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For this reason, some people wonder if they should let their Bengal roam outside on its own. According to outdoor cat advocates, our feline friends live better lives when they’re allowed outside. For instance, outdoor cats can engage in their natural behaviors (climbing, hunting, spraying, etc.) and exercise more. Plus, they always have new things to discover, which keeps them stimulated.
While these arguments may seem convincing at first glance, especially for owners who live in a small home, there’s also a flip side to consider. As we explain in this article, letting your Bengal cat go outside on its own is actually very risky.
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The good news is, there are many ways to keep your Bengal stimulated even if it’s not allowed to roam freely outside. We discuss these below.
Can Bengal cats be kept inside?
Bengal cats can (and should) be kept inside. That said, they’re not as easy to keep as most other cats, as they have a high need for exercise and mental stimulation.
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While the outside world provides cats with plenty of ways to exercise and all sorts of stimulating things, it’s also very dangerous. If you let your Bengal go out on its own, it risks getting into fights with other cats or wild animals, which could lead to injuries, infections or even death. Other dangers include cars, thieves (who want to keep or sell Bengals), cruel people, parasites, and toxic plants and substances.
It’s also worth mentioning that Bengals are formidable hunters, which makes them a threat to small wildlife.
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For these reasons, Bengals should be kept inside, except during supervised outings. Thankfully, it’s very much possible to satisfy an indoor Bengal’s need for physical and mental stimulation (see below).
How to keep a Bengal cat inside
The key to keeping a Bengal cat inside is to spend time with it, play with it regularly, and provide it with a stimulating environment so it can satisfy its instincts and doesn’t get bored.
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This environment should allow your Bengal to play, climb, hide, rest comfortably, hone its claws, and do everything else that cats like to do.
To this end, it should include:
- one or two cat trees or cat condos
- scratching surfaces (poles with sisal rope, cardboard scratchers, etc.)
- various toys (make sure they are robust and made of safe materials)
- a slow feeder or an interactive feeder (such as these)
- wall shelves, window perches or other structures on which to safely climb
Your Bengal would also enjoy:
- a cat tunnel
- a ball track (our Bengals try one out in this video)
- an exercise wheel
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You also want to make sure your Bengal can see outside, either through a window or a porch door. This will provide it with hours of entertainment.
Safety tip: As PETA advises, it’s important to “tuck the cords of blinds up and out of the way so that legs and other body parts don’t get entangled in them.”
Another way to keep your Bengal stimulated and in shape is to take it out for walks. This will allow it to exercise more freely and enjoy new sights, smells and sounds with much less risk than free roaming.
Does this mean that walking a Bengal outside is totally without risk? No. Even supervised walks can be dangerous, especially if the necessary safety precautions aren’t taken. Before you give your cat the gift of the outdoors, make sure to read our 8 essential tips for walking a cat outside.
Is keeping a Bengal cat inside risky?
While Bengals should be kept inside, it’s important to know that they present a certain risk to people and property, just like any other cat (or perhaps even more so).
Risks for people
Bengal cats have a lot of energy to spare and are quite athletic. While they aren’t aggressive by nature, they can still cause accidental injuries when playing or when trying to escape a person’s grasp. That’s why it’s crucial to teach children and guests how to behave with your pet. The last thing you want is for someone to get scratched in an eye!
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Risks for property
If you don’t provide your Bengal with scratching surfaces, chances are that it will damage furniture, carpets or drapes. Therefore, scratching posts are an absolute must from day 1.
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What about declawing? That’s not an option, as it’s very harmful to cats.
Another risk with Bengal cats is house soiling, which can have different causes, including:
- an aversion to the litter box
- a diseases (such as diabetes mellitus)
- an injury
- digestive tract problems
- mobility problems (due to old age, for example)
Bengals can also spray urine on furniture, on shoes, on pillows and in other areas to mark their territory or to express their frustration. This behavior is called “urine marking” and differs from inappropriate toileting. Thankfully, there are different ways to solve both these issues.
To learn more about house soiling causes and solutions, see this article: Inappropriate toileting and urine marking in Bengal cats.
A century ago, people didn’t think twice about letting their cat go outside. But the world has changed since then, and it’s no longer advisable to let our feline friends roam freely, especially not Bengals. From cars to infectious diseases, there are simply too many risks in the outside world. It’s no wonder indoor cats live a lot older than outdoor cats.
Does that mean that your Bengal should be confined to your home at all times? Not at all. You can take it on walks using a leash to let it enjoy the outdoors more safely.
While Bengal cats can and should be kept inside, it’s important to know that they are quite needy. If you want your spotted friend to thrive, you’ll have to set aside some time for it every day. You’ll also need to provide it with a stimulating environment that includes scratching surfaces.
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Truth be told, owning a Bengal isn’t easy. It’s a big time commitment and a big financial commitment. If your Bengal doesn’t have a rich environment and isn’t properly stimulated, chances are that it will develop behavioral problems (house soiling, furniture destruction, etc.). Before you settle on this breed, make sure to read about its pros and cons.