Bengal Colors and Patterns

Bengal cats are very beautiful. They are domestic cats with a look that imitates the big cats found in the wild. Bengal cats come in a variety of colours and patterns. The most popular are the spotted and golden leopard coats but they are many more! 

Bengal cats are more than small, domestic versions of their larger cousins from the jungle. There is a wide range of colours, shades and patterns within the Bengal breed.

Strictly speaking, there are only three basic breed-accepted colours: Brown, Silver and the three Snow colours (Seal Lynx, Seal Sepia and Seal Mink Point). Within each colour category, there are two accepted types of pattern: Spotted and Marble.

With so many Bengal cat variations, you may not know where to begin when searching for your dream cat. That’s why we’ve put together this illustrated guide to Bengal cat colours.

With this guide, you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for when picking out your own dream kitty. Or, you’ll be able to identify the type your best friend just brought home.

Bengal Cat Patterns 
Bengal Cat Patterns

The first thing you should know about Bengal cats is that there are 2 coat patterns:

  • Spotted
  • Marbled
Spotted & Marbled

 But don’t let the 2 coat categories fool you: there are unique varieties of each type of pattern and a myriad of Bengal cat colors out there, which we’ll get to in a moment.

The Spotted Cat 

A spotted coat Bengal cat is the most popular style of coat. Odds are, if you’ve seen a Bengal cat or are learning about what a Bengal cat even is, you’ve seen this cat in spotted form.  

​The spotted Bengal has characteristic, small to medium-sized spots all over their coats. Large, random, two-tone rosette markings are particularly prized. AKA they’re the house cats that look like mini leopards.

This pattern style appeared when breeders believed that larger and sparser spots were more desirable. The original spotted tabby pattern found in domestic cats has been modified by selective breeding.

Single spotted

Single Spotted:
The coat is covered in random, diagonally or horizontally aligned spots on the torso, tummy and legs. Large dark spots on a light ground colour are usually preferred.

Of course, there are variations to the spotted category and there can be many different types of spots on a single Bengal cat.
 Single-Spotted Single-Spotted means the spots are monochrome. It’s just solid spots splattered in droplets on a contrasting background, similar to those of wild cat-like Cheetahs or non-hybrid spotted cats (Ocicat, Egyptian Mau, Spotted Shorthair or Australian Mist).
Single-spotted Bengals are allowed to compete in cat shows but they are not preferred. Some breeders think they should be ineligible for competition.

The most popular spotted coat for a Bengal cat is the “Rosetted Bengal“. Spots are called rosettes when the spots are two-toned contrasting colours distinct from the background colour. The Bengal cat is the only domestic cat with rosettes spots!
Rosettes in Bengals only started appearing in the early 2000s when some breeders bred shadow spots to shadow spots. The rosette quickly developed.
When you see the evolution of the breed over the years, it is amazing to realize the progress that has been made by some breeders with rosetting in just a few decades.
The 3 most important types of rosettes are:

  • Arrow-head
  • Paw-print
  • Donut

ArrowHead Rosettes:

Arrowheads can be solid and monochrome in the single spotted group or they can be rosette with different colours fading into the background. Well-defined arrowhead rosettes are rare and sought after by Bengal cat owners and breeders.
The arrowhead rosette is not the most common one but it is probably the easiest type of rosette to identify. Arrowhead rosettes are shaped in a triangular form similar to the tip of an arrow or a drop, with all tips pointing to the back of the cat.

Asian Leopard cats have many different types of coats but the arrowhead pattern is one of their most visually spectacular one. Arrowhead-shaped spots are a great camouflage in the dappled light of forest habitat. With such a coat, a cat who stands very still in the trees or fallen leaves can be very hard to spot.

Leopard cat

The Bengal cat breed standard calls for spots to be horizontally aligned instead of the classic tabby’s vertically aligned spots. The arrow-shaped spots on a cat’s coat give them a particularly fluid horizontal appearance and create a unique illusory motion.

Donut Rosettes:
Donut rosettes are spots that are darker than the background’s coat colour and outlined with an even darker colour.
Inspired by the Jaguar’s coat, the donut rosette got its name from its nearly complete dark outline around a lighter-coloured center.
It took years of selective breeding to achieve doughnut-shaped rosettes but they are now one of the most popular rosettes.

