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Do Bengal Cats Eat A Lot? (New Owner’s Guide)

Bengal cats are beautiful, exotic, friendly, and energetic. With the focus being on their striking coats and affectionate charms, it can be easy to overlook their dietary requirements. To care well for your Bengal, you need to understand their nutritional needs and how much Bengal cats eat.

Bengal cats do eat a lot when compared to your average domesticated cat. Bengals will typically eat around 20-25% more than an average domestic cat. Bengal cats tend to eat a lot due to their naturally high metabolism, along with their large, muscular build, and they require a high-protein diet.

Meeting your Bengal’s dietary requirements will not only keep them well and strong now but will serve as an investment in their future health as well. With the fascinating genetic makeup of the Bengal, comes a unique and specific diet. We discuss the ideal Bengal cat diet in more detail below.

Why Do Bengals Eat So Much?

Bengals eat so much as a result of their genetic makeup. As they share some of their genetic makeup with the wild Asian Leopard Cat, they have a very high metabolism and a lot of energy to expend. This naturally means they tend to eat more than your average domestic cat.

It’s all about the genes! With ancestry that includes the Asian Leopard Cat, Bengals, while domesticated, are quite different from the average domestic cat. This genetic makeup has a massive influence on the calorific needs of the Bengal. The most important aspects to consider are behavior and physical makeup.

Let’s take a closer look at the Asian Leopard Cat. Its natural habitat is in forested areas where it spends a large portion of its time climbing trees and hunting at night to ensure its survival. The Bengal has inherited this energetic and determined nature along with a naturally higher metabolism. They are well known for their excessive energy levels (and subsequent appetite!) when awake.

In terms of the build of the Bengal, their bodies are lean and muscular just like the Egyptian Mau’s, the other genetic influence of the Bengal. Adapted for climbing and hunting, their legs are longer than those of a regular domestic cat. While they are not significantly larger than typical domestic cats, muscle is denser than fat and requires a high-calorific diet to maintain.

How Much Should You Feed Your Bengal?

You should feed your Bengal cat around 20-25% more than you would feed an average domestic cat, in multiple small meals each day. How much you should feed your Bengal largely depends on their age. Kittens need a lot more food than fully grown Bengals due to the rapid growth rate they experience.

By understanding your Bengal’s nutritional needs at each stage of their development, you will be able to provide an ideal diet for your Bengal to maintain optimal health.

While each Bengal is unique, the following guidelines should give you a good idea of where to start in terms of daily calorie intake. Overfeeding or underfeeding can introduce a host of health concerns that you’ll want to avoid.

Bengal Kittens

During the early stages of your Bengal’s life, your kitten will need about 100 calories per pound each day. To meet this need you’ll want to weigh your kitten regularly. This will step down to 40 calories per pound by the time your Bengal is 10 months old.

An example of how to step down your Bengal’s calorie intake is as follows:

  • 100 calories until 12 weeks
  • 95 calories at 16 weeks
  • 90 calories at 20 weeks
  • 85 calories at 24 weeks
  • 75 calories at 28 weeks
  • 65 calories at 32 weeks
  • 55 calories at 36 weeks
  • 40 calories at 40 weeks

As your Bengal’s growth rate slows down, the decrease in calories increases.

Adult Bengals

At around 18 months to 2 years of age, your Bengal will be fully grown. At this stage, they will require a daily intake of 25-30 calories per pound. No two cats are the same, so you’ll need to monitor your Bengal for signs of under or overfeeding and adjust their diet accordingly. If you’re unsure, consult your vet for advice.

Another factor that affects a Bengal’s appetite is the weather. Bengals will be hungrier during the cooler winter months than in the warmer summer weather. This is mostly due to the additional calories needed to keep warm.

Is My Bengal Eating Too Much Or Too Little?

The only sign your Bengal is overeating is if they gain significant weight beyond what is considered healthy. If your Bengal is underweight, then there is a chance they need more food. If they are underweight but eat all the time, that indicates a possible health issue and might be best solved by a diet change.

How Often Should I Feed My Bengal Cat?

How often you feed your Bengal cat will depend on their age. Kittens need smaller meals more often, around 3-4 times a day, and adult Bengals will eat 2-3 times a day. Leopard cats eat around 10 small meals a day while exercising in between.

While it isn’t practical to provide your cat with 10 meals a day, Bengals generally fare better with smaller, more frequent meals and exercise in between.

Do Bengal Cats Need A Special Diet?

