Bengal Cats (bred from the wild Asian Leopard Cat) that look like small leopards but are domestic and
loving! The history of the Bengal breed, from Foothill Felines (California).
The Bengal cat is a relatively new (started in earnest in the mid-1980's), exotic breed of domestic cat
originally created by the breeding of the small, wild Asian Leopard Cat to a domestic cat such as the
Abyssinan, American Shorthair, Burmese, or Egyptian Mau.
The Bengal breed allows those of us who love and admire wild cats to live with and enjoy their beauty and
uniqueness in our own homes, while also benefiting from the domestic Bengal's loving, friendly, playful
Bengals must be four or more generations removed from their wild Asian Leopard Cat ancestor, and have
three consecutive generations of Bengal to Bengal breeding in order to be eligible to be shown in T.I.C.A.
(registration paperwork will reflect "SBT" in the registration number, which means the cat has "studbook
status".) Currently, SBT Bengals can be shown in T.I.C.A., U.F.O., A.C.F.A., I.C.E. and a few other Cat
Associations, some for Championship Titles.
The early generation Bengals, which we refer to as "Foundation or Filial Bengals", such as F-1, F-2 or F-3
(one, two or three generations, respectively, removed from the Asian Leopard Cat) are best left to
specialized breeders or properly prepared and informed owners who are equipped to take care of them.
F-4's and beyond, or SBT's, are the true domestic Bengal. They usually make the best pets, and when they
are carefully bred within highly selective and loving breeding programs, make delightfully affectionate,
stunningly gorgeous family companions!!
BENGAL COLOR CHART
Bengals come in many different colors. The three basic breed-accepted colors are brown, snow, and
silver. Fortunately, the Bengal's color genetics are not too complex, and a breeder who knows with
certainty their cats' colors, both dominant and recessive, can predict the possible outcome of an
upcoming litter. UC Davis has a simple process for genetic color testing, and if a breeder has any doubt
regarding color, or wants to be aware of recessive genes, it is best to have a color test done.
With the recent ability to genetically test for the Asian Leopard cat agouti gene, the advancement in colors
on the Bengal cats will likely more forward quickly. The Agouti gene may unlock the secrets to helping us
combine a yellow base coat with black and white markings where needed. Currently, it appears that Apb is
reacting with the Felis agouti gene by darkening down all the colors on a cat - both base coat and the
The Brown Color Spectrum
While there are no official subcategories of the brown Bengal, the brown coat has the widest variety of shades.
Think of the color brown on a spectrum with grey at the coolest end and orange at the hottest end. A Bengal's coat
can fall anywhere within that spectrum and as long as it has a black tail tip, it's considered a brown (See the Dilute
section for an explanation of why the browns must have a black tail tip). Even though we don't officially break
down the browns, Bengal breeders have many terms we use to discuss the different colors of brown.
The coolest colored brown Bengals have essentially a grey coat with jet black markings. Often these cats have at
least one copy of the Asian Leopard cat Agouti gene called Apb. This distinct contrast makes these attractive
cats. Ultimately, Bengal breeders would like all of their cats to have black on their face and Apb may be the way to
After they cold gray cats, there are cool browns or sandy browns - cats that aren't exactly grey, but still very cool in
coloring. I've worked a lot with these shades of cats because I often find their structure to be wilder than the
hotter colored cats. While certainly, the skeletal genes and the color genes are not attached, it's interesting to
observe how some traits frequently show up together.
Adding more and more warmth to the coat, we will get cats with tawny or yellowish tones. I really like this coloring
on cats. It seems as if this color grouping could be influenced by the snow gene as many, but not all, of the cats
with this middle brown shade - not too hot, not too cold - carry for the snow gene.
What I deem to be simply brown is a step above tawny, but definitely not highly rufoused orange. This is the color
of many ALCs. I love this color because it provides depth on the finished cat. The struggle is obtaining it with black
and white on the coat as well. In my perfect world, that would happen overnight, but it doesn't.
The brown spectrum ends with highly rufoused orange cats. "Rufoused" means the coat has reddish/orange
tones. These hot colored cats are ideal for many people. The struggle for the breeders is to keep the contrast on
the hot cats. Often their pattern becomes less defined with age as the colors blend together. As a personal
observation, I have found many of the highly rufoused cats to be more domestic in their skeletal structure than
their cooler litter mates.
