Coat Patterns and Colors
Bengals come in two basic patterns - spotted/rosetted and marble.
There are as many variations of spotted/rosetted and marble patterns as there are cats. The most important thing about both patterns is that the markings should be very clear and sharp appearing with strong contrast with the base color of the coat. Spotted/rosetted bengals should have random markings with no stripes or bars. Marble bengals should have a very flowing and random pattern.
Bengal Cat Markings
There is a great range of shapes of two-toned spot markings called "rosettes".
Rosettes can be described as being of 4 major types - arrow, pawprint, donut, and cloud - in addition to single spots. Some cats have a connected row of donut rosettes running parallel to the cat's spine on each side. This is called "chaining"
A cat may have some of each type of rosette or the markings may be more uniform.
Donut rosettes with "chaining"
There are four basic "marble" bengal patterns
Horizontal flowing marble Reduced pattern horizontal flowing marble Chaos pattern marble Closed pattern or "sheet" marble Bullseye pattern -
In addition to the rosetted or marble pattern, there are three other factors that come into play when describing the color and pattern of a bengal. "Glitter", "Patina" and "Ticking."
GLITTER - is the term bengal breeders use to describe a cat that has translucent hair shafts. This translucence results in the cat appearing to be sprinkled with gold glitter in the gold bengals, cream-white glitter in the snow bengals and silvery-white glitter in the silver bengals. It is most apparent on the paws as a translucent satin look or if the cat is in direct sunlight, the coat sparkles. It is hard to capture in photos. "Glitter" is inherited as a recessive gene and was introduced into the breed from one of the founding bengals - Millwood Tory of Dehli.
Glittered light gold bengal - notice satin looking paws Glittered gold bengal - notice some "sparkle" on the sides and legs
PATINA- Any color & pattern of bengal can have black or dark tipped hairs that lay over the pattern blurring the pattern and giving the impression of having a black "patina" washed over just the shoulders and back of the cat. This is different from "TICKING" that blurs the markings all over the cat.
Gold-arrow rosettes with black patina Dark gold-arrow rosettes with dark brown patina
TICKING - is the result of the bands of color on each individual hair shaft being distributed on the hair shaft in such a way that it "BLURS" or causes a lack of sharp contrast between the ground color and the markings. This occurs all over the body of the cat.
Beige-brown arrow rosettes with ticking Dark beige-arrow rosettes with ticking Sorrel-arrow & pawprint rosettes with ticking
The Brown or Ebony Bengals
Brown or ebony (spotted, rosetted or marble) bengals are the most common color. This color is accepted for showing in TICA and several other cat associations.
There is tremendous variation in the range of coat colors that are all "brown or ebony" bengals. Some are nearly steel gray with black markings and others are bright beige with rust markings. All shades of brown Bengals will have black tail tips.
These two bengals demonstrate the extreme range of "brown or ebony" tabbies. The rust colored - deep sorrel - marble bengal looking at us, is laying on a grey - tawny - black spotted bengal. Genetically their basic color gene is the same -"B". The fact that one is rust colored and the other grey/black is due to "multigenetic color modifiers" called "rufous polygenes." The possible variations in tone from greyish to deep rust are almost endless.
The difference in their pattern - one spotted and one marble - is controlled be a separate gene.
The following are just some of the possibilities.
BEIGE BODY COLOR
1. beige-tan arrow rosettes
2. beige-black arrow & donut rosettes
3. beige-mixed black rosettes
4. beige-black arrow rosettes & spots
5. dark beige-mixed brown rosettes 6. dark beige-brown mixed rosettes 7. dark beige-brown donut rosettes 8. dark beige-rust arrow rosettes-ticking 9. dark beige-brown arrow rosettes with patina
GOLD BODY COLOR
1. light gold-black mixed rosttes
2. light gold-black donut rosettes
3. light gold-mixed rosettes
4. light gold-black cloud rosettes 5. light gold-pawprint rosttes 6. light gold-mixed donut rosettes 7. light gold-large donut rosettes 8. gold-large pawprint rosettes 9. gold-large pawprint rosettes 10. gold-mixed arrow rosettes 11. gold-donut rosettes 12. gold-mixed arrow rosettes 13. gold-mixed rosettes 14. gold-arrow rosettes 15. gold-mixed arrow & donut rosettes 16. gold-donut rosettes 17. gold-arrow rosettes with patina 18. rusty gold-small cloud rosettes 19. rusty gold-mixed arrow & donut rosettes 20. rusty gold-donut rosettes 21. rusty gold-small cloud rosettes 22. dark gold-donut rosettes 23. dark gold-large donut rosettes 24. dark gold-mixed arrow rosettes
25. dark gold-arrow rosettes 26. dark gold-donut rosettes with chaining 27. dark gold-arrow rosettes 28. dark gold-sm donut rosettes 29. dark gold-large donut rosettes 30. dark gold-arrow rosettes 31. dark gold-cloud rosettes 32. dark gold-pawprint rosettes 33.dark gold-arrow rosettes with patina
