The Bengal cat is known for its beautiful spotted coat. It’s a crossbreed from a domestic black cat and the Asian Leopard cat and has a distinct color pattern and color that makes it look like a mini leopard in your home.
Did you know that this breed comes in more than one color and pattern? Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you differentiate the variations.
Standard Bengal Cat Colors
Like other domestic cat breeds, Bengal cats come in a variety of coat colors. However, the stunning leopard-looking appearance makes them stand out among other species.
According to The International Cat Association (TICA), Bengal cats come in six colors, three standard and three non-standard.
These are the officially recognized colors of the Bengal cat breed.
The brown Bengal cat was the first one to be recognized by TICA. As one of the most popular varieties, it’s easily recognizable by people. The breed has green or yellow eyes and comes in different shades of brown.
These variations include orange, golden, creamy, beige, caramel, honey, tan or red. The standard base coat can come in either orange-brown or butter-coat. The base coat is littered with black markings and spots, which can either have rosette or marbled patterns.
Brown Bengals have a black tail, red nose, and white belly. Let’s look at some brown Bengal variations.
This type of brown Bengal cat has a grey coat combined with jet-black markings. The distinction in colors makes them very attractive.
3. Sandy Brown
These cat breeds have a slight variation from the grey-browns. Their color shade is distinct and appears like wild cats.
4. Tawny Brown
This color is a warm variation. As a middle brown shade, the cats will have a tawny or yellowish tone on their coats.
Brown Bengal cats with this color variation have a reddish or orange tone. They have a more pronounced brown shade. As they grow older, the pattern becomes less defined as the spots blend.
If you would like a mini snow leopard, this Bengal cat is the perfect choice for you. It gets this white color from an albino genetic composition drawn from Siamese and Burmese cats. Despite the name, these cats are not purely white and come in different color variations. Here are the most common ones.
Without genetic testing, it’s not easy to differentiate the three-color variations. But, on the other hand, you can use eye color as a differentiating factor.
6. Seal Lynx
This shade is the lightest variation among the three. Initially born with little or no visible markings, it has a light cream coat. This shading on the coat gets covered by either grey, brown, tan, or marbled spots. They have a dark tail tip and are the only Bengals with ice-blue eyes.
7. Seal Mink
Bengal cats with a seal mink color will be born with a detectable pattern that darkens with age. The background color on the coat is usually ivory cream or a light tan. With this type, the markings vary from caramel-chocolate tone to dark brown. In addition, seal minks have aqua green eyes.
During breeding, a mink must have both the Lynx and Sepia gene. Therefore, the coloring occurs when the kitten has genes from both categories.
8. Seal Sepia
This breed is the darkest in the snow variations. They are often born with distinct markings and a coat that ranges from seal brown to dark brown. Seal sepias eye color can vary from green to gold. Sepia-colored cats will often resemble the snow leopard colors due to the similar base coat.
Silver Bengal cats are the most recently accepted by TICA. It was upgraded to the TICA championships in 2004, making it the latest Bengal cat breed. The silver color forms due to a lack of color, resulting from inhibitor genes that block any warm colors, giving the cat an almost white base coat with dark markings.
These silver-colored cats also have varying shades, which range from white to dark steel. The more colorful ones have color combinations such as silver charcoal, blue silver, and silver snow. These cats have a black tail, a brick-red nose, and green to golden eyes in terms of physical appearance.
Non-Standard Bengal Colors
According to TICA’s classification, these colors are yet to be officially recognized for competition standards. Despite that hiccup, they are still striking, just like the standard colors. These colors result from recessive genes among the standard colors.
This color is a masking gene that layers color on top of the Bengal cat’s base coat. Typically, it’s a relatively darker shade compared to other fur coat colors in these breeds. Cats with this variation tend to have a brown or dark grey color and intensely dark markings and patterns.
This dark shading doesn’t stop there; they have a dark face mask and a thickened stripe running down their back, often referred to as a cape. These masks can darken with time and resemble the markings on the cat’s body.
Charcoal variations come in silver, brown, seal sepia, and seal lynx point.
Bengal cats with blue fur coats are very rare to find. It results from a recessive gene; therefore, both parents must have the blue color for a kitten to have this color. These cats have a grey or powder blue coat, which comes with some cream tones.
They have a dark grey tail tip and golden to green eyes. The dilute gene found in these types of Bengal cats is not present in wild cat species.
12. Melanistic or Black
Black or melanistic Bengal cats resemble black jaguars or black panthers. These highly prized cats stand out for their distinct solid black color.
Any patterns on these cats get classified as ghost markings because they are invisible unless in bright sunlight.
Black Bengal cats are rare among breeders, so they have not yet got approval as a standard color. However, these cats are a good choice if you are looking for a mini black jaguar for your home.
Bengal Cat Patterns
Bengal coat markings fall into three different categories, spotted, marbled, and sparbled. Within each of these classifications, there are a variety of patterns that make this breed unique.
Spotted Coat Pattern
One of the most popular and recognizable patterns is the spotted coat. Most Bengal breeds in the public image gallery have this pattern. Like the coat of a baby leopard, the spots are small to medium-sized prints distributed across the fur coat.
