The variation of colours and patterns in the Bengal provide a dazzling array of options. Just as finger prints are unique to humans, no two Bengal's will have the exact same spots, colours, or pattern. This visual guide is to help identify some of the options in colours and patterns, and help clarify terminology often used to describe the Bengal cat. The sections below include: brown, silver and snow colours and variations to the patterns such as spots, rosettes and marble.
In all the variations extreme contrast is preferred between the markings and the background. Backgrounds should ideally be clear and have no gray tips to the hairs (which is called ticking). The fur of the Bengal should ideally be dense, short and have a satin/silk feel to it (known as pelt or pelted). Another desirable trait in Bengal coats is "Glitter". This is where the hairs have reflective hollow tips which when seen in strong light gives the appearance of a sprinkling with gold dust (or pearl dust in silvers and snows).
Though the most common Bengal colour is simply classed as 'brown' there can be a significant amount of variation between individual cats ground colour. 'Browns' can come in many shades ranging from sandy, buff, golden, deep red, rusty, orange, tawny, beige and so on, all of which are allowed. Highly rufus (a reddish copper tone) ground colours are often considered desirable. The rufus colour is often strongest around the base of the ears.
Officially accepted by TICA in 2004, the silver colour is a newly developed colour and still not quite as common as the brown/gold colour. The silver Bengal should have contrasting black markings over a pale silver/gray to white background. The colouring of silver Bengal's is the result of a colour inhibitor gene which suppresses the yellow/brown pigments from being produced in the hairs. The inhibitor gene is dominant, which means to produce any silver offspring at least one of the parents must also be silver. The strength of the inhibitor gene can vary somewhat, leading to small amounts of the brown pigment showing through in some areas. This "tarnish" effect is undesirable but can also very difficult to eradicate completely without adversely affecting the pattern.
There are three different types of snow Bengal, each with either the spotted or marbled pattern. All three different snow genes are recessive, meaning both parents of a snow kitten must each carry at least one of the genes. Thus, two browns parents can give rise to snow kittens if both are carriers of the gene (but do not actually express the trait themselves). Its also worth noting that if both parents are "expressing" a recessive gene trait, then their offspring will also express that trait. In fact this applies to all the other recessive genes, marble, snow, melanistic, dilute and so on. Eg. Marble snow x Marble snow = all Marble snow kittens.
Seal Lynxpoint Snow- AKA "Blue Eyed Snow"
This was the first Bengal snow type to be developed and owes its look to the Siamese colorpoint gene that adds colour to the points of the cat (nose, ears, feet, tail etc). These Bengal's are born almost white and later (over a year or so) develop their light to dark brown markings. Unlike the true Siamese cat, for snow Bengal's it is desirable to have as little colour as possible on the points. The Seal Lynxpoint have striking blue eyes and are known to the GCCF as "Blue Eyed Snows"
Seal Sepia Snow - AKA "AOC Eyed Snow"
Striving for more vibrant colour and contrast, the Burmese sepia gene was introduced into Bengal's to form the "Seal Sepia" Snow. These cats are normally far darker than a Seal Lynxpoint having dark brown to almost black pattern on an ivory to light tan background. Unlike the Lynxpoint, Seal Sepia kittens are born with their markings. Eye colour is normally green to gold/yellow. Since they never have the striking blue eyes of the Seal Lynxpoint they are known to the GCCF as "Any Other Colour (AOC) Eyed Snows".
Seal Mink Snow - also called "AOC Eyed Snow"
The Seal Mink Snow is a mixture of the Lynxpoint and Sepia above. They are perhaps a little lighter in colour than a Seal Sepia but often the difference can be difficult to see. Sometimes the only way to distinguish between the two is to investigate the genetic background. Like the Sepia's, Mink kittens are born with their markings. Again since they never have the blue eyes of the Seal Lynxpoint they are known to the GCCF as "Any Other Colour (AOC) Eyed Snows". Thus the GCCF make no distinction between Seal sepia and mink and only recognise two types of snow Bengal, Blue Eyed Snow and AOC Eyed Snow.
Some other less common Bengal colours include Black, Smoke and Blue.
Black Bengal's occur from the expression of the melanistic gene in a brown. The markings (spots/marble) can still usually be seen although only faintly and in strong light. Its usually only the slight difference in hair texture between the markings and background that makes the pattern visible.
Smokes are the melanistic form of Silvers, sometimes referred to as Silver Smokes. The pattern is usually more evident than in a true black and the base of the hair shafts will normally reveal the whitish silver undercoat (the rest of the hair shaft being black).
Blue Bengal's are the result of the dilution gene which dilutes blacks to gray/blue and browns to a light peach/buff colour. The gene will also affect the other colours to give Blue Silvers, Blue Snows etc.
The spotted pattern in Bengal's is derived from the spotted tabby cat. However, a spotted Bengal my have either spots that are rosetted, or spots that are solid in colour. Many spotted Bengal's are born with solid black spots that will gradually become rosetted spots as they get older. Both solid and rosetted spotted Bengal's are common today and both are accepted in the breed standards. Colour of the spots can range through gold, tan, pewter or seal brown in Snows, and from chocolate/deeper brown to black in Brown Spotted Bengal's. Spots should preferably be randomly or horizontally aligned (not vertically). Extreme contrast is desired between background colour and spots.
Bengal's often have solid spots on their rear, back and shoulders but are rosetted on their sides. The preference is to have rosettes all over including the tail if possible. Rosettes are simply two tone spots and have a number of types:
Shadow Rosettes are spots that show a lighter shadow to the front facing side.
Arrowhead Rosettes are arrow shapes pointing towards the rear of the cat. The centre and tail of the arrow heads being a lighter shade than the tip.
Paw-print Rosettes are irregular broken circles of dark spots with a lighter centre
Doughnut Rosettes are irregular full circles of dark outline with a lighter centre
Marble is a pattern derived from the classic tabby but in Bengal this flows much more horizontal/diagonally. The marbling should have a flowing pattern from the front to the back and with strong contrasting colours. As well as the marble pattern and background giving two colours, there is also highly sought after rosetted or tri-coloured marbles.
Copyright © 2016 Southlakes Bengal's. All Rights Reserved! No graphics, text, or other information may be used for public presentation, duplicated, or for other use without prior written agreement of Southlakes Bengal's