How to Choose a Bengal Breeder
The BEST advice I can give anyone looking for a Bengal kitten is to do a LOT of research before you buy one. Don't pick one based on price, don't pick one based on looks, and don't pick one because it's ready to go home now. Look for awhile at different catteries and find one you really like and feel comfortable with. Get on their waiting list if needed. The time you wait will fly by and it's so much better to get the right cat from the right breeder.
You need to make sure the breeder is doing the following:
Testing parents for PK Def, testing the parents for HCM, feeding the highest quality foods, socializing the kittens and REALLY doing it not just saying it on their website, using preventative medications on kittens, NOT keeping cats locked in cages, not just breeding as many cats as possible or basically running a kitten mill, sanitizing everything properly, giving proper shots and worming, having kittens vet checked, doing fecal exams, selling registered kittens, giving the breeders vitamins, retiring queens at the proper age, keeping cats on flea and tick medicine, has a legal contract, and giving clients a health guarantee.
Please, please, please get the breeder on the phone and have a list of questions ready to ask. If they can't answer them, don't sound all that knowledgeable, or give you an answer you don't like, do not buy a kitten from them. Tip: Scammers will RARELY take a phone call. See our page Avoid Bengal Scams for great information on how to spot a scammer.
Bengals have become extremely popular in recent years which has caused a lot of quick start breeders popping up all over. Unfortunately, a lot of people see dollar signs associated with the Bengal and that's why they want to breed. A new breeder should be studying the breed for years before they EVER even buy kittens with breeding rights. They should first own 1 or 2 bengals cats as pets and learn all they can from other breeders and by caring for the cats they have purchased. Ask them a lot of questions and see how much they actually know about Bengals before you buy one from them. Ask them how long they have been breeding for, why they decided to start breeding bengal cats in the first place, who mentored them and taught them about breeding and genetics, what testing do they do on their cats, where do they have these tests done at, what type of diet is recommend for bengals, etc.
***It would also be a very good idea to go on google and type in the name of the cattery followed by the word complaints. If the name of the cattery is "Teddy Bear" for instance, google this: "teddy bear Bengal complaints" Be sure to use the word Bengal even if it's not part of their registered TICA name. If you find a bunch of horrible sounding complaints on that cattery you may want to think twice about buying from them or ask them to explain the situation.***
Another thing you should check for is pictures on breeders' websites. Do they claim their Bengals are raised inside with the family, yet they only have a handful of pictures taken inside or none at all. Do they have lots of GOOD QUALITY pictures at different angles of the kittens they are selling. Texting you a pic from their iPhone is not good enough! They should be taking quality pictures with great lighting using a good camera. Do they have pictures of past kittens and lots of pictures of the queens and studs? I know quite a few catteries that have it written on their website that the kittens are raised inside with children and other animals and are held and played with constantly and it's an absolute lie.
If you come across a breeder that does not have registered Bengal kittens DO NOT buy from them! There is no way to even know if your getting a pure blooded Bengal other than their word. Plus, breeders don't buy kittens meant for breeding that aren't registered, so if someone is selling unregistered Bengals it's probably because they didn't pay for breeding "rights" and can't get their registration papers because they paid for a "pet."
TICA requires breeders to not give registration papers until proof of alter has been sent to the seller (this is why some breeders alter the cat before they let it go home). Paying for a "pet" and then breeding it without permission is a form of stealing!
Bengal breeders have worked incredibly hard to make the Bengal breed what it is today and for someone who is "backyard breeding" and probably has little knowledge of the breed to start with; breeding without permission ruins if for everyone!
Bengal breeders who sell a cat with breeding rights to someone just getting started mentors that person for a very long time and this is how we keep perfecting the breed. We pass on our knowledge and the breed just keeps improving. If they didn't pay for breeding rights then they certainly didn't get any help from anyone and are probably just pairing up random cats to make money and in doing so are certainly ruining the "wild look" that the other breeders have worked so hard to achieve.
This type of breeding where the person has no knowledge of the cats blood lines or how to research a pedigree is a major cause for Bengal cats having genetic defects.
Please keep in mind that it is possible for a "backyard breeder" to be selling registered cats. Backyard breeding does not just mean your cats are not registered. It has to do with the manner in which you care for your cats.
Having cats locked in cages where all the breeder does is feed them and clean up after them and breed them as often as possible to make money is WRONG. If the breeder isn't doing the proper testing for genetic disease, that's backyard breeding! If they are letting a kitten go home at six weeks old that too is backyard breeding. If they don't have the kittens vet checked and at least two sets of shots that's backyard breeding. I've had sooo many people tell me that they got a Bengal and when they picked it up it was terrified and it wouldn't let anyone touch it for weeks. A good breeder wouldn't even have cats that acted like this. These cats should be social and sweet when they get to your home.
Kitten mills are another issue too. It's not hard to say how many breeding cats someone has to own to be categorized as a "kitten mill." Look at how many queens the cattery has and ask yourself or that breeder if they are really able to properly socialize the 2 litters each of those queens has per year. A cattery with 20 queens would be about 40 litters of kittens a year! Use your best judgement.
On the other hand there are a lot of very good breeders out there too. These breeders spend endless hours putting their heart and soul into caring for their cats. They show their cats because they know by doing so they will continue to acquire new knowledge about the breed. They spend months looking through pedigrees to find that perfect kitten to add to their program. They are members of HCM awareness groups and other Bengal groups. They ask YOU questions about your family and your home before they agree to sell you a kitten. These are the breeders that you want to be adopting a kitten from.
If you want a Bengal kitten that looks like it came off the cover of Bengal Illustrated it WILL cost you more than $500 dollars. Also, I can guarantee that if someone is selling a kitten at that price they are NOT spending anywhere close to the amount of money they should be on those cats. If they were they would be losing money and I doubt anyone wants to do all that hard work just to literally go negative breeding cats.
Sorry if this page sounds harsh. If I had not had so many people tell me such horrible stories about breeders like this I would not have had to write this page. The only thing I can do is try to educate people on what to look for in a breeder and pray that the bad ones go out of business. I just really have a problem with people that don't properly care for their cats, don't spend any time socializing the kittens, over breed them, and let them live in horrible conditions so they can make a profit. Please don't help them continue this.
***If you would like an honest opinion on a kitten that you are looking at from another cattery please email me the picture of the kitten WITHOUT the name of the cattery and I would be glad to tell you what I think about it. :)***