Buyer's FAQ

Adopting a cat, and bringing a new family member home is a big responsibility and should always be carefully considered. Here at Southlakes Bengal's, we strive to match each kitten/cat with the perfect adopting family. The following are questions we frequently hear. We hope these frequently asked questions (FAQ) help clarify some of the terminology used, available options, and general recommendations and guidelines that reputable breeders should provide.

 

 

1. What is the difference between a show, breeder or pet kitten ?

Most Bengal breeders will have a different price each kitten based on the characteristics that most closely reflect the Bengal breed standards as recorded with TICA and/or TIBCS, as well as features most highly sought after and valued by the Bengal community, particularly the show and breeder community. 

The pet price requires a spay/neuter contract and the breeder/show contract reflect top quality that usually do not require spay/neuter. Some kittens are only offered as a pet and some are only offered as a show/breeder, while some are offered as either. The pet-only usually means it is not a good candidate for a breeder/show, while the ones only offered as breeder/show means they are top-quality picks regardless what the buyer intends to do with them (the price remains as show/breeder).

Show quality kittens/cats should have no disqualifying characteristics as defined in the Bengal breed standards and should be the best in conformation, colour and pattern. There is never a guarantee of a show-quality kitten in every litter,  while sometimes the top-quality pedigree breeding could produce a litter with multiple show kittens.

Breeder quality is a kitten/cat that may not do well at the show for a variety of reasons, but one that may still be beneficial to use for breeding and/or have specific traits highly sought after in a breeding program.

Pet quality is a kitten/cat that may not be suited as a show due to an undesirable characteristic, such as a "flaw/s" in appearance that would not be viewed a favourable by a judge. However, we (as do some other breeders) will often sell high quality kittens as "super pets" simply because we want to place our kittens in good pet homes. Thus even excellent top-quality cats or kittens may be offered as "pets". Frequently, the main difference between a "Pet" and "Show/Breeder" kitten, is the the "pet" contract will include a spay/neuter agreement.

Whether you adopt a gorgeous supreme grand champion, world class-beauty star, or a kitten/cat that is being offered as a "pet", the appearance of a Bengal's colour, pattern, and conformation will not have a direct correlation to the cat's personality. Thus the distinction made between the show, breeder, or pet is the appearance of a cat and has no impact on the overall quality of health, personality or temperament.


2. What do the following terms mean: F1, F2, F3, F4 and AON, BON, CON ?

Because Bengal's originate from crosses of Asian Leopard Cats and domestic cats the method of describing how many generations a cat is from the original wild ancestor is very important.
You may often hear reference to Bengal's by a number following the letter F. The "F" stands for "Filial or Foundation" and is used to differentiate early Bengal/ALC crosses from SBT.


F1 cats have an ALC as one of the parents.
F2 cats have an ALC grandparent
F3 cats have an ALC great-grand parent.
F4 cats have an ALC great-great grandparent.

The TICA registration system provides each cat registered with a special registration number. This number contains pedigree and birth date information about the cat. The first three characters of the registration number gives the pedigree information.
In order to be eligible for Championship competition in showing, the registration number of each individual cat must have the prefix "SBT".
What does "SBT" mean? SBT denotes Studbook status (Stud Book Traditional), and that the cat has a three generation pedigree (at least) of Bengal to Bengal breeding.

What happens if the registration prefix for your cat does NOT start with "SBT"? If the first letter is "A", this indicates that the cat has a parent registered as another breed. If the first letter is "B", this indicates that the cat has at least one grandparent registered as another breed. If the first letter is "C", this indicates that the cat has a great-grandparent registered as another breed.

The second character in the prefix further explains this pedigree information. If the second character is "O", this indicates that the cat has no unregistered cats in their three generation pedigree, but has cats of OTHER registered breeds within the three generations. If the second character is "1", this indicates that the cat has an unregistered parent. If the second character is "2", this indicates that the cat has at least one unregistered grandparent. If the second character is "3", this indicates that the cat has at least one unregistered great-grandparent.

