THE AIR IS PRECIOUS TO THE RED MAN, FOR ALL THINGS ARE THE SAME BREATH- THE ANIMALS, THE TREES, THE MAN.”
About The Bengal
The Asian Leopard Cat or ALC is the size of a domestic house cat but has somewhat longer legs. They can range from 5 to 15 lbs. Although they are not larger than a house cat in weight some are much longer than domestic cats when measured form head to tail. They have clear unticked coats, with a sharp contrast of color between spots and background. The background color of the coat varies depending on where the cat is from, and ranges from bright reddish to gray, golden, or tawny brown. The under parts are spotted on a white background, and the tail is ringed toward the tip. There are usually four longitudinal bands running from the forehead or inner eye corners to behind the neck that break into short bands and elongated spots over the shoulders. The spots are rosetted in some cats and solid in others. Some spots are round; some are in the shape of arrowheads. The head is relatively small with a narrow muzzle and the ears are moderately long and narrow with rounded tips. There is a white spot on the back of the ear typical of spotted cat species. The eyes are large and amber to gray in color. Two narrow black cheek stripes run from the corners of the eye, enclosing a white area on the cheek.
Venus is an example of an F1 Bengal. Notice how closely she resembles the ALC. A Bengal is referred to as an F-1 or first generation when a cross is made between the ALC and the domestic Bengal. An F-2 is the second generation cross between the offspring of the F-1 and the domestic Bengal. An F-3 is the third generation cross between the offspring of the F-2 and a Bengal. An F-4 is the fourth generation cross between the offspring of the F-3 and a Bengal. An F-4 is called an SBT Bengal and is accepted as a domestic cat.
A well bred Bengal should be relatively large-boned. Their weight should be that of a common house cat, averaging from 10 to 15 pounds. The face should have a distinctly non-domestic expression, with small, rounded ears and prominent facial markings. BB is a stunning example of an SBT Bengal. He is considered a Brown spotted Tabby. Several colors are recognized by Bengal cat organizations such as brown, seal lynx point, mink, sepia and silver. The brown spotted tabby has dark spots on a lighter brown background. The brown includes variations of gray, tawny, sorrel, golden, mahogany, and rufus or a bright orange.
Like the ALC the spots may be solid or rosetted. Rosettes may be round or in the shape of an arrowhead. BB has round rosettes and Venus has arrowhead rosettes. Snoflake is an example of a silver spotted tabby with solid spots. The markings of a Bengal are not limited to spots only. They also come in a marble pattern. The tabby gene creates the marbled in the Bengal This pattern is made of clusters of spots flowing in a horizontal pattern instead of traditional pattern. A horizontal flow of the pattern is preferred. This pattern can occur in any of the Bengal colors.
Cosmo is an example of a snow marbled tabby. The snow color is categorized in three colors. These are Seal Lynx, Seal Sepia and Seal Mink Tabby. The lynx tabby has blue eyes, the mink has aqua or green eyes and the sepia has gold or green eyes. All snows have an ivory background with a contrasting pattern. A unique characteristic of the Bengal is a distinct "glitter" effect over their fur. This causes the appearance of each hair being tipped with gold dust. This characteristic is highly desirable. It is also preferred that the underside of the cat be lighter coloured, like the white tummies of Asian Leopard Cats.
The many variations of genes lead to a number of other unrecognized appearances among the Bengals. One of these is the long haired Bengal. A Bengal with the long haired gene possesses all the qualities of the standard Bengal but has a longer coat. This difference is due to a recessive gene that both parents must carry in order for it to surface in a litter. Long haired kittens are typically born into a litter along with standard kittens who possess the required short coat. Roxanne is an example of a long haired Bengal.
Another example of a gene that occasionally surfaces is seen in the melanistic Bengal. As in the longhair gene this gene need to be present in both queen and stud in order to have a melanistic kitten in a litter. Both do not occur frequently as many breeders have selected against these traits. The black Bengal should still fit the standards of the Bengal breed in all other aspects.
Are Bengals Hypoallergenic?
Most people with allergies do not have a reaction, or have a minimal reaction to Bengal cat hair. It really depends on the person and the cat they have chosen. Cats with a brown coat generally have a tighter pelt, shed less, and are easier to tolerate. The severity of a persons allergies and their threshold for tolerating symptoms play a big role in determining whether a Bengal cat is going to be right for them.
