Nutritional Guidelines for Bengal Cats and Kittens – Feeding Guide

Ensuring your Bengal cat or kitten receives the right nutrition is crucial for their health and well-being. The simplest method to guarantee a balanced diet is to opt for high-quality commercial cat food. However, for those willing to invest additional time and resources into their pet’s care, preparing a diet from natural ingredients can offer a healthier, albeit more complex and costly, alternative. Being natural predators, cats’ diets should predominantly consist of meat.

Nevertheless, there’s a variety of opinions among cat owners regarding the best type of meat and the ideal preparation method. While some prefer feeding their Bengals raw meat, others opt to boil or microwave it. So, what’s the best approach?

Understanding the unique dietary needs of Bengal cats is crucial due to their short intestines and sensitive digestive systems, which can easily be upset, potentially leading to the well-known issue of Bengal diarrhea. Therefore, providing your kitten with optimal nutrition is key to their health. The following recommendations are intended to guide you through your kitten’s initial adaptation period to a new home. Any transition to new dry foods or the introduction of new dietary items should be approached gradually and with caution.

The adaptation period typically lasts about one month, during which the future health and development of your kitten will heavily depend on their diet. It’s essential that your pet’s diet is balanced, containing all necessary vitamins and microelements in the correct proportions.

After your kitten has settled into their new home and a dietary routine has been established, it’s important to monitor their weight. Bengals are often susceptible to weight gain; if this occurs, consider switching to a lower-calorie diet and/or reducing portion sizes.

Bengal cats and kittens can be fed:

  • Commercial dry food
  • Natural food
  • A combination of both

photo by royalbengalcattery

There isn’t a consensus on which type of food is superior; the choice ultimately rests with you.


Dry Commercial Food

Opting for commercially prepared food offers convenience by saving time on preparation, ensuring balance, and including all essential nutrients. You can choose between dry and canned food options. However, it’s crucial to select premium quality dry foods, ideally composed of all-natural ingredients. Stick to well-established brands and avoid inexpensive alternatives. Low-quality foods often use bones, hides, and feathers as protein sources rather than meat, failing to meet your cat’s dietary needs and potentially leading to health issues. Additionally, such foods might contain excessive minerals, raising the risk of kidney stones.

For our Bengal kittens and adults, we recommend: Royal Bengal Adult Dry Cat Food, Purina One True Instinct Natural Grain-Free Formula Adult Dry Cat Food, Royal Canin Kitten Dry Cat Food, and Purina One Grain-Free Classic Pate Recipe Wet Cat Food.

Veterinarians advise that dry food for cats should contain a minimum of 26% protein and 9% fat, especially important in the first year of a Bengal cat’s life due to their sensitive digestive systems.

Switching adult Bengals from natural to commercial food might lead to health issues.

Note: Bengals that consume dry food need ample water. They have a preference for flowing water, so consider setting up a DIY fountain for them.

Photo by Usman Yousaf on Unsplash

Natural Diet

As innate hunters, 70% of a Bengal’s diet should be lean, raw meat to reflect their predatory nature. To prevent parasitic infections, ensure the meat is thoroughly frozen before use.

Meals should be served at room temperature or slightly warmed—not too hot or cold (straight from the fridge).

Remember: As carnivores, Bengals should not consume human foods like pizza, smoked chicken, pasta, or chopped cabbage. Introducing them to human diets can lead to various health problems.

  1. Fish or Chicken Bones These pose a risk of choking and can damage the esophagus, stomach, and lead to intestinal blockage.
  2. Pork, Lamb, and Certain Poultry (excluding Chicken) These meats are high in fat and difficult to digest. In their raw form, they can lead to worm infestations or potentially fatal infectious diseases.
  3. Fatty, Spicy, Pickled, and Smoked Foods; Fried Foods Such foods can cause indigestion and negatively impact metabolism, leading to chronic illness and deteriorated appearance in animals.
  4. Sugar, Chocolate, Cakes, Candy, and Other Sweets These disrupt metabolism, weaken the immune system, cause fur to lose its luster, and lead to tooth decay. Chocolate contains theobromine, a toxic substance that can be lethal.
  5. Potatoes Lacking in nutritional value, potatoes are not digested well and can lead to indigestion due to their starch content.
  6. Beans (Soy, Peas, Kidney Beans) Beans can cause intestinal fermentation and bloating as they are not digested.
  7. Salt and Spices These offer no nutritional benefit to cats and can even be harmful.
  8. Medications and Vitamins Formulated for Humans Cats have a unique metabolism, making human vitamins ineffective for them. Furthermore, many human medications can be toxic to cats, particularly affecting their kidneys, and may result in fatality.



