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So you Want an Early Generation Cat?  (F1,F2,F3,F4)

We often get questions asking us for F1 kittens.  Yes, the idea of having a 50% wild cat is exciting.  They are also the most beautiful and wild looking of the Savannahs and Bengals.  They are also the most expensive.  The reason for this is that to create an F1, you must own a Serval or Asian Leopard Cat.  Serval or ALC ownership is outlawed in most states (just as private ownership of a Tiger or Lion is).  In those states that allow ownership by private individuals, they are regulated by the USDA.  You must be USDA licensed and have 2 years zoo keeping experience to qualify.  You  also must have USDA inspected facilities that meet certain sizing and enrichment requirements to house them.

Breeding a domestic cat to a Serval or Asian Leopard Cat is not easy either!.  Sometimes the Serval or ALC will become agitated or overly rough.  This includes females with which he has been raised.  This results in female cat death.  When you are lucky enough to have a breeding, the pregnancy is not without problems.  You have two different species bred together.  The gestation periods are different for wild cats and domestic cats.  This can create issues for the mother in labor and delivery.  Early delivery is common and kitten death is also.  It is VERY common that when a live birth does occur to have one kitten in these litters. 

So, let's assume that a breeder has overcome all of these hurdles and produced an F1 or even F2 kitten.   People think that with enough love and caring and patience they will teach these "wild" creatures that they truly love and care for them.  They believe that these cats will come to trust them and be comfortable with them.  Let's face it.  The idea of having a wild lion or tiger with a totally domestic personality has been my dream since I was a little girl!  A dream shared with millions of other people.  It is this dream that drew me to the Savannah. 

I wanted an F1 but could not afford one (10k), so settled for an F2 ($5k).  She was beautiful, golden and had very black spots.  Wild looking face, I was SO excited!  She came to me as a very shy girl along with her even shyer brother.  I worked with them each and every day.  I spent long hours holding them, and teaching them that I meant only good things and that I could always be trusted.  This was a dream come true until the male and female reached breeding age. 

At that time, they both just 'changed".  Most of the time, they would solicit attention in the way that they always had.  We spent our daily "talks" together and had our brushing sessions, enjoying each others company (or so I thought).  The female began to attack me with no notice during times when I would be cleaning litter boxes or petting them or ???  I would behave just as I always had since they were very young.  Nothing had changed.  I couldn't figure out where the aggression was coming from.  I was very heartbroken and began to contact other breeders about what I could possibly be doing wrong to provoke this behavior.  As I learned (thanks to many people who have shared their experiences with me) I was not alone. 

These animals ARE part wild creatures.  Wild creatures have a VERY heightened sense of reaction to stimuli.  Stimuli can be a simple touch or spoken word.  That is what preserves them in the wild.  Those animals who do not react quickly and decisively in the wild, do not survive!  Therefore, what is normal and wonderful behavior to people can be upsetting to them.  Sometimes, they will react to boredom, or noise, or who knows what!  This MUST be planned for when considering an F1 or F2. 

Other Breeders began to share stories of their interactions with their cats.  I began to realize that VERY careful and planned interactions are needed.  A zoo keeper never forgets they are dealing with a wild animal and we can't either.  They keep all interactions with their animals in a very controlled environment.  Noise levels, lighting, movements, voices, weather, ANYTHING that may cause upset are all taken into consideration.

I know that just my comments are not going to persuade you, (that wouldn't have persuaded me) so I am going to include the comments of VERY reputable Savannah breeders across the country.  Hopefully this will help you to decide if an early generation Savannah is really for you.  By the way, it appears that by the F3-4 generation, the Savannah's wild genes have subsided to the point that they are more reliable. 

What follows are emails from MANY Savannah breeders across the country on a recent email thread on owning early generation cats.  I have stripped out the names to protect people's privacy.  But I wanted to include the content to demonstrated early generation behavior across the board.

What experienced breeders have to say about the early generation cats.....

What experienced breeders have to say about the early generation cats..... (F1,F2,F3)

 

Disclaimer:  The following comments were taken from an online conversation with well known breeders across the US.  They are actual comments and not fictionalized.  I did remove any identifying portions of the comments.  I also experienced this biting behavior with my early generation Savannahs and will not remove the comments to satisfy some.  Anyone considering an early generation cat needs to be prepared for what they may experience.  This is especially true of those desiring to breed.  I do realize that some breeders have not experienced this nipping behavior.  You may not experience it either, but you should be prepared that you might.

