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Saturday, January 13, 2018

What two Bengal cats are best together - two girls, two boys, or one of each?



Because Bengal cats are social animals who often don't do well as the only pet in a household, people often want to adopt two kittens at one time.  It seems everyone has an opinion on what genders make the best pair - including us.  We have always recommended two males or a male and a female, but not two females.  But this opinion was based on anecdotal evidence - our experience - not research.

Upon looking into it a bit, it turns out that the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia did a study on sixty pairs of spayed and neutered household pets and published the results of this study in an article titled "Gender differences in the social behavior of the neutered indoor-only domestic cat" in the July 1999 Journal of Applied Animal Behaviour Science.  Prior to this study, all of the information gathered about the interactions of domestic cats had been done on feral cat colonies with entire cats. In cat colonies, females form groups and males roam solitarily from group to group.  Males regulate their interaction with other males by avoiding them, and it was assumed that desexed cats would follow suit, but that didn't end up being the case.

The study analyzed 60 pairs of desexed cats: 20 male/male pairs, 20 male/female pairs, and 20 female/female pairs. The results were measured in three different categories: affiliative behaviors, proximity, and aggression.  Affiliative behavior is cat body language that encourages harmony in the relationship.  This can be approaching one another amicably, grooming one another, rubbing their head on one another, sniffing socially or blinking slowly - basically, a cat's way of saying, "I love you."  Proximity is how much time the cats spend within the sight on the other cat. Aggression measured how often the cats had an aggressive encounter.

The three different groups of cats had no measurable differences in the affiliative behaviors or aggression. So, no matter the genders of the pairs, they were equally kind and equally disgruntled with one another. The one place there was a sizeable difference is proximity. Male/male pairs spend significantly more time within sight of one another than male/female pairs and female/female pairs. While we do not quite understand what causes this difference, it may relate to the fact that males do not spend much time in the proximity of another male in feral cat colonies. Therefore, male cats have more body signals to indicate to one another that they are not a threat. It is theorized that because males have more ways in which to communicate a lack of desire for aggression, this may end up benefiting them a household situation.

So, if it isn't gender that affects these behaviors in spayed and neutered cats, what is it? It is mainly the amount of time spent together and the number of desirable territories that have the greatest impact on the harmony in a pair of cats' relationship. The number of aggressive interactions a pair of cats had with one another each day decreased with the amount of time they had lived together.  As cats grow old together, they engage in fewer aggressive behaviors.  When the cats did engage in aggressive interactions, it was largely based on territory.  If there was one preferred resting spot, the aggressive interactions tended to happen most frequently around it.  Bottom line, the more preferred resting spots you provide in your home and the longer your pair of cats is together, the more harmony there will be in the relationship.

In a nutshell, as spayed or neutered pets, gender does not affect the amount of harmony in the relationship, so you are free to choose whichever two kittens strike your fancy.  Just make sure that you have enough desirable sleeping stations placed around your house to keep the peace.

Reference Article

Barry, Kimberly J, and Sharon L Crowell-Davis. “Gender Differences in the Social Behavior of the Neutered Indoor-Only Domestic Cat.” Applied Animal Behaviour Science, vol. 64, no. 3, 1999, pp. 193–211.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Are Bengal cats Hypoallergenic?

Visit a house full of Bengals to test your allergies.
One of the most frequent questions we get from people is whether or not Bengal cats are hypoallergenic?  The correct answer is yes, they are hypoallergenic, but to fully understand that answer, you must understand that hypoallergenic does NOT mean allergy free; it means "relatively unlikely to cause an allergic reaction."  In comparison to other cat breeds, Bengal cats are less likely to cause an allergic reaction in people, and here is why.

The most common cat allergen is a protein found in cat saliva, skin cells, and urine called Fel d 1.  This protein enters the air on cat hair and dander.  The reason more people tend to react to this cat protein over the allergens of dogs is actually its weight.  Fel d 1 is so light that it stays airborne longer and is, therefore, more likely to enter the lungs when a person with this allergy walks into a room with cats in it (Konkel).  It is also extremely sticky, so once it lands on the surfaces of a house, it doesn't go away. There are some Oriental breeds that produce less Fel d 1; the Bengal is not one of those cats.

