An F1 Bengal cat is a first-generation Bengal cat, meaning that one parent is an Asian Leopard Cat, and the other is a domestic cat. If you’re lucky enough to own this rare feline, you’ll need to know everything on how to care for them. Keep reading for your full guide for new F1 Bengal cat owners.
Bengal cats are classified by how many generations removed they are from the Asian Leopard Cat. Since F1 generation Bengals are half wild, they’re expensive and require special care, including a stimulating environment, special diet, grooming, and lots of attention.
It’s uncommon to adopt an F1 Bengal cat, as most Bengals available for adoption are later down the line in terms of breeding and fully domesticated. But if you’re able to adopt an F1 Bengal cat, the guide below will tell you everything it takes to be the responsible owner of a happy Bengal.
F in Bengal cats stands for Filial. In the case of the filial (F) generations in Bengal cats, it refers to the crossbreeding of domestic cats with the wild Asian Leopard Cat (ALC). That means the F1 Bengal is the result of the direct breeding of an ALC with a domestic cat.
The chart below explains F (filial) ratings used by breeders:
|F1 Bengal Cat||1 Asian Leopard Cat Parent + 1 Domestic Cat Parent|
|F2 Bengal Cat||1 F1 Bengal Cat Parent + 1 Domestic Cat Parent|
|F3 Bengal Cat||1 F2 Bengal Cat Parent + 1 Domestic Cat Parent|
|F4 Bengal Cat||1 F3 Bengal Cat Parent + 1 Domestic Cat Parent|
In the 1960s, a woman named Jean Mill successfully bred the first F1 generation of Bengal. As you may have guessed, F1 Bengal cats are still very wild. This is why it’s rare to see them available for adoption, and why they’re illegal to have as pets in certain places. Bengal cats classified as F4 and beyond are fully domesticated and are what most people have as pets.
An F1 Bengal cat is not the same as a typical domesticated cat you see in people’s homes. F1 Bengal cats are essentially half wild, meaning one of its parents is a wild cat. The Asian Leopard Cat is the breed of wild cat that domestic cats are bred with to create the Bengal cat breed.
An F1 Bengal cat is the first generation under the Asian Leopard cat. Each number after that indicates how many generations removed the Bengal cat is from its wild lineage. Later generations (F2 and on) may be bred with a variety of domestic breeds, but most Bengal cats today are bred with other Bengals.
The term F1 means the first generation of Filial, and the 1 designates the generation number from the Asian Leopard Cats (ALC). The F1 Bengal Cat is the result of the crossbreeding of an ALC with a domestic cat. This F1 cat has characteristics of both the ALC and the domestic breed.
Filial ratings aren’t exclusive to the Bengal cat. Other popular, wild hybrid cats include the Safari cat (Geoffroy’s cat and domestic cat), Savannah (Serval cat and domestic cat), and Chausies (Jungle cat and domestic cat). Each of these hybrids use Filial ratings to denote what generation the offspring is.
F1 Bengal cats have one parent that is an Asian Leopard Cat, so they are a true half-wild cat. In some locations, owning Bengals may be restricted if they belong to an F1-F3 generation. Male Bengals are often infertile in the F1-F3 generations.
Let’s break down the differences in breeding between F1, F2 and F3 Bengal cats:
- F1 is a cross between an Asian Leopard Cat (Prionailurus Bengalensis) and a Domestic Shorthair Cat (usually a British Shorthair, Ocicat, Abyssinian, Egyptian Mau, or Bombay)
- F2 is a cross between a female F1 Bengal cat and a fertile Bengal male
- F3 is a cross between a female F2 Bengal cat and a fertile Bengal male
If you are purchasing an F1 Bengal cat for breeding purposes, you likely are getting a female cat. Male Bengal cats are usually infertile until F4, so if you want one for breeding purposes, make sure you don’t get a Filial that’s too low or you’ll be disappointed.
F1 Bengal cats tend to cost between $2,000 and $10,000 for a kitten. Depending on your reasons for purchasing the cat (for breeding, showing, or as a pet), the cat’s markings and coat coloring, and the quality of the cat, the price you pay will vary.
F1 Bengal cats are more expensive than F2-F4 and later generations. A fertile female F1 Bengal cat will cost even more than a sterile F1 male Bengal cat, because she can be used for breeding purposes. A male F1 Bengal cat can be purchased for as low as $1,500, and by contrast, F2 and F3 Bengal cats are significantly less expensive at $1,500-$5,000, regardless of gender.
If you’re looking to purchase a Bengal cat as a pet and not for breeding purposes, you may be better off purchasing a fully domesticated F4 or later. An F4 Bengal cat can be purchased for about $1,000. However, if you’re set on purchasing an F1 Bengal cat, it’s important to also consider the medical cost of owning one.
