All About The Bengal Breed.
Browse these topics to learn about Bengals and their unique breed. We provide information on personality, traits, breed standard, health, colors, genetics, & more!
A breed standard is a guideline of characteristics and traits a reputable breeder follows and uses not only in the show hall but more importantly in pairing and breeding their cats. This standard describes the ideal cat the community is trying to produce.
Check out our blog post to learn about the Bengal Breed Standard. (Coming Soon – In the meantime, here’s a link to TICA’s Breed Standard Document)
Domestic Bengals are certainly no average cat. They can range in size, color and personality. Bengals can be light in color like those of the snows (Seal Lynx (tabby) Point, Seal Mink (tabby), Seal Sepia (tabby)), they can be colder in color like the charcoals and the silvers or warm in color like the browns. Pattern can also vary from the swirly patterned marble, but they can have spots shaped like arrowheads, filled in completely or big and bold rosettes. Their coat can also come with a beautiful glittery shine that glistens in the sunlight. Bengals can also have larger round eyes that come in various colors like beautiful greens, golds and brilliant blues. Their noses are a rustic brick red outlined by black, a characteristic very similar to their wild ancestors. Their ears typically are smaller and more rounded rather than have a triangular pointed shape. Their tail is also not long, thin and pointed, rather medium length, held lower with a blunt end. Males typically are muscular, long, lean and dense weighing around 10-15 lbs while females who are also muscular, are on the smaller side at 7-12 lbs
Bengals are unique and certainly unlike the typical domestic cat. One defining characteristic is their aptitude towards human interaction and being nosy. Owner beware if they don’t get it, they can develop some naughty habits. They are very active cats and enjoy climbing and jumping. Bengals also love water, many are known to enjoy the beach and even baths! Bengals are also extremely intelligent often having the ability to learn tricks whether you are the one who teaches them or not. They also love talking which includes a wide variety of purrs, chirps, meows and even some odd sounds. If you are looking for a cat this not only beautiful but who is devoted to its owner, is curious and active, loves to talk to you and is very intelligent this is the cat for you. There is nothing like being owned or loved by a Bengal. If you are looking for a quiet, independent lap cat, this is not the cat for you.
Bengals can be very particular with change whether this be a move, a new baby or animal in the home or even a change in work schedule. However that being said they are fairly good with dogs and even children when introduced properly.
Bengal colors can vary greatly depending on their genetics. The color most are familiar with is a standard brown bengal. There are plenty of others; however. Bengals come in Snow varieties ranging from Seal Lynx Point (White with tan spots and blue eyes) to Snow Sepia (a sepia/tan color) to Mink (a creamier blend of white and sepia). They also come in Silver, Charcoal, Melanistic (black on black), and many others. We go more into this in the genetics section below.
n genetics we have a code. This code is compilation of groupings of letters that represent specific traits. Some are dominant (denoted with a capital letter i.e. A, B, C and typically over powers the recessive trait), some are recessive (denoted with a lower case letter i.e. a, b, cs) and some need to be paired together to produce specific new traits. Each trait set will include 1-3 letters on each side of a forward slash. The first 1-3 letters is a trait from one parent. The second set of letters is the trait from the second parent. In the Bengal breed we have several “letters” that work together to design a cat’s physical features (phenotype) as well as traits you can’t see but they still carry (genotype).
Relevant Bengal Cat Alleles
“A” Alleles (an allele is a variant of a trait that is contributed to the offspring, one from each parent). This specific allele defines patterned or non-patterned cats. It is referred to as agouti or non-agouti.
A- This is a patterned allele and shows up as a patterned cat. It is a dominant trait.
a- This is the domestic (from domestic non-Asian leopard cats) non-agouti gene, part of the puzzle for charcoals and solid colored cats. This is a recessive trait.
APb- This is the Asian Leopard cat (ALC) non-agouti gene, part of the puzzle for charcoals.
Combinations produce differently patterned cats
A/A is a cat with pattern like spots, rosettes, and marbling
A/a is a cat with pattern but when paired correctly can produce a non-patterned solid cat
Apb/A is a cat with pattern like spots, rosettes and marbling
a/a is a solid cat (one solid color) some of these cats have a ghosting effect where some pattern can be seen
APb/a for many is a charcoal (at this present time, but there is evidence suggesting charcoal is more than a genotype )
You cannot carry for charcoal. You either are or you are not a charcoal
Charcoal is a pattern effect that can change pattern and color
The charcoal pattern effect is recognized by TICA and CFA.