However, if a person is lightly sensitive to Fel d 1, not heavily sensitive, they may find that they can be around Bengal cats. Because Bengal cats are single coated, they, literally, have less fur than double coated cats; therefore, they do shed less than some other breeds meaning the protein has fewer hairs to hop onto and enter the air.  In addition, some Bengals have retained a coat-quality referred to by breeders as pelted.  The fur is extremely short and feels as soft rabbit fur.  The sleekness of this coat type contributes to its cleanliness and reduces the Bengal's need to groom itself.  With less grooming, less saliva spreads onto the Bengal's coat, and less hair and dander with Fel d 1 attached to it is released into the air.  Having a HEPA air filtration system can be the trick to removing some of the particles of the protein floating through the air making Bengal ownership a possibility for some allergy sufferers.

In addition, feeding your cat a raw diet will improve the quality of its skin and fur.  Because the skin of your cat consumes 30% of the protein your cat eats each day, when it is fed a diet that is low in protein because it includes ingredients other than meat, organ, and bone, the skin and fur of your cat is not getting enough protein to maintain peak condition (Gates).  By feeding your cat a nutritionally balanced raw diet, it is getting all of the nutrients it's body needs and none of the ingredients that take away from its proper health.  Furthermore, Omega 3 Fatty acids can be added to the raw diet making the skin supple and healthy resulting in a reduction of dander and shedding.  Some allergy sufferers have seen their reactions completely vanish once switching their cats onto a raw diet (Hofve).

To sum up, Bengals are hypoallergenic because they groom themselves less often than cats with courser coats and double coats.  Feeding your Bengal cat a raw diet rich in Omega 3 can further reduce the amount of hair and dander released into the air making Bengal ownership possible.  But, this does not guarantee that every allergy sufferer will not be affected by Bengal cats.

How do you find out if Bengal ownership is going to be a possibility for you?  You need to visit a home with Bengals in it, wait 24 hours, and see if you react.  Kittens are thought to produce less Fel d 1 than adults, so make sure there will be adult cats in the house you visit.  Entire male cats produce more of the protein than females or neutered males, so you may ask if you can pet one of the stud cats if you want to give yourself the ultimate test.  While it appears to be scientifically unproven, darker cats are claimed by some to produce more of the protein that lighter cats.

What precautions can you take at home to reduce the chances of having an allergic reaction?  The number one precaution was stated above; feed your cat a raw diet high in Omega 3 to keep its skin and fur in peak condition.  Also, getting a HEPA filtration system will pull some of the allergens out of the air.  Clean your home regularly.  Have fewer surfaces that can collect allergens: hard surface floors instead of carpet; leather couch instead of material; wood or plastic window coverings instead of fabric.  Put someone else in charge of litterbox cleaning since the protein is in the cat's urine as well. Wipe down your cat with a pet wipe or possibly bathe it, but doing this too often could damage the skin's natural oils and be counterproductive. And, of course, you may speak to an allergist for further advice.

Reference Articles

Gates, Maragret. "Answers: Why did my cat's fur get so silky?" Feline Nutrition Foundation.
9 October 2017. http://feline-nutrition.org/answers/answers-why-did-my-cats-fur-get-so-silky. Accessed 10 December 2017.

Hofve, Jean DVM. "Allergic Reactions to Cats." Jackson Galaxy. 4 October 2017. https://www.jacksongalaxy.com/blog/allergic-to-cats/. Accessed 10 December 2017.

Konkel, Lindsey. "Nothing to sneeze at: Cats worse the dogs for allergies." Live Science. 26 July 2012. https://www.livescience.com/36578-cat-worse-dogs-allergies-pets.html. Accessed 10 December 2017.



Thursday, November 23, 2017

Do you have the right mindset for a Bengal cat?

Bengals attract a lot of people looking for a purebred cat because they are beautiful.  Their wild coats, large expressive eyes, and athletic bodies all make them attractive animals.  But before determining whether or not a Bengal is the right cat for you, you have to take a look at what is on the inside - intelligence, energy, and a need for attention.