As with other pedigreed cats, F1 Bengal cats may be prone to certain genetic disorders,so it’s important to budget for regular vet visits, potential medication costs, and pet insurance. Even a healthy kitten can develop health problems as it matures. As with any pet adoption, make sure you make a health check-up your number one priority after bringing your kitty home.
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the thickening of the heart muscle, which makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood. Testing for this condition costs is relatively cheap (not including the cost of vet visit). However, treatment can be very costly — upwards of thousands of dollars — depending upon the regularity of treatment.
- Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PK-Def) causes anemia and other blood-related issues in your F1 Bengal cat. As this disease is more common in the Abyssinian breed, it’s more likely that your Bengal will develop PK-Def if it’s a hybrid of the ALC and an Abyssinian. The cost of this test is approximately $75. Treatment may involve bone marrow transplantation, which is extremely expensive and risky.
- PRA (Bengal Progressive Retinal Atrophy) causes recessive blindness in cats due to the dying of cells in their eyes that register light. The cost of this test is approximately $40 (not including vet fees or subsequent eye exams).
Pet insurance is a wise choice if you are adopting any pet, but especially if you are adopting a purebred or pedigreed pet like an F1 Bengal cat. Keep in mind that pet insurance may be more expensive for your F1 Bengal cat than it would be for a regular domestic cat, due to hereditary conditions.
Make sure that your pet insurance plan offers full coverage, including for conditions specific to its pedigree. The average cost of pet insurance for cats can run from around $9-$30 per month, per cat. It’s wise to get pet insurance right away, while your F1 Bengal cat is still a kitten, as it will be more cost-effective.
F1 Bengal cats tend to be average to large and may be larger than the typical domestic cat. This is because of the Bengal cat’s wild lineage. Their ancestors, Asian Leopard Cats, are very muscular and can grow close to 15 pounds with the right diet.
Since Bengal cats take on the characteristics of its wild Asian Leopard cat ancestors, as well as the domestic cat used in breeding, size varies. The average weight of the Asian Leopard Cat is 10-15 pounds, so it’s likely that a Bengal will be at the heavier end of the weight range for the domestic cat used in breeding.
Here’s a chart showing the average adult weight of domestic breeds crossbred with the ALC to give you an idea of how big your F1 Bengal may be by weight:
|British Shorthair||11-18 pounds|
|Egyptian Mau||7-11 pounds|
F1 Bengal cats are full of energy, as they are very close to their wild lineage and their ALC genes are more prominent than later generations of Bengals. They are curious, playful, and sociable animals, although they tend to bond more closely with one person rather than warm up to every person who gives them attention. They are also highly intelligent and can be trained to do tricks.
F1 Bengal cats are very vocal, so expect to hear a variety of meowing noises, chirps, and purrs coming from your cat. They also love to play in the water. If you keep your F1 Bengal cat indoors, they may try to join you in the shower or bath. To prevent this, have an outdoor play area (described later in this guide) that includes a water fountain and wading pool.
These felines are also very good and avid climbers. They love exploring high places and perching with a view from above. It’s necessary to provide your F1 Bengal cat with a cat tree (or more) as well as shelves and high-up spaces for it to explore. Don’t be surprised if you end up with a counter-jumper.
Loving And Intelligent
Expect a lot of cuddles with your F1 Bengal cat. They may seem wild on the outside, but they are warm and endearing on the inside. They are highly affectionate cats and tend to bond heavily with one person to whom they will be loyal their entire life.
Smart is an understatement when it comes to the F1 Bengal cat. If you want a cat that you can train to do a variety of tricks, this is the cat for you. You can even train a Bengal to take walks on a leash with you. In fact, teaching your cat tricks is highly recommended, as these cats need constant stimulation.
Keep in mind that a bored Bengal is a bad Bengal. If you’re not providing enough activity or stimulation for your cat, it may become destructive. It’s not your cat’s fault, it’s just how their genetics have made them, and they need to be constantly stimulated or they will find something to get into.
Your Bengal will love any kind of attention, even negative attention. It’s best to reward good behavior rather than react to bad behavior. Otherwise, your cat may end up doing the bad behavior over and over just to get a rise out of you. Bengal’s need lots of toys of its own, or your belongings may become its toys.
Bengals can get along well with certain pets if they are introduced early and correctly. Dogs can make especially good companions for F1 Bengal cats. The key is to expose the pets to each other from an early stage. Older pets may have trouble acclimating to your Bengal, and vice versa.
