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Are Bengal Cats Legal In California? [Without A Permit?]

Are you hoping to adopt a Bengal cat in the state of California? Are you not sure whether or not it is even legal? Well, today, we are going to be answering this question while paying close attention to Californian law.

So, are Bengal cats legal in California? It is legal to own a Bengal cat in California, even without a permit. This includes Bengal cats of all Filial (F) generations. That being said, there are certain regulations that an owner must adhere to when owning this particular hybrid breed.

Good news, I hope.

The Bengal is a cat you can look to own or perhaps even another hybrid breed; the closely related Savannah cat is legal too, for instance.

And this is actually news that you might have been shocked to discover.

Besides, California is known for having some of the restricted animal and pet laws in the United States.

But if we look at the Official California Code of Regulations, we can find the following:

“b. Domestic cats and hybrids of domestic cats are not restricted.”

And you can find that under section: § 671. Importation, Transportation, and Possession of Live Restricted Animals – if you did want to take a look.

Nonetheless, there are several things you will want to take into consideration if you are to own this particular cat, in the Golden state.

So let us now take a closer look. Besides, it could prove essential reading if you are serious about ownership.

Do You Need A Permit To Own A Bengal Cat In California?

You do not need a permit to own a Bengal cat, or another cat hybrid, as a pet in California. However, you must purchase from a reputable breeder and comply with a number of regulations during the purchasing process and throughout ownership.

Now, you may be wondering why I am bringing permits up.

Well, permits are often necessary documents that are required t justify ownership for animals.

And this is the case for many restricted animals in the state.

Axolotls, Gerbils; are two common examples.

And these permits are in place to protect natural ecosystems and environments.

So they are not typically granted or given to your typical pet owner.

Instead, they are primarily reserved for institutions; those that conduct research or can provide assurances that the animals will be well controlled, cannot escape, and are protected.

Nevertheless, this is not the case with the Bengal cat.

There are, at the time of writing, no laws that will require you to apply or acquire a permit to own this cat.

This is not true in all states though, by the way.

So you may need to consider this if you ever were to relocate out of the state.

But the law doesn’t just stop at Bengal acquisition.

If you are to own one of these breeds, you do need to be a particularly mindful owner; as we shall now explore below.

Laws To Consider When Owning A Bengal Cat In California

There are several laws relating to the ownership of Bengal cats in California. All of which you will need to comply with in order to remain on the right side of the law.

All of such can be found in the California Statuses.

Do consider, that the following laws do apply to any cat breed, dog, or other pet you decide to own.

California Status SummaryPotential Penalty
West’s Ann. Cal. Penal Code § 597f States that every owner of any animal, who permits the animal to be without proper care and attention, shall, on conviction, be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor. An animal can be pounded, confiscated, or even humanely killed in certain contexts.
West’s Ann. Cal. Penal Code § 597s
This statute makes it a misdemeanor to willfully abandon an animal.Misdemeanor sentence; can include a fine, community service, and extreme cases – jail.
West’s Ann. Cal. Penal Code § 398 – 399.5If an owner of an animal knows that the animal bit another person, s/he shall provide the other person with his or her contact information and information about the animalA violation is an infraction punishable by a fine.
West’s Ann. Cal. Food & Agric. Code § 31750 – 31766; West’s Ann. Cal. Fish & G. Code § 4150 – 4151
These statutes comprise California consolidated cat laws. Among the provisions include possession requirements for non-domestic cats, vaccination and impound procedures for domestic cats, and legislative policy statements about feral cats.
West’s Ann. Cal. Penal Code § 597.4This California statute makes is unlawful (with exceptions) to sell or give away, as part of a commercial transaction, a live animal on any street, highway, public right-of-way, parking lot, carnival, or boardwalk.
West’s Ann. Cal. Penal Code § 597.6This statute makes it illegal for anyone to conduct, or organize, the surgical claw removal of any cat from an exotic or wild cat species.

These are the most important ones, I noticed specifically.

That being said, you should check the statuses and become familiar with all animal laws in the state.

This is your responsibility. I can only guide you.

Now, it should go without saying – but it is illegal to unlawfully kill your cat.

That’s not something I’d hope you would consider anyway.

But besides from that, the main laws you need to be fully aware of and comply with are:

  • Do not abondon your Bengal, or allow for its escape into the wild,
  • Animal fighting is illegal,
  • Declawing, unless approved and conducted by a registered vetirainian, is illegal. You can read more on this procedure, here.

Do take note that I am not here to provide legal advice.

So do contact the authorities should you want any further clarification on any of the laws referenced here.

Where Can I Buy A Bengal Cat In California?

Bengal cats can be purchased from registered, authorized, and legitimate breeders that specialize in this hybrid breed.

One of the best strategies for finding such breeders is through Google.

