You’ve decided that a Bengal cat is the one for you! You know we’re feisty and fun, and we demand lots of attention and play, and in return we’ll reward you by putting a smile on your face each and every day…. So now you’d like to buy one, but you’re not sure how to go about it? Read on!
A great place to meet Bengal cats and their breeders is at a cat show. You can find out when and where they’re being held by looking at the GCCF (UK) or TICA (International) websites. Don’t be afraid to chat to the breeders and owners to get a good idea of what it’s like to live with the breed – most people are only too happy to talk about their cats!
If you’ll be leaving your Bengal cat alone for long periods each day, you need to decide quite early on whether you should buy two kittens so they can keep each other company. It’s so much easier to introduce two kittens into your house at the same time, especially if they’re littermates! Some breeders also give a little discount if you buy two. Or of course you could get another breed of kitten, they don’t both have to be Bengals. Whatever you decide, if you’re getting two, you should ideally get them together or at least within a few weeks of each other, and then you won’t have to introduce the new cat to the existing cat’s established territory.
Once you know how many kittens you’d like, telephone a few breeders and get an idea of prices. Then, arrange some appointments to go and see different breeders and litters, but please allow time in between visits for you to be able to have a wash and change your clothes. Never go from one breeder directly to another as this could cause cross infection which can be serious where young babies are concerned.
If you’ve made an appointment and you decide not to keep it or your circumstances change, be courteous and let the breeder know.
Visiting the Breeder
Generally, kittens that have been reared indoors are much more likely to be well socialised than those who have been kept outside in a cattery which should reduce the possibility of some behavioural problems later in life.
Ask to see both the mother and father of the litter, but don’t be suspicious if the father isn’t there – breeders often use stud cats from another breeder. You should always be able to see “Mum”, however, and ideally the rest of the litter too.
When meeting your potential new kitten, you should be able to handle them and make sure they’re healthy and alert. Watch for signs of sickness, diarrhoea, sticky eyes or stuffy nose. Never choose a sickly, lethargic or weakling kitten out of pity. Play with the kitten and check how it reacts. Is it playful and relaxed, or is it fearful and unused to being handled? If so, look elsewhere for a more socialised kitten.
Ensure the breeder tests their breeding Bengals for feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), along with the heart condition HCM and PKD which is a genetic disease that affects kidneys.
Don’t feel rushed to make a decision. Most breeders will be happy for you to go away and think about the kitten – some will even insist on this. After all, it’s a very long-term commitment for you to provide love and care to the kitten for many years.
Make sure that both you and the breeder are happy about the kitten sale. If you don’t think the kitten is what you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to say so; the breeder will then know that the kitten is still available for sale and will not be put in the position of refusing further enquiries.
Buying your Kitten
When you’ve chosen your kitten(s) your breeder will require a holding deposit to reserve him or her for you, and then all you need to do is wait for the kitten to be old enough to leave the breeder!
Depending on the timescales, most breeders should allow you subsequent visits and you can also discuss with them the arrangements for the handover – some breeders like to drop their babies off with their new owners so they can picture where they’ll be living, others may prefer you to come and collect the kitten yourself. Whichever way round it is, the balance is usually payable at handover time.
All kittens from good quality, registered breeders should be at least 12 or 13 weeks old before they leave the breeder, they should have had their full course of vaccinations, be wormed and had appropriate flea treatment, and in some cases they will be micro-chipped. In all cases you should have a written pedigree and registration documentation. Some breeders will transfer the ownership of the kitten into your name for you, but if they don’t, make sure you understand what you need to do.
Many pet insurance companies now offer breeders a ‘free’ 4 weeks insurance period. Moving to a new home is a very stressful period for a young kitten, and so insurance is always welcome to overcome any problems within that period.
Collecting your kitten
If you and your breeder have agreed that you will collect your new fur bay, make sure you take a clean cat carrier. You should never carry a kitten unsecured nor allow them to run loose in your car!
Your breeder should give you the following paperwork:
- Registration/transfer slip which you and the breeder complete to transfer the kitten into your official ownership.
- Vaccination certificate.
- Insurance certificate if the kitten is insured.
- Diet sheet outlining the kitten’s care and dietary requirements.
- The breeder may ask you to sign an agreement to ensure that the kitten is neutered (if they have not already neutered the kitten themselves)
- Receipt for payment in full.
- Some breeders provide a kitten pack with a copy of their pedigree, toys, a sample of the food they’re used to, etc.
- Ask your breeder if it’s possible to have something (such as a toy or a small blanket) that the kitten has used while at the breeder’s house. This will have a familiar scent which you can use in your home to give some comfort while they are acclimatising to a new and scary (for them!) environment.
It’s strongly recommended that you have the kitten checked by your own vet within 48 hours of purchase.
If, for any reason, you have to part with your kitten, please do contact the breeder before doing so. Many breeders will take the kitten or cat back at any age or, if this impossible, help to find it a suitable home. Some insist that anyone who buys one of their kittens must sign an agreement that if they have to part with the kitten in future, they will contact the breeder first.