It’s necessary for pets, regardless of how well they get along, to have their own haven when they need alone time or are over-stimulated. Bengals can be exhausting for more mild-tempered pets. If you have other animals, make a little place just for them for when they want some alone time.
Bengal cats can also be very territorial, so if you sense tension between your Bengal cat and other household pets, it’s a good idea to give your Bengal cat its own area to retreat to. Providing a crate or an enclosed play area that is exclusively for your Bengal cat is a good way to keep your other pets safe and your Bengal cat at ease.
When You Shouldn’t Have Other Pets
It might be wise not to have an F1 Bengal cat in the same home as smaller animals. They may see them as prey and Bengals are avid hunters. This may also include smaller dogs or domestic cats. It’s not uncommon for cats to get into altercations with one another. Your other pets should be around the same size as your F1 Bengal cat.
Most F1 Bengals are kept for breeding purposes. If that’s the case with your Bengal cat, it’s wise to not mix cat breeds in your household. Unneutered male cats have increased hormone levels that can create behavior problems, including marking and seeking out a mate. This can also create conflict between your F1 Bengal cat and other cats in the home, which may result in serious injuries.
This is even true if your F1 Bengal cat is a sterile male. To help with the hormone issue, you may also want to try certain products on the market that contain pheromones that can soothe aggression in your cats. Feliway is popular, but there are others. Talk to your vet.
F1 Bengals can get on well with kids, as both are highly energetic and playful. However, F1 Bengal cats may be too wild for very young children, toddlers, and infants. It’s therefore not recommended to keep an F1 Bengal cat in a home with small children or babies.
Also, F1 Bengals can be shy at times, or bond with only one person, so if you are adopting an F1 Bengal cat, it’s best to get one as a kitten if you are in a home with children so that your children and the kitten can bond from an early age and become friends more quickly.
You can also look for an F1 Bengal kitten that has been hand-raised by a breeder, as they may be even more people-friendly and well behaved in a household with children. Always make sure that your F1 Bengal cat has its own environment or safe space away from your children or crate your cat when it needs a break from the kids.
A raw food diet is best suited for the F1 Bengal cat, as that diet more closely mimics what an Asian Leopard Cat would eat in the wild. In fact, your cat may prefer it. Be careful with feeding your Bengal raw meat, however, as raw meat can carry bacteria that is very harmful to your cat.
Feeding your F1 Bengal cat raw meat on a regular basis is not necessary, however it’s best to stick with an organic diet high in protein (or grain-free), This is healthiest for your Bengal because it has a great deal of lean muscle mass. Stay away from cat food that contains a lot of fillers or other harmful ingredients.
Ideally, you want to provide your F1 Bengal cat with both an indoor and outdoor play area. If you don’t have a yard or other way to create a safe, enclosed outdoor space for your cat, this is probably not the pet for you. Bengals absolutely need space to roam and play.
If you’re keeping your F1 Bengal cat indoors, you’ll want to think vertically. These cats are climbers, and they will not enjoy being confined to the floor all the time. You’ll also want a variety of toys to keep it stimulated and feed its active curiosity. Here are the top 12 items you’ll want to include in your indoor play space:
- Cat trees
- Cat shelves
- Window perches
- Litter boxes (2 per cat is recommended)
- Scratching posts and ramps
- Cat beds
- Crate or cat house
- Water fountain
- Puzzle toys
- Teaser toys
- Toy mice or other chase toys
- Cat grass
Creating your own outdoor sanctuary suited to your half-wild hybrid is highly recommended. Remember, the ALC is used to being outdoors, so why confine it to an inside-only environment? Investing a bit into a better play area for your F1 Bengal cat will go a long way towards having a happy, healthy pet. Here are the top 12 items that you’ll want to include in your outdoor play space:
- A crate or shed
- Cat beds
- Live plants or trees (make sure they are non-toxic to your pet)
- Litter boxes (2 per cat is recommended)
- Cat door (to go inside and outside, if possible)
- Hanging ropes
- Water fountain
- Wading pool
These are just a few recommendations, but feel free to get creative. Try adding a treehouse, a sandbox, or anything else that is safe and can provide your F1 Bengal cat hours of enjoyment. Just remember to make sure the area is safely enclosed and has a roof as well.
Make sure that the environment is also temperature-controlled, or adaptable for inclement weather. Provide warm blankets or bedding in the winter and try filling the wading pool with ice water or frozen toys in the summer. Include areas with shade and full sun.
These recommendations are for keeping your F1 Bengal cat confined to your own yard. It’s very dangerous to let an F1 hybrid cat roam freely. They are natural hunters and are likely to seek out prey and this can be destructive to other animals in your neighborhood. Not to mention, your F1 Bengal could seriously injure itself.