APb/APb is a patterned cat and for many not considered a charcoal (many theories point to the fact that charcoal is more than a genotype and that APb/APb cats can be charcoal)
Alone this trait represents patterns, but combining the A allele with color point, inhibitor and dilute genes can alter what the outward expression of the cat looks like in regards to color. More on this below.
It is suggested that “A” is dominant over “a” and either dominant or is incomplete (a trait that isn’t full expressed and may be a combination of both traits) with APb and both are dominant over “a”.
There are other A alleles like A2 H2-H5 these are seen in most Early Generation (First generation-third generation) cats and not very common in most Stud Book Traditional (all cats that are 4th generation or higher) cats.
“B” allele is the primary color. For almost all Bengals this is black. Even if a cat is brown they are typically referred to as a black spotted….
The only time this changes is with chocolate or cinnamon Bengals. These are recessive to black.
B- This represents Black. This trait is dominant
b-This represents Chocolate. This trait is recessive BUT dominant over cinnamon
b1-This represents Cinnamon. This trait is recessive
B/B is Black as the primary color
b/b is Chocolate as the primary color
b1/b1 is Cinnamon as the primary color
When these alleles are combined with other specific alleles you can dilute these colors to produce fawns and lilac cats. More on this later.
The chocolate and cinnamon Bengals are not recognized as standard colors in either TICA and CFA.
“C” allele or color point series. These includes the seal lynx point, seal sepia point and seal mink point. Color Points refer to darker coloration on the ears, nose and tail…
C- This is a cat with no color points. This is a dominant trait.
cs- is a cat that contains the Siamese gene (seal lynx point)
cb- is a cat that contains the Burmese gene (seal sepia tabby)
Note: this does not mean these traits came from the Siamese or Burmese breed. It refers to the fact that they are the same genes that are an influence in these breeds.
Combinations produce differently color pointed cats
C/C is a cat that has no color points and carries no color point.
C/cs is a cat who carries seal lynx point
C/cb is a cat who carries seal sepia tabby
cs/cs is a seal lynx point
cb/cb is a seal sepia tabby
cs/cb is a seal mink tabby
–You cannot carry for seal mink. You need both components to create the color point type.
“D” is the allele for dilute or Color density. Dilute cats include the:
Blue (diluted from black)
Lilac (diluted from chocolate)
Fawn (diluted from cinnamon)
To be dilute a cat must be d/d. It is recessive to D, a non-diluted cat.
D/D is a non-dilute cat
D/d is a cat that carriers dilute
d/d is a dilute cat
Although Blue is recognized by CFA it is not recognized by TICA. Lilac and Fawn are not recognized by any organization.
“E” is the extension or “amber” gene. Most Bengals will get color test results back with E/E which represents a cat with black pigments. Whereas the “e” produces an increase in red pigments. It was thought to be the origin of the sorrel colored Bengals but this is no longer the assumption and unfortunately there is no further conclusions at this time.
Finally, we have the I allele.
“I” is the inhibitor (inhibits many of the color pigments) allele. This is a dominant gene and represents the silver cats. A cat either is silver or it is not. As such a cat cannot carry the inhibitor gene/silver.
I/I is a cat that is silver
I/i is a cat that is silver
i/i is a cat that is not silver
The Genetic Code
The genetic code is the genotype. These are the genetic traits that make up a cat. Some traits you can see outwardly such as color or pattern, some you cannot which means that either the cat doesn’t have those genes or they carry them. If they are paired correctly with another cat that has these same unseen carried genes, these recessive traits may appear in the offspring.
A genotype is written out like a sentence. If you know what the individual traits and components mean you can easily read it.
If you color test your cat, the results will be in this order:
–There currently is not a test for silver so the inhibitor gene (I) will be a guesstimate based on parentage.
Some of these alleles are located in different spots (locus) on the chromosome (the structure that carries genetic information) and because of this we can have all sorts of combinations that results in different colors.