While intelligence, energy, and affection all sound like positives, they have their downsides too.  If the Bengal's needs aren't met, they can express their needs in a destructive way or become depressed.  Let's take a look at some Bengal quirks that you need to understand before adding one of these guys to your family.  I call these Bengal quirks, but the reality is they are quirks that can exist in any cat.  They tend to appear more frequently in cats that have a higher intelligence or a stronger instinctive drive which is why they can be attributed to Bengals.  But if you've read any of Jackson Galaxy's books, you'll know these are not Bengal specific issues - they are intelligent, instinctive cat issues.

Do you have the desire and patience to follow your breeder's directions through a transition period in a safe room?

The start that your new Bengal has is paramount to its longterm quality of life.  You may get a kitten that you can plop down on the living room floor with dogs, and kids, and other cats and it walks out of the carrier as if it were born there.  If you do, fantastic, but you need to be prepared for if you don't.  If you don't have the willpower to follow your breeder's directions through a transition period using a safe room, then getting a Bengal kitten isn't the right choice for you.  Can your breeder tell how your cat will react in your home - not likely.  We have sent pairs of kittens home and made predictions on who would walk out of the carrier and own the place and who would be more reserved; our predictions are often wrong.  The confidence the kittens display in our home doesn't factor in their ability to adapt to change.  So while a confident kitten is likely to end up confident, it may take a longer time to get there if it is a kitten that doesn't deal with change well.  On the flip side, a kitten that may have been overshadowed in our house full of cats may completely come out of its shell once it is in a home with fewer cats.  Bengals are sensitive and often sensitive animals don't handle change well.  Your first big test as a new Bengal owner is how you handle the sensitively during the first big change in their life.  Don't force them into an overstimulating environment before they are ready.  You have to embrace the idea of a safe room and the possibility of a two-week transition.  Will this be every cat? No.  Will this be most cats? No.  But if it ends up being your cat that needs that much time to adjust, can you handle it?

Is your stuff more important than the cat?


For these intelligent cats, your home is their playground and your stuff is their toys.  To begin with, you cannot leave expensive family heirlooms out in the open and expect the cat to leave them alone.  Items that are important to you need to be displayed in locked cabinets.  If that isn't an option you'd consider, a Bengal isn't the right cat for your home.  Furthermore, Bengals love to get into cabinets and pull everything that is on the inside out.  Problem? Yes, that is understandable.  But the solution isn't to fix the cat; the cat isn't broken.  The solution is to cat-proof your cabinets.  Bengals like shiny things keys, money, jewelry.  Once again, these things need to be put away if your cat develops a desire for them - or they will be lost in your Bengal's secret stash.  If a Bengal is not getting the stimulation it needs, it will stimulate itself in ways that may be funny but can also be annoying.  If you find this to be the case, you have to be willing to solve problems by putting stuff away, adding child-locks to cabinets and doors, and finding alternative ways to stimulate your cat's mind.

Are you willing to meet the cat's needs if it potties outside the litterbox?

The pottying out of the box issue has its roots in intelligence and high level of instinct.  Cats don't speak our language, so for any cat that is trying to express something, inappropriate toileting is the easiest way for them to do so.  Multicat households are more likely to have toileting issues if the litterboxes are not set up in ways that work for cats. If you aren't willing to work the litterboxes around your Bengal's needs, then you likely shouldn't get a Bengal.  Different Bengals are going to have different levels of needs.  Will you get a Bengal that uses the boxes that you have exactly as you wish to set them up?  Possibly, and then life is easy.  But what if you don't?  Are you willing to have large open litterboxes in the highly trafficked areas of your home?  Are you willing to use an unscented litter?  Are you willing to use litter that is similar to the texture of sand?  If your perspective on litterboxes is that the cat needs to adjust to what you want, then you shouldn't get a cat of any kind.  You may end up needing to place boxes based on specific needs of the cat.  If this will cause a problem for you or your family members, then don't get a Bengal.  Please read "Set up Litterboxes your Bengal Will Love" to get an idea of what cats like best.

Also, are you willing to pick up after yourself to keep the Bengal from pottying on it?  If you leave piles of clutter around, Bengals will often remind you to keep the house clutter free by peeing on the stuff.  Plastic wrappers, piles of paper, piles of clothing, piles of toys are all examples of clutter than Bengals tend to mark.  If your house is full of clutter, it isn't the right house for a Bengal.