 

"Hell, I have an F1 that was from my ___ here, she was as sweet as could be as a baby, but when she got to be about 10 months old, she is an embarrassment to me, as I know she was very well socialized by myself, and to see her today, you would think she was caged all her life, she is very hard to handle, won't bite me or anything, but acts as if she will.  I can scruff her, but she always seems like she's afraid of me, and god knows why, because I spoiled the hell out of her. The only time she acts tame is if I am eating something, and she wants some of it, and she'll come right up to me, with a whole different attitude.

Then I have another F1 that is totally opposite, sweet as can be, and another one that I would put in the in between category.  So go figure. LOL  They all have their individual personalities, at least that is what I have found out.  It doesn't always have to do with how well they were socialized as I can attest to that, as mine have always been more than spoiled, but sometimes take on a different personality as they get older."
 

 

These are Servals, not Savannahs

 

..."One of my cats does that right as they are going into heat. (attacks)....
She is acting like she really wants affection and reacts when she gets it..
I believe it is the same as she would to a male, when she is not ready to be bred but going into estrous.  ..........In a nut shell ..... Mine is in full blown PMS.
 
As a Woman..... gotta respect that! LOL"

 

"Yes well I remember once, when I first got _____ he was in a “mood” and as we were settling in to bed, he was taking a un-proportionate amount of room on the bed. He was lying across the foot of the bed which means almost taking it all down there. It was pretty warm and I had one leg on top of the covers. I gave him a nudge to scoot him over and wham he just reaches over and takes a big deep chomp on my leg. This was over a year ago and I still have the scar. Later on afterwards I got him is own bed.  Its like an extension of our bed. He likes sleeping on it.  We get along pretty well now and don’t think he would do it again, but that was just one of those things. "

 

....."Unfortunately with some savannahs there is NO amount of training that will help. I'm sure your little training session will help a little but most people are going to do what they want when they get the animals home. I think some listen but most don't. I still will not place an F1 or F2 ( and some F3's depending on temperament ) into a home with small children. ...."

"And then there is _______. If he doesn't want me to leave his enclosure, he lets me know and boy can he be quick. I have many little wounds from his claws and teeth. Loving and then turns and attacks.

I have learned to be very careful with breeders, male or female. They can get an attitude for what we think is for no reason.

 Is this happening with F1 females that are spayed or only the F1 breeders?? 

I can only imagine how quick a Savannah F1 could be",

 

 

..."We've had a couple early generation Savannahs that would rub up and act very friendly, then take a bite out of your calf -- and draw a little blood.  It may be hormonally driven behavior -- but one needs to be wary and aware this does happen.  Savannahs seem to be very "mouthy" cats -- meaning more than a few use their mouths a lot for chewing and nipping.
 
We had an F2 male kitten that was soooo sweet -- loved to purr, be held, and was really in your face -- but he was a major nipper -- would cause bruising and draw blood! 

 

 

 

"I have an F3 girl that is a biter.  When she was spayed, the behavior diminished.  She has gotten much more mellow now."

..."We had an F1 that was soooo affectionate and friendly as a kitten -- when she hit maturity she remained friendly, greeted folks at the door, and was always in the middle of everything. 
 
However, she became sort of "quirky" -- she did NOT want anyone to pet her when she was on the kitchen counter.  If our dog walked by, she would hiss and swat at him.  She did this to people, too.  You definitely could NOT touch her or approach her when she was "on the counter." 
 
Not sure why -- she was never fed there, no negative experiences.  It was the busiest part of the house were there were often people or dogs walking by -- and she loved to threaten and boss!..."

 

.."One of our F3's is NOT a social cat.  She was very wild acting from the time she was a kitten.   She was raised in the house and allowed free roaming in the majority of the house.  She never became a lap cat - however she would lay on the couch with us sitting on the opposite end.  At times, she would walk across me - but social?  No.  Her idea of interaction would be to sit on the couch next to my chair and solicit attention.  We devised a game - when I moved a finger, or straw, she would slap it.  She and I got to the point where she would slap my hand and I would slap hers back.  It was her way to interact with me.  There were no claws and the pats were friendly on both our parts - but that was as far as she was willing to go.  She didn't flea if I moved too quickly nor did she pay much attention to me after she learned to trust me.  She would lay on the back of the couch if I was taking a nap on the couch - that was as good as it got or will ever get with this girl.
 