Some of these combinations will change what you see on the outside or the phenotype. Think “P” physical = phenotype. The alternative is genotype or the actual genetics. “G” genetics = genotype.
Some of these recessive traits can change the appearance of a cat. For example:
A/A E/E B/B C/C d/d i/i
Normally this cat would be a brown cat who doesn’t carry for any recessives however because d/d represents dilution this cat will not look brown it will be a greyish blue on a sandy peach characteristic of the blue Bengals.
This also occurs with the inhibitor gene. For example:
A/A E/E B/B C/C D/D I/I
Normally this cat would be a brown cat who doesn’t carry for any recessives however because I/I represents the inhibitor gene, this cat will not be brown it will be silver as is characteristic of the silver Bengals.
We can have more than one set of alleles affecting what the cat looks like.
APb/APb E/E/ B/B cs/cs D/D I/I
The first set of alleles is APb/APb. The combination of alleles represents a cat with two copies of the ALC non agouti gene . The second is cs/cs this combination represents a seal lynx point cat. Finally, this cat has the inhibitor gene so this cat is also silver. This cat is called a Seal Silver Spotted Lynx (tabby) point similar to the cat below .
If we take away the seal lynx, but the cat remains a carrier we have a completely different looking cat.
APb/a E/E/ B/B C/cs D/D I/I
This is cat is a Black Silver Charcoal Spotted tabby that carriers for seal lynx point. This means if she is paired with a cat that is a seal lynx or carries for seal lynx, she can produce a seal lynx. In fact, she did, the kitten posted above.
A solid cat is one whose pattern is masked so they appear to have no pattern. Some solid cats will have what we call ghosting. This is where some pattern can be seen.
A solid cat will ALWAYS be a/a as the A allele. When paired with other alleles we get different colors. For example:
a/a E/E/ B/B C/C D/D i/i
This cat will be solid black also called a Melanistic.
a/a E/E/ B/B cs/cs D/D i/i
This will look similar to a Siamese. It is called a Seal Point.
a/a E/E/ B/B C/C D/D I/I
This cat will be a solid black with a silver undercoat. It is called a Black Smoke.
Solid + silver = smoke
Raw feeding isn’t the most popular nor most common way to feed today’s domestic companions, so why feed all our cats raw including the weaning of our kittens to a species appropriate diet?
Regardless if a cat is a wild cat (lion, tiger, leopard etc.) a domestic rescue (mixed breed) or purebred cat, ALL cats are obligate carnivores meaning they are designed to consume raw meat, organs and bones versus, vegetables, fruits, grains and commercial type diets. With extensive research and dedication there is countless proof that a raw species appropriate diet is the ultimate diet for every cat.
Especially directing this article towards Bengals…the pet food industry has only been around for about 80-100 years which actually isn’t long enough to develop a totally new digestive system that would thrive on a commercial processed diet. This is even more true of the Bengal breed which is only about 30 years old (starting around the 1980’s). That means over 30 years their anatomy and physiology would have to be completely adapted to a plant based, low protein, dry diet! Unless you are a bacteria or other rapidly evolving organism, this is virtually impossible.
Furthermore we can simply look to anatomy and physiology that prove our Bengals are still carnivores.
Anatomically speaking, starting at the mouth, if you look at the teeth of a carnivore like a cat they are sharp, pointy and jagged meant for holding and tearing and the jaw opens wide vertically. Herbivores on the other hand typically have teeth that are flat with a jaw that breaks down plant material by moving side to side.
Systematically, unlike humans, felines have a very short digestive tract so food passes very fast and must be readily absorbable to be useful. Plant material takes much longer to be digested and broken down, so more times than not is passed through the system almost untouched. This is evident in large, stinky and very frequent poop.
Although the pancreas has limited amylase secretion, enzymatically cats do not have the enzymes responsible for breaking down carbohydrates which include grains, fruits and vegetables. They do however have the enzymes specifically for breaking down protein and fat.
Cats cannot not derive all their nutrients from plant material. Plants do not contain taurine required for heart and eye health nor do most contain a complete protein or amino acid profile like meat does. There are a few plant sources but plant proteins are NOT the same as animal proteins. While the components are the same, the profile completeness and ability to utilize and breakdown animal versus plants are much different. This is essential for obligate carnivores like Bengals.I
t’s important all our breeding cats and our kittens are fed a raw diet.