Under the spotted categories, breeders identify two pattern styles, the single spots and the more extensive two-toned markings known as rosettes. The Rosetted Bengal is more popular than the single-spotted. Appearing in the early 2000s, it has become a favorite for breeders because of the two-tone marking.
These spots cover the torso, tummy, and legs randomly. Let’s take a look at the various variations of the spotted coat pattern.
Bengal cats with this type of pattern have an eye-catching coat. They have a monochrome pattern with single spots of the same color spread all over the skin across a contrasting background. Because of the solid spots, these types of Bengal cats look like cheetahs.
The spots can either be black, brown, or dark grey.
Just like the name suggests, this pattern looks like arrow tips. The rosettes shapes are triangular with the arrow tips directed to the back of the Bengal cat. Arrowheads can either be monochrome or have a rosette pattern with different varying colors in the background.
This pattern highlights the horizontal markings that differentiate a Bengal cat from the tabbies with a vertically aligned flow. Getting a well-defined arrowhead rosette is a challenge for most breeders, making it one of the most sought-after patterns.
With these pattern variations, the tiny spots form clusters around the center color. As a result, this center color tends to be darker than the base coat and darker clustered spots.
Paw Print Rosettes
Just like the cluster rosettes, these prints look like dark spots that are not fully enclosed by the surrounding color. As you observe the coat, you notice one side of the spot is open, while the other has outlines of dark spots, making them look like paw prints. This fur coat pattern looks like a leopard’s coat.
This pattern on a Bengal cat has darker spots than the background color, surrounded by even a darker outline. Inspired by a Jaguar’s coat, this pattern took years to develop but is now one of the most popular rosettes.
Bengal cats with the clouded rosettes pattern have rosettes that are large and closely spaced together. Due to the minimized spacing, the patterns fit together like a puzzle and look like a snake pattern.
Chain rosettes pattern crop up when a row of donut rosettes are linked together and run horizontally on each side of the Bengal cat’s spine.
Marbled Coat Pattern
The marble pattern pops up more between birth and the first year in the kitten’s life. Then, as the kitten grows older, the pattern and colors open further to reveal a beautiful wild look.
Bengal cats with a marble pattern come with a series of swirls and stripes that intermingle together on the fur coat. This flowing pattern comprises two or more color variations.
With the first marbled Bengal cat produced in 1987 by Jean Mill, this breed became an instant success. This pattern also comes in different variations that make it popular with breeders.
This flow is the ideal marble coat pattern. The markings appear similar to those on a Boa Constrictor snake. They flow horizontally on each side of the spine along the cat’s body.
Reduced Horizontal Flow
The reduced horizontal flow has a very close appearance to the wild cats. Highly prized for its uniqueness, it’s known for its high ratio of background color compared to the coat markings.
With this pattern, the markings are prominent than the base coat. Therefore, there is little or no space for the background. This pattern is common with kittens who are just developing. As they grow older, the colors open up, and the base coat becomes visible.
Just like the name, this pattern is a combination of all the above patterns. It brings together a series of flows, swirls, colors, and patterns creating a chaotic scene on the cat’s body.
Sparbled Coat Pattern
The sparbled coat is a unique amalgamation of the spotted and marbled coated patterns. The cat registries have not officially recognized this coat pattern, but it occurs on several occasions. Its enchanting design brings together all the chaotic variations making it one of the unique Bengal cat breeds.
Bengal Cat Characteristics
The Bengal cat colors and patterns also come with unique characteristics that you should look out for when getting one.
On top of their colorful, distinct colors and markings, some of these cats have glittering appearances on their fur coats. The shiny effect happens when some random translucent hair shafts catch and reflect light.
Unlike most cat breeds, Bengal breeds rarely have a white stomach. Breeders have not successfully bred one distinct cat breed with this characteristic also found on the Asian Leopard cat. The few ones available are very highly prized.
Bengals with Long Hair
During the breeding process, some Bengal cats get genetic traits that are associated with long hair. Known as Cashmere Bengals, they have no official recognition by the cat registries.
Patina and Ticking
These two distinct characteristics present in Bengal cats. With patina, the dark-tipped hairs block the pattern on your cat’s fur coat.
On the other hand, ticking occurs when the fur on your pet appears blurry because of poor contrast in the colors. When this happens, the coat color and pattern become unclear.
Well, That’s A Wrap!
The Bengal cat breed comes in very distinct colors and patterns. With its unique appearance, the Bengal cat resembles its ancestor, the wild Asian Leopard Cat, in so many ways. Having them in your home is a miniature representation of the jaguar, leopard, cheetah, and panther, mainly because of the colors and patterns.
The International Cat Association (TICA) has classified the Bengal cat colors to make it easier for you to select your favorite. Breeders are constantly studying and breeding these varieties and breeds to ensure that all the colors and patterns are available.
If you are looking for a magnificent cat breed for your home, you can’t go wrong with this exotic Bengal cat breed.
The International Cat Association (2021) Bengal Breed.
BengalCats.co (2021), Bengal Cat Coat: Colors and Patterns.
Excited Cats (2021), 9 Bengal Cat Colors & Patterns.