In the last decade or so, the Bengal Cat breed has begun to evolve, in terms of breed variation. Originally, the Bengal came in one size fits all – the brown/black spotted variety. As unique and beautiful as the original Bengal was (and still is), breeders have gone on to expand the different colours and coat patterns within the breed through careful, selective breeding.
Nowadays, the Bengal breed can have one of two distinctive patterns, the spotted or marble, as well as three different colour types: original (classic), snow and silver. This gives the prospective owner a wider choice, due to the sub-species, without the inimitable Bengal personality – which makes it such a unique breed – having been altered or lessened in any way.
Brown Spotted Bengal
Brown/Black SpottedClick thumbnail to view full-size
The original – and in my opinion the best - due to the fact that this Bengal type retains the closet resemblance to the Asian Leopard Cat.
When you bear in mind that the Bengal was actually based upon the ALC, then it makes sense to view the brown spotted as the foundation and forerunner for the breed standard.
The brown spotted still remains the most common of the breed types and its base colour can run a small gamut of shade variations: tan, golden, yellow, orange or buff (beige/fawn).
The spots should be in complete contrast to the base colour and can be any of the following:
- Solid spots
- Two tone spots
All Bengals, irrespective of coat-pattern, should have a light-coloured underbelly that exhibits solid spots.
Brown Marble BengalClick thumbnail to view full-size
This Bengal type is particularly striking. It’s based upon the tabby cat, or rather stems from the tabby cat genus. However – a Marble Bengal should not resemble a tabby, in terms of its coat pattern.
The pattern should mimic marble – the pattern should be flowing, more horizontal than vertical, and should include at least three colours within the ‘marbling’.
The outer colour should be the darkest, shading into the lighter base colour. The coat should be free of spots or stripes that resemble the ‘mackerel’ look of a tabby i.e. non-vertical.
The more desirable Marble Bengals are the ones that evidence distinctive markings and a direct contrast to the base colour. In short, they should have the ‘wow’ factor.
Bengal Cat Colours
Silver Bengals| Marble| SpottedClick thumbnail to view full-size
Everyday Bengal Antics
This is, along with the snow variant, quite new to the Bengal world. The colour was created by way of introducing an inhibitor gene into the breed.
That doesn’t make the breed a product of Frankenstein type experimentation: it simply means that the dominant colour gene found in the original Bengals has been inhibited.
This leaves the yellow pigment out of the colour … wheel, if you like, thus resulting in the Silver Bengal. However, as far as I'm aware, it’s a tricky businees when trying to inhibit the gene and can result in ‘misses’; some kittens are born with undesirable coat defects.
Again, don’t be horrified. All this means is that the Bengal kittens may exhibit the wrong colour mix or some dark colour on the body somewhere. They still retain the personality of your average Bengal – which is hardly a disaster!
The Silver Bengal come in one of the two pattern standards – spotted or marbled. Equally beautiful in their own right and desired by many prospective Bengal owners and, even more importantly, they retain the Bengal Cat personality.
Snow Bengal| Spotted| MarbleClick thumbnail to view full-size
As with the Silver Bengal, the Snow type is relatively new and the result of some rather discerning breeding. Again, it’s not without its problems and not all matings are entirely successful.
The colour differs from the Silver in that it should be of a ‘creamy’ appearance: very light tan or ivory. The colour is indicative of the Siamese Seal point and the base colour of the Snow variant is very similar.
The Snow Bengal can be either spotted or marbled and, irrespective of the pattern, it must conform to either the original standards or that of the marble sub-species. Of course the colouring is a factor, especially when breeding or showing a Snow Bengal.
One thing to note about the Snow sub-species is the fact that some breeders liken them to the Snow Leopard – a large wild cat found in and around the Asian continent. I have even seen some advertisements whereby the Snow Bengal is directly compared to the Snow Leopard, by way of side by side pictures.
Do You Really Want A Bengal?
Please – do not fall for such spurious advertising. A Bengal Cat is not a wild animal, nor was it ever intended to be. It was bred purely for its appearance, not because someone wanted a miniature wild cat stalking their living room.
In point of fact – many breeders still use the ‘wild’ resemblance as the Bengals’ biggest selling point. It is unnecessary and, in my opinion, complete garbage. The Bengal Cat is a domestic cat – and if you want to own one, then buy it for its unique personality and appearance. More importantly, buy one because you can offer a wonderful home.
And not because you may be entertaining a foolish belief that relates to a mini-wild cat!