Dr. Francis Pottenger documented the development of over 900 cats during a 10-year period mainly studying the effects of a cooked diet (keep in mind that processed diets such kibble/dry food and wet foods are cooked) vs. one that was raw.
Originally Pottenger was feeding his cats a diet of raw milk, cod liver oil and cooked meat scrapes but he was seeing too many health concerns and very high mortality rates. So Pottenger began feeding half his cats raw meat scrapes and the other half cooked. After being intrigued by the results he continued to experiment with University of Southern California pathologist Dr. Alvin Foord. Their results were as follows in the first through fourth generation of raw fed cats:
-Adults produced healthy kittens, with average litter sizes and great birth rates.
-All cats including offspring where healthy with uniform size, development, fur, tissue and skeletal structure.
-Calcium and phosphorus was balanced within the body
-Mental status was friendly and organ and other system function was fantastic.
-Cats and kittens were both fairly resistant to disease.
The results were as follows in the first through fourth generation of the cook fed cats:
Although the first generation was healthy at birth, by the end of their life they developed illness, in the second generation this occurred at midlife, while the third generation developed illness at the start of life and several suffered premature deaths by 6 months of age. There was no fourth generation, either the parents were sterile or the offspring died.
The following illnesses and conditions were also observed:
-Increasingly poor eyesight
-Nervous system problems
-Infections of a variety of organs
-Reproductive organ problems
-Atrophy of organs
With each successive generation, the following were noted increasingly:
-Skeletal structure abnormalities until bone structure was soft and “rubbery”
-Increasing instances of
-Aborted offspring (25% in the first generation, 70% in the second)
-Surviving kittens had 16% lower birth weights
When these cats were switched to a raw diet, while they did begin to develop normally, it took four generations to do so.
These studies have been replicated in some capacity in rats as well as pigs with similar results. The conclusion here is that cooked foods cause a degeneration of the body.
While it should be noted these studies were done in an unconventional way and industry has learned a lot since then, as one can see a quality diet is essential to the development, growth and wellbeing of not only the mother, but the proceeding generations.
If we as a cattery are to produce impeccably healthy cats a proper nutritional foundation has got to be one of our top priorities.
Present day when we look at the health of most companion animals on commercial diets we see the development of cancers, UTIs, kidney disease, dental disease, diabetes, allergies, digestive upset and many more problems that all could be traced back to diet. Although there are other factors at play like vaccination history, use of pharmaceutical medications including steroids and antibiotics, the use of flea, tick, dewormer and other chemical “preventatives” as well as environmental stressors, across the board we do see healthier companion animals with few to no health complications that are on a species appropriate raw diet. This means not only happy and healthy pets but less money wasted on prescription diets, medications, and other veterinary bills and costs that can burn a hole in all our pockets.
The follow is a list of the benefits that a raw diet includes:
-Species Appropriate diet
-Pearly white teeth and scentless breath
-Healthier immune system
-Helps prevent and even reverse illness such as kidney failure, urinary tract infections, allergies, cancer, obesity, diabetes, digestive problems and much more.
-Reduction of veterinary bills especially down the road
-Smaller, less frequent and less stinky feces
-More water content
-Less begging, counter surfing and stealing of food
-More environmentally friendly
-Less expensive (in most cases)
-Softer and shiny coat
-Quality, nutrient dense ingredients your companion actually can use.
you don’t have to feed as much
-Little to no toxins, contaminants and artificial ingredients
Nature truly knows best and as our guide, our companions can truly thrive!
All of MARVELous Bengals’ cattery cats as well as kittens from the time they are weaned are fed a home prepared raw diet consisting of various proteins such as chicken, venison, rabbit and beef, highly nutritious organ meats like liver and kidney as well as raw meaty bones which maintain oral health and contribute to calcium consumption.
Although we do provide each kitten with a kitten pack of raw meals and a lifetime of nutritional support, MARVELous Bengals, unfortunately recognizes that raw feeding for everyone is not feasible or desirable. So the following are some alternatives.
For already prepared raw Food available via Premade Raw Food suppliers.
We in no instance recommend any dry cat food due to the countless health problems associated with its use as well as its extreme dryness. No “quality” of dry food can escape the health risks. please read about the Dangers of Dry.
