After falling in love with Bengals (they are quite special after all), one of the first questions people ask is: are Bengal cats illegal where I live?
The tables below indicate where Bengals cats are illegal or restricted, and where a permit, pedigree papers or registration are required. In many cases, laws and regulations refer to the animal’s generation. To better understand Bengal cat generations and the filial scale (F1, F4, SBT, etc.), you can refer to this article.
Keep in mind that laws can change at any time, so make sure to double-check any information on your government’s website.
A quick note about Bengal cat restrictions and bans
Although the Bengal cat was recognized by TICA in 1986, there are still a lot of misconceptions about this breed. One such misconception is that it’s half-wild. While first generation Bengals (the direct offspring of a domestic cat and an Asian Leopard Cat) are indeed half-wild, the subsequent generations are not.
This misconception has led to many jurisdictions prohibiting or restricting the ownership of Bengal cats. For this reason, it is crucial to know your local regulations before adopting a Bengal.
These are the restrictions for the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia:
Are Bengal cats illegal in the United States?
In the United States, Bengals are banned in Connecticut, Hawaii, Seattle, and New York City. There are also restrictions or requirements in Alaska, Delaware, Denver, Georgia, Iowa, and Massachusetts.
|Alaska||Must be at least four generations removed from the Asian Leopard Cat|
A permit and a registered pedigree indicating the previous four generations are required
Source: Michigan State University College of Law
Source: Michigan State University – Animal Legal and Historical Center
|Connecticut||Illegal to own any generation|
Source: Connecticut General Assembly
Source: Delaware 903 Exotic Animal Regulations
|Denver (Colorado)||Legal as long as the previous five generations have all lived in captivity|
Source: Revised Municipal Code of the City and County of Denver, Colorado, Sec. 8-72
Source: Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ website
|Hawaii||Illegal to own any generation|
Source: State of Hawaii – Plant Industry Division
|Iowa||Must be “the fourth or later filial generation of offspring with the first filial generation being the offspring of a domestic cat and an Asian leopard cat, and each subsequent generation being the offspring of a domestic cat”|
Source: 2016 Iowa Code
|Massachusetts||Must be “registered with a nationally or internationally recognized breeding association or registry which certifies the pedigree and registration of such cat to be without any wild felid parentage for a minimum of three generations”|
Source: Commonwealth of Massachusetts
|New York City||Illegal to own any generation (the city bans the offspring of any hybrid of a wild cat and a domestic cat)|
Source: City of New York, article 161
|New York State||Must be at least five generations removed from the Asian Leopard Cat|
Must be registered with the American Cat Fanciers Association or The International Cat Association
Banned in New York City
Source: The New York State Senate
Source: Ordinance No. 121178
|Utah||Legal (the ban on wild feline hybrids doesn’t apply to breeds that are recognized as domestic cats by TICA)|
Source: Utah Administrative rule R657-3
Are Bengal cats illegal in Canada?
|Alberta||Must be registered with The International Cat Association as being a 4th generation or greater Bengal|
No permit is required
Source: Government of Alberta
Are Bengal cats illegal in Europe?
In Europe, laws regarding the ownership of Bengal cats vary from country to country. They may also vary from city to city within each country.
|Brussels (Belgium)||Legal to own a neutered Bengal that is at least five generations removed from the Asian Leopard Cat|
Registration is mandatory
Only registered breeders can own unneutered Bengals
Special authorization is required for Bengals that are less than five generations removed from the Asian Leopard Cat
Source: Environment Brussels
License no longer required since 2007
Source: UK legislation
Are Bengal cats illegal in Australia?
Australia has specific laws regarding the ownership of Bengal cats.
|Australia||Must be at least five generations removed from the Asian Leopard cat|
Official pedigree papers and the microchip number are required for importation
Source: Australian government
If Bengals are legal in your area, then that’s great news! That being said, it’s important to know that these animals aren’t suited for everyone. Before welcoming a Bengal into your house, make sure to read about the pros and cons of the breed and about the costs of owning such a pet.
Another thing to know is that declawing is forbidden in many jurisdictions (but as we explain here, there are great alternatives).
For more legal questions and answers that aren’t covered in this article, see our Bengal Cats Legality FAQ.
Once you’ve confirmed that a Bengal is a good fit, you can start shopping around using our United States Price Guide or our Canada Price Guide. This will allow you to easily compare prices and to find a cattery that offers what you’re looking for.