Australia: Registration /
Licensing / Import Regulations.
The Bengal entered Australia in 1996 and did
so amidst a storm of controversy. At one point Bengals risked being banned as
having unreliable temperaments. This was based on a single stressed-out Bengal
which was being exhibited. Its reaction was actually no worse than that of a
stressed-out moggy but it was an anti-cat lobby's dream come true. The
Australian press made much about the fact that Bengal cats are already banned in
some American states (this was disproved) and that wildcat hybrids having an
insatiable desire to hunt and posing a greater threat to vulnerable wildlife
than existing domestic breeds (again disproved). Bans were considered,
preventing the importation and breeding of dangerous Bengals. This particular
debate is discussed separately in the next section
In 1996, the FCC
of Victoria effectively (though temporarily) banned the Bengal due to "negative
advice" about its temperament. It was stated that, Bengals had already been made
illegal in Washington, Connecticut and Oregon in the US as the cat was a
dangerous hybrid and intrinsically aggressive. In fact the Bengal hadn't been
banned in these states. The wording of the Bengal breed standard that it should
have an "unchallenging temperament" was taken as evidence that the breed was
likely to be aggressive.
What triggered this call for a ban? A four month old Bengal exhibited
(non-competition status) at the Canberra Royal reacted in the way that most cats
would react following too many upsets in a short space of time. When examined,
it became stressed and attempted to defend itself. Taking this as a sign of
inherent aggression due to containing wildcat genes, the FCC of Victoria claimed
that there were too many aggressive and temperamental Bengals and that they were
just being cautious.
Those who examined the cat had probably met with plenty of stressed out cats of
other breeds which reacted in the same way, but because the Bengal is unusual in
that it is derived from hybridization, there was an over-reaction. Some asked
whether the ban was really to do with a minute percentage of wild blood, or if
it had more to do with dissuading breeders from importing new breeds into
Australia in order to prevent any increase in the cat population.
A similar scare occurred in Britain when the Bengal first appeared. One daily
tabloid paper wrote that they like nothing better than to be fed day old chicks
and that they shouldn't be left alone with children because they are part wild!
In Britain, such scare stories are soon discredited and die down quickly, but in
Australia, they are a propagandist's dream come true and can rumble on for ages.
Bengals are sweet-natured, well-adjusted and perfectly domesticated pet cats
regardless of their wild-looking appearance. Their small percentage of wild-type
genes (mostly expressed in their pelts) wouldn't make them in deranged
wildlife-slaughterers, far more damaging and dangerous than Australia's existing
feral cats, as reports implied.
The phrase "unchallenging temperament" were interpreted by the FCC of Victoria
to mean that there was a general problem with Bengal cats' temperaments which
breeders had to address. Why else would the breed standard put constraints on
Without such constraints, the temptation to mass-produce Bengals to meet high
demand might lead to cats with poor temperaments which would be detrimental to
the breed as a whole. Such people might be tempted to breed "Bengal-looking"
cats from wild cat stock, producing unpredictable hybrids which would be sold to
unsuspecting buyers as "Bengals". By including temperament in the breed
standard, such "breeders" would not be able to fob off uninformed buyers with
"what do you expect, it is part-wild cat after all."
A Bengal kitten was presented at a meeting of the FCC of Victoria and proved to
have a delightful temperament. After initial surveillance for any sign of
temperament problems, the Bengal was finally accepted as just another very
attractive breed and is now proving very popular with cat-lovers.
(c) 1993, 2000 Sarah Hartwell -
Read the complete article
Under the legislation of Environment Australia, domestic / non-domestic animal
hybrids e.g. bengal cats or wolf crosses are not eligible for import, unless they
are proven to be 5th generation or more away from any pure-bred non-domestic
The specific import documents can be found below:
Information Sheet - The importation of dogs and cats into Australia from New
Zealand. No quarantine required.
Information Sheet 2 - Quarantine requirements for the importation of cats and
dogs from approved rabies-free countries and territories.
Information Sheet 3A - Quarantine Requirements for the importation of cats and
dogs from approved rabies-free island countries and territories with an official
Information Sheet 3B - Quarantine Requirements for the importation of cats and
dogs from approved rabies-free island countries and territories with no official
Information Sheet 4 - Quarantine Requirements for the importation of cats and
dogs from approved countries in which rabies is absent as well as controlled.
Information Sheet 5 - Quarantine Requirements for the importation of cats and
dogs from the Republic of South Africa.
Further advice can be found at:
Department of Agriculture,Fisheries and Forestry
Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service
T: +612 6272 4454
F: +612 6272 3110