Paw-print Rosettes: Paw-print rosettes are shaded spots open on one side with smaller and darker spots on the edge. A paw-print rosette is never entirely enclosed by the darker, surrounding colour.
Inspired by the Leopard’s coat, paw-print rosettes earned their name as they often look like little paw prints walking across the cat’s coat.

Bengal cat coat - rosettes

Clouded Rosettes 
Clouded rosettes are large, full rosettes that appear to fit together like a puzzle with little spacing (acreage) in between.
Inspired by the Clouded Leopard’s coat, this reticulated spotting has an almost snake-like appearance.

 Chain Rosetting Chain rosetting describes a connected row of donut rosettes linked together horizontally and running parallel on either side of the cat’s spine.

Chain-rosetting can also be seen on wildcats like Ocelots.
 Cluster Rosettes Cluster rosettes are small spots forming clusters around the center colour.
So if you’re looking for a Jaguar, Leopard or Ocelot look, for example, you’re looking for the rosette pattern.

 The Marbled Coat

The marbled coat

The marbled coat pattern is derived from blotched tabby stripes that swirl. The ideal marble Bengal cat has a horizontally flowing, random, asymmetrical pattern made up of swirls of two or more colours.

The marble Bengal cat has four official types—reduced horizontal flow, horizontal flow, chaos pattern, and sheet marble patterns.
n 1987, Jean Mill  (Millwood cattery) produced the first Marbled Bengal kitten in a cat named Millwood Painted Desert:
"She was a spectacular little female with an oddly soft, cream-coloured coat and weird pattern that looked like drizzled caramel. At the In cats show in Madison Square Garden, and all over the country, she was a sensation!!"

In her first standard for the Bengal breed, Jean Mill hadn’t intended to include anything except spots. But Painted Desert was an instant success with both judges and the public and thus the marbles were included in the Bengal registry.
The descendants from these early marbled Bengals contributed the outlining gene and horizontal flow which produced the first ‘rosette spots in the 2000s.

In 1993, the marbled Bengal was granted championship status within TICA.

The Bengal Cat Colors 


Now that we’ve looked at the types of coats Bengal cats have, let’s take a look at Bengal cat colours.
Like other breeds of cats, Bengals come in a variety of colours. There are about 6 Bengal cat colours, divided into standard and non-standard by The International Cat Association (TICA).
The standard Bengal colours are:

  • Brown 
  • Snow
  • Silver
Non-recognized colours are:
  • Charcoal 
  • Blue
  • Melanistic (solid Black) 

The brown Bengal cat (C, C colour genes) is the most popular of the Bengal cat colours and it was also the first to be recognized by TICA in 1983.
The traditional brown-coloured Bengals have green or gold eyes.

​The ground colour can range from a gray-tawny tone to a vivid orange-gold.
The spotting, rosetting or marbling colour can range from black, light brown to a darker or reddish-brown.
If you have a brown furry friend, you probably know that brown comes in a variety of shades like Golden, Cream, Tawny, Honey, Taupe, Tan, Beige, Caramel, Cinnamon.

All shades of brown are accepted but an orange-brown is preferred for ground colour.
As you can see, there’s virtually every shade of brown available for the Bengal breed.
Now, with a brown Bengal, you can find these characteristics:

  • Brown to jet black markings
  • A blacktip tail
  • Red nose
  • Brown, copper, gold, green or hazel eyes
  • A white belly is preferred

The Snow Bengal cat
​Looking for a mini snow leopard? Then this is the cat you’re looking for.
Bengals also come in a range of cream, ivory colours associated with a form of albinism that comes from Siamese and Burmese cats ancestry.
Contrary to what the name suggests, they are not pure white Bengal cats.
In fact, the snow Bengal cat comes in 3 genetically different colours (and names):

  • Seal Lynx
  • Seal Mink
  • Seal Sepia
It can be tricky to tell the difference between the three seal colours. A genetic test is always the best method to differentiate the 3 snow Bengals. Alternatively, eye colours can help determine the snow Bengal colour one has. 

A Snow Seal Lynx Bengal (Cs, Cs colour genes) has:

  • A very light white cream colour
  • Dark or light seal markings
  • Dark seal brown tail tip
  • Blue eyes. Always.

