can be of a baby or child.
Just look at this video of a Bengal cat tolerating a four-month-old baby pulling on its fur: