Where are Bengal cats illegal or restricted?

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.

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 a 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.

AlaskaMust be at least four generations removed from the leopard cat

A permit and a registered pedigree indicating the previous four generations are required

Source: Michigan State University College of Law
California Legal

Source: Michigan State University – Animal Legal and Historical Center
Connecticut Illegal to own any generation

Source: Connecticut General Assembly
DelawarePermit required

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
GeorgiaLicense required

Source: Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ website
HawaiiIllegal to own any generation

Source: State of Hawaii – Plant Industry Division
IowaMust 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 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
Seattle (Washington)Illegal

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 a fourth- or later-generation Bengal

No permit is required 

Source: Government of Alberta
British ColumbiaLegal
New BrunswickLegal
Nova Scotia Legal
Ontario Legal
Quebec Legal

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 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 leopard cat

Source: Environment Brussels
United KingdomLegal

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 leopard cat

Official pedigree papers and the microchip number are required for importation

Source: Australian government

Final thoughts

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.

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 find a cattery that offers what you’re looking for.

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