The Snow Color Spectrum
Snow colors were introduced through domestic cats Siamese and Burmese. However, they were accepted
as a registered color so that breeders could produce a duplicate of the snow leopard. While many
breeders can guess a snow color, the most accurate way to determine color is through genetic color
The Seal Lynx
The Seal Lynx Bengal color comes from an outcross to Siamese. Lynx kittens are usually born completely
white and their pattern emerges with age. While the Lynx can often be thought of as the snow with the
least amount of contrast, this is not always the case. The Seal Lynx Bengals are often sought after as they
are the only Bengals with blue eyes. If a Bengal displays color points (the Siamese pattern) it is
considered undesirable in the Bengal Standard.
The Seal Mink
The Seal Mink coloring occurs when the kitten has one Seal Lynx gene and one Seal Sepia gene. Think of
the mink as the pink petunia with with one red gene and one white gene. Seal Minks are born with a visible
pattern. While their eyes are usually an aqua green, they can be gold. Eye color should not be used to
determine coat color. Since a Mink must have both the Lynx and Sepia gene, a brown cat cannot carry for
the Mink gene. If you're told that a brown carries for Mink, you are dealing with someone who doesn't have
a clear understanding of genetics.
The Seal Sepia
The Seal Sepia color comes from an outcross to Burmese. Seal Sepia kittens are born with a visible
pattern, and their eyes can range from green to gold. Within the sepia series, some cats can almost look
like a yellow brown, while others, like the one pictured on the left, have a definite snow-like color with sepia
markings. While they were originally thought to have the best contrast, all of the snows, if bred well, can
result in good contrast. Often the sepia colored cats have coats that most closely resemble the colors of
the snow leopard as there is a gray-yellow tone in a snow leopard's base coat to allow it to blend with the
rocks while they aren't covered in snow.
The most recently accepted color in the Bengal Breed is Silver. Silver was introduced to the breed by out
crossing to the American Short Hair. Much controversy surrounded the inclusion of silver as an
acceptable color as it does not occur in any wild cat species. However, the popularity among breeders
and pet buyers ultimately resulted in the inclusion of the silver color. The Silver Bengal has a silver to
almost white base coat with black markings. Silvers can have what breeders refer to as tarnish, brown tips
on their silver coat, which is not desirable in the color.
Bengals do come in a few more colors; however, they do not meet the breed standard. There is certainly
nothing wrong with these cats; however, they cannot be shown as a standard Bengal. The most
frequently found non-standard color is blue. Blue has been in the breed from the beginning in the hybrids
Jean Mill received from Dr. Centerwall. We are also starting to see chocolate and cinnamon Bengals which
can be distinguished from traditional brown by the absence of black anywhere on the body, most notable
on the tail tip. Bengal breeders will likely be faced with the question of whether or not to accept these
colors. It is a difficult decision as the colors themselves do not lend them to meeting the requirement of
contrast on a Bengal coat.
BENGAL MARKINGS & PATTERNS
For the third year in a row, the Bengal cat is the world’s most popular feline breed, according to The
International Cat Association — the largest feline genetic registry worldwide —
No matter the color or pattern, the Bengal cat is known for its wonderful outgoing personality. They are
fearless and love to play! Their curious nature makes the Bengal the perfect pet for children and their
adaptable nature makes them fit easily in to homes where resident pets already live.
There is a high degree of variance in color intensity within the Bengal breed. The ground color can range
from a silvery-grey to a sandy buff color, and even a bright rufous tone in the brown spotted class. The
traditional brown colored Bengals have green or gold eyes and are never to have blue eyes. The spotting,
rosetting or marbling color can also range from very black to a light brown. Some brown spotted Bengals
even have a very clear golden background coloring. No matter what the color/tone, the pattern on a
Bengal cat should yield a high degree of contrast (unless the Bengal cat is a non-recognized black
Bengal. Then the pattern is not likely to have much contrast). The traditional brown Bengal is the most
popular breed color.
Bengal Coats: (Pattern and Texture)
Clear coated refers to the hair shaft being sound with little variation of color and no ticking (see definition
of ticking below)
Fuzzy Uglies refers to a wild trait most Savannah and Bengal kittens will have. About 3 weeks of age the
kitten's coat suddenly begins to dull as fine white "fuzzy" hairs mask the color and pattern of the kitten.