Finally, if you discover that your Bengal is triggered by certain materials, are you willing to determine how your environment may be causing stress for your cat, remove the trigger item, or keep the cat out of the room with the trigger item?  Many natural, animal-derived items can be triggers for cats to place their scent on.  A cat who is comfortable in its environment is most likely to rub its cheeks on these items in order to "mark" them.  However, if the cat is under any sort of stress, it may choose to mark these items with urine.  So you simply have to have the mindset that if your Bengal has the need to cover another scent with its own, you need to be prepared to move the stuff or keep your cat from getting into the room until you can figure out the source of the stress and address it.  Trigger items that are natural can include wool, leather, goose/duck down, animal fur or hide, cat or dog beds that smell like other cats or dogs, the soil in potted plants, etc.

Are you prepared to meet your cat's social, emotional, and physical needs?


Some Bengals demand your attention.  So, if you are gone at work all day, they are going to want to see you when you come home.  If your routine involves coming home and focusing your attention on a certain activity - the tv, the computer, a run - then you may have to consider how set you are in this routine.  A Bengal cat is going to need you to spend time with it when you get home from work.  If this sounds exhausting or too demanding, then a Bengal may not be the right cat for you.  You can do things to alleviate this need - get a second high energy pet, provide lots of vertical space for Bengals to explore while you are home, get a cat wheel, and leave out mind challenging toys while you are gone.

Your cat needs to be able to exert energy.  Wildcats reserve their energy because they know they need it for hunting, but domestic cats, who get fed from their human staff day in and day out, exert their energy because they don't need it for hunting.  If your cat doesn't self-initiate enough energy output, you may need to help it achieve this through interactive play or walks.  If your cat shows signs of depressive or destructive behavior, it most likely needs a routine energy outlet.  Please read "Do Bengals have more behavioral problems than other cats?" for more information on this topic.






Monday, October 23, 2017

Do Bengals have more behavioral problems than other cats?

If you spend enough time on any internet Bengal Board you will hear owners complaining about their cats improperly eliminating, stalking a family member, playing too rough, or destroying the prize couch and curtains.  None of these are desirable behaviors, so automatically this must make the Bengal an undesirable breed, right?  Not so fast. Lets take a look at why these things happen before we blame the cat.

Two of the precious gifts given to the Bengal breed from the Leopard cat were the gifts of high intelligence and energy level.  The Bengal is known for having a higher energy level and a higher intelligence than the average cat; they could be considered the Border Collie of the cat world.  It tends to be common knowledge that families cannot bring a Border Collie puppy home, leave it for 40 hours a week while the humans go to work and school, and expect it to be satisfied by weekend walks alone. So why would one think that could happen with a Bengal - because its a cat?

Bengals are often referred to as the dog-like cat because they defy two cat stereotypes; they don't like to sleep 20 out of 24 hours, and they don't like to be alone.  If you take any animal that has higher intellectual and physical demands and you limit its interaction with other living creatures to an hour or so a day, it is bound to become bored.  Without physical, social, and mental stimulation, your Bengal is likely to begin to exhibit undesirable, destructive or depressive behavior.

So what should be done about this?  First, future Bengal owners need to make sure they educate themselves on how to meet the physical and mental demands of a Bengal cat.  The easiest way to meet the needs of a Bengal is to have a second house pet that is able to keep up with the demands of a Bengal.  This companion pet doesn't have to be another Bengal, and, in fact, sometimes the best companions for a Bengal are small dogs that have similar mental and physical demands as the Bengal.  Occasionally, the are Bengals who do not fit the "Bengal" mold and therefore don't make the best companion for a typical Bengal.  What is important in finding a companion for a Bengal is the intelligence and the energy level of the companion pet.

But just the existence of another pet may not be enough.  Routine play time with an interactive toy, such as a Laser Pointer, Da Bird, or Dragonfly toy, works well for keeping your Bengal happy.  The more the game mimics hunting - where the cat has to use both its brain and its body - the better it is for a Bengal.  Many people have success in harness training their Bengal and taking their cats out for a walk - a perfect hunting-style game for the cat.  Establishing a routine with your cat helps bring structure and security into its life.  While you may be at work now, your cat knows that everyday when you come home, it gets a half hour of Da Bird time or a jaunt around the neighborhood on a leash.