Just like a domestic cat, it’s important to regularly keep your cat’s coat brushed and its claws trimmed. Brushing keeps your cat’s coat and skin healthy and trimming claws can significantly help reduce any damage to property or injuries caused by scratching.
Have you ever noticed how rough a cat’s tongue is? The barbs on its tongue help with grooming. And while cats do give themselves tongue baths regularly, you can still take your F1 Bengal cat to the groomer for regular maintenance. Once per month, or every other month should do the trick. Regular grooming can also help your kitty avoid certain health issues.
Bengals love to play and explore and are very active felines. They have very active claw growth, too. Their claws grow very quickly, so check growth once per week to see where they’re at. Once claws are long enough that they’re curling over, it’s time for trimming.
Start while your F1 Bengal cat is still a kitten to get it used to claw trimming sessions. As they mature, they’ll be a pro. It’s tricky to trim the claws of an F1 Bengal cat by yourself, however, so it’s best to have at least one person to help you by holding the cat steady while you hold the trimmers. This will also help prevent you or your kitty from becoming injured while trimming.
Scratching is a natural thing for all cats to do, but especially an F1 Bengal cat. Think of how big cats climb trees, scratch tree trunks, and dig their claws into the earth. It’s the same for F1 Bengal cats. Cat scratchers help with this natural scratching instinct, but scratchers mostly help a cat to sharpen its claws and don’t prevent it from doing damage to furniture or skin.
Instead of declawing your F1 Bengal cat or punishing your cat from scratching (this will confuse and frustrate your cat), provide plenty of scratching posts, cardboard ramps, cat trees, or real trees, for your F1 Bengal cat to enjoy. Also, invest in a good quality trimmer and regular grooming sessions.
How To Trim
If you start when your F1 Bengal cat is a kitten, first handle its paws by softly massaging the pads on the bottoms of the paws and exposing its claws. Once your kitten has claws that are long enough they start getting stuck in things (couches, blankets, curtains), or if it starts to hurt when they “make biscuits” on your legs, it’s time for a trimming.
If you’re trimming at home, every two to three weeks should do the trick. In a pinch, you can use human nail clippers, although it’s best to use clippers that have curved edges that fit around the entire claw to trim your F1 Bengal Cat’s claws, as cat’s claws are shaped much differently than human nails. You can easily find these at a pet store.
Be careful when trimming your F1 Bengal cat’s claws. Make sure to gently hold each paw pad down to expose the nail and then only trim the sharp tip of the claw. Never cut too low, as this will hurt your cat and may even cause its paws to bleed. Think about when you cut your nail too close to the quick and how much it hurts. It’s the same for cats.
Make sure you trim all five nails on your F1 Bengal cat’s front paws and all four on the back. Don’t force your kitty, though. Sometimes, two sessions of nail trimmings are necessary, one for the front paws and one for the back. This gives your cat a bit of a break, which is good because they don’t really care for nail trimming sessions.
Although Bengal cats are not known to be heavy shedders, brushing your F1 Bengal cat regularly can improve its beautiful rosette coat, skin condition, and reduce shedding if you keep your cat indoors. Remember to always brush in the direction of hair growth, not against it. Having a variety of brushing tools can help keep your Bengal cat’s coat shiny.
Here are the three best brushes for an F1 Bengal cat:
- Slicker Brush: These brushes are made with thin metal tines and are perfect for all coat types. They can help keep your cat’s coat smooth and shiny are wonderful for improving skin conditions. However, keep in mind that the bristles are sharp, so don’t brush hard. Use very light strokes.
- Bristle Brush: These brushes are great for cats with short hair, like the F1 Bengal cat. It’s best to use this one as a finishing brush after you’ve used the slicker brush.
- Flea Comb: It’s best to have a flea comb to be prepared in case of a flea emergency.
Like other cat breeds, F1 Bengal Cats bathe themselves. Unlike many cats, however, F1 Bengal cats tend to love to be in water and have a lot of fun splashing around. In addition to its regular grooming routine, providing your F1 Bengal cat with a shallow kiddie pool for splashing and playing can also help to keep it clean without subjecting it to a bath.
If you want to bathe your F1 Bengal cat, use a very mild cat shampoo that is good for improving skin conditions. Look for ingredients like oatmeal, which soothes the skin. You may also want to have a flea shampoo on hand in case your cat gets a case of the critters.
F1 Bengal cats are a rare hybrid cat with one wild parent and one domestic parent. Bengal generations are called Filials (F), and the number that follows shows how far removed they are from their Asian Leopard Cat ancestor, with F1 being the least removed.