Can I feed my cat porridge?

No, porridge is not suitable for cats in any form. Cats are obligate carnivores, requiring a diet rich in fats and proteins. Their bodies lack the enzymes necessary to break down carbohydrates. At best, porridge will simply pass through their system, potentially hindering the absorption of vital nutrients. At worst, it could lead to diarrhea. Regarding the common query about grains in the stomachs of mice, it’s important to note that very few mice solely consume grain, and any grain present is already fermented and constitutes a minimal part of the mouse’s overall body volume.

To boil or not to boil meat for cats?

Do not boil. Cats should consume raw products. Boiling, even briefly, reduces the nutritional value of meat and makes proteins more difficult to digest. Boiled or fried bones are indigestible for cats and may lead to intestinal obstruction.

Should cats be fed meat with or without bones?

Bones are a crucial component of a cat’s diet, providing calcium, cleaning teeth, and exercising the jaw muscles. Cats can safely consume the neck, spine, and head of small poultry like ducks or chickens. A whole small bird, such as a quail, is also appropriate. However, turkey neck bones are too hard and should be avoided. Tubular bones and any cooked bones are strictly off-limits.

Are bird heads and necks necessary in a cat’s diet?

Yes, including the bones. Necks are a prime source of calcium and collagen, while brains and eyes offer significant nutritional benefits. Brains are rich in B vitamins, amino acids, phosphorus, and other essential nutrients. Eyes, often referred to as liquid cartilage, are an excellent collagen source. The sharp bones of the head are not harmful to cats, nor are the bones in the neck. Cats are naturally equipped to consume their prey whole. You may serve necks and heads either whole or chopped into smaller portions.

Should cats be fed ground meat or meat chunks?

Preferably chunks. A cat’s digestive system and jaw are designed to handle tearing off and swallowing meat chunks with minimal chewing. Feline stomach and intestines are optimized to digest meat in chunk form. Ground meat alters the digestive process, causing the meat to pass too quickly through the GI tract, which can disrupt nutrient absorption. For diets that include a variety of foods, meat should be cut into approximately 2×2 cm chunks. Chicken necks can be offered whole if your cat is agreeable to it.

Is a mixed or mono diet better?

Mono feeding involves providing all necessary nutrients through varied single-type meat feedings rather than one mixed meal. Continuously feeding just one type of meat does not constitute a complete diet. A mixed diet combines different meat types into a single meal. Both feeding methods are valid and pet owners should choose whichever best suits their and their pets’ needs. Mono feeding allows owners to observe their cat engaging in natural predatory behavior, tearing and consuming meat as they would in the wild. Mixed feeding ensures that each meal closely mimics the nutritional variety found in natural prey.

Optimal Meat Choices for Your Cat

To align with a cat’s natural dietary habits, consider their typical prey, which includes small rodents, birds, and occasionally, reptiles like lizards and frogs. Consequently, a cat’s diet should predominantly consist of meat and bones, not just muscle meat but also organs such as hearts, lungs, livers, gizzards, and kidneys. Cats can consume a variety of meats—beef, chicken, turkey, rabbit—provided they are lean and not excessively fatty. For example, chicken breasts are notably low in nutritional value.