Photo by James Faulstich
Leaving mentally and physically stimulating toys at home is helpful if your cat will voluntarily use them.  Cat wheels are fantastic for cats who use them.  Puzzle toys that reveal a treat are amazing for the cat who likes a challenge.  But there isn't a guarantee that any given animal will use the toys you buy when they aren't interactive.  You have to engage the cat with the toy in order be certain it will work.

A final, or rather first, factor in limiting the opportunities for a Bengal to become destructive is the introductory period when you first bring your kitten home.  It is basic human nature to skip the safe room step in the transition period and just throw your adventurous kitten in to the mix of the new family.  Your new Bengal kitten needs the confines of the safe room more than you may realize.  The over stimulation of all the unfamiliar smells, sounds, and actions of your home may cause your kitten to withdraw.  If it withdraws at the start instead of bonding with you, it isn't going to get the same satisfaction from the activities discussed above - and then, you are setting yourself up for potential problems.

Photo by James Faulstich
If you're thinking about getting a Bengal, you should consider what you are willing to do if you end up with a super smart, super energetic cat.  Are you willing to go through the transition process with a safe room as your breeder, or a reliable source such as Jackson Galaxy, directs you to?  Are you willing to have routine play time involving mentally and physically interactive games? Are you committed to having a pet that will need more than just food and water from you?

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Using Thuja to Remove Toxins from a Cat

Concentrating on my photo shoot, I heard the crash of the lights behind me.  Ugh, now I had to clean up this mess before I could get back to my job because the contents of compact florescent light bulbs is toxic.  In my haste, I didn't clean well enough or fast enough as the next day we noticed a kitten with a weak rear end.  By the following day, she couldn't stand up.

Thuja got Vera back on her feet after she injested
heavy metal residue of a fluorescent bulb.
Fortunately for Vera, Jon had experienced paralysis due to toxins in cats before and because of his prior experience, we have always had Thuja Occidentals 30c in the house.  As soon as we connected the paralysis to the broken light bulb, Jon immediately gave Vera Thuja. Within a day, she was a bit wobbly, but back on her feet, and within four days, she was running around as if nothing had happened.

The top ten toxins to pets are:
1. Human medications
2. Insecticides - including some flea and tick medications
3. People food (particularly chocolate)
4. Plants
5. Veterinary medications
6. Rodenticides
7. Household cleaners
8. Heavy metals - zinc, lead, mercury
9. Garden products such a fertalizer
10. Chemical hazards like antifreeze or paint thinner

This is a very broad list, and there is a fairly decent chance your cat could encounter one of these substances at some point in its life. How do you know your cat has been in contact with a toxin?  Unfortunately, unless you see it happening, you really don't know for sure.  There are no specific symptoms that cover all forms of ingestion of a toxin.  The most common symptom that we have experienced and heard of through our many cat friends is paralysis or partial paralysis. Other common symptoms can be seizures and dilated pupils.  The type of toxins we have treated or helped friends treat have specifically been with metal toxins (from vaccinations and the fluorescent light bulb) and household cleaners.

Jon learned about Thuja after a whole litter of kittens of his became paralyzed after receiving their vaccinations from the vet.  Jon connected the paralysis to the vaccination, but his vet at the time did not believe him.  The vet thought the kittens must have broken their spines.  After proving with an X-ray that the spines were not damaged, the vet's only suggestion was to put the entire litter of kittens to sleep.
Thuja brought Emmy back from complete
paralysis in her hindquarter after her
kitten vaccinations.
Jon researched, researched, and researched - thinking there had to be another answer.  He consulted with an online vet who practiced holistic treatments, and it was through this vet, that Jon learned about Thuja Occidentals 30c.

Thuja Occidentals 30c comes on small sugar cube pills; the Thuja is only on the outside of the pill.  You are not to touch the Thuja at any point in time as the oils on our skin can reduce the efficacy.  The best way to administer Thuja is to put the needed number of pills into a spoon and crush them with another spoon, then pour the contents into the cat's mouth.  In most cases before it is able to even get any of the crushed substance out, the Thuja has absorbed through the mucous membrane.

