On April 8th 2016 I lost my soul mate cat Meeko. We had gone through a tumultuous year and a half of ailments for him that included going deaf, losing a front tooth, undergoing radiation for hyperthyroidism and finally a kidney disease diagnoses that took him from me. I had adopted him with an estimated age of six and had spent ten all too brief years with him, so he was at least sixteen and possibly older. I spent an entire month crying; everything seemed to remind me of him and I was not letting go. Online advice was to get a kitten but I felt that would be a huge betrayal and I was in no way ready to get another cat. Besides, we had another cat at home, Mew, who was very much enjoying being ‘only cat’. She had just turned eleven and had gone through two Labradors,one Meeko and two cats my daughter brought home and then moved out with and I could tell she was reveling in the knowledge that she was the sole survivor. She even sat on my lap a few times for the first time ever but if I dared to pet her she would bite me. Not the friendliest beast in the world. On Thursday May 5th, I got a condolence card from my vet and I just sat in my car and sobbed. It was still a very raw wound. Two days later my daughter emailed me this photo of a Bengal kitten in a pet shop. I don’t know what there was about that photo but he grabbed my heart and I KNEW this was a cat I could love. Husband and Mew Lover was asked his opinion and uttered the fateful words “I’ve always wanted a Bengal” and my son and I were off like a shot to view the baby. You know if you bring the cat carrier with you that you have already decided. So “Jerry” came home with us and was promptly renamed “Mungojerry” which swiftly became just Mungo. The photo was deceptive. Mungo very rarely sleeps and is never still, but he is after all a Bengal.
Introducing a Cat To a New Home Is Never easy
So Mungo joined our household and at first Mew was quite interested in him, sitting at a distance and watching him play and hissing at him if he dared to get anywhere near her, but after a while Mungo started to want to engage with her and that’s when the problems started. Mew is a senior cat now enjoying (or was) her retirement and Mungo is a toddler full of beans who just wants to run like the blazes and chew at anything he could find, so we had a lot of this going on (see right). He never hurt her but she did not care for being jumped on and was walking about the house looking about her constantly for the annoying pouncer, and basically retreated into the dark caves of my sons’ rooms. I felt bad for her; this was her home first and she was not exactly getting to live a peaceful life unmolested. We hoped that neutering Mungo would help but he barely noticed the procedure had occurred and went back to Tigger-bouncing around the house and body slamming Mew. So I was looking for a solution…
How I Went About it
Many people wonder whether do Bengals get along with other cats. All the online advice was to get a second kitten to engage and occupy your baby so they would leave the older cat alone. Husband was not down with this as he thought it would create a situation where the two of them ganged up on Mew and Mungo was staying because after sinking nearly $2000 into him he was now an investment, besides he was so beautiful he made my heart jump. In the weeks and months since we got him I had let go of my grief for my lovely Meeko and was utterly fascinated by this new boy who was the opposite of my poor elderly cat and was so full of life and joy. The contrast actually made the transition easier as there was almost no comparison between the two. Where Mungo was too busy to sit on a lap and was always charging around the house, up the curtain rods and dislodging the furniture, Meeko was almost a part of my body, always sitting on my lap and staring up at my face and only leaving to use the facilities or when he was fed. Now I also had to worry that a kitten would upset Mungo who might not want to share his toys or me (not that he really associated with me, but whatever room I was in, he was in, staring down at me from whatever perch he had found)
One Bengal is never Enough
So I made a phone call to the pet shop where we got him from and asked if they had any Bengal kittens. I was specifically looking for a female (Mungo I felt would want to be the only male), not a baby (he is massive at six months and I didn’t want him hurting a small kitten) and from the same breeder (as he is in perfect health and fabulously beautiful). Lady at shop said they had a kitten matching every one of those criteria but they had just transferred her to another store. Daughter was on her way over for pizza but as she exited car was greeted by me with a cat carrier saying “We are going to see a kitten!” (again, if the cat carrier is going with you know what that means…). Cue scary drive across the Ontario border (we live in Ottawa which is a stone’s throw from Quebec)
where we careened through dirt roads with no cell phone coverage and maneuvered the traffic lights which baffled me to get to an out of the way mall that closed at 6pm. As soon as we saw her it was a done deal. She was a little Mungo clone (most likely same father, different mothers) and had been reduced in price due to being ‘old’ at four months. So she was packed into the
cat carrier and whisked home and named Moya (all my cats have M names…unsure why this is a thing). She was promptly put into a safe room while I decided how to proceed.
