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Different Colors of the Bengal Cat

Different Colors of the Bengal Cat
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Bengal people have many colors. The three basic colors of Bengal cats are brown, snow and silver. It is necessary to be conversant with these Bengal cats color genetics as they are not too complex. It is possible for a Bengal cat breeder who knows with certainty their cats’ colors to predict the possible outcome of an upcoming litter, both dominant and recessive. 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.
We will talk about the brown Bengal cats first. This brown coat of the Bengal cats has the widest variety of shades although there are no official subcategories of the brown Bengal. 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 is considered a brown. Even though we don’t officially break down the browns, Bengal breeders have many terms we use to discuss the different colors of brown.
Charcoal is as the coolest end of the color spectrum and charcoals have essentially a grey coat with jet black markings. The distinct contrast of the charcoal makes it attractive to cats. Ultimately, Bengal breeders would like all of their cats to have black on their face like the charcoal cats. However, we haven’t been able to get the black of a charcoal to directly transfer onto a brown at the warmer end on the brown color spectrum.
The cool brown color is another color of Bengal cats. These Bengal cats are not exactly charcoal but they are very cool in coloring. These Bengal cats have wider structures than the hotter colored cats. While certainly, the skeletal genes and the color genes are not attached, it is 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 the ideal brown is a step above tawny, but definitely not highly refused 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 last type of the brown spectrum of Bengal cats end with the highly rufused, almost orange cats. Many people love these hot colored Bengal cats. 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 rufused cats to be more domestic in their skeletal structure than their cooler litter mates.
The next type of Bengal cats color is the snow Bengal cats. Through domestic cats Siamese and Burmese, the snow colors were introduced. But they were initially accepted as a registered color so that Bengal cat breeders could be able to produce a duplicate of the snow leopard. The most accurate way to determine the color of these Bengal cats is through genetic color testing.
Seal Lynx is another type of color of Bengal cats. The Seal Lynx color comes from an out cross 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 are the only Bengals with blue eyes. The color on the points of the Bengal (like the Siamese pattern) is considered undesirable in the Bengal Standard.
The Seal Mink color is another Bengal cat color which occurs when the kitten has one Seal Lynx gene and one Seal Sepai gene. The mink can also be related to the pink petunia color with one red gene and one white gene. Mink Bengal cats 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 the Sepia gene, a brown cat cannot carry for the Mink gene. If you are told that a brown carries for Mink, you are dealing with a person who does not have a clear understanding of snow genetics.
A Bengal cat color that comes from and out cross to Burmese is the Seal Sepai. These kittens are also born with visible patterns and their eyes can range from green to gold. These Bengal cats were thought to originally have the best contrast, all of the snows, if bred well, can result in good contrast. The Burmese has a smaller, rounder ear which is more desirable in the Bengal standard; whereas, the Siamese, which gave us the Lynx, has a larger, triangular ear. Those structural influences still exist in the breed even though we haven’t out crossed to these cats for years.
Silver Bengals are the most recently accepted color of Bengal cats. The silver Bengal cats color 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 silver to almost white base coat with black markings. Silvers can have what breeders refer to as tarnish – brown tips on their silver coat. Tarnish is not desirable in the color.
There are also nonstandard colors of Bengal cats. But these colors are few and they do not meet the breed standard. But there is nothing wrong with these Bengal cats as they have proven to be standard Bengal cats.
Melanism occurs naturally in the wild – the South American Panther is simply a melantistic form of the Jaguar; therefore, it occurs in the Bengal breed as well. It is recessive, so both parents must carry the gene to get a melanistic kitten. The kittens are still patterned – hold them up to the light and you can see black on black spots. If bred, all offspring of a Melanistic cat will carry for melanism, but they will only produce melanistic cats when bred to another cat that either is melanistic or carries for melanism.
There are also the dilutes in the Bengal cats. Each Bengal cat color has a dilute form. One can tell a dilute Bengal as it will have an absence of black. All standard colored Bengals, Browns, Snows, and Silvers should have a black tail tip. If the tail tip is not black, the kitten is a dilute color. Dilute is a recessive gene; therefore, both parents must carry for it in order to get a dilute kitten. If bred, all offspring of a dilute cat will carry for the dilute color, but they will only produce dilute cats when bred to another cat that either is a dilute or carries for a dilute.
An example of the dilute is the blue which is a dilute of black and they are the most commonly occurring in Bengal cats. Cinnamon and Chocolate are a dilute of brown. While I have seen Cinnamon Bengals, I have not seen or heard of Chocolate Bengals.
Lilac and Fawn are also dilutions of color genes; however, they are much more involved than a simple recessive. I have not heard of Bengals appearing with these dilutions.

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