Probably the easiest way to describe these definitions is to compare these in the table below. The following chart is based on a registered SBT* Bengal bred to an approved outcross** such as the following example of the Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) bred with the American Short Hair (ASH):

 
1st Generation
2nd Generation
3rd Generation
4th Generation
SBT Bengal bred to: 

 

F1 or AON
F2 or BON
F3 or CON
Asian Leopard Cat (ALC)

F1 = ½ ALC

F2 = ¼ ALC

F3 = 1/8 ALC

F4 (SBT) = 1/16 ALC

American Short Hair (ASH)

½ ASH

¼ ASH

1/8 ASH

1/16 ASH

Registration prefix
AON
BON
CON
SBT = can show

*SBT – Stud Book Traditional – fully qualified for showing
**Outcross – Another breed of cat approved/accepted in the Bengal breeding program.

Since the offspring of a C0N produces SBT (show-eligible), a C0N can be extremely valuable to a breeding program as it produces the first of the new line that can be shown.

If you want a pet and are not interested in showing, AON, BON, CON or SBT will all be appropriate. If you want to show, then you should buy an SBT kitten. If you intend to use the kitten in a breeding program, then you should assess the specifics of your breeding program and determine what kitten will best help you achieve your goals.

3. What do I want in a Bengal ?

When considering adopting a Bengal it is important to understand their differences and personalities. Many experts consider the Bengal Cat to be one of the most intelligent of all domestic cats. With that comes a package of fun and activity distinctly different from many of the other cat breeds. While a properly raised Bengal is a very loving and affectionate cat, he/she will usually want affection on their terms and may not be an "in-your-lap-all-the-time" type of pet. However, we find that our cats are very social and want to be with their owner much of their time.

Attributed to their intelligence, Bengal cats are known to be extremely curious and determined. They do not give up easily, nor do they forget a quest once started. If they swat a toy under the fridge they will most likely remember it ... even a month later. They can also find water very entertaining... of course on their own terms! The Bengal is truly loaded with personality, and can provide hours of entertainment.


4. What colour and pattern do I want? Does it make a difference ?

Bengal's come in a wonderful array of colours and patterns, and part of the fun of Bengal shopping is picking the colour and pattern you find most appealing. While Bengal's come in gold/brown, silver, or snow colours and have patterns of either marble or spotted, the personality is not affected by their colour and pattern. As a buyer looking to adopt a Bengal you may be asked which colour or pattern you prefer. It is good for you to have an idea of your preferences before you buy, but many pet buyers start out thinking they refer one type and then end up buying a different colour or pattern once they meet the kitten. They are all so adorable in their own particular way.


5. Do I care about the gender ?

Gender is a personal choice and while many pet owners may specifically prefer a male or a female, many breeders find that there are little distinct differences between genders if the cat is spayed or neutered. There is often a tendency for males to be more affectionate and less active, while females may interact more with athletic agility. However, overall the differences seem to be more unique to their personality and upbringing.


6. What is my Bengal's destiny? Pet? Breeder? Show ?

When trying to decide on the quality of Bengal to buy, you will need to decide if you want to show the cat or if you simply want a pet for your home. You may also find that breeders will identify a kitten that is only available as a show/breeder/super pet due to its outstanding qualities. Remember that any kitten/cat deemed as show, breeder or pet  quality will not have a direct correlation to its personality.


7. What should be in the contract? What is the purpose of a contract ?

Responsible breeders will provide a contract that protects the kitten/cat as well as the buyer and the seller. We view the contract as a commitment for the wellbeing of the cat/kitten as well as a clear understanding between the buyer and seller defining the appropriate expectations. Our contract includes a health guarantee for the cat/kitten and a summary of your responsibly as the adopting owner to care and love for your Bengal with dignity and in a healthy environment. We always expect our kittens to go to a loving, safe and wholesome environment, and the contract is our commitment to the kittens/cats and to you as the new adopting parents.


8. Is the breeder going to be there for me...? After the kitten/s come home, what expectations should I have from the breeder ?

When you adopt one of our babies, you also have our most sincere commitment to help you learn to care for your kitten and we will continue to provide advice and suggestions in what ever way we can. However, please understand we are not a veterinarian and it is the adopting family's responsibility to provide proper healthcare.


9. How/what should I look for and expect from a reputable breeder ?

  • A reputable breeder should provide a purchase contract with a clear statement of their commitment to you and the kitten.
  • A reputable breeder should not knowingly be selling sick kittens/cats and should disclose known illness to you.
  • A reputable breeder should be approachable when any concern or question arises.
  • A reputable breeder should have references available upon request.