Bengals don’t really need a special diet, as they just need one that is high in protein and low in artificial additives and filler ingredients found in some low-quality cat foods. While you can opt to feed your Bengal cat a raw diet, this is not strictly necessary to keep them happy and healthy.

To provide the optimal diet for your Bengal, you need to consider their genetic makeup once again. Strongly influenced by their Asian Leopard cat ancestry, Bengal cats’ diets differ from the average domestic cat. An Asian leopard cat’s diet consists mainly of insects, lizards, and birds – all of which are very high in protein.

To meet your Bengal’s dietary needs, you’ll need to provide them with cat food that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates and other filler materials (corn, soy, or rice) and preservatives – the cheap stuff simply isn’t good enough! Examine the label carefully and make sure you’re satisfied with the ingredients. Another option is to create your own cat food, which is simpler than you think.

Replicating a feral cat’s diet, raw meat is an excellent option. In fact, 70% of a Bengal cat’s diet should ideally be made up of fresh raw meat. Chicken, fish, lamb, beef, or turkey are all good choices. Turkey and salmon are high in natural Omega 3 fats. Choose organic where possible. The meat can either be prepared fresh or you can use a pre-frozen product.

Don’t be surprised if your Bengal catches and eats birds or insects – just consider it a saving on the grocery bill and a sign of a healthy and well-adjusted cat.

While protein is the number one ingredient of a Bengal’s diet, you must ensure they are also receiving enough vitamins and minerals. The best way to include them is to supplement your Bengal’s diet with vitamin and mineral enriched cat food – the best quality you can afford is a good place to start. The ingredient label will tell you all you need to know.

What Foods Should A Bengal Never Eat?

In the same way that there are foods you will encourage your Bengal to eat, there are certain foods you will want to avoid at all costs! If your Bengal tends to jump onto the kitchen counter, take care when cooking with the following foods.

Foods That Are Toxic For Bengals

Foods that are toxic for Bengals include:

  • Avocados contain Persin – toxic to the Bengal cat
  • Caffeine found in chocolate and coffee
  • Liver, while healthy in small quantities, is high in vitamin A and can easily cause vitamin A toxicity
  • Alcohol or yeast results in alcohol poisoning which can damage your Bengal’s brain and liver

Foods That May Cause Issues For Your Bengal

Foods that may cause health issues for your Bengal include:

  • Raw eggs can be a source of Salmonella – a type of food poisoning
  • Macadamia nuts are high in fat which can lead to indigestion and pain
  • Raw potatoes and tomatoes contain a chemical harmful to the digestive tract
  • Xylitol sweetener can have a drastic effect on a Bengal’s blood sugar

In addition to toxic and harmful foods, whole bones should be avoided as they can cause choking or perforation of their delicate intestinal tract.

Do Bengal Cats Have Food Allergies?

10% of Bengal cats develop food allergies. Signs of an allergy mimic a human’s experience: itchiness, swelling, indigestion, etc. If you’re concerned that your Bengal is allergic to a certain food, try the elimination diet.

Take your Bengal cat’s diet down to its simplest form (raw meat is best) for a while and then carefully add in other high-quality foods and note any allergic reactions. This will allow you to identify the culprit that is causing the allergic reactions in a safe and controlled way.

Can Diet Affect A Bengal Cat’s Behavior?

Besides health issues, the most obvious sign that your Bengal’s diet needs revising is a change in behavior (for the worse) or persistent negative behavior. A sudden increase in noise-making or destructive behavior, not always but often, indicates a sub-optimal diet. Many Bengal owners report an improvement in behavior after a diet change.

Don’t limit your Bengal’s calories if they aren’t overweight. The easiest diet change to make is simply to offer an additional meal each day. Whether this increases the daily calorie intake or splits the same calories across more frequent meals, it can be a very effective way to combat behavioral concerns.

In nature, Leopard Cats expel energy in between meals. By increasing the frequency of your Bengal’s meals, you will help your cat establish the natural rhythm of eating smaller portions followed by exercising, which can improve the digestion and overall contentment of these active cats.

If your Bengal seems continually hungry, consider a change in cat food. Often, even if a diet is sufficient in calories, it may not be digested well due to nutrient deficiencies. Take a closer look at your Bengal’s diet and try something new. When in doubt, chat to your vet for an expert take on your complicated but fascinating semi-feral cat!

Final Thoughts

On average, adult Bengal cats eat between 20-25% more than average domestic cats. Their genetic makeup includes Asian Leopard Cat and Egyptian Mau. This exotic blend has resulted in a domestic cat that has a higher metabolism, a larger, more muscular build, and a greater calorie requirement.