what is silver bengal cat

What is a Silver Bengal Cat?

  • October 17, 2023

When it comes to Bengal cats there are always a lot of different questions that seem to pop up. Quite often there are questions related to the different variations in their coat colors as well as the markings. One question that tends to come up is what is a silver Bengal cat? In this article we will do our best to answer that question. In this article we’ll cover the following:

  • High Degree of Color Intensity Within the Breed
  • The Silver Bengal
  • Basic Color Genetics

High Degree of Color Intensity Within the Breed

If you are new to the Bengal breed, you’ll quickly find out that there’s a high degree of variance when it comes to color intensity. What’s known as the “ground color” can range anywhere from a silver-gray to a sandy buff color. You’ll also find bright rufous tones in the brown-spotted class of Bengals.

The more traditional brown Bengals will always have green or gold eyes to go along with their brown tones and you will never see them with blue eyes. When it comes to their spots, rosettes, or marbling, the colors can also range from black to light brown. There are even some brown-spotted Bengals that will have a golden background as their color.

No matter what their color or tone is, the patterns on any pure-bred Bengal should have a very high degree of contrast.

Along with intense color variations, Bengals also have what’s called “glitter”. The glitter in their coat makes Bengals look like they’ve been sprinkled with some gold dust that shimmers beautifully in the sunlight. This beautiful trait shouldn’t be confused with the normal sheen in healthy coats of other domestic cats. The glitter that appears on a Bengal’s coat is much different than a healthy sheen. These are actually flecks of gold that can be seen on the shaft of their hair. Although the majority of Bengals have this glitter on their coats, not every Bengal cat is glittered.

When it comes to popularity in color, it seems that the traditional brown Bengal tends to be the most popular color with this breed and those who choose them as their pets.

One example of the high degree of color intensity within the breed would be Snow Bengals which are also called Seal Lynx Points, Seal Minks, and Seal Sepia. These beautiful Bengals are a creamy white color. They will have contrasting colors that can range from a pewter to a rich nutmeg coloring. The eye coloring for the Lynx Point will always be blue. With the Seal Minks and Seal Sepia, their eye colors can be green, gold, or copper depending on genetics. A lot of the Lynx Points will be born all white and then will develop their patterns and coloring as they mature. Seal and Sepia Minks are generally born with their patterns visible.

The Silver Bengal

Silver Bengals are the newest addition to the Bengal family and is an accepted color by breeders. Silver Bengals will have pewter to jet black markings on a clearly silver background. Silver Bengals can be spotted, have rosettes, or be marbled. Having a very high degree of contrast in their coats is extremely desirable for those who prefer Silver Bengals. A true Silver Bengal must be free of what’s known as “tarnish”. This is a yellowing or browning of the pattern or coat color. The reason tarnish is undesirable is because it can diminish the beautiful contrast of their coats.

Here’s a video of an adorable Silver Bengal kitten:

Basic Color Genetics

A lot of people are intimidated when it comes to genetics. Although it is certainly difficult to understand, it’s easier if you think of color genetics as a recipe for your favorite cookies. Here, we’ll try our best to simplify the different color loci in cat genetics as it relates to the Bengal breed.

Terms and Their Definitions

Here is a short list of terms and definitions:

  • Genotype – This is the actual genetic makeup also known as genetic coding such as A/a, B/B, C/C, D/d and so