ALL IN THE FAMILY: When considering buying a kitten, experts say it’s best to visit a breeding farm and have a look at them.
TALLINN - The Bengal is a medium- to large-size domestic feline that originates from crossing the small Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) with the domestic cat in an attempt to create a companion having an ‘exotic’ look, but with a domestic temperament. After four to five generations of Bengal-to-Bengal breeding, the breed is recognized for championship competition by most international domestic cat associations, including TICA, ACFA, GCCF, and AACE.
The Bengal’s beautiful coat makes it stand out in a crowd. Numerous shades make up the background color of the Bengal, ranging from golden, rust, brown and orange, to sand, buff, or even ivory. Bengal spots also vary in color, from rust or cocoa and chocolate brown to charcoal or black. Some Bengal patterns have inherited striking rosettes or spots made up of more than one color, usually a secondary color forming a dark outlining to the spot.
Another Bengal pattern is called ‘marble.’ This is created by the combination of rosettes from the Asian Leopard Cat and the domestic classic tabby pattern to produce a ‘marbleized’ look, one or more colors swirled into the base colors. Ideally, both the spotted and marbled patterns should have a horizontal flow rather than a vertical appearance. Since the original purpose for breeding Bengal cats was to try to replicate the look of the exotic spotted Asian Leopard Cat, the dominant spotted pattern is most common.
According to experts, the Bengal cat has a happy, active, interactive and extremely intelligent personality. They also claim that every domestic cat breed has its unique features, and the exotic heritage of the Bengal cat can be seen in their every day activities.
Bengal cat breeder Margarita Seppel, who runs the biggest Bengal cat farm in Estonia, called “Maya Gold,” which is well-known in the Baltics, as well as in Scandinavia, with its cat-champions, considers that buying a pet is always a serious decision for a person; one should always realize that he or she is taking responsibility for someone’s life, and they should always consider all the difficulties in taking care of the pet. If one feels that they are ready to take on all the responsibilities, and will be able to take care in a proper way, then they can start thinking of buying the pet.
“Maya Gold” is a small family-run cattery located in Tallinn. “Maya Gold” is a member of the Estonian Cat Breeders Union FELIX, the International Cat Association TICA, Federation International Feline FIFe and the International Bengal Cat Society TIBCS.
“Our cats are part of our family. All cats live with us in the house. We have an outdoor run for the cats. We never keep our cats in cages. Our cats are champions; we often take part in different cat shows not only in the Baltics and Scandinavia, but also in other European countries. Our cats won a lot of various awards, the latest ones were “Best Cattery 2009,” where we took first place, “Best Cats Estonia 2009,” as well as “Europe Champion Junior Winner,” in 2007 we took “Baltic Top Cat 2007,” before that “Best Young 2006,” where we took second place in Estonia. Earlier we took “Baltic Top Cat 2006, Best Young,” where we won 4th and 5th places; actually, too many to mention.”
“Maya Gold’’ has become a brand in Estonia with its top-quality Bengal cats, but, according to Seppel, it took long years of great effort to get theses results. “We have been running our cattery for about 5 years already; we opened it in 2005.Our cattery isn’t big, as we want to give love, care and warmth to each of our cats. But the most important thing of all, for us, is to be able to find quality homes for the kittens we produce.”
“We would like to mention that having a Bengal cat is not an easy task. First, both male and female cats mark their territories; secondly, they are noisy during the breeding period. Running a breeding farm is not simply a way to make money, as it seems to many. First of all this is our hobby; we are really fond of these cats. The breeding process is quite an expensive activity; the pedigree animals are expensive and one often waits a long time before getting the kitty. It is more a hobby than a business: food, vaccinations, microchips, veterinary services, show costs, etc.,” Seppel explains.
“Before making a decision, you have to take into account that you will a have a new member of the family. You have to take care of it, deal with it and heal when necessary. If you have children in the family, you should explain to them how to behave with a kitty, and that a kitty is not a toy. One should always consult with the members of the family as to whether they are happy with the decision, and if there are some objections, then it’s better to give up the idea. Are you willing to give up your sleep for that amount of time involved? Could you take that much time away from your job?”
Seppel gives some tips to those who are not sure of their decision of taking in a cat. “First of all, you should think about the purpose of your decision. You should decide why you would like to buy a cat. Are you buying it as a pet or for breeding, or for breeding and shows? The only reason to get into breeding is to improve the breed. You have to love the animals, each and every one to make it worthwhile, and this job/hobby is certainly not for everyone.”
According to Seppel there are strict rules to follow when purchasing a cat or kitten. “The breeder suggests that the cats should be taken to shows, but this is not an obligation. The breeder has the right to decide which kitties are for breeding, and which are not. Kitties purchased as pets are obliged to be sterilized until the date shown in the contract. A cat that is already sterilized by the breeder could also be purchased as a pet.”
Male or Female?
According to experts, it’s your own choice to take a male or female. The males are bigger and the hair is more colorful. The males are easier to sterilize. The females are friendlier, though.
Tips from Seppel for buying a kitten
According to Seppel, the most important thing is not to hurry in your decision. First you visit the shows, consult with cat clubs and look up the Web sites of breeding farms. The titles and good pedigree do not always guarantee the best features of the particular cat, but it still guarantees that the parents match the features of standard and have high potential to have equivalent offspring. Second-rate parents could also have superior offspring, as is true the other way around. The kitties from the same litter could also be very different from each other. The best option is always to visit the breeding farm and have a look at the kittens in how they look. If the cats and kittens are held in cages, it is best not to get your kitty from there. This might effect the mental and psychological condition of the cats, and the animals could behave wildly. Kitties must grow up among people; you have to play with them and you have to hold them in your arms or on your lap.
“We do not suggest taking kitties from a breeding farm where there are too many animals, is filthy and or many different breeds. Kitties should be vaccinated; they should have a vaccination certificate, a pedigree certificate and a contract of purchase and sale. Please keep in mind that a cat without a pedigree certificate is not a pedigree animal, even it is similar to a specific pedigree. There is no such thing as a pedigree such as half Bengal or half Persian, which can sometimes be found in ads. The ethical breeding farm does not give a kitty away before the age of three months, or is not sure about the health conditions of the kitty.
The kitty can be booked and visited before the age of three months. You can also get familiar with the contract you are aiming to sign upon receiving the cat. Do not be upset when the breeder asks questions about the conditions in which the cat is going to be living afterwards. It is recommended that no more than two people visit the kitty, as some kitties at the farm might not be vaccinated yet and there is always a risk for their health,” Seppel advises.