You should seek medical advice from your veterinarian if you suspect your cat has ingested a toxin.  Even if your vets hasn't heard of Thuja Occidentals 30c, you can ask him or her to research it. 

As always, we are here for our people.  You can contact Jon privately if you have a specific case you'd like to consult with him on.  The amount of Thuja and duration of treatment will vary beside on the circumstance.  Any medical advice given is merely a suggestion - and if you chose to act on it, you do so with the knowledge that we are not licensed veterinarians - just experienced cat lovers who have been there, done that.

Monday, October 2, 2017

What does it Cost to feed your Bengal a Raw Diet?

For many people, the idea of feeding raw is not very enticing.  I was once one of those people. I simply thought it cost too much and was too difficult to deal with.  But when my cornerstone cat died of kidney issues which could logically be traced back to being caused by her premium kibble diet, I started looking into alternatives to kibble.  If you look into it by visiting the local premium pet store, you can find the cost to be overwhelming - especially if you opt for the dehydrated raw to try to get the benefits of raw with the convenience of feeding a dry food.

The Nutrition Code does an excellent job of breaking down the costs of feeding the different types of food, so you can see for yourself that raw feeding is not the most expensive form of food.  In the following chart, they compare, the cheapest options of all the different types of food: homemade raw, kibble, canned, dehydrated raw, freeze dried raw, and pre-made raw.  You can see that while kibble is the cheapest of the cheap, homemade raw and the least expensive option for pre-made raw are the next two cheapest options. When you consider the difference in nutritional value that your cat receives between kibble and raw food, it just doesn't make sense to feed kibble.



In this next chart, The Nutrition Code breaks down the most expensive cat foods for you by the same different food types: homemade raw, kibble, canned, dehydrated raw, freeze dried raw, and pre-made raw.  Homemade raw is certainly the winner here, but even the pre-made raw comes in as the third cheapest type of the most expensive brands of cat food.


 
While dry kibble is the cheapest convenient food, it is also the most damaging food to your cat's health.  Please read "Are you Killing Your Cat with Kibble" for further information on why dry food, regardless of quality, is so bad for your cat.

As one can see, the cheapest form of raw feeding is the homemade raw.  There are risks to be aware of and take very seriously when making one's own raw food.  Cats must have the correct balance of bone, secreting organs, and muscle meat or their health will be negatively affected.  One way to make sure you are are getting the right balance is to add supplements, but one can also purchase an organ blend from a pre-made raw company, such as Reel Raw, and add it to your homemade grind of meat and bone.

If pre-made raw is the answer to the convenience issue, The Nutrition Code has a chart to help you sort through those options as well.  In all of their quality ratings, 8 is the highest, meaning the food has no ingredients other than meat, bone, and organs. 6 means protein is the first ingredient and there are no artificial vitamins or minerals along with no grains, but there may be some fruit or veggie in the food, and 5 means the same as 6 except there is only 1 protein source.


If you have already found a pet store that sells raw, but it doesn't sell the brand you'd like to try, it may be worth asking them if they can source your desired brand.  A lot of the locally owned pet stores that sell raw food are willing to get what their customers want to buy.

Don't walk into the pet store, find Stella and Chewies and decide that raw is too expensive for your budget.  Look into the alternatives.  I think you will find one that fits your pocketbook and your lifestyle.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Simplifying your Bengal's Vaccines

First we will express that the information in the article is our opinion and we are not licensed veterinarians. Why should you listen to us over the Banfield Veterinarian at your local PetSmart? Because despite the fact that "We have laws in most states banning corporations from owning veterinary practices, . . . Corporations now own 15 percent to 20 percent of America’s 26,000 pet hospitals, and consolidators . . . are buying them fast" (Clenfield). What does it mean when your veterinarian becomes corporatized? It means profit is the motivating force behind every single decision being made - not your pet's health.

After much thought and experience with other vaccines, we have decided to use intranasal vaccine for our kittens' first vaccines. Most of the viruses that we are vaccinating our kittens for are upper respiratory viruses. If they were to contract these viruses, they would naturally enter the kitten's body through the mucous membranes; thus, by giving the vaccine through the mucous membrane, the kitten receives the vaccine in the same way it would be receiving the virus - making the body's acceptance of the vaccine much more natural (Birkhoff).