A Snow Seal Mink Bengal (Cb, Cs colour genes) has:

  • Ivory, cream, light tan colour
  • Various shades of seal mink to dark seal mink markings
  • Dark seal brown tail tip
  • Blue-green or aqua eyes

A Snow Seal Sepia Bengal (Cb, Cb colour genes) has:

  • Ivory, cream, light tan colour
  • Various shades of seal sepia to dark seal sepia markings
  • Dark seal brown tail tip
  • Green or gold eyes

Not too bad, right? Shouldn’t be too hard to determine what colour Bengal you’re after.

The Silver Bengal Cat 

Silver (I, i or I, I inhibitor genes) is more a lack of colour. This gene inhibits any warm colours and gives an almost white base coat contrasted with striking dark markings.
The silver colour was added to the TICA championship in 2004 for the Bengal breed.

Silver Bengal cats come in different shades with backgrounds varying from white to a very dark steel colour.
Silvers can also be found in any other colour combination: Silver Snow, Silver Charcoal, Blue Silver, etc…
A silver Bengal also has:

  • As little tarnish (yellow/rusty brown) in the coat as possible
  • Dark gray to jet black markings
  • A blacktip tail
  • A brick-red nose
  • Green or golden eyes

Should be easy to determine which cats are silver!

The Charcoal Bengal cat

A charcoal Bengal (Apb, a or Apb, Apb agouti genes) is darker than the traditional recognized Bengal colours. The black smoky charcoal colour was particularly seen in early generation F1 and F2 Bengals.

The charcoal trait is inherited independently of colour and can be seen in each colour class: browns, silvers, snows (lynx charcoal, mink charcoal, sepia charcoal) and even in blues.

Charcoals have a dark greyish/brownish or carbon coloured backgrounds with very little to no rufous (reddish-brown) and a very dark spotted or marbled pattern.

Charcoals can also have a darker face “mask” and thick dorsal stripe commonly referred to as the “Zorro cape and mask”.
The mask resembles an upside-down “Y” or a peace sign without the circle around it.

These charcoal masks can be very dark and eventually match the colour of the black to black body markings.
The tail is dark brown/black or grayish black with stripes and a black tip.

Charcoal browns and charcoal silvers can have a black body with “ghost” markings. They can be confused with solid colour Bengals. A solid “pointed” cat will have a solid colour on the face. Solid black Bengals are called “melanistic” and solid silvers are called “silver smoke”.

The Blue Bengal cat

The blue colour (d,d dilute genes) is very rare but some breeders are working hard to try and promote the blue Bengal to championship status.
Blue Bengal cats have a powder blue/grey coat with some cream tones. The spotted or marbled pattern is a dark blue or metal grey colour.
As it is a recessive gene, both parents must carry for blue in order to produce a blue Bengal cat.

​Blue Bengals also have:

  • A steely blue ground colour
  • Peachy undertones
  • Blue markings that will never turn black
  • A dark-gray tail tip
  • Gold, green or hazel eyes

 The Black (Melanistic) Bengal cat


Solid black Bengals (an agouti gene) have black patterns on a black ground colour that remind us of the melanistic colour variant of leopards and jaguars: the black panther.

The colours of the background and the pattern are the same on a melanistic Bengal. Their patterns are called “ghost markings” or “ghost spots” because they are barely visible. But you can still see the pattern in daylight like you would on a black panther.

Black-coloured Bengals are rare and less popular amongst breeders because this colour variation is not approved by the associations.
As for the spots, they can be faint dark brown to black and can sometimes only be seen in natural sunlight.

A smoke Bengal is the silver variation of a melanistic.

If you’re looking for a mini black panther, this colour of Bengal would be your best bet!


Bengal Cat Coats and Patterns

You can find the cheetah dress in a brown spotted, the leopard and the jaguar in a brown rosette, the snow leopard in silver or snow, the black panther in a melanistic (black). Almost all big cats have their miniatures represented in this magnificent cat breed. Bengal cats come in two pattern styles: spotted and marble. Spot patterns can look like a cheetah’s or a jaguar’s. Marble patterns look like elongated, blotchy tabby stripes and are the rarer pattern style among Bengals.

As for Bengal cat colours, they’re like your typical cats – there’s a wide variety.
You’ve got your browns and reds, you’ve got creams and off-whites, silver, black, blue, and charcoal colours to choose from.
There are many exotic blends and flavours to choose from with Bengal cats. You can’t help but love them all!

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