ANIMAL LOVER and/or CRAZY CAT LADY?:
A client once told me that comedian Paula Poundstone does a bit in her comedy routine where she declares that she's not a crazy cat lady! Since she shares her multiple cat home with another animal species (a single dog) it simply makes you an "Animal Lover".
So, I accept that description as my own :) - but may be leaning a bit more towards "Crazy Cat Lady" these days! :)
I started my adventure with Bengals back in 1999 where I got my first Bengal cat from Karen Donoyan in Oregon.... She handed me a WILD 8 week old, 3rd generation (approx. 12.5% wild blood) kitten and told me how to tame my new wild beast :) Well, that was quite an experience that I wasn't completely ready for.... Initially he hissed and spit at me until I found the courage to scruff him and hold him close to my heart as I drove the 4 hours north back to Seattle. We had an incredible bond and Mephi LOVED to live in the drapes of my canopy bed as it was as close to a tree that I could get. Unfortunately, he made his desire to be an inside/outside cat known by spraying all over my furniture until I gave into him and let him begin his life as an inside/outside Bengal. I think it was him seeing the outdoors and the fact that my 2 Samoyeds could go in and out - He was a bit jealous! While no ethical breeder would recommend a life of inside/outside because of the danger and fearless personalities of bengals, but it was what I needed to do to have a happy pet and home. Fortunately, My clients really won't need to do this - My Bengals are 7 - 12 generations from the closest wild ancestor and a lot of selective breeding has been done to give my bengals/clients a happy and safe "indoors only" home life. I have never had a cat past 4 generations that sprayed indoors (female or male) as long as they are spayed/neutered at an age appropriate time (about 6 months if not living with another unaltered feline). The early generation bengals just have more wild blood than those that I choose to work with today as well as not have enough generations away from thier wild ancestor to have the time to choose the desired traits and leave the less desireable behind. I like the fine tuning of personality and physical traits in generations that are farther away from their wild ancestors. I try to create living art with cats that look like a wild feline ancestor (African Leopard, Asian Leopard Cat, Black Jaguar, Clouded Leopard, Ocelot and Margay) with a domestic personality so that create today. (I average between 3% and 6% wild DNA) I THANK Karen so much for bringing me my first Bengal - It was a true adventure
Mephistopheles "Mephi" - F3 Bengal and 1st Bengal for Teresa Just look at that tail!
OUTDOORS PERSONAL NOTE: Once a bengal finds the outside "Disneyland", they are almost impossible to keep indoors - they just love it too much. This is where many breeders disagree with each other - I DO NOT think that they make good indoor/outdoor pets and I can tell you SO MANY reasons why you should not allow it. But - It is significantly more entertaining for your pet and they love it. It is true and aligns with my experience that most Bengals don't live to 2 years old if they are outdoor pets. They are simply over confident and don't have the scardy cat gene (ha ha). Brutus used to lay in the middle of the road on the warm pavement while we'd had a police car stuck trying to get passed him! Funny - yes. But it was not fun to have him hit by a car which cost us his life:( Here's the reality: Humans would be much safer if we never got in an aircraft, car, boat, motorcycle or in general - Never left our homes. It would be safer but very boring and not what life is meant to be. Again - I don't recommend you Bengal to be an inside/outside cat but I do understand those cats and people who allow it. As long as the animal is being well cared for, fed,and not abused - it is my clients responsibility and choice. If you do decide to do this, please do it as responsibly as possible:
1. Wait for the cat to be past 2 years old and not in their crazy teenage years.
2. Put a gps collar on them (tightly where it can't get caught in bushes) and use a system like Tagg or other systems now available. They can map your cats path around the neighborhood!
3. Feed them at night when you can lock them back in the house! Never do this in the city of Seattle where Bengals are currently not allowed - human population is too dense and they can confiscate your Bengal.
4. Consider you neighbors - Bengals will wander into peoples homes uninvited.... you need to have understanding neighbors or you'd better not allow it.
5. Realize that once you cat experiences "Disney Land" that is the outdoors, they may always insist that you let them be an inside/outside cat. This isn't a good thing if you move to a big city or change your lifestyle. Bengals can be so insistent on having their way that they have been known to pee on furniture or bedding in order to get their way.
My next two Bengals came from Jean Mill at Millwood Cattery - I credit her with the popularization of Bengals, getting a mixed breed cat adopted into TICA, creating the first standard for bengals and being a true visionary for seeing how popular this breed was going to become. I wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't for her!
Next would come "Brutus" who was an amazing bengal and was discounted because a breeder in Canada didn't want a cat with a tail fault - Well, that was my gain! I was surprised to see that he was a full litter mate to Epitimee and I hadn't even realized this until I was doing breeding research years later and recognized the common birth dates. Boris was amazing and fearless - He became an Indoor/outdoor bengal unintentionally because the device that I had on my dog door (which gave a shrill sound to detract him from going near the door) became in-effective.... I didn't know that Brutus figured out if he walked very tightly next to the bookcase wall and then slyly out the corner of the dog door, he could go outside into a whole new world of adventure!
I can not describe how wonderful it was to have a living room adventure when I would come back from travel in Corporate Sales - Having pets were de-stressting, unique and fun
This picture compliation is of "Boris" - He was a son of Millwood Epitimee (whom would become my first stud at traipse in 2008!) and I was stunned by the beauty of the newly developed Rosette Spots all over - Up until the late 90's, Bengals were only single spots and it took years of breeding to create this latest version of the Bengal.
I will write more as time allows..... 1/17