If you’re considering getting started as a bengal cat breeder, be ready for a serious commitment.
Breeding these cats is a multifaceted endeavor that demands not only a love for the bengal breed but also an understanding of genetics, animal husbandry, and business management.
This walkthrough aims to give you a bird’s-eye view of everything you should be aware of as a complete beginner.
Local Laws and Regulations
First, familiarize yourself with local, state, and even federal laws pertaining to animal breeding and welfare before bringing your first breeding pair home.
Licensing requirements vary by jurisdiction. You might need a special permit or a kennel license to operate legally. Zoning laws could restrict where you can set up your cattery, and there may be a legal limit on the number of cats you can own.
Additionally, you must adhere to veterinary guidelines concerning vaccinations and microchipping. Penalties for non-compliance can be severe, so consult local animal control and even a legal advisor to cover all your bases.
Initial Steps and Start-Up Costs
Once you’ve ensured compliancy, you can begin setting up for your first litter.
There are several things you need to do in preparation for breeding bengals. These are the initial actions and setup costs you need to begin.
To start, you’ll need to create clean spaces for the cats, a separate area for new or sick animals, and another space for kittens.
Your home will need modifications to accommodate your breeding operations. Studs often need their own spaces and queens will need private spaces of their own once they start having kittens.
This can be done with little effort if you already have the spaces for this or could be quite costly, anticipate an outlay of $10,000 to $15,000 to set up a functional cattery if you do not already have space available.
Breeding bengal cats requires an upfront investment that can turn away those approaching from a more “hobbyist” angle, given that at least $10,000 is typically needed to get started.
Acquiring your initial breeding pair is your first real expense. High-quality Bengals can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 per cat, and it’s imperative to get them from a reputable breeder.
These are all the start-up costs you should expect:
- Studs and queens
- Health and genetic screening
- Cattery setup
- Health and cleaning supplies
What To Expect and Ongoing Expenses
Breeding Bengals is not a surefire profit-making venture. Costs accrue quickly and unpredictably. Basic ongoing expenses will include quality food, litter, toys, and routine veterinary care.
Specialized screenings like Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) tests can cost between $150-$600 per cat per year.
Moreover, emergencies do happen; from birthing complications to acute illnesses, your cats may require immediate veterinary intervention, adding to your expenses. Budgeting for this is a must.
Health and Care Expenses
These are the health and care expenses you should expect:
- Cat litter
- Cat food (raw meat is recommended)
- Veterinary costs
New Litter Expenses
These are the expenses to expect for new litters:
- Health certificate
- Kitten registration
Additional expenses for the business-side include the following:
- Website costs
- Marketing budget
How To Breed Bengal Cats
When breeding bengal cats, your female Bengals should be at least one year old, and males should be 18 months or older before they are involved.
Females are polyestrous and can go into heat several times a year, but be prepared to monitor their cycles carefully. The gestation period for cats is approximately 64 to 69 days.
Once the kittens are born, intensive care is required. They should not leave your cattery before 12 weeks of age, and you are responsible for their vaccinations and spay/neuter surgeries. The cost of these procedures can range from $35 to $600 per kitten.
Bengal Cat Genetics
Understanding feline genetics is very important as a breeder.
Bengals are bred for specific coat colors and patterns, such as the marble or the rosette, and understanding the genetic mechanisms behind these can significantly affect your breeding outcomes. For an overview of the genetics for different, rare colors you can reference this guide.
Work on perfecting the breed by understanding dominant and recessive genes, color morphs, and how these interact with health issues. Use genetic screening tools, work closely with veterinarians familiar with the breed, and consider getting involved with breed-specific associations to keep your knowledge updated.
Starting a bengal cat breeding venture requires preparation and dedication. You will face challenges ranging from set-up costs to ongoing expenses, from understanding cat genetics to navigating local regulations.
It is not something to begin lightly, but if you’re willing to genuinely commit, it will be an immensely rewarding experience for you. Always remember that breeding bengal cats makes you responsible for the bengals of the future, so approach each aspect with the appropriate gravitas and care.