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Non standard means that the traits we are discussing on this page are not accepted colors according to the TICA breed standard. They are therefore not accepted for championship status with TICA. Although they are not recognized colors, a bengal that turns out to be these colors is still considered a purebred bengal and is able to be registered with TICA just like any other purebred bengal cat.
You hear many people referring to melanistics as "black"cats. Even TICA registers these cats under "black". This can be a confusing term because "brown" bengals are technically "black " cats (see the brown/black page). Also the gene site that is responsible for a melanistic/solid cat is not the "B" or "black" gene site.
The gene responsible for the melanistic is the Agouti gene. Agouti determines pigment distribution. If both alleles at the agouti site (aa) are recessive the cat appears solid colored (black on black). If it is not recessive (AA) or has one non recessive (Aa) and one recessive then the cat displays the tabby pattern. Even cats that are not black (melanistic) can be soild (for example a solid orange or a solid white cat). A cat is only considered melanistic if they are black at the black gene site, and are completely recessive at the agouti gene site (for domestic cats, since some big cats are melanistic and are not recessive at the agouti gene site).
A cat can be an accepted color and still carry for melanistic/solid. A melanistic/solid kitten can come from two parents that look like a normal bengal. Look at the chart below that shows how a melanistic/solid can come from two non-melanistic/solid parents. It takes both parents to carry for melanistic/solid in order to have melanistic/solid kittens.
Melanistic is referred to as the "self" or "solid" gene because the colors of the background and the pattern are the same. Interestingly, even though the colors of the background and the pattern are the same, in most melanistics you can still see the pattern in the light. This is referred to as "ghost markings" or "ghost spots". "Ghost spots" look exactly like a black panthers markings. Next time you visit the zoo, look closely at a black panther/leopard, you will see distinct black rosettes on the black background coat. It is amazing! It has been said that the reason you can see black markings on black coat is because of slight differences in hair length. I don't know if this is true or not though. My guess would be that it is a combination of factors such as hair length, texture and very, very subtle color differences.
Melanistic kittens tend to be lighter black in color then adults are. The adults tend to get a dark, shiny black coat but still retain the ghost markings.
Melanistic cats can also be recessive at other gene sites. An example is that a melanistic might also be marble. You will be able to see the "ghost markings" of the marble pattern on a marble, melanistic.
Melanistic cats are not considered rare but are usually not selectively bred for in the bengal breed. Though, at Pocket Leopards we purposely bring this trait in because we select for darker, non fading patterns and good contrast. We feel that this gene helps with that, even when only one copy of it is carried by the individual. Also, we have discovered numerous studies that say that melanism genes make healthier individuals. See the next paragraph for more information on this.
MELANISM AND HEALTH ADVANTAGES
There are numerous studies that say that melanism in cats and other animals creates a healthier immune system. Mainly due to the synthesis of vitamin D, which boosts immune function. Melanin has several physiological roles in maintaining health, such as the synthesis of vitamin D. Numerous animal models and clinical studies have underlined the essential role of vitamin D as a modulator of the different processes of the immune system. Evidence indicates that serum concentrations of 1,25-(OH)2D3 and the prevalence of autoimmune diseases in a certain population are associated with the latitude at which that population resides. Genes for melanism in felines may provide resistance to viral infections. A viral epidemic may explain the prevalence of black leopards in Java and Malaysia, and the relatively high incidence of black leopards and black servals in the Aberdares region of Africa. Previously, black furred felines in the Aberdares had been considered a high altitude adaptation since black fur absorbs more heat. Studies reported in New Scientist magazine in 2003 also suggested that recessive-gene melanism is linked to disease resistance rather than altitude. Melanistic cats may have better resistance to disease than cats with "normal" color coats. This would explain why recessive melanism persists when melanistic individuals are disadvantaged because they are poorly camouflaged in open areas.
2 week old melanistic. "Ghost spots" can be seen
2 week old marble melanistic. Ghost markings can be seen
3 week old spotted melanistic kitten
The blue bengal is recessive at the density site. A normal "brown" bengal is really a black cat, but in the blue bengal the black color is diluted (not as dense). What makes the color dilute is that the color is not evenly distributed on the hair, rather the pigment granules are unevenly clumped. When this happens, more light passes through the hair and the color appears lighter. Even though the B site gene (brown or black) is not recessive, having a recessive at the "D" site (density) affects the appearance of the hair at the "B" site (black or brown).
What if the "D" site is recessive AND if the "B" site is also recessive? Then you'll get a lilac or a fawn depending on how recessive, but more about that later.
Since the density gene is separate then the silver gene and the snow gene and the marble gene, you can have a combination of both or even all three genes at the same time. Therefore it is possible to have a silver - blue marble bengal! Two cats with normal/standard phenotype (the way the cat looks) can carry recessively for blue. It takes both parents to carry for blue to have blue kittens. If two blue cats have kittens, all of the kittens will be blue.
Blue bengals are usually a soft grey blue color but there are other shades of blue varying from an almost white-grey color (this may be influenced by the snow gene). Paw pads, nose leather and tail tip are slate gray with pink overtones. The background color ranges from a peachy color to a pinkish peach color. Some blues will have some roufesing.
Blue bengals are not rare in that once you have known carries you can easily breed for blue offspring. They are not generally bred for in the bengal breed so you don?t see them as often as the recognized colors.
