Getting a cat is a big commitment, and if you're considering a Bengal, you might wonder what your future furry friend's expected lifespan might be. Several factors influence a Bengal's life expectancy. Only some of these are within your control, whereas others are related to genetics. However, the good news is that the Bengal is a relatively long-lived breed, and there's a lot you can do to help your cat live a full, healthy life.
How Long Do Bengal Cats Live?
Most Bengal cats live to be 12 to 16 years old, with an average life expectancy of 14 years. Of course, some Bengals may have shorter lifespans, while others can live to the ripe old age of 20. Some people say the oldest known Bengal lived to be 34 years old, but no concrete documentation supports the claim.
Bengal Cat Life Expectancy Vs. Average House Cat
As a hybrid cat, Bengals tend to live longer than typical house cats. The average lifespan of a domestic cat is 10 to 15 years, whereas Bengals live an average of 12 to 16 years. This isn't a significant difference, but it can mean a few extra years with your best friend.
Most experts attribute this to the Bengal's genetic diversity. Bengals are a cross between an Asian leopard cat and a domestic cat, which provides them with genetic makeup from both lines. They are also a newer hybrid and haven't undergone as much inbreeding as many older breeds.
Factors That Impact a Bengal Cat's Lifespan
It's difficult to predict a Bengal's exact life expectancy because several factors influence their longevity.
Outdoor cats have much shorter lifespans compared to those who stay indoors. Cats who roam outside are at higher risk of injury from cars, wild animals, or other cats, and are exposed to harmful viruses. If you decide you'd like to allow your Bengal outside, ensure they're vaccinated against feline leukemia virus and rabies, and make sure they wear visible identification.
This may come as a surprise, but a cat's sex can affect their longevity. Female Bengals live an average of two years longer than males. Of course, you can't influence your cat's gender to increase lifespan, but it helps to be aware that male cats may have a shorter lifespan than females.
Whether you have a male or female Bengal, having them spayed or neutered can extend their life by eliminating their risk of reproductive cancers.
A nutritious diet is an important part of your Bengal's health. The best diet for a Bengal cat is a high-quality food that's specifically formulated for cats to ensure they get the correct nutrients. Be sure to pick a diet appropriate to your cat's life stage. For example, a Bengal kitten must eat a diet formulated for kittens, an adult Bengal should eat an adult cat diet, and an older Bengal would benefit from a senior formula.
Besides what a cat eats, the volume of food they consume can also impact their quality of life. Bengals can become overweight if they're overfed or don't engage in daily exercise. Unfortunately, overweight cats are at risk for life-threatening conditions like diabetes or heart problems.
Even though Bengals are long-lived cats, they can be at risk for breed-related health issues:
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: Heart murmurs, and a thickened heart muscle
- Pyruvate kinase deficiency: PK deficiency, where red blood cells break down more quickly than they should
- Progressive retinal atrophy: Inherited disease that leads to blindness
- Luxating patella: Dislocated kneecap, where the kneecap slips out of place
- Sensitive digestive system: Dietary and digest issues related to the breed
Purchasing your Bengal from a responsible breeder who completes genetic testing on all breeding cats and available kittens can help minimize the possibility that your cat to face these health concerns.
Tips to Extend Your Bengal's Lifespan
Some factors that affect how long your cat will stay healthy are out of your control. But don't worry. There are a lot of things you can do to help your Bengal live a long life.
- Feed them a healthy diet. Make sure you offer a high-quality cat food in the right proportion to keep your cat at a healthy weight.
- Make sure they have fresh water. Provide a source of clean, fresh water at all times. A pet fountain can help induce cats to drink, because they like flowing water.
- Keep their litter box clean. Offering your cat a sanitary, safe place to do their business contributes to their overall health.
- Attend to their grooming. Most cats are self-cleaning, but you still need to keep their coat clean. The good news is, Bengals are water-loving cats, so start early and they'll adjust well.
- Keep them indoors. Outdoor cats have to deal with all sorts of dangers, including the risk of getting hit by a car and predation from wild animals. Keep your cat inside to protect their health.
- Give them enrichment. Cats need exercise and mental stimulation, just like humans do. If you offer your cat chances for play and physical activity, they'll be healthier overall.
- Spay or neuter your cat. Taking care of this early in your cat's life can prevent them from developing diseases later. Most Bengal breeders require this for pet Bengals, too.
- Take your Bengal to a good vet. Spend some time and find a veterinarian who you trust, and who can offer the highest quality care to your pet Bengal.
Help Your Bengal Live a Long Life
Understanding how long your Bengal is likely to live isn't just interesting. It can allow you to give your cat the best quality of life. If you can anticipate their lifespan, you can also identify their specific life stage (kitten, young adult, adult, senior, or geriatric) to provide them with appropriate care.
Still, it's important to remember that each cat is an individual, so there's a chance your Bengal may not live as long as the average, or they may live well past it. However long your special kitty lives, you can help them live a full, healthy life.