This happens in the wild because the kittens begin to explore and this helps camouflage them from
predators. The fuzzies will usually start to clear up about 12 to 16 weeks of age. When the kitten finally
sheds the last of these little white fuzzy hairs you will fully appreciate the beauty and striking appearance
of your Savannah or Bengal kitten.
Glitter or Glittered or Glittering is individual hairs that are gold and shimmer in appearance. This is the
hollow airshaft that surrounds the coloring of the hair.
Pelted refers to the texture and feel of the Bengal. The four basic types of pelt textures are known as satin,
velvet, plush, and coarse.
Snow or Snows is a word describing a color variation of the Bengal: Seal Lynx Point, Seal Mink, and Seal
Sepia. Snows can be either spotted or marbled.
Striping or Mackerel is the vertical striping found on the torso behind the front legs.
Ticking or Ticked refers to multiple bands of color on a single hair or multi-colored hair shafts.
Next is the marbled Bengal. Its coat is full of swirls, giving the appearance of a Boa snake’s pattern.
Because of the fluid body movements of the Bengal cat, this pattern gives a striking “wild” look. The
Marbled Bengal can come in either the traditional brown colors, silver or snow coloring (and even in the
unrecognized colors!). A tricolored pattern is preferred to a pattern that only displays a single color. The
pattern should have no similarity to a bulls-eye and the more random the pattern, the better. Some marble
patterns are so broken up it is hard to tell if they are a marble or a spotted Bengal. These patterns are often
referred to as “Sparble.”
In all types of Bengals there is variance and uniformity. The body type should still be the same. The
Bengal cat is eligible for champion status with TICA (The International Cat Association) and rightfully so,
because of the Bengals great beauty and magnificence!
Occasionally an unrecognized coat color such as blue, chocolate, red, cinnamon, black, or torbie is
produced in the Bengal breed, along with an occasional long haired kitten. Despite the fact that they are
unrecognized by The International Cat Association, they still have the same wonderful Bengal purr-
sonality as their standard colored counterparts and they make excellent pets. In more recent years, many
Bengal breeders have begun working with the blue and longhaired Bengal cat in hopes to see the traits
recognized (independently of each other) by the breed standard.
Additionally, there are also breeders seeking to advance the black Bengal cat. Some breeders have
labeled them as “pantherettes,” because of the fact that their patterns are visible in certain lighting as is
the panther’s. A black Bengal (also known as a melanistic), should still display that wonderful Bengal type
and the exceptional personality, although it is unable to meet the breed standard descriptor calling for a
high degree of contrast. While TICA does not recognize these colors for Championship Status there are a
few of the smaller registries that are recognizing them in the showhall and for titles. There are some
interesting theories associated with the the color black, in respect to patterns, contrast and even health.
Longhaired Bengals are produced because of recessive genes, therefore two shorthaired Bengal cats
bred together can produce longhaired kittens if both parents carry the recessive. The lonhaired Bengal
seems not to be prone to matting and they have an extremely silky coat. Breeders who are working to
advance the trait lovingly refer to the longhairs as Cashmeres. While Cashmere is a “designer” term of
sorts (as they have not been recognized as such by the registering bodies), it is still a Bengal cat. The
longhaired Bengals have that same wonderful personality that the Bengal breed is famous for.
Bengals can also have what is known as a “glitter.” Glitter looks as though the Bengal was sprinkled with
gold or crystal dust, shimmering in the sunlight. It is quite beautiful! This trait should not be mistaken for
the typical sheen seen on a healthy coat. Glitter is different. There are actual flecs of gold seen on the hair
shaft — on the snow Bengal, the glitter is crystal colored. Not all Bengal cats are glittered.
Spotted, marbled, traditional colored or unrecognized color, the most desired characteristic in any Bengal
cat is that it looks like a leopard cat, but has the temperament of a pussy cat. Bengals are confident and
curious. They are busy and ready to “help” in any situation. They love to play and are extremely intelligent.
Bengals are easily leash trained, many can be trained to use the toilet and to follow simple commands. The
Bengal cat is the perfect family pet!