Permissible Vegetables and Their Purpose

Vegetables in a cat’s diet primarily provide rough fiber, aiding in intestinal movement, and are included in minimal quantities for this purpose. They’re also beneficial for pets prone to obesity. Suitable vegetables include squash, pumpkin, and carrots, which most cats accept (though preferences can vary). Some cats might also eat cauliflower, broccoli, and cucumbers. However, cabbage and beans, which can cause gas, along with beets, starchy vegetables like potatoes, radishes, and hot peppers, are discouraged. Onions and garlic are particularly harmful, potentially leading to anemia. Vegetables can be served raw, diced, or lightly cooked in vegetable oil, preferably olive oil.


Daily Food Quantities

The recommended daily food intake is 3-5% of an adult cat’s body weight and up to 10% for growing kittens. The exact amount may vary based on the cat’s breed, age, activity level, and hormonal status, necessitating a tailored approach. Generally, cats will not consume more than they require.

Feeding Frequency

For diets consisting solely of natural animal products, feeding twice daily is adequate. The daily portion should be split evenly between morning and evening meals.

Beneficial Nutritional Supplements

Dairy products, hard cheeses, cottage cheese, bran, and quail eggs can be advantageous supplements. Hard cheeses are calcium sources, also packed with vitamins and beneficial bacteria, suitable in amounts up to 15 grams daily. Dairy products provide B vitamins and digestion-aiding bacteria. Bran promotes digestive health and bowel cleansing. Quail eggs, rich in vitamins A and B, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and amino acids, can be offered, including the shell, every one to two days, and are particularly recommended for nursing cats.

Note: These items are supplements and should not constitute the primary components of the diet.

Beneficial Offal for Cats

Heart: A rich source of protein and taurine, with pork and turkey hearts being ideal. Beef heart is tougher to digest, and chicken heart has a higher fat content. Hearts can constitute up to 40% of a cat’s diet.

Liver: Offers amino acids and vitamin A but may lead to loose stools. To prevent vitamin A overdose or diarrhea, liver should not exceed 5% of the diet and is best mixed with other meats.

Poultry Stomachs (Gizzards): Provide protein, vitamins, and beneficial microflora, making up to 40% of the diet. Bovine or sheep rumen aids digestion due to healthy bacteria but is high in calories and fat, thus should be used sparingly.

Poultry Heads and Necks: Main sources of calcium and beneficial microelements, also serving as natural dental cleaners and jaw strengtheners.

Chicken Cartilages and Rooster Combs: Contain collagen, offering minimal nutritional value but essential for building bones, cartilage, and tendons.

Lungs: Offer little nutritional value, serving as a source of cartilaginous tissue, beneficial during growth phases but should be a minor part of the diet due to high phosphorus.

Kidneys: High in protein but may be avoided by some cats due to their distinct smell. Like livers, kidneys should not be the sole dietary component.

Spleen: Provides minimal nutritional benefits, being high in phosphorus and low in calcium. Like liver, it may cause loose stools and offers limited advantage.


Is it Safe to Feed Cats Pork and Lamb?

Pork and lamb are not recommended for cats as they can lead to fatty deposits within internal organs. Pork, in particular, is fatty and can burden liver and pancreatic functions.

Preventing Parasitic Infections

Avoiding raw meat does not guarantee protection against parasites, which can also be contracted from a cat’s fur or household surfaces. Feed your cat high-quality fresh meat, ensuring it is frozen for several days prior to use to reduce infection risks. Regular deworming and maintaining good hygiene practices are essential for preventing parasitic infections.

Is Freezing Necessary? Yes, freezing significantly reduces the risk of infections. If the meat has already been frozen prior to purchase, no further freezing is needed.

De-worming Frequency with a Natural Diet

Contrary to some beliefs, raw meat and offal are not direct sources of parasites. The risk of feline infections varies based on several factors, including outdoor access, hunting habits, and geographic location. Regardless of diet type, regular de-worming is essential. Experts suggest treatments every three to six months, but the exact frequency, medication, and dosage should be determined by a veterinarian.

Are Houseplants Safe for Cats?

Some houseplants pose risks to cats if ingested. Ensure all plants in your home are non-toxic to cats before bringing a new pet home.

Is Fish Safe for Cats, and Which Types?

