Hygiene

Do Bengal Cats Shed?

The Bengal cat is a rare feline breed. Often called the "pet leopard" due to their spotted coats, there is more to this breed than meets the eye. A common question is 'Do Bengal cats shed?" We have the answer and more in this quick guide.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: November 1, 2022 | 14 min read

Woman hands combing fur of a Bengal cat with brush

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Bengal cats are a highly sought-after breed of exotic house cats. They are most known for their wild-looking coats, a nod to their wildcat ancestors. Bengal cats have striking leopard print coats. These super-intelligent, mysterious felines are becoming increasingly popular in the United States as both pets and show cats. Read on to learn more about these cats, specifically if they shed and how to care for their unique coats.

Bengal Cats

Bengal cats are among the most attractive breeds of pet cats out there. This feline is a rare hybrid mix of Asian Leopard Cats and domestic house cats. These cats are gorgeous, with pelt-like leopard print coats. Bengals are often called “pet leopards.” These ferocious-looking kitties are one unique breed of feline. Bengals are highly intelligent; they often steal things from their owners. This breed also is particularly good at games and loves to walk on a leash. Bengals also climb everything. Owning one of these ferocious-looking felines is no small undertaking.

The Bengal cats we know today were first developed by a researcher named Dr. Willard Centerwall in the 1970s. He studied the leukemia virus in cats to understand why the Asian Leopard Cat has immunity to feline leukemia. To do this, he bred the Asian Leopard with domestic house cats. When done with his research, he passed on the kittens to a woman who began to produce them, developing today’s sleek coated Bengal cat.

“Pet leopards” are a relatively new breed, and there are a lot of questions owners have when it comes to their care. With such a gorgeous coat, owners can be intimidated or concerned about the proper methods of Bengal cat coat care. It is normal to be concerned about this, and one of the best things pet owners can do to care for their felines properly is to educate themselves. One common question asked is, do Bengal cats shed? Our quick guide goes through the basics and answers this question. We also talk about some of the steps owners can take to control shedding and some of the best cat grooming products available.

Bengal Cat Coats

Bengal cat looking up
Bengal cats are known for their luxuriously soft, thick coats.

Bengal cats do not have exactly the same type of coats as other domestic house cat breeds. Their coat is referred to as a pelt rather than fur. This is because they have only a single layer of fur rather than a top coat and undercoat like most domestic house cats. The genetic relation this feline has with the Asian Leopard cat also plays a role in why its coat is referred to as a pelt.

Bengal cats have luscious, medium-length coats. Their hair is silky and soft to the touch. The “pet leopard” coat is also sleek and glossy and will glisten when caught the right way in sunlight. This twinkling effect happens specifically because the tip of every hair has just a little less pigment than the rest of the strand. When caught in the sunlight, this can produce a sparkling effect.

Because Bengals have a single-layer coat and a unique genetic blend, they are known as some of, if not the softest breed of domestic cat out there. Because this cat does not have an undercoat, they also shed significantly less than many other feline breeds. In fact, the Bengal cat is considered a hypoallergenic cat.

Bengal Cat Colors

“Pet leopards” can come in a few assorted colors. They have two different coat patterns, marbled and spotted. The spotted is the most common. Spots can be monochrome or two-tone. A ”Rosetted Bengal” has two-tone spots different from the background cat color. The marbled Bengal has tabby stripes that appear in a marbled pattern. A Bengal that has a blend of both is called a Sparble Bengal.

The base colors of the “pet leopard” cat can be brown, snow, silver, charcoal, blue, and solid black (Melanistic). They can include golden, tawny, cream, honey, orange, and tan tones. Bengals usually have markings that range from brown to jet black. A Snow Bengal is ivory to cream-colored and comes in three color shades known as Seal Lynx, Seal Mink, and Seal Sepia. These cats resemble miniature snow leopards. They can also come in a silver or charcoal color, with dark markings.

Do Bengal Cats Shed?

Shedding is normal for every cat, and Bengals are no different.

It is often said that Bengal cats do not shed. This is not true. They do shed. However, they shed a significant amount less than most other feline breeds. One of the main reasons is that they have less hair than other breeds, so they have less hair to shed. This is a big part of why these felines shed less. Remember, this breed does shed, and there can be a range of how much. Keep in mind that every feline is different. How much a Bengal will shed depends on many things, including genetics, nutrition, care, and self-grooming behavior.