Selecting a snow Bengal kitten can be perplexing for pet buyers. A snow is not simply "a snow". There are many variations in this color class. For this reason, we have photographed the development of a snow lynx point, as well as a snow mink. In simple terms, a snow lynx point Bengal is the result of crossing an Asian Leopard cat with a Siamese cat. This produces a snow Bengal with a creamy white background, blue eyes, and contrasting markings. Most often, the snow lynx's pattern is pale or not visible at birth, and darkens as it grows. Below is Kameha and Jazpurr, both snow spotted lynx points from our Medoz girl, Misty.
The snow sepia is the result of crossing an Asian Leopard cat with a Burmese cat. This produces the darkest of the snow Bengal. Since the Burmese gene is recessive to the Siamese gene, sepias are the rarest of the snows. Typically, they have a very light tan background with contrasting markings, and can have green, copper, or gold colored eyes. Below are photos of a snow sepia male as he develops.
A snow mink, then, is a combination of the lynx and sepia. These kittens are darker than the lynx but lighter than the sepia. Most often, the eye color is aqua. At birth, these kittens have a pattern that is distinguishable. Below are photos of Matsu, also out of our precious Misty, as he developed during his first year. Aspen is another example of a snow mink.
Also recognized by the Bengal breed standard are the silver snows. These can be silver lynx, silver mink, or silver sepia as well. These cats have the same color characteristics as other snows, but also express the silver "inhibitor" gene, resulting in the base of the hair shaft being snow white. Silver "snows" display a truly black tail tip, rather than a "seal" colored tip. A silver patina "surface sheen" can be seen under bright light. Because of the inhibitor gene, these "snows" are actually silvers.
It should be noted that many snows develop a "pewter" patina as they mature, while others who are very rufoused, display a "yellowish" patina. Their glitter is "crystal" not gold, as found on the brown tabby Bengal. Snows may also display the "pointed" gene inherited form the Siamese and Burmese.
Breeders are working to improve the intensity of the eye color and the contrast of the markings, while selectively breeding away from rufousism and eliminating points and pewter colored patina. Perspective breeders should have a solid knowledge of the pedigrees of both parents to accurately predict the color of a potential snow breeder as well as for the purposes of representing the color of it's offspring.
The newest, and perhaps the most difficult color to work with as a Bengal breeder, is the silver variant. Accepted by TICA for championship status in May of 2004 and ACFA in May of 2007, quality silver Bengal cats are still rare in the show ring.
The Egyptian Mau was one of the many breeds used in the development of the Bengal. It is therefore, no surprise that we find many silver Early Generation cats. Later, the silver American Shorthair was incorporated to improve the clarity and contrast of the coat. The loving temperament of the ASH was also a welcome bonus. Now, the hard work begins as the breeder attempts to incorporate the attributes of the Mau and ASH, while still keeping the wild look, pattern, and body type as indicated by the Bengal breed standard.
The silver gene is not actually a color gene, but more accurately, a color "inhibitor" gene. That is to say, it inhibits the red/gold/brown melanin (pigment) of the hair shaft. "Tarnish" is the term frequently used to describe brown and/or yellowish hairs that appear in areas where the inhibitor gene is not fully expressed. Commonly, tarnish is localized around the mussel, feet, or down the back, but may also present over the entire body. As with all colors of Bengals, pelts change with age. Viewing the parents is the best measure in predicting the appearance of a kitten when mature.
Since the silver gene inhibits the melanin, the roots of the hair shaft have no pigmentation, and should be snow white in color. To the uneducated eye, it is easy to confuse a cold brown or charcoal for a silver, as it is to miss name a silver snow for a snow (yes, there are snow lynx and snow mink silvers!). Because color changes on registration papers can only be changed once, it is imperative to make an accurate and knowledgeable assessment. The most reliable place to examine the hair shaft is the base of the tail, close to the backbone.
Silver Bengals may be spotted or marbled. A "smoke" is a melanistic silver, and is therefore not eligible for championship status. Some breeders include Smokes in their silver programs if they are working on producing "charcoal silvers". Some smokes carry the charcoal gene, but some do not. It is important to locate a knowledgeable, well informed, reputable breeder if you are interested in adding a silver Bengal cat to your family or breeding program.
While charcoal Bengals have been around since the beginning of the breed, occurring naturally in Early Generation cats, these magnificent gems were not highly prized until the last few years. Since the early standard rewarded a highly rufoused (red) color, the color was considered undesirable and was not included in breeding programs. As the development of the breed continues, so does the breed standard, and breeders are now developing this exciting color. There still remains many questions and much research pertaining to the genealogy of this "new trait", and the charcoal color remains rare.