Fish, particularly fatty varieties, are rich in omega-acids, proteins, minerals, and vitamins, notably A, D, B1, and B2, with phosphorus being particularly abundant. However, excessive phosphorus can be detrimental. Although fish is more fatty than meat and should not be the sole dietary component, concerns about raw fish leading to parasitic infections are unfounded. Farm-raised fish is generally treated for parasites, and certain fish like tuna, mackerel, and sturgeon are less prone to helminthiasis. Low temperatures can eliminate parasites, with them dying within 72 hours at -25°C or within a week at -18°C. Brief boiling of fish is an option, but bones must be removed immediately afterward, as omega-acid content remains unaffected by boiling. Some fish contain thiaminase, an enzyme that degrades vitamin B1, and cod family fish may lead to iron deficiency anemia. Consequently, fish should complement your cat’s diet rather than dominate it, offering nutritional benefits in moderation.

Understanding Day-old Chicks in Cat Diets

Day-old chicks are by-products of the egg industry, where male chicks are culled at one day old. Typically sold frozen and unplucked, these chicks include heart, liver, and yolk, offering a mix of soft cartilage instead of hard bones, and are rich in nutrients like phosphorus, calcium, iron, sodium, magnesium, chlorine, and sulfur. The yolk, laden with lipids, vitamins, and lecithin, serves as a vitamin D source which aids in calcium absorption. Despite their nutritional benefits, day-old chicks should not be the sole diet component as they don’t offer a complete balance of proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. They should be considered a beneficial supplement. It’s crucial to source these chicks from reputable suppliers and to introduce them into your cat’s diet gradually, ranging from once a week to daily, depending on your cat’s health and preference.


Are Vitamin Supplements Needed?

If your cat’s diet is varied and includes different types of meat with bones, it should naturally provide all essential nutrients, making supplements unnecessary unless the diet lacks specific components.

Dealing with Poor Appetite in Cats

A diminished appetite can indicate health issues, necessitating a vet consultation. A healthy cat should have a robust appetite and consume as much as it needs. If your cat rejects a certain food type, consider replacing it with another of comparable nutritional value or mixing it with different meat types.

Effects of Non-meat Treats

Cats may show interest in foods that aren’t beneficial, like potatoes. Occasional consumption of such items in small quantities typically causes no harm. However, significant amounts of inappropriate food can lead to severe health issues or even be fatal, requiring immediate veterinary attention. Certain foods, such as chocolate, are highly toxic and strictly prohibited.

Low Water Consumption in Cats on Natural Diets

A natural diet’s high water content (approximately 80%) suffices for a cat’s hydration, aiding in preventing urinary tract diseases. Though fresh water should always be available, cats on such diets may drink less, which is normal.

Bathroom Habits of Naturally Fed Cats

Infrequent defecation is typical for cats on natural diets, with stools being well-formed and not overly odorous, indicating efficient food absorption. Too hard or too light stools suggest an excessive bone content. Constipation can be alleviated by incorporating more vegetables and fresh yogurt into the diet. Naturally fed cats typically defecate once a day or even less frequently, which is considered normal.

Finding Natural Diet Recipes for Cats

The specific composition of a natural diet for cats can vary based on several factors, including breed, age, health status, and the availability of foods in your region. Our aim is to provide cat owners with broad guidelines, knowledge, and tools to create a balanced nutritional plan for their pets.

Feeding Chronically Ill Cats a Natural Diet

The advice provided here applies primarily to healthy cats. However, it’s possible to manage a natural diet for a chronically ill cat, considering factors like the nature and severity of the illness, as well as veterinary test results. Tailoring a diet to a chronically ill cat requires a personalized approach, guided by a veterinarian and informed by detailed blood and urine analysis.

Incorporating Bones into a Cat’s Diet

The question of whether to include bones in a cat’s diet is common. Bones are a key source of calcium, which constitutes about 99% of the body’s calcium content. The primary organic component of bones is collagen, a protein that binds the inorganic elements of bone tissue. Besides collagen, bones contain other proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, with hydroxyapatite and amorphous calcium phosphate being the main inorganic components. The balance of these components shifts with age, affecting the digestibility and nutritional content of the bones.