Shedding Frequency

Bengal cats, just like most other feline breeds, will shed year-round. Typically, these cats shed minimally. However, they will shed more during the spring when temperatures warm up and again during the fall. Bengals living in areas where more dramatic temperature changes will shed more. It is not unusual for a “pet leopard” who lives in very mild temperatures to shed minimal fur, even during these seasonal changes. Younger cats shed more, so there may be more shedding from your cats as kittens than adults.

Unless there are some other underlying causes, Bengal cats really do not shed very much. Due to the structure of their coats, they shed less and are incredibly good at self-grooming to take care of loose hair and dead skin. Some Bengal owners will even go as far as saying their cats do not shed at all. However, only true hairless breeds of felines do not shed anything. “Pet leopard” owners should expect very minimal shedding. However, this really depends on the specific genetic makeup of each individual cat. Anytime a feline starts shedding excessively or more than expected, it is good to reach out to your veterinarian.

Hypoallergenic Cats

Even with longer coats, they are still considered one of the lowest shedding, most hypoallergenic cat breeds. Another reason Bengal cats are considered hypoallergenic is because they groom themselves less often than cats with thicker coats. All felines carry proteins in their saliva, urine, and dander. One specific protein, Fel d 1, causes cat allergies, not cat fur itself. Cats often groom themselves, spreading this protein to their hair. Once a cat sheds its fur, this allergen spreads.

Because Bengal cats have so much less hair and only one coat rather than two, they groom themselves much less. This leads to less saliva and, therefore, fewer allergy-causing proteins to spread around. There is a lot of speculation about this breed regarding whether they produce the same protein level as other breeds. Bengal cats do shed. However, they shed a significant amount less than most other breeds. So far, there is no evidence to show that Bengal cats produce less of this protein.

Bengals can be an excellent feline choice for people who love cats but suffer from allergies. They are also good for people with respiratory issues like asthma. The “pet leopards” are also a costly breed, so be ready for a high price tag if you are looking for one of these exotic, wild-looking kittens.

Managing Shedding

To keep their coats healthy, felines need a diet high in animal protein.

Even though the Bengal cat sheds far less than most other breeds, it does not mean that her coat will not need care or that measures should not be taken to manage shedding. There are several steps a “pet leopard” owner can take to help manage shedding and keep their cat’s gorgeous coat in healthy, tip-top condition.

Check If Your Bengal Cat Is Shedding

One way to check if your Bengal cat is shedding is to brush them on a light-colored sheet, blanket, or towel. You will be able to see any hair that they shed on the sheet and in the brush or comb. This is a simple, easy way to check if your cat is shedding. It is unusual for Bengals to shed copious amounts of hair. If you are concerned about your Bengal cat shedding too much, always contact your veterinarian to schedule a checkup.

Brushing

Because they have shorter hair and are low shedding, hypoallergenic cats, there is a misconception that Bengal cats do not need brushing. This is not true. “Pet leopards,” like all other breeds, need regular grooming. They should be brushed regularly. About once a week or every two weeks is fine. These kitties do an outstanding job of grooming themselves and are low-shed. This means that daily brushing will be too much.

Regular brushing of your Bengal cat once every week or so helps manage her shedding and allows you to check her skin and coat. Skin health is essential in felines. Regular inspection of their skin for cuts, infection, fleas, mites, or other foreign objects is essential. These can cause your kitty to shed more than normal, so keeping a good eye on their skin and coat is a great preventative measure against excess shedding.

When brushing felines, always brush in the direction of hair growth. Should you see any tangles or mats, never yank them out or force a comb or brush through them. Always be gentle. Matting and tangles are highly unlikely in this breed of cat. Should they happen, always take great care to work them out and consult your veterinarian about why this might be happening.

You can also keep a good eye on your cat to ensure they are not getting into anything that is not kitty friendly. The “pet leopard” loves to explore and has a strong natural instinct to hunt things. They are avid climbers and can end up getting into places they just should not be. This can expose them to dirt and bugs, impacting their skin and coat health.

Types Of Brushes

Hartz Combo Brush
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Best Bristle Brush

Hartz

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CeleMoon Cat Brush Ultra-Soft Silicone Washable Grooming Shedding Massage Bath Pet Brush
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Best Silicone Brush

CeleMoon

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Leo's Paw The Original Pet Hair Removal Massaging Shell Comb
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Best Comb

Leo’s Paw

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For Bengal cats, a slicker brush is an excellent choice. Slicker brushes have very thin wire bristles that are bunched tightly together. The bristles and brush are put together in a way that they do not scratch the skin. These brushes are particularly good for getting rid of loose hair, dirt, and mats or tangles in fur.