NOTE: I am look for a picture of a blue bengal so if you?d like to donate one please contact me.
A chocolate bengal would be recessive at the "B" site (the brown/black gene site) it is recessive to the "brown or black" and this gene control pigment shape. "B" is round, but the recessive of "B" is "b" which changes the round shape to an oval shape, which makes the cat appear chocolate brown in color.
Since chocolate is a recessive color (or a mutation) , it takes for both parents to either be chocolate or both to carry recessively for chocolate in order to have chocolate offspring. Since chocolate is a different gene then snow, silver and marble, you can have a cat who carries for OR is both or all four. Therefore, it is possible that you can have a cat that is a chocolate, silver, snow marble!
A chocolate cat has a pattern the appearance of milk chocolate, with a lighter background color. The tail tip, paw pads, and nose leather will also not be black but a chocolate color.
NOTE: There are pictures of blue bengals below. Pictures of the blue bengals are courtesy of: Lea and Collin Johnson of Colleacats in Sydney Australia.
A cinnamon bengal would also be recessive at the "B" site except it is a further mutation of the "B" site then chocolate. Chocolate is dominant to Cinnamon and black is dominant to chocolate. Remember, "B" is round, but the recessive of "B" is "b" is oval and it is the recessive of "B" and cinnamon (b1) is rod-shaped and is the recessive to both "B" and "b".
Since cinnamon is a recessive color (or a mutation) , it takes for both parents to either be cinnamon or both to carry recessively for cinnamon in order to have cinnamon offspring. Since cinnamon is a different gene then snow, silver and marble, you can have a cat who carries for OR is both or all four. Therefore, it is possible that you can have a cat that is a cinnamon, silver, snow marble! But since it is at the same gene site as chocolate it is NOT possible to have a chocolate - cinnamon bengal.
A cinnamon cat has a pattern the appearance of what else? Cinnamon, of course! Cinnamon cats have a lighter background color. The tail tip, paw pads, and nose leather will also not be black but a cinnamon color.
NOTE: See pictures of a cinnamon bengal below LILAC
Lilac gets more complicated because we have two gene sites at work to produce the appearance of Lilac, plus we have more then one mutation at each gene site that produces the lilac effect.
Lilac results from a mutation at the "B" (specifically "b") site and also at the "D" site. Remember, the "B" site is the "black" gene and the "D" site is the "Density gene. If a chocolate cat (recessive at the "B" site) is also recessive at the "D" site, the cat will appear to be a lilac color. Again, the tail tip, paw pads and nose leather will also be a lilac color.
Fawn is the most complicated of them all. If a cat is the most recessive at the "B" site (specifically 'b1' / cinnamon) and ALSO most recessive at the "D" (or density site) , the cat appears to be a fawn color. Both lilac and fawn colors are extremely rare within the bengal breed but not within other certain breeds of cats.
NOTE: I am looking for photos of lilac and fawn cats, even if they are not bengals.
Blue marble bengal
blue spotted bengal kitten
blue bengal kitten
Cinnamon Bengal (photo courtesy of Klassik Bengals)
Cinnamon (click pic for larger)
Cinnamon (click pic for larger)
LONG HAIR BENGALS
The following info. about long haired bengals was provided by Dorit who is a "Cashmere" breeder in Germany.
Longhair: (Also called Cashmere)
The longer coat makes the Cashmere Bengal look much more different than any different color does. That's why some people think a longhaired Bengal cannot be pure bred, but it is. There have been born longhaired kittens from shorthaired parents since the very beginning of the breed. The only difference is the longer coat.
Longhaired Bengals come in all Bengal colors, patterns and qualities of hair. Their coats are varying from relatively short, like Somali or Turkish Angora to the length of Mane Coon. The coat may vary from thick and plush to slick, with almost no under coat.
The longer coat is caused by a recessive gene, only showing when both parents carry for and both pass it on to the kitten. A longhaired Bengal is necessarily homozygous for longhair. When breeding together two longhair carriers, statistically every fourth kitten will be longhaired.
Cashmere Bengals are not too rare, and may be comparable with blue and solid black ones, but still mostly more carefully hidden away than those.
Meanwhile a few breeders worldwide are working with these beautiful cats. They are bred as Cashmeres or Cashmere Bengals. While the American breeders try to get them accepted as variety of the original breed, the European breeders decided to breed them separately and work for their acceptance as New Breed.
Longhair Kitten Development:
Only few Cashmere kittens show the longer coat from birth. Most of them look quite normal for a while. Some are even born shorter haired than most Bengal kittens. Others are born almost black, as it is known from the Somali breed, but hard to distinguish from a dark marble kitten. Mostly it is impossible to tell whether a kitten will turn out to be shorthaired or longhaired, until it grows older. Normally the hair starts growing longer at tail and trousers between six and fourteen weeks, but there is no rule at all. Even kittens from the same breeding pair may develop differently. Sometimes it is hard to tell a very fuzzy kitten apart from a longhaired one and it only shows when the fuzzies clear or the all over hair starts growing. _____________________________
LH kittens born to two long hair parents at 2 days of age. Notice how short the hair is at birth
5 weeks old, still look like SH bengal kittens
12 weeks old and now obviously long haired
Pocket Leopards Bengals
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