10. What will a reputable breeder expect from me ?

A reputable breeder will expect you to abide by the purchase contract and care for your cat with proper shelter, food, medical care and plenty of dignity, love and attention.


11. How can I find a good breeder, or know that a breeder is ethical and reliable ?

You can check a number of sites such as The Bengal Cat Club of Great Britain (BCCGB) for a list of registered breeders. Additionally, you should talk with the breeder, visit their facility when possible and don't hesitate to ask the questions that will give you peace of mind. As always, we recommend that you shop around and also visit the breeders cattery. 
A reputable breeder will not part with a kitten until it is at least around 13 weeks of age. Kittens/cats should always be sold with a three generation pedigree (minimum). Always check the pedigree before you buy, and if there are cats in the pedigree that are not Bengal's, then ensure you understand the implications of this (especially if you want to show your cat).


12. How do I know if I have received a healthy kitten ?

When you receive a kitten it should have a healthy and happy countenance, be in good weight and with bright-eyes and have a typical playful attitude. The kitten should not be lethargic, have runny eyes or other symptoms that might indicate the kitten may be unwell.  The kitten should have received 2 series of vaccinations, one at approximately 9-weeks of age and the other at approximately 12-weeks of age. If there are any deviations from these general guidelines the breeder should communicate with you the specifics of the issue(s) and discuss appropriate options and/or plan of actions.


13. Are the Bengal's for indoor, outdoor or both ?

Our recommendation is as in-door only cat. We do this for several reasons:

  • The average life expectancy of an outdoor compared to indoor cat is statistically cut to 1/4 (or worse). There a many outdoor health hazards, enemies, poisons, as well as the danger of motor vehicles and theft etc that put the cats at risk when they run loose. We want our Bengal's to live a long and healthy life. Keeping them indoors is one of the steps to ensuring their longevity and well-being.
    Unfortunately we learned the hard way in the past having lost three cats; two to motor accidents and one a believed theft.
  • The Bengal is still considered somewhat rare and expensive and many people will steal a Bengal they find running loose. Even the more "conscientious" person may find it easier to justify keeping a Bengal they find loose, claiming they rescued him/her from the dangers as noted above (#1).
  • The Bengal's wild look may cause concern to someone who is not familiar with the breed and can result in "mistaken identity" where someone may kill a loose Bengal thinking it is a feral cat that poses danger.
  • The Bengal's gorgeous, soft, exotic pelt has been known to attract those who want to use their pelt as an alternative to other contraband furs. Yes, unfortunately, there have been documented events of this despicable and criminal behaviour.

14. Why do you and many other breeders keep the kittens until they are 13 weeks old instead of letting them go to their new home when they are younger?

  • Health / immune system: We keep the kittens until they are 13 weeks old so that they can have their second set of vaccinations (booster shots) before they leave.  It is important to help their immune systems be stronger and more protected. It is also usually during this same timeframe that the kittens are finishing weaning and are adjusting to a diet without their mother's milk.  This allows us to monitor the kitten's health during this period to ensure there are no health concerns. Many breeders have found that on occasions a kitten might get sick between their first and second vaccines and/or during the weaning process. While this is rarely ever life-threatening if properly cared for, a kitten can go downhill quickly without proper medical care. A responsible breeder will want to monitor the kitten's health so that he/she can catch any early warnings if the kitten start to get sick and to be able to nurse the kitten back to health if needed. The best way to ensure proper care for the kitten is to leave him/her with the breeder who is properly equipped and prepared to care for a sick kitten during this transition stage.
  • TICA Code of Ethics: One of the conditions in the TICA breeder's Voluntary Code of Ethics is the agreement that "I will not release a kitten until it has been inoculated at least twice against the following: Panleukopenia, Feline Rhinotracheitis and Calicivirus. I also may choose to give other vaccinations." Obviously TICA also values the importance of keeping kittens until after their second vaccination to have added it as one of the Code of Ethics conditions.  We have signed this TICA Code of Ethics and thus comply to this condition.


15. Why do Bengal's appear to be so expensive ?

Unfortunately it is very expensive to breed high quality Bengal's. Some of our costs include; medical, nutritional, sanitary care, insurance, stud fees, housing, buying in new breeding stock, quarantine and shipping. Additionally, we show regularly (which can also be rather costly too).


16. Do you give discounts for buying multiple kittens ?

Yes, we can offer a discount for anyone wanting to adopt more than one pet kitten from a litter.


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