How many vaccines we give will depend on when we feel we need to give the first one. Several factors come into play with this decision. The first factor is whether or not we have any cats in our house with symptoms of a cold: watery eye, sneezing. If so, we need to be very cautious. The second factor is whether or not the mother goes into heat while nursing her kittens. This changes the hormone level in her milk which can cause the babies to have upset stomachs and have a more difficult time digesting Mom's milk. The third factor is the age at which the kittens start eating solid food.

Kittens are in a precarious state when in comes to being covered from the common cold viruses. Mom's milk has antibodies in it to protect them from everything Mom has been exposed to - which is fantastic. Mom's milk, however, also has antibodies in it that attack the vaccines and reduce their effectiveness. The kittens are well protected as long as they are on Mom's milk, but as they begin eating, they have less protection, and if Mom's milk suddenly becomes hormonally off-balance (which tends to happen when the kittens start eating as her body thinks it is time to make more kittens), then we need to make sure the kittens are getting the protection they need from vaccines.

When you get your kitten from us, it will come with its health records including the stickers that have the vaccine batch number on them. Please take this to your veterinarian. Give it to him or give him a copy of it for his records. If you come across a veterinarian who will not accept this and wants to treat your cat as an unvaccinated cat because we gave the vaccines, run from this vet fast. It is an indicator that they are putting profit above health. In the US, it is legal for citizens to administer their pet's vaccines other than the rabies vaccine.

It is very important that your kitten get one more FVRCP vaccine once it is older than 16 weeks. During the first 16 weeks of a kitten's life, it is unclear how much of any given vaccine remains effective and how much of it is destroyed by the antibodies provided by Mom's milk. Researchers believe that by 16 weeks, all of Mom's antibodies are gone from the kitten's system and the vaccine given at that time will remain effective. When giving the 16 week FVRCP, we recommend a modified live, adjudvant free vaccine such as Meriel PureVax.

Also, once the kitten is 16 weeks or older, you should get the rabies vaccine as required by law. You do not want to end up in a situation where your cat is seized by the authorities because he is not vaccinated against rabies. Don't give the FVRCP vaccine and the rabies vaccine on the same visit.  Separate them by a couple of weeks to allow the kitten's body to deal with each vaccine individually. You must ask your veterinarian for Meriel PureVax rabies vaccine as it is adjuvant free. YES, the type of vaccine your cat receives DOES MATTER. Please make sure your veterinarian is giving the safest vaccines possible.  The vaccines need to be non-adjuvanted.

When your cat is one year old, your vet will tell you he is ready for his booster. Should you give it? That is up to you. The older the cat is beyond 16 weeks when he received his last kitten vaccine, the less likely he is to need a booster. If your cat is outside on the harness a lot trotting through town where all the feral cats live, you may want to give the booster. But you should decide, not your veterinarian, what is best for your cat.  If in doubt, you can always run a titre test to check your cat's current antibody levels. This will give a concrete answer.

The reality is that once that vaccine takes effect - whether it be the 16 week vaccine or the one year booster - your cat does not need to be revaccinated. Don't take our word for this. Read the words of a vet who titered her cats once they passed at 18-20 years old and discovered the vaccine they received at one year of age was still effective. Please take the time to read Vaccines for Cats: We Need to Stop Overvaccinating.

Finally, remember that if you bought your kitten from us at Quality Bengal Kittens, we are here for you through your kitten's lifespan. If you aren't quite sure what to do about vaccinating or anything else, send us a message. We'll give you our experience-based opinion (which comes from our 17 years of experience with Bengals and Jon's lifetime experience as a sheep/cattle farmer), and you can compare our opinion with others to come to your own conclusion.

References:

The majority of the information in this article is based on Dr. Lisa A Pierson's article Vaccines for Cats: We Need to Stop Overvaccinating. The most significant difference in our opinion from hers is that we do believe giving young kittens intranasal vaccines is easier on their systems.

Other articles referenced

Clenfield, Jason. "The High Cost, High Risk world of Modern Pet Care." Bloomberg. 9 January
2017. www.bloomberg.com. 24 September 20017.

Birkhoff, M. "Advantages of Intranasal Vaccination and Considerations on Device Selection." Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Nov-Dec. 2009. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. 24 September 2-17.