All of us who own pets and Bengal cats are no different, are always concerned about whether or not they might have special health problems. As a pet parent that’s understandable because after all our furry companions are part of our family and we love them. When it comes to Bengal cats their health problems really aren’t much different from any health issues that other domestic cats might come down with. In this post we will cover the following:
Common Health Problems
Less Common Health Problems
Taking Care of Your Bengal
Common Health Problems
Recently it’s been discovered that there are a few health issues that seem to be increasing in today’s Bengal cats and it’s important that you, their pet parent, should be aware of. One of those health issues is what is known as Progressive Retinal Atrophy or PRA.
PRA is a health issue that seems to be increasing and it’s a disorder that makes the cone and rod light receptors in the Bengal cat’s retina to begin to slowly start to deteriorate and then it typically will lead to blindness in your Bengal cat. Unfortunately for your Bengal, there are no tests at this moment that can detect Progressive Retinal Atropy in the breeding stocks of Bengals. So, the pet parent need to rely on the breeder they get their Bengal from to take the best parent stock, ones that don’t seem to have any instances of PRA in their lines and sell those offspring.
Recently, PRA has been linked to a lack of what’s called taurine in their diets. It seems that Bengal cats as a breed overall, needs more taurine than their other domestic counterparts. So, it’s important that you talk with the breeder or your vet to make sure that your Bengal is getting the right amounts of taurine.
Cataracts can be another health problem that Bengals sometimes have to deal with. Cataracts are film that forms on the eyes and they can slowly turn the normal, clear lens of your Bengals eye opaque instead of clear. This is something that can actually be inherited, caused by some type of injury to the eyes or a side effect of another illness. Cataracts can cause blindness if they get too bad. However, one amazing thing about all cats is that they adjust extremely well to being blind. Cataracts also cannot affect their lifespan.
Another problem you often see that Bengal cats have is called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy or HCM. This is a disease of the heart muscle itself and is one of the most common heart diseases found in all cats, including Bengals. This most often is a progressive disease and a lot of cats will experience heart failure and usually die from HCM. Many experts believe that HCM is inherited and can then be exacerbated if the cat has hypertension and/or hyperthyroidism. Both of these things can cause the ventricle to thicken. Like with PRA, it seems that a lack of taurine in their diets can be a contributing factor for them to develop HCM.
Your Bengal can be diagnosed with HCM by having a vet do an echocardiogram, however, it doesn’t always detect milder cases of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. It’s important that you try and find a cardiologist that is board certified to perform this type of test on your Bengal if you suspect they might have HCM. The quality of life and the lifespan of your Bengal will depend upon a variety of factors. Early detection of HCM will give you the best control of this life threatening disease.
Another common health problem that is found in all breeds of cats as well as Bengals is Chronic Renal Failure or also known as CRF. Even though it’s common in all cats, recently it seems there’s been increasing numbers of Bengals that are coming down with this health problem. Things that influence CRF are:
It is recommended that after your Bengal reaches the age of seven you should take them in to see the vet to be tested for CRF on a yearly basis. Your vet will perform both blood and urine tests in order to detect this disease. Some of the signs and symptoms of CRF are:
Loss of appetite
Coat loses luster
Your Bengal cat will have the best chance of controlling this disease if it’s detected in its early stages. If caught early enough, your Bengal should be able to go on to live a happy and full life.
It’s a myth that Bengal cats don’t get Feline Leukemia Virus or FeLV. Bengals can come down with FeLV just as easily as any other cat. FeLV is called a retrovirus and what it does is rewrite the RNA of a cell so that it can copy itself onto the cells DNA. After it has done this, it can’t be stopped or reversed or cured and this infectious disease leads to death in all domestic cats.
Any cat, including Bengals who end up with this horrible disease can in some rare cases live years after being diagnosed. However, more commonly they only survive for just a few weeks after they are diagnosed with it. It all depends on the cat and how soon the FeLV is discovered.
This disease can be hard for a vet to diagnose because all of the symptoms can be varied and quite numerous. There are several severe as well as chronic diseases that share some of the same symptoms as this one and this often leads to a problematic diagnosis for the vet. Symptoms of FeLV often include:
Lack of energy
Change in their appetite
Your Bengal can get FeLV by being exposed often to an infected cat. This virus is transferred through secretions from eyes, mouth and nose. It can also be spread via their feces and urine from an infected cat. Since the virus does become inactive quite rapidly, your Bengal needs to be around an infected cat for a long period of time before they can be infected with the virus. For more information on this deadly disease Click Here.
Less Common Health Problems
Other health problems that your Bengal cat might be afflicted with are listed below:
Distal Neuropathy – This is yet another very serious disorder that tends to be hereditary and affects about 9% of all Bengal cats within the first year of life. The very first sign that your Bengal might be suffering from this neurological disorder is constipation, weakness and a wound that doesn’t seem to be healing properly. As the disorder progresses, eventually paralysis will set in. The prognosis sad to say is not bright for cats who end up with this condition.
Psychogenic Alopecia – This is what is known in layman’s terms as “over-grooming” This is thought to be a disorder that is stress related and can get out of hand because it can become an obsessive compulsive behavior, something Bengals seem to lean towards. For most cats, self-grooming is a way for them to relax and calm down. However, it’s when it goes further than that and they start grooming themselves so much that they end up licking their fur off all over. The most common areas where the fur will be totally off will be their stomachs and thighs. As soon as you notice any patches of fur missing you should get your Bengal to a vet immediately so you can get the right diagnosis and then the right treatment can be prescribed.
Entropion – This is an eye disorder that Bengals seem to be prone to developing and it is something that needs to be treated as soon as you notice a problem. Entropion is very painful because the eyelids can become inverted. Treatment needs to start right away because if left untreated your cat can go blind. For more information on this disorder Click Here. The important symptoms to look for are:
a.) Constant blinking of the eyes
b.) Mucus discharge from the eyes
d.) Eyelids are swollen and inflamed
e.) Aversion to all light
f.) Pawing at their eye
Taking Care of Your Bengal
As a pet parent, it’s up to you to make sure that your Bengal is safe, happy, healthy. One of the key things you need to do is to make sure that your Bengal has regular visits at the vets. You want to make sure that your Bengal is well taken care of through these visits to the vet. If you get them use to the vet at an early age they could end up loving their vet like the one in this video:
You’ll want to make sure that your Bengal gets all the necessary vaccinations that will help protect your Bengal cat. Make sure to talk to your vet about the vaccinations that are required for them. Just make sure that you don’t over-vaccinate you Bengal because sometimes this can actually trigger cancer at the vaccination site.
It’s important that you keep your Bengal indoors unless you plan to leash and harness train them. If you allow them to roam free outside you never know what they’re being exposed to and this could endanger their health.
You also want to make sure that any other cats that you might expose them to are healthy and have the most important vaccinations needed. The last thing you want to do is to expose your beloved Bengal to an unhealthy cat.
Did this article help you understand what health problems your Bengal cat can have? Any other questions? Let us know below.
JoinThe Bengal Cat Club!
We've created a FREE Facebook community with over 500 people who love Bengal cats. This community includes Bengal Cat owners, breeders, and potential adopters. But we're missing one thing....YOU!
Get all of your questions answered from the experts.