Charcoals can be either spotted or marbled, and occur in all color categories: snow, silver, and brown. However, in each color category, the color is darker than the traditional colors that we normally see. In addition to the unique color, perhaps the most distinguishing quality of this new trait are the "Zorro markings", dubbed by Terra Sinclair of Packet Leapards, who has been working on this color for many years.
The identifying Zorro markings are goggles, mask, and cape.Goggles are very distinctive white markings around the eyes. The charcoals have a mask that begins at the forehead, continues down the bridge of the nose, and flows under the eyes, at times as far back to meet the mascara extending from the eyes. The "cape" is a black stripe down the back, over the entire spine with a visible ghost pattern underneath. The cape may be wide or narrow. Like all Bengals, the intensity of the markings vary, making some charcoals better examples than others.
Tempest is a stunning example of a melanistic Bengal. The Melanistic Bengal closely resembles the Black panther or more correctly the black leopard or jaguar.
Although many people believe that there is one animal that is called a black panther, the term black panther is the common name for a black specimen (a melanistic variant) of any of several species of cats. The term Black Panther is referring to a melanistic (black) member of the Panthera family, or big cats. This means it could be a leopard, jaguar, lion or tiger. Melanistic, derived from melanin, is a dark colored skin and hair pigment. The term melanism does not mean that they are actually black, but that they are full of color. In cats, melanism results in the fur of the animal being very dark or black in color. Close examination of one of these black cats will show that the typical markings are still there, and are simply hidden by the surplus of the black pigment melanin. In many cases if you view a melanistic cat in bright sunlight, the markings of the animal can be faintly seen through the dark fur, especially at certain angles. Melanistic cats are commonly born into mixed litters along with normally colored siblings. Black panthers occur from a genetic mutation that cause them to produce more black pigment than orange-tan pigment, thus resulting in a largely black coloring. The same genetic mutation can occur in a Bengal litter. For this reason, while we do not breed for the melanistic gene, we do occasionally have a melanistic Bengal that pops up in one of our litters.
Long Haired Bengal
Cashmere is the name being used for the long hair variety of the Bengal cat, a recognized domestic breed known for their captivating appearance and endearing personalities. Early on Abyssinians, Burmese, Siamese, Maus, and even Himalayans were used to cross with the forest dwelling Asian Leopard cat to produce the first generation (F1). As a result, there have been long hair kittens born from short hair parents since the beginning.
However, since the goal has always been to develop a domestic cat with the exotic look of the leopard, breeders have worked on developing a short, tight pelt, and selectively bred away from the long hair trait. Until recently, breeders were shocked, and even embarrassed to see a long hair kitten pop up in one of their litters! Some even thought that the long hair Bengal kitten was a mixed cat. The truth is, they are pure Bengal cats, just like their short hair brothers though very rare, and certainly something to be cherished and adored!
What is Cashmere?
A Cashmere must still be an excellent representation of the Bengal "standard". Many years have been spent searching for top quality Cashmeres from some of the top Bengal bloodlines in the world to form the foundation of our breeding program. We feel that "mixing" another breed into the gene pool to add the desired characteristics would be an unnecessary step backward. Years of hard work and dedication from hundreds of outstanding breeders have gone into the development of the Bengal as we see him today. Our goal is to contribute by expanding on the coat type within the breed.
Our vision of the Cashmere Bengal is one with dense, semi long hair, no undercoat, and minimal to no shedding. The hair should lay fairly close to the body, be non-matting, and require little to no grooming. We have selected highly glittered breeders that should produce unusually soft, silky offspring, displaying a lustrous sheen that is very inviting to the touch. With each generation, we hope to include an abundant ruff and breeches. And the final touch... a tail that is extremely voluminous and plume like!
A number of Bengal breeders in the USA, England, Germany, and other countries around the world are working to develop the "non standard" long hair variety, and they are currently being shown in the New Breed, New Trait, and Household Pet divisions at cat shows. We are so very proud to be part of the development of the Cashmere.
Those who are truly interested in obtaining a long hair Bengal for a pet or breeding purposes, should contact us to be added to our waiting list. Because this trait is rare, pets are priced at $1500. To protect the integrity of the gene pool for the standard, short hair Bengal, inquiring breeders must have a registered cattery with a program in place for the advancement of the longhair trait. Our priority is to place our kittens into show/breeder homes for it is our hope that, through display and competition, the Cashmere will gain recognition within the cat fancy, and in turn, become accepted as a new trait within the Bengal breed. Then, alas, the Cashmere will become a loving companion, providing years of joy to those who welcome one into their home.