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Bengal Cat

Updated on August 21, 2011

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 Spotted

Click thumbnail to view full-size
RosettesSolid SpottedTwo tone - almost like 'arrow heads'.
Solid Spotted
Solid Spotted
Two tone - almost like 'arrow heads'.
Two tone - almost like 'arrow heads'.

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
  • Rosettes
  • Two tone spots

All Bengals, irrespective of coat-pattern, should have a light-coloured underbelly that exhibits solid spots.

Marble Bengal

Brown Marble Bengal

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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| Spotted

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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

Snow Bengal| Spotted| Marble

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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!


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    • Acid Rahne profile image

      Acid Rahne 7 years ago

      Thank you for a very informative blog. I've recently (and quite accidentally) found myself the owner of a Snow Bengal. it is....interesting in a number of ways. May I mention that they are not without problems. What are those problems?

      I have been researching the breed (ex post facto, since I already have the young adult cat)but I can't find a realistic portrait, only glowing praise meant to sell me one.

      I sense that I'm going to need a lot of time and patience with my new friend. Any advice, especially concerning territorial behaviour, would be much welcome.

    • profile image

      Megan 7 years ago

      attaching a link to my cats fan page. He was abandoned in a walmart parking lot when he was a baby :( I think this whole breeding thing of animals is sad when it goes wrong..but I have to say my cat has the BEST disposition out of any cat I have ever met. He is smart and affectionate. He is playful and sweet. Wonderful Wonderful cat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I had siamese once that bit everyone except me I mean she was EVIL....So I am not just saying this because he is my cat whatever mix he is...its a really good mix that is probably good for kids, old people and dogs too I think. Smart cat and not territorial.

    • frogdropping profile image

      Andria 8 years ago

      Kay - no, it's not normal. I would advise you to have her checked out at your local vets, as she obviously has some kind of problem. It could be something as simple as a balance problem, such as an ear infection - or something more serious. Do take her for a professional diagnosis and the best of luck :)

    • profile image

      Kaywuh 8 years ago

      hmm.. I got my bengal kitten for free, and afterward i found out that they were inbred. :/ She walks funny, like with her back legs, and she stumbles a lot and it seems like its hard for her to walk in a straight line. Also sometimes she'll just fall on her side.. Just wondering if that's normal for the breed or what? I'm quite worried.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Wow, what gorgeous cats! I found a kitten several months ago, took him in, and have suddenly started noticing cats. Those Bengals are really something.

    • frogdropping profile image

      Andria 8 years ago

      TheLxxy - trust me you wouldn't be disappointed. They're so loving and loyal, real people fans, almost dog-like in fact :)

    • TheLxxy profile image

      TheLxxy 8 years ago from Beneath, Between, Beyond

      A beautiful breed indeed...maybe I shall get one at some point. =D

    • frogdropping profile image

      Andria 8 years ago

      Cris - lol I'm not cougar. Just a plain old frog. As far as I'm aware ...

      And quite a few folks have the wrong idea about these cats but it is to do with how some folks have marketed the breed - so understandable :)

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 8 years ago from Manila, Philippines


      I must admit I'm one of those who think that Bengal cats are wild big exotic cats - must be the name (think Bengal tigers). Anyway, an interesting read but I must say you're playing a dangerous game my friend, I heard cats eat frogs. Or are you actually a cougar in disguise? :D

    • frogdropping profile image

      Andria 8 years ago

      andromida - hey :)

      No, not really. Still little known here. But I'm from the UK, where they are more popular - though not as much as some would think.

      This was more related to the sub-species than the actual breed characteristics - and I hope it delivered the basics.

      The details can get a bit complicated (even for me and I know them) so I was aiming for a laymans version, easy to read and digest.

      And thankyou!

    • andromida profile image

      syras mamun 8 years ago

      Excellent hub.Are Bengal cats very popular in Portugal?

    • frogdropping profile image

      Andria 8 years ago

      ffgfmom - you're welcome, glad you liked it :)

    • profile image

      ftgfmom 8 years ago

      I enjoyed this. thank you for sharing


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