By Sophia Yin, DVM, MS
In my entire career as a vet, I’ve only been suckered into adopting two pets. The first was Meggie, a Scottie puppy with a neuromuscular disorder called Scottie cramps. The disorder caused her to randomly walk like a broken down robot. She was probably the easiest pet I’ve trained due to her general good nature and the fact that I got her when she was pretty young. The second was the Jonesy, the Jack Russell Terrier, my current dog. He was and still is the worst Jack Russell Terrier, and for that matter, the worst dog I’ve ever trained. To almost anyone he looks like he’s very willing to please. This dog, who, at 8 weeks of age was already aggressive to other dogs and independent, IS now willing to work and focus on people. But a slight error or lapse of attention on your part and he’s up to no good.
Given that Jonesy is sort of a 24/7 job, and given that I’ve been able to go 16 years while only adopting two pets, you wouldn’t think I’d be taking another difficult case. But somehow I got stuck with, believe it or not, two 9 year old Bengal Cats. Now, I have nothing against cats, it’s their litterboxes that I don’t like to clean. Plus I don’t really have enough room in my tiny house for additional pets and their litterboxes. If I were going to get a cat, it would not have been a Bengal, cats known for their energetic and devious nature. Let alone cats that needed to be rehomed because they were spraying in their previous environment-one in which a third cat was reacting to a neighboring trespasser by redirecting her aggression to her Bengal housemates. But to make a long story short, I have these cats. I took them with the idea that I would keep them until their spraying issue was resolved and then rehome at least one-since they do better when kept separately.
Their names are Oliver and Dante and they are surprisingly friendly. For instance on day 1 when I took Oliver out of his carrier and he was slinking around the room, as soon as anyone started petting him he became outgoing. Dante has the bathroom to himself but has access to people through the custom-made screen door (a custom-made window screen with a door handle and hinges added). Oliver has a kitty condo located in one of the offices. So far they’re doing well, although for Oliver it took a bit to get the litter box right.
They haven’t been the huge nuisance that I thought, mostly because they’re in a very controlled environment. I only let them out when supervised. They’re also really easy to train. They both know sit and target. Over the next few weeks I hope to run some litter box tests just for fun and hopefully train some additional tricks.
Any Bengal owners out there who want to share some information about their cat’s personality?