  • A bristle brush can be used for kitties resistant to brushing or who prefer a softer touch. These come in varied materials and shapes and are usually made up of softer plastic or even fabric or hair bristles.
  • Silicone brushes are another option for kitties that are less responsive to brushing. These work like a massager as well as a brush.
  • Grooming should always be a positive, soothing experience. Never force a cat or hold them down to be brushed. If needed, bring in help, especially with a feisty breed like the Bengal cat. Brushing may be a 2-person job.

Diet & Supplements

Healthy fats like Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids help with skin health. Protein always helps with feline coat health. Adding cooked fish like tuna or salmon once or twice a week can help coat health and prevent hair loss. There are plenty of fish oil and other supplements available. Always talk to your veterinarian before starting your feline friend on a supplement.

Other Reasons For Losing Hair

A little bit of shedding is to be expected from a Bengal cat. Healthy felines will not shed excessively. However, many underlying environmental and health conditions can contribute to the amount a kitty sheds.

Age

Age is a significant factor in how much a kitty will shed. Bengal cats, as adults, do not shed very much. However, as kittens, they will shed more. As a kitty grows into her adult coat, she will shed less. Older kitties may shed more than younger and middle-aged cats. Aging and senior felines can suffer from different health conditions and skin health. Their skin can also lose elasticity with age, meaning that in some elderly kitties, there may be more shedding than when they were younger.

Season

Time of year is another key factor in how much a feline will shed. Cats normally go through a heavier shed cycle twice a year. This cycle aligns with the change in seasons. As temperatures rise, felines shed heavier coats in the spring and early summer. As wintry weather moves in, they will shed old fur and dead skin in the fall months and grow in a heavier winter coat. Where a “pet leopard” lives and the climate’s temperature play a key role. Those that live in areas with more dramatic temperature change cycles may shed more than those in more moderate and mild climates. Keeping the Bengal cat’s environment at a medium to low temperature can discourage excess shedding.

Diet

What a feline is fed is reflected in coat health. This is true for “pet leopards” and any other feline breed. A well-balanced, nutritious, natural diet helps build up overall health and skin and coat health. Cats are what are known as obligate carnivores. This means they must eat meat. These felines need diets that are high in animal protein. Bengal cats, in particular, have a deep-rooted craving for meat. Ensure the food these felines eat includes meat such as turkey, fish, beef, chicken, or lamb. Stay away from pet foods that use substitutions and fillers.

Do not feed your Bengal cat a plant-based diet. Though there may be information out there that says otherwise, and for some, it may seem like a lifestyle choice, cats need meat to survive. This kitty will not be healthy on a diet that is based on plants. Their digestive systems work better with animal proteins than with plant-based foods. Do not go cheap on food for these kitties. Felines need a high-quality diet. When raising an exotic breed like the Bengal, an owner must communicate with their veterinarian about their dietary needs.

Some owners prefer to feed their Bengal kitties raw chicken. In the wild, felines are predators and carnivores who hunt their prey. Their food is not cooked, and their systems can handle raw meat. It is not recommended to only feed a Bengel cat raw meat, and if owners choose to give them this tasty treat once or twice a week, it must be fresh. Cat foods are formulated to include a balance of nutrients. Always discuss the best food to feed your feline friend with your veterinarian. Their dietary needs will change as they age. Kittens need different food formulas than elderly cats, so always keep this in mind when choosing what to feed your kitty.

Stress

Stress is one of the main reasons that cats shed excessively. Shedding is their body’s natural response to being scared or in an uncomfortable situation. Bengal cats are a breed known for their attachment to being around people, and when left alone for too long, they may start to suffer from separation anxiety. Changes in their daily routine or environment can trigger a stress reaction and cause shedding. Despite being brave, felines are often afraid of loud noises, dogs barking, and unexpected sounds outside like cars, sirens, and thunder.

Cats with shorter coats like the Bengal can develop bald patches if they shed excessively. They can start to lick at these patches, causing infections. If you notice any patches of thinning hair on your kitty, it is best to talk to your vet. Evaluate their living environment and make sure nothing is going on that stresses your kitty out. Overgrooming is a common sign of stress and anxiety in a cat.

Disease

Several different diseases and health conditions can cause excess shedding in felines. A cat with balding patches or constantly overgrooming may have an underlying medical issue. Felines can suffer from kidney disease, liver disease, thyroid malfunction, and even cancer which can cause them to shed more than normal. Skin infections, bacterial and fungal, can also cause shedding and impact skin health.

