One of the most common questions that potential Bengal owners have is “do Bengal cats have health problems?”
In this short article, we are going to take a look at some of the most common health problems that affect Bengal cats.
As you are no doubt aware, certain animals (and certain breeds of certain animals) are prone to different health problems and conditions.
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For example, if we look at dogs for a second, German Shepherd dogs commonly suffer from hip dysplasia.
But what about Bengal cats?
What – if any – health problems do Bengal cats commonly have?
Keep reading to find out.
Known Bengal Cat Health Issues
Bengal cats can be prone to a number of hereditary health issues. As you may already be aware, all pedigree cats have a potential to develop genetic/inherited health problems.
Be wary of any breeder who claims to have “bred out” or “eliminated” any hereditary health issues from their blood lines … this is not biologically/genetically possible, and could be an indication that your are potentially buying a Bengal from an unscrupulous breeder.
If a breeder tells you that their Bengals are 100% healthy and don’t have the risk of any health problems, or they won’t offer a reasonable health guarantee, then walk away and look elsewhere.
Please bear in mind we don’t say this to scare you off Bengal ownership. Bengals are wonderful pets and companions, and many people enjoy years of trouble-free ownership. However, you must always go into any process with “eyes wide open” and consider the potential that your pet may develop health conditions.
So what hereditary health problems can Bengals be prone to?
Here’s a non-exhaustive list. For each problem we have linked off to a more detailed, authoritative source.
- Cataracts – These are more likely to develop in old age, but can develop in younger cats who are genetically/hereditarily predisposed. Cataract surgery may be possible but can be very expensive and carries the risk of complications.
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) – There is a hereditary form of PRA that has been identified in Bengals, sometimes in kittens as young as three months old. There is no treatment for PRA, which causes progressive blindness. Furthermore, there is no test that enables breeders to identify carriers of PRA (which is believed to be caused by a recessive gene).
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – This is the most common type of heart disease in cats, and Bengals can have it too. The main symptom is enlargement of the heart muscle. HCM is a hereditary disease and is not caused by poor nutrition as some claim. Reputable breeders should have their breeding stock testing annually, and any cat with HCM should be prevented from breeding. However, there is no way to guarantee 100% that HCM is not present in breeding stock, so be wary of any breeder who claims otherwise.
- Distal neuropathy – This is a relatively common, severe neurological disorder that some studies claim can affect up to 1 in every 10 Bengal cats. It causes progressive weakness, constipation and eventually paralysis. There is no known treatment BUT some studies have found that ~60% of cats actually recover.
To conclude, do Bengal cats have health problems?
Yes – like all pedigreed animals, Bengal cats can have a predisposition to some health issues.
That is why it’s important to do your research on any breeder you are considering purchasing a Bengal cat from.
You want to be aware of:
- Any breeder who claims to have totally eliminated a particular condition from their breeding stock and blood lines. This is not possible.
- Any breeder who won’t give you any ‘reference sites’ where you can talk to owners who have purchased Bengals from them in the past.
Basically, you want to find a breeder who has followed the right precautions and strategies to mitigate the risk of hereditary disease, but not one who claims the impossible.