What Are The Markings Of A Bengal Cat? [What to Look For?]

Bengal cats are among the most beautiful breeds as smaller, domestic versions of their large wildcat cousins. Bengals come in a variety of patterns and colors, and while the spotted and golden leopard coats are among the most popular, they are by no means the only colors accepted for Bengals.

Continue reading to explore the different markings that Bengals possess and what to look for when purchasing a kitten.

What Are The Standard Colors Of A Bengal Cat?

The three breed-recognized colors of a Bengal cat are brown, silver, and snow. While these colors are present on a whole range of domestic cats, the unique color and pattern combinations make a Bengal stand out.

Unrecognized colors of the breed include blue, charcoal, and melanistic or solid black.

The brown Bengal is one of the most popular colors, often referred to as the Leopard Bengal, thanks to its closely resembling this big cat. 

Available in a range of base shades, including cream, honey, golden, caramel or orange, the coat of a brown Bengal contrasts beautifully with its darker patches.

Their markings are often black or dark chestnut spots, marbles, or rosettes with a range of brown shades captured in a dark outline. In addition, Brown Bengals have eyes that are green or golden and a black-tipped tail.

The Silver Bengal has a base coat that is almost pure white, contrasted by grey and black patterns and markings. A silver Bengal can present blue or charcoal shadings on its base coat or markings. 

Silver Bengals should lack brown or golden tones on their feet and face. Instead, they possess green or golden eyes and a black-tipped tail (the same as a brown Bengal).

While the silver Bengal has an almost pure white coat, the so-called “snow” Bengal’s coat is not pure white. Instead, a Snow Bengal presents in three different colors.

The Seal Lynx Point is the lightest of the Snow Bengals, and kittens are often born without any visible markings at all. Their base is creamy-white, and their markings are grey or brown. These stunning creatures resemble the snow leopard and are the only Bengals to possess ice-blue eyes.

The Seal Mink Bengal has a cream, ivory, or light brown coat with markings in a deeper shade of brown or caramel. Their eyes are turquoise or aqua.

The Seal Sepia Bengal is the darkest snow variant with a base coat that is tan or light brown. Their pattern comprises various shades of brown markings, and their eyes are green or golden brown.

A charcoal Bengal has a masking layer over the top of a more standard base color. They typically have a dark stripe that runs along the length of their back and covers parts of their face like a mask.

The blue Bengal is particularly rare and highly sought after. Their base coat is powder or steel blue with cream tones, while their pattern is composed of dark blue and grey markings. The eyes of a blue Bengal are typically brown or green.

The melanistic Bengal is famed for its resemblance to the black panther with a dark base and markings which are almost indistinguishable from one another. People sometimes refer to the markings of a melanistic Bengal as ghost markings because unless they are in direct sunlight, they are virtually invisible.

What Are The Standard Patterns Of A Bengal Cat?

In general, the markings of a Bengal cat fall into two main categories: spotted or marbled, but there is a wide variety of each. Associations first recognized the spotted variants, with marbled variations following close behind.

The Spotted Bengal is one of the most recognizable types for its close resemblance to a baby leopard. The spots are often small patterns scattered all over the coat of a Bengal. These spotted markings appear in many different variations, and breeders recognize each as distinct.

The single spotted Bengal is the simple variation of monochrome spots spread over a contrasting base. The color of the spots is darker than the coat, usually visible as brown, grey, or black.

Rosette patterns possess two different colors separate from that of the base coat. A cluster rosette consists of a dark center color with even darker points of color clustered around it.

A paw print rosette looks just how it sounds. Each marking resembles a tiny paw print on a Bengal’s back with one dark spot and several smaller, darker spots on its side. Clouded rosettes are larger and clustered more closely together, with only a subtle hint of color around the outside of each marking.

Doughnuts are one of the most popular rosettes as they allow the Bengal to resemble a leopard. A doughnut rosette has dark spots outlined by an even darker ring of color. Pancake rosettes are similar, but they have a thinner outer ring than a doughnut.

An arrowhead rosette is a rare pattern that can be monochrome or multishade. 

Each rosette forms a triangular arrow shape that points towards the cat’s back. These “arrowheads” have many size and density variations.

The Marbled Bengal is differentiated by a series of stripes or swirls that form a random, flowing pattern across the coat of the Bengals. There are many variations of this pattern, which breeders generally organized into four categories.

A horizontal flow exhibits markings like those seen on a boa constrictor that flows horizontally along the Bengal’s spine.

A reduced horizontal flow or high acreage pattern encompasses a horizontal flow with a high background ratio compared to markings. In contrast, a sheeted flow has a high proportion of markings to the base. A sheeted flow is particularly prominent in kittens, and it can be challenging to differentiate individual markings until the cat grows.

The chaos pattern is exactly as it sounds, combining the other three designs into a random pattern of markings on the Bengal’s coat.

Do Bengal Cats Possess Any Other Distinguishing Features?

We’ve explored the wide range of colors, patterns, and markings that a Bengal can possess; many other features can be present in a Bengal.

Many Bengals possess a glittery quality to their coat, which is available any time the light shines through the coat, even low amounts of light. This glittery quality is thanks to random translucent hair shafts in the coat of the Bengal, which catch and reflect the light.

While rare, some Bengals possess a white stomach. This is a quality that breeders have tried to bring to the Bengal for a long time. Cats that possess this trait are highly sought after. Meanwhile, cashmere Bengals have silky, long fur, an inherited genetic trait thanks to variances in breeding.

When Do Bengal Cats Get Their Spots?

If you’re trying to choose the right Bengal kitten, you’re likely to be curious about their markings. Although Bengal kittens start with spots, their coats will change considerably as they get older; so how do you know what to look for in a kitten?

Once a Bengal reaches adulthood, it only possesses one layer of fur on its coat, whereas kittens have an extra layer of “guard hairs” sitting about their adult coat. These long hairs make the kitten appear fluffy, provide warmth, and help camouflage it from predators.

In this initial coat, the markings are hard to determine and far from distinct, often possessing a blurry quality. Additionally, the coat can completely change color or tone as the kitten grows, so it’s tough to know what you’re purchasing.

How Old Does A Bengal Kitten Have To Be Before Its Coat Changes?

Most Bengal kittens will start to grow darker between 12 and 14 weeks of age – the problem is that their color can continue to change dramatically until they reach a year old. Therefore, the only way to determine the color of a Bengal is to wait until it is a year old and has shed its guard hairs.

What Determines The Coat Color And Markings Of A Bengal?

For the most part, the coat color and markings of a Bengal are random, but you can look to the parents for a few clues. For example, if both parents are the same color – say they’re both brown – the baby is more likely to be brown, but it’s still not guaranteed.

While the color is guesswork, you can get a rough idea of the markings by looking closely at the kitten’s fur. Though the markings won’t be properly formed and are likely to be very faint, some faint outlines should give you an idea of whether they are spotted or marbled.

Final Thoughts

Bengals are stunning and unique miniature versions of their wildcat ancestors who come in a whole range of colors and patterns. Bengals bring a full range of styles and offer something for everyone, from the glittery snow leopards to melanistic jet-black panthers.

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