With each kitten kit you will receive our care guide detailing more on raw food.
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy or HCM is a common disease in cats in both the purebred and mixed ancestry cat population. A cat can be born with HCM or develop it as an adult later on in life. It affects the heart causing an enlargement and thickening of the heart wall. This disease is hereditary in origin as certain proteins mutate causing the wall thickening. Excessive growth hormone and parathyroid hormones are other genetic causes of the disease. In severe cases heart failure and fluid accumulation surrounding the lungs results eventually leading to death.
Currently there is no genetic test specifically for HCM, but regular screening via an echocardiogram by a a board certified cardiologist is highly recommended to measure the heart and monitor its growth as well as listen for murmurs which indicates a restriction of blood through the heart. This screening is not a guarantee a cat will never develop HCM, it is simply a precautionary practice. That being said there are no other tests or observable indicators of the disease unless the HCM has progressed to a point of no return (remember cats hide illness and disease well). Keep in mind murmurs can be the result of other problems than HCM such as other defects, age, stress and more.
Breeding cats should be screened every year to year and a half and reputable breeders will not only do these screens but provide the results for each cat. Scientists are currently working on finding the gene that causes HCM in Bengals (there are DNA tests for Mainecoons and Ragdolls). There is also a data base (Bengal-data.com) that many breeders have contributed to that publicly allows one to see lines with a history of HCM.
Please visit each of our cat’s individual pages to view their test results.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy or PRA-b is a genetic condition affecting the eyes. It causes a type of blindness resulting in the destruction of the cells responsible for detecting light. Typically, this disease afflicts kittens at the age of 7 weeks until slowly they become blind around 2 years of age.
Cats that are affected before going blind tend to have a harder time seeing at night and seem to have more dilated pupils. Otherwise they can lead a relatively normal life and quickly learn to navigate their surroundings.
Carriers (have only one PRA-b gene) are healthy cats and will NEVER be affected by this disease and can safely live a long happy pet life or be bred to an unaffected/non-carrier. If bred with another carrier however the pairing will produce offspring with the condition.
Luckily there is a genetic screening for PRA-b that is easy to obtain with blood tests or cheek swabs. Pet buyers and breeders alike should seek out responsible breeders that have their breeding cats tested and readily provide the test results. Cats that are unaffected will never have a change in PRA-b status and their kittens by default will not be affected so it is reasonable for breeders to make a statement “disease free by parentage”.
As a breeder though it is important to screen and test your cats no matter how much you trust the breeder you get your cat from to ensure they are not affected or carry a copy of the gene before pairing them to any cat you have.
Please view each individual cat’s page for test results.
Erythrocyte Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency or PK Def is a deficiency in the enzyme Pyruvate Kinase (PK). This enzyme normally is important for red blood cell energy metabolism but in PK Def is mutated and impairs the red blood cells or erythrocytes. Due to this mutation, hemolytic anemia is the result. Hemolytic anemia is where red blood cells are destroyed and removed from the bloodstream before the completion of a normal lifespan.
As with humans, blood is a major component in the body. Without a proper functioning blood supply, Bengals will often become lethargic and weak, lose weight, develop jaundice and have an enlargement of the abdomen.
Carriers are healthy cats and will NEVER be affected by this disease and can safely live a long happy pet life or be bred to an unaffected/non-carrier. If bred with another carrier however the pairing will produce offspring with the deficiency.
Luckily there is a genetic screening for PK Deficiency that is easy to obtain with blood tests or cheek swabs. Pet buyers and breeders alike should seek out responsible breeders that have their breeding cats tested and readily provide the test results. Cats that are unaffected will never have a change in PK-Def status and their kittens by default will not be affected so it is reasonable for breeders to make a statement “disease free by parentage”.
As a breeder though it is important to screen and test your cats no matter how much you trust the breeder you get your cats from to ensure they are not affected or carry a copy of the gene before pairing them to any cat you have.
Please see each of our cat’s individual pages to view test results.
*Note PK Deficiency (PK-Def) and PKD or polycystic kidney disease are two different conditions.
Ketamine, a commonly used anesthetic can cost your cat or kitten their life in an emergency or surgery based situation. Learn more about this anesthetic drug and its dangers here. (Coming Soon)