One thing that makes wild animals behave different than domestic is endocrine levels.  Their reactivity is more acute.   They are more reactive with higher levels of intensity of action.  This is mother natures way to ensure their survival. 
 
Too - many species of domestics have been neonatonized - their behavioral development is arrested in the juvenile stage - whereas wild animals have not been dumbed down.   If you will notice - juveniles are still willing to please and seek approval from adult members (usually us or their mother.)  Whereas the adults are free thinking and don't worry about approval even though they seek our attention when "THEY" are in the mood.  
 
I think with the maturity factor and endocrine levels, it is not uncommon to see the changes in behavior once they reach sexual maturity...."

 

 

....."Thanks :-))) But what went through my mind was the hormones and ________. I haven't quite figured out what he really wants from me (other than a girl to breed). I am very cautious when I handle him. There is no warning when he goes to turn. He seems to have his good day and his bad ones. I hope he changes once he is neutered so I can place him as pet. My Ragdoll boy changed 100% after he was neutered.
 

It would be interesting to find out if any of these F1 girls changed after being spayed, and no longer had the "pms". ..."

 

 

These comments are NOT meant to suggest that ALL early generation (F1,F2,F3) kittens and or cats are vicious.  But to remind you that they are partially wild, to what degree, we don't know for sure.  As such, you need to go into ownership with your eyes open and a breeder you can go to with questions and problems.  You also must prepare to house your early generation in compatibility with their natural instincts.  To assume that they will act totally tame always because you bring them up that way is to be naive.  My F2 regularly shreds anything she can get her hands on if she gets bored.  It is my job to constantly keep her entertained or keep her confined....period.  Consider this before purchasing an early generation cat.

 

   

 

pictures do NOT go with the comments ! 

Again, credit to various breeders across the United States and thanks for allowing us to have them here.

 

Early Generation Bengals (F1,F2,F3)

"A great deal of time and energy must be applied to the socialization of foundations.. .In the wild, an F1 will toilet in water and leaves.  This means any sink or tub, the water bowl, fish tank, etc. are normal targets.  Beds are also inviting as comparatively smelly, soft targets. 

Veterinary procedures are so stressful to both cat and owner that strict quarantine procedures must be enforced to avoid exposure to disease.  Visitors can sometimes unknowingly encourage the wild side eliciting hissing, growling and biting.

Diet can be difficult to manage for some cats.  All early generation cats possess some wild genes and some domestic genes.  The amount of either is never totally known. 

F1's bond totally and completely to one person.  This makes rehoming almost impossible.  This is further reason for careful thought and consideration before adoption.  With domestic cats, if you must go away on vacation or for a family emergency, you can hire an experienced reputable cat sitter without problem.  Or you can get the neighbor to look in on your furry family members. This is almost impossible with an early generation cat. 

 

Roxanne's Rules for living with an F1 Bengal .... Must Read!

Roxanne is an F1 Bengal Queen.  She owns a human named Julie who needed some training because Julie didn't know.... "The rules".

Roxanne's list of "But Mom, It looked like a potty to me!".

1.  Bath Mat (use the towel variety and hang it up when you are done.   

2.  Clean laundry (don't leave it out)   

3.  Laundry baskets (turn them upside down)    

4.  Closets   (keep them shut)   

5.  Linen cabinets   (keep them shut)  

6.  Pantry (latch it)  

7.  Cabinet under bathroom sink  (latch it)   

8.  Suitcase   (zip it shut and put away)  

9.  Gym bag  (zip it up and put away)  

10.  Clothes on floor  (use hamper with a lid on it). 

11.  Plastic on the floor  (pick up after yourself)   

12.  Paper on the floor - homework, newspaper, etc..  (pick up after yourself)   

13.  Anything flat left on the floor that doesn't belong there  (pick up after yourself)   

14.  Corners of carpet rooms (cover them with scat mats, litter boxes or furniture).  

15.  Throw blankets not folded after use and put away (put them away). 

16.  Throw pillows not set upright after use (set them upright). 

17.  Unmade beds (make the bed as soon as you get up)  

18.  Pillows left above the bedspread (put pillows under the bedspread)  

19.  Comforters  (use a bedspread)  

20.  Under the bed  (put a skirt of pine planks like they do in hotels) 

21.  anything left out of place  (pick up after yourself).  

22.. Pet beds  (use the kind that go in the washing machine and wash often in Petzyme)

thanks Julie Gracie Moseley for use of Roxanne's rules.  Hopefully we can follow them and all live happier lives with our feline companions.

 

 
 
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