What are your kitten prices?.... is often the first question I receive from families. This is understandable since they are an expensive breed. I have been breeding Bengals since 2002 and to say I am an expert on “all things Bengal” may be an understatement. I wanted to take a moment and explain Bengal prices, what to expect, and what to avoid.
First of all, if you contact a breeder for a family pet and they offer you “breeding rights” for a little extra money…please avoid this breeder. They are not breeding for anything more than profit, and the cats always suffer in situations like this. It takes many many years to learn which cats to breed and which ones shouldn’t be bred. If I purchase a kitten from another breeder for my program, grow them up for a year, and notice any temperament or health concerns like shyness, irritability, agression ect.... I have them spayed/neutered. Purchasing adults with breeding rights can be $3000- $5000 especially when they are imported from other countries. Although it is difficult to make the decision not to use them in my program after this large of an investment, after almost 2 decades of breeding I have realized that temperament is much more hereditary than due to socialization. It doesn't matter how beautiful a bengal is if you cannot interact with it. My adults in my program were purchased with breeding rights and have been chosen for specific attributes like color, clarity, temperament, structure, etc… I have imported from Canada and Russia, as well as other states in the United States. This past couple years, many new breeders have popped up in Michigan, started by a couple breeders who try to convince families to breed so they can make more money off of the kittens they sell them. Not only is this unethical, but the new breeders are not being mentored properly. Why is this so important?
I want families to understand that when they bring a new kitten home, the concern should not just be for the health of the kitten but for YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY! I have helped dozens of catteries around the United States to clean up the diseases they didn’t realize they had. I am not only a Bengal breeder but I am a Registered nurse and keeping families safe and healthy is a primary concern when I breed. Years ago I started sending out full fecal panels on all my cats and I was shocked at what I found. I encouraged other breeders to do the same and I can tell you with 100% certainty that puppies and kitten can get your families sick if the breeders are not testing their cats. Zoologix.com is a lab that will perform a test on stool from cats/dogs and will check for DNA of bacterial parasites that can make your cat and family sick. In 2019 I purchased 4 new Bengals for my program and every single one of them tested positive for Giardia. Giardia can spread to family members and other household pets. I have helped families who purchased kittens from breeders in Michigan over the past 2yrs there have been kittens that were positive for Giardia, Coccidia, Campylobacter, Tritrichamonas, and C-Diff (clostridium difficile). Most families think about fleas, earmites, and worms when considering if a kitten is healthy, but in 2020 we are beyond that. Families need to expect more from breeders and unfortunately, most newer breeders are not even aware of this. If you do purchase a kitten and it is carrying a bacteria like this, the symptoms often pop up after they have been at your home for a week. This is due to the stress of rehoming, new foods, vaccines, etc…. causing the kittens immune system to overload.
If you purchase a kitten because it is 2-300 dollars less than another breeder, but you end up having to take your kitten to the vet because it gets sick suddenly, your cost with vet expenses, tests, and medications could cost you hundreds or thousands. I cant express to families how often this scenario happens. I know because many families contact me for help when the breeder just doesn’t have any answers.
My kittens are not raised outside in a shed or cattery building, they are raised around my family. They are kept clean and socialized extremely well. The moms give birth in the nursery and kittens are weaned from mom at 6 ½ weeks of age and are brought down to the kitchen. In the kitchen they are constantly exposed to the business of the house, noises common in homes like vacuums, Keurig coffee pot, the sink and dish washer, and my dog, etc…. Little house noises like this can be awful scary to kittens not exposed to them. The babies learn how to use the litterbox (I have a few of them in the kitchen) and I scoop it constantly to keep the babies clean. Having them underfoot allows me to constantly watch for any kitten not eating well, acting strange, or developing diarrhea. Because I wean kittens from their mom a few weeks before they leave my home, I am able to make sure each kitten is eating and drinking independently. Often kittens left with their mom and suddenly pulled away and rehomed end up getting sick because they are used to nursing and now they cant in their new home.
My adult Bengals (the parents, grand parents, great grand parents, etc.....of your new family member) have all been DNA tested for over 35 genetic hereditary feline diseases. DNA testing is 100% accurate and doesn't depend on lab values, a vet looking at a slide or listening through a microscope. It is not a subjective diagnoses and is the absolute best way to help ensure healthy parents for bengal kittens. The stool samples I run on the parents are also done with PCR testing which is the absolute best way to check for pathogens in a cat or dog.
Bengals come in 2 patterns. They are either spotted or marbled. So what does rosetted mean? Genetically a spotted bengal is spotted......but breeders have developed other words to describe the shape these spots can develop into.
Solid spots- These can be round or funky shapes but they are all one color, completely filled in with no hollow center.
Rosettes- Rosetted means that there are two different colors to the spot, typically they have a hollow center. Rosettes can be further divided into-
Pawprints Rosettes- Pawprints are one of my favorite. They are small spots that form clusters and appear like the prints your dog or cat leaves on the floor after walking in the mud.
Doughnut Rosettes- These look like a circle (not always perfectly round) with a hollow center.
Arrowhead Rosettes- These from directly from the Asian Leopard Cat and look like two tone rosettes shaped like an arrowhead. They are sometimes solid and sometimes rosetted.
Is there one pattern that is better than another? Not really, although there is a preference for any type of rosette over solid spots. The marble pattern is typically priced less than spotted/rosetted kittens although it is actually one of my favorite patterns.
Marbles can be described as open or sheeted. An open marble has lots of pattern and swirls on its entire body, while a sheeted marble has a more solid appearance with pattern peeking through. Of course there are many marbles who fit right in the middle and are not quite sheeted but not extremely open either. The more open, the higher quality.
Coat clarity is without a doubt the absolute more important thing that will make your Bengal look so beautiful. It is hard to describe but I will try. The spots on a bengal sit on top of the background, which is lighter in color. The difference between the color of the background and the color of the markings is what makes the pattern pop/stand out. If the background is composed of light colored hairs that are mostly all one light color the spots really stand out. When the background is composed of a bunch of light and dark hairs it is called being "ticked", "ticky", etc.... a ticky coat is why the pattern on stripped or spotted barn cats doesn't stand out and look as stunning as the Bengal coat. When a Bengal coat is free of the little dark hairs, we call that being "clear coated". Being a Bengal doesn't just give you a clear coat. This is something that bengal breeders have developed over many years of selective breeding. It is one of the main factors in determining if a Bengal is breed/show quailty or pet quality. Unfortunately, many many Bengals are sold to new breeders with ticky coats so we continue to try to breed this out of our breed. My stud Kuhl is the perfect example of an extremely clear coated bengal.
I have been breeding so many years that I don’t have “pet quality” kittens born here very often. My coat pattern, quality, and temperaments have been carefully selected for many many generations and my goal is to have “show quality” kittens for all families as pet companions. Of course, when dealing with genetics there are always a variety of kittens born and I do my best to price them as fair as I can. Some qualities that increase a kitten price are coat clarity, color (a silver with black markings costs more than a silver with grey markings because the contrast is better) , rarity of color like the red, torbie, cinnamon, lilac, etc... which is the most rare. Blue, snow, silver, melanistic, and brown are not rare colors. Some of my adults are 10 generations my breeding.
I love this breed and I have dedicated almost 2 decades of my life learning, mentoring, and developing lines of Bengals that are amazing and so different from what I started with. I do not believe in taking money for kittens that are not born yet, but I will contact families when kittens are born if requested.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.