Follow the Rules
Introducing two Bengal cats is a real challenge. So I went over all the ‘rules’ for cat introductions and decided to follow them to the letter. First, Moya was taken to the vet to get her FIV and Leukemia tests as I was not going to fall in love with her and find out I couldn’t keep her. She got negative results on both so we were good to go. She was kept in her safe room which was equipped with food, cat water fountain, a window ledge perch, toys galore and a spanking new litter robot. A few days after her arrival she had her vaccinations updated, fecal test (also negative) and deworming. Vet recommended 14 days in isolation room, while internet said 7 was enough. In the meantime, Mungo figured out she was in there and took up constant vigil staring at the door. I had moved his food dishes to the door of her room and put a towel there covered in her scent, but he was growling and hissing and acting very angry towards me. I was worried I had made a terrible mistake.
Patience is the Key
After about four days of this (hissing continuing) I put him in my room with the door closed and let her explore the house and spread her scent around a bit. She enjoyed that very much and was getting pretty annoyed at being shut in the spare room all day. Mungo’s hissing was lessening a bit and they were passing the towel back and forth under the door. Mew meanwhile was enjoying life as Mungo had forgotten she existed as he was now obsessed with THE DOOR. On day 7 I opened the door and let him see her. Owning a Bengal cat is no easy, a ballet of Bengals began where they kept peeping around the open door and then backing off (with hissing). No real conflict happened so I was encouraged, but after about a half hour I closed her back in. The next day I again let them have some time to see each other and again there was a lot of back and forth with them darting at each other and then backward. After an hour they were shut off again. The next day I just went for it and let her out. A lot of running ensued. It was like galloping ponies around the house for the whole night with admittedly some hissing and growling but they seemed to be enjoying the chase, and Mew was relaxing elsewhere. Moya still slept in her safe room with the door closed and was pretty good about that now she was seeing the rest of the house a bit. Every night I then let them have supervised play until we got to the 11 day since her arrival mark, which was a Saturday, and that was the day I opened the door for good. She has been with us now 20 days and for the last 7 I have not shut her in at night and everything is going very well. They play ROUGH but she gives it back and chases him as much as he does her and they now sleep on the cat tree together once they have worn each other out. Yesterday I started moving Moya’s litter robot to the basement to join the other two; it has an interim spot at the top of the basement stairs and by next week I hope will be in its permanent spot.
Mew has been visiting us overnight in bed for the first time in months and seems to be relaxed now she knows the heat is off of her. I wasn’t too worried about cat introductions with her as she has been through so many, and the few times Moya has run into her Mew lets her know to back off and she does. Unlike Mungo she knows her place. So now we have one old lady cat and two baby Bengals and it seems to be going very well.
There is a lot of destruction and running and I’ve had to hide all my TV remotes and clear off the kitchen table and counters as they are into everything, but it has worked out well. I very much recommend taking great time to introduce Bengals to each other as they are very territorial. I also would be very wary of bringing in another male if you already have one. I don’t think Mungo would have as easily adapted to another boy. Finally, if you are going to get a kitten for your kitten, as I did, do it sooner rather than later as the younger they are the easier it will be for them to adapt. Sadly I have no photos of them together as they are too busy RUNNING around the house together but here they are on the same bed at different times.
She looks tiny next to him but the way she is eating I do think she will catch up soon. Mungo has been eating premium Tiki wet cat food since two months old and has grown massive; she was eating store kitten food for four months but rejects that now in favour of the wet. After going through kidney disease I am a huge fan of wet food and if I could get them on that alone I would. I definitely think cat fountains are a great idea and they have one each. My house has a constant background noise of flowing water. I am starting early making sure they eat the best food and drink a lot. Cats need our help from day one to ensure they do not develop this awful disease.
So that is my Bengal Introduction story and how I managed to get over my grieving. It may not work for everybody but my heart was ready to love another cat and now I have two (three when Mew lets me).
About the Author:
Caroline was born in the States but grew up in Canada with very British parents and has always had cats in her life. After a brief detour into loving Labradors when her kids are little, she has embraced her inner self as a Crazy Cat Lady and now spends all her money on toys for her Bengal Kittens. Her house now looks like it is inhabited by toddlers.