LIGHT RUST OR "SORREL" BODY COLOR
WITH DARK RUST MARKINGS
1. light sorrel-arrow rosettes 2. light sorrel-arrow rosettes 3. sorrel-mixed arrow & donut rosettes 4. sorrel-mixed pawprint & donut rosettes 5. sorrel-arrow rosettes 6. sorrel-pawprint rosettes 7. sorrel-donut rosettes 8. sorrel-single spotted 9. sorrel-spots & arrow rosettes-ticking
10. dark sorrel-cloud rosettes 11. dark sorrel-donut rosettes 12. dark sorrel-donut rosettes
13. dark sorrel-large donut rosettes
14. dark sorrel-arrow rosettes 15. dark sorrel-donut rosettes
TAWNY - GREY BEIGE TO GREY - GROUND COLOR
1. light tawny-pawprint rosettes 2. light tawny-arrow rosettes-ticking 3. tawny-arrow rosettes 4. tawny-large pawprint rosettes 5. tawny-donut rosettes with chaining 6. tawny-mixed arrow & pawprint rosettes
7. tawny-donut rosettes
CHARCOAL BENGALS ARE VERY DISTINCTIVE WITH THEIR COLD GREY BACKGROUND COLOR, DEEP BLACK MARKINGS WHICH INCLUDE BLACK NOSE BRIDGE WITH VERY LIGHT EYE RINGS, AND ALMOST SOLID BLACK ALONG THE TOP OF THE BACK
1 charcoal-arrow rosettes
2. charcoal-arrow rosettes with ticking
3. charcoal face pattern
4. charcoal arrow rosettes with patina
MARBLE BENGALS COME IN ALL THE SAME COLORS AND SHADES AS ROSETTED BENGALS. THE MARBLE PATTERN IS CAUSED BY A RECESSIVE GENE. THESE ARE ALL "BROWN OR EBONY" MARBLES.
1. beige-open pattern marble 2. tawny-open pattern marble 3. gold-horizontal flowing & chaos
pattern tri-color marble
4. gold-horizontal flowing tri color marble 5. gold-horizontal flowing tri color marble 6. gold-horizontal flowing tri color marble
7. light gold-black reduced pattern or sheet marble
8. gold-brown reduced pattern or sheet marble
9. sorrel-reduced pattern or sheet marble 10. beige-brown chaos pattern marble
11.beige-black chaos pattern
12.light gold-tri colored mixed
flowing & chaos pattern
13. gold-brown chaos pattern 14. gold-tri colored chaos pattern 15. gold-black marble
The so-called "snow" bengals come in actually 3 slightly genetically different colors: Seal lynx point, seal mink and seal sepia. It is often hard to tell the difference between the seal minks and the seal sepias in person or in photos. There are now genetic tests that can be done to help breeders define which color they have. The easiest to tell is the seal lynx point because they must have blue eyes.
Seal Lynx Point -- which have a very light cream ground color, dark chocolate markings and, usually, slightly darker legs, tails and ears. These cats MUST have blue eyes.
Seal Sepia -- which have a cream/tan background and very dark bitter chocolate markings. These cats have green eyes.
Seal Mink -- which are actually a genetic blend of the above two colors--a cream background with slightly warmer brown markings and, often, blue-green or aqua eyes.
All three "Snow" colors can be shown in TICA and several other associations.
1. seal lynx - arrow rosettes 2. seal lynx - donut rosettes 3. seal lynx - arrow rosettes 1. seal mink - arrow rosettes 2. seal mink- pawprint rosettes 3. seal mink - mixed donut rosettes 1. seal sepia - donut rosettes 2. seal sepia - pawprint rosettes 3. seal sepia - donut rosettes 1. seal lynx-marble -flowing pattern 2. seal lynx-marble-partial bullseye 1. seal mink - marble - chaos pattern 1. seal sepia - marble - partial bullseye 2. seal sepia - marble - chaos pattern
The Silver Bengals
Silver bengals have a nearly white ground color with black markings.
1. silver-black arrow rosettes 2. silver-black donut rosettes 3. silver-black donut rosettes
4. silver black arrow rosettes 5. silver-black mixed rosettes with patina 6. silver-slate sm cloud rosettes 7. silver-slate mixed rosettes 8. silver-slate donut rosettes with chaining 9. silver-light slate mixed rosettes 10. silver-light slate mixed rosettes 11. silver-slate donut rosettes with tarnish 12. silver-light slate mixed rosettes
11.silver-marble-black partial bullseye pattern 12. silver-marble-slate chaos pattern 13. silver-black smoke
The Solid Blacks
Solid black bengals occasionally occur in litters. Since they can not be shown for championship points, they are not as popular with breeders. However there are several breeders working on developing exquisite appearing black bengals. Just think about how beautiful black leopards are and you can see why many people enjoy owning one.
black bengal kittens at 9 weeks
black 16 week old kitten
The Blue Bengals
Blue bengals rarely occur in litters. They can not be shown for championship points, so, again, most breeders do not breed for this color. Blue bengals have gun metal gray markings on a powder blue body. Many people find they really like the color once they have seen one.
blue spotted bengal
How patterns develop
I am often asked how a certain kitten's coat color and pattern will look when it matures. I have tried to take some pictures to give an idea of the changes a coat may go through as the kitten grows.
at 3 weeks
at 6 weeks
at 5 months
Light gold rosetted
at 3 weeks
at 5 weeks
at 8 weeks
at 12 weeks
at 1 year
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