Parasites

Parasites are often the root cause of excess shedding in felines. Cats can be allergic to these pests like mites and fleas. When these painful bugs infest a cat’s fur, it can be an excessively big problem. Regular visits to the vet and keeping up with flea and tick prevention are particularly good ways to prevent a parasite or pest like fleas. Should your adventurous kitty be spending time outside of your home, make sure to take this preventative measure. You never know what they may encounter outside the safety of the home.

Allergy

Felines suffer from allergies just like humans. They can be allergic to plants, to products, including those used on humans, insects, food, and other environmental triggers. An allergic reaction can trigger shedding. If you are concerned that your Bengal cat is suffering from an allergy, always consult with your veterinarian about the best course of action.

How To Keep Your Home Clean

Even if you stay on top of your cat’s shedding, you’re bound to have cat hair around your house that needs cleaning up. We have lots of experience in this department. Depending on your cleaning preferences, you may find one or all products suitable for your home.

Robot Vacuum

If you want the cleaning done for you, then we recommend the Shark IQ Robot Self-Empty XL. This self-cleaning robot vacuum can map out your home, so you can send it to a specific area that needs cleaning. You can also set “no-go zones” for areas around your cat’s food and water bowls to ensure the vacuum doesn’t mess with those areas. The brushroll removes pet hair, so there is no hair wrap, and the self-emptying base holds up to 45 days of cat hair, dirt, and debris.

Cordless Vacuum

Bissell’s ICONpet Edge vacuum is perfect for general vacuuming and getting those hard-to-reach areas like windowsills, room corners, underneath furniture, etc. It’s cordless, so it’s easy to grab and go. It includes several attachments to help clean up the cat hair on your stairs, hardwood floors, and everywhere in between.

Air Purifier

Filtrete’s air purifier captures 99.97% of airborne particles, including pet odors and cat hair. This air purifier can help clean the air in a room up to 250 square feet in size. It notifies you when the filter needs changing to ensure optimal performance. You can adjust the fan speed, set a timer, and dim the control panel lights from the soft-touch display. If you notice your home has a pet odor, this will help eliminate that fast.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Bengal cats normal cats?

Yes, Bengal cats are normal felines. They are a hybrid that has been bred through many generations to make the majestic, leopard-coated feline they are today. They are not wild cats or wild animals. Bengals are purebred domestic cats.

Are Bengal cats non-shedding?

Bengal cats are incredibly low shed-felines. They are not no-shed, as they do shed periodically throughout the year. Bengal cats shed significantly less than most other breeds, except for the true hairless like the Sphynx. Unless they are hairless, all kitties will shed, even if it is very minimal. Bengal cats can shed so little that it is often unnoticeable unless one looks for it.

Why is my Bengal cat shedding so much?

If your Bengal cat is shedding more than usual, she may be stressed out. Cats do shed more as the seasons change, or your cat could have an underlying medical condition. Always reach out to your veterinarian to set up an exam and rule out any serious issues if you are concerned about the amount your kitty is shedding.

Quick Note On Bathing Bengal Cats

While some feline breeds may benefit from regular bathing, especially those with longer hair, the Bengal cat is not one. In all reality, if your Bengal is doing a respectable job of grooming herself and you are keeping up with regular brushing at least once every two weeks, she is not going to need to be bathed. Should you decide to bathe your Bengal cat, it is not advisable to do it more than once a month or so. Bengal cats enjoy the water, so some may be receptive to bathing.

If you choose to bathe your Bengal cat, please make sure to use pet-friendly shampoos and conditioners. Human products are never suitable for use on animals. They can cause allergies, sickness, and even burns or injuries.

Final Thoughts

Bengal cats are an intriguing feline breed. They are relatively new to the domestic house cat population and can be expensive. Bengal cats are an excellent breed for people who have a low tolerance for cat dander, are allergic, or have breathing issues like asthma. They are a true hypoallergenic breed and may be more tolerable for some people.

Bengal cats do shed and require regular grooming to keep their coats healthy. There are certain times of the year when cats will shed more, but overall, they shed much less than most other feline breeds. Owning a cat, especially an exotic breed like the Bengal, is a true privilege. Our responsibility as owners is to make sure that all their needs are met. For the Bengal cat, this includes understanding who they are and what grooming needs they have. Never be afraid to consult your veterinarian or a professional groomer if you have trouble keeping your feline’s coat healthy.

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