In young chicks, the concentration of calcium and phosphate in bones increases significantly within the first month. The high acidity of a cat’s stomach, due to hydrochloric acid, facilitates bone digestion and helps eliminate harmful bacteria ingested with food. Domestic cats can safely consume whole small fish, day-old chicks, and chicken heads and necks, provided these are raw and the bones are ingested along with flesh.

The Risks of Cooking Bones

Cooking alters the chemical makeup of bones, degrading fats, proteins, and vitamins, and making calcium phosphate more resistant to acid. This process prevents the demineralization of bone in the stomach, rendering cooked bones a significant risk for mechanical intestinal blockage. Feeding cats cooked bones, especially tubular poultry bones that can easily splinter and cause gastrointestinal injury, is strictly forbidden.


Combatting Parasites in Pets

Many pet owners hesitate to feed their animals a natural diet due to fears of helminthiasis from raw meat, and some worry about their own health. However, raw food is closest to a cat’s natural diet. How can owners overcome these concerns and feed their pets properly?

Insights from parasitologist Sergey Konyaev, gathered across various forums, shed light on this issue.

The term “meat” typically refers to both flesh and offal from slaughterhouses. Feeding pets raw meat often includes other meat products, which may harbor Toxocara larvae and, to a lesser extent, cestodes. Trichinosis is rare in cats, as sheep and cattle do not host these roundworms, and pork is generally inspected for them. Despite precautions, regular treatment with praziquantel is advised to ensure safety.

For cats that hunt rodents, lizards, frogs, and birds, routine deworming is essential. Flea prevention treatments like Advantage or Revolution neck drops also offer protection against roundworms.

Many believe that oral medications are more effective than neck drops, assuming that pills target the intestines where helminths reside. However, products like “Revolution” are absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream, effectively killing Toxocara larvae. The active ingredients are then excreted into the bile, enter the intestine, and eliminate adult helminths. Worms are expelled through feces, eliminating the need for a follow-up pill within the first twenty-four hours.

While some parasitic infections can affect both humans and domestic animals, most cannot be transmitted from animals to humans. For example, toxocariasis in humans results in larva migrans syndrome without developing adult forms in the intestines. Toxoplasmosis generally does not affect most people but poses risks to pregnant women and individuals with compromised immune systems. Lambliosis is common in humans but rarely impacts quality of life. Pets have their species of lamblia, with only one type occasionally shared with humans.

The transmission dynamics between animals and humans are complex. Echinococcosis can be transmitted from dogs to humans, and alveococcosis from cats, though such cases are rare. Taeniasis results from consuming infected meat, unrelated to cats and dogs. Cysticercosis can spread from person to person or even self-infect, with handwashing before food handling being a crucial preventive measure. Ascariasis cannot be contracted from pets, as different species infect humans and animals. Pinworms, predominantly affecting children, are unrelated to domestic animals.

Diseases like strongyloidiasis, trichuriasis, and ankylostomiasis are caused by human-specific species, are relatively easy to diagnose, and rarely cause severe issues in modern times. Infections such as opisthorchiasis, clonorchiasis, and others can result from consuming raw fish or through human contact, not from pets.

Preventive deworming in children frequently in contact with pets is unnecessary and potentially harmful without a proper diagnosis. The best parasite prevention methods include practicing good hygiene, safe food handling, and regular medical testing rather than medication, highlighting the distinction in preventive care between humans and pets.

Concerns about chicken coccidiosis are unfounded for cats, which can contract feline isosporiasis typically through animal contact or consuming rodents. Protozoan oocysts are destroyed at temperatures below -10°C. Cats are more resistant to salmonella than other animals and usually contract it at a young age if at all.

To mitigate parasite transmission risks, source your pet’s meat and offal from inspected facilities. Despite the ongoing risk of parasite transmission, raw meat is not the sole concern. Parasite eggs can enter homes via footwear, emphasizing the importance of freezing meat for pet consumption and maintaining regular pet deworming and personal hygiene practices.

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