You can search for queries like “Bengal Cat California”, “Adopt a Bengal California”, “Bengal Cat Breeders California” etc. You get the idea.

Just as with any search engine search, you will have a lot of options.

Sometimes they will be dedicated breeder websites, other times they may be Facebook pages, or directories that will provide you with contact information only.

And then there will be breeders that do not yet currently have an online presence or are not easily found on the web.

So you may want to inquire and ask local animal organizations for suggestions on who to contact.

Better yet would be to look at the approved Bengal Breeders list by TICA (The International Cat Association) or the is world’s largest genetic cat registry.

Nevertheless, when owning a Bengal or any other cat hybrid, it’s essential that you carefully consider the breeder and their credentials.

Be willing and able to conduct thorough research and due diligence into them and their reputation.

Besides, while there are also strict laws breeders have to follow with Bengals, you want to ensure you are going to be getting a healthy, legitimate Bengal.

And these cats are not exactly cheap.

And you need to be especially careful when it comes to their Filial Generation.

The Bengal Cat Wikipedia explains the generations especially well and what it all means.

But in a nutshell, this simply refers to the number of generations the cat is removed from its wild ancestry.

And that has a big influence on everything from the resulting cat’s size, all the way through to their temperament and general nature.

F1 and F2 generations are typically the largest; they are also more like their wild ancestors.

At the same time, they tend to be more expensive.

Now, the best breeders will be able to confirm and provide documentation and proof of their Bengals ancestry.

They should be able to confirm the Filial Generation.

Essentially, you need to be sure you are paying the right price for your Bengal, and you’re not simply getting a mixed breed and being overcharged for it.

And then there is the fact that you want your cat to be humanely, ethically, and appropriately bred and raised.

You want a cat that will be in good health and not prone to health issues and illnesses later in life.

What To Consider Before Owning A Bengal Cat

Now that you know it’s legal to own a Bengal cat, you may be keen to go out and get one.

Not so fast.

Before you do, it’s essential to be aware of this particular breed of cat’s characteristics, and nature.

They are not suitable, or ideal, for everyone.

This is not your average, typical breed of cat.

Bengals are very energetic. They are highly active, playful, and curious and need to be kept entertained.

They have a keen desire to climb – and so it’s essential that your home has the vertical space and climbing opportunity to allow them to do so.

At the same time, these cats are incredibly intelligent and typically possess a very good memory.

Tricks such as sit, lie down and high five have been taught to these hybrid cats. At the same time, they have been known to open doors, turn lights on, and generally navigate around the home.

They require lots of socialization, attention, and affection to remain truly content. As they pick up on the emotions of their owners, they are equally sensitive too.

They can be seen as quite a demanding cat, in this respect.

In fact, these cats are known for being quite vocal – especially if they are not commanding the attention of their owners.

The fact that they like and have an affinity for water just goes to show how much they differ from your average, domesticated breed of cat.

And as keen hunters, do not be surprised if they bring back dead birds or other animals to your property!

With all of this in mind, before adopting a Bengal on their coat or appearance alone, be sure to research their temperament and characteristics a little further.

Just because you can own a Bengal cat in California, does not necessarily mean you should.

What States Is It Illegal To Own A Bengal Cat?

In the United States, Bengals are illegal to own as pets in Connecticut, Hawaii, Seattle, and New York City. There are also restrictions or requirements in Alaska, Delaware, Denver, Georgia, Iowa, and Massachusetts.

When it comes to states with restrictions, most of them prevent ownership on certain generations:

AlaskaAlaska bans Bengals unless they are four generations removed from the wild ancestor.
DelewareThere is a permit process for having an exotic animal
in Delaware.
DenverAll Bengals must have ancestors that have lived in captivity for
at least the preceding five (5) generations.
Georgia State law bans all non-domestic source hybrids, except F4 and lower (i.e., F5, F6, etc.) Bengals. You cannot get a permit.
IowaBans ownership of F1 to F4 Bengals.
MassachusettsRegulates the F1 and F2 Bengal generations; cats also need to be registered and have the ability for the registry to produce a three-generation pedigree.

As you can see, the laws and regulations can differ quite a bit between states.

Here is a terrific Bengal Cat Legislation resource that you can access, for reference.

But do consider that laws and regulations are constantly changing and evolving, so do be sure to check with your state and local laws prior to obtaining a Bengal cat.


It is legal to own a Bengal cat in California, even if it isn’t in every US state.

That being said, if you are sure you want to own this breed (and you really do need to be sure), you must be very careful and selective of what breeder you go through.

And from there, you do need to ensure you are a responsible owner.

There are many laws in place that could result in legal action down the line.

Or worse, confiscation.

And the fact that they can be a handful to keep and raise makes the whole thing much more complicated.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t get one; just do not make the decision too lightly.

Wondering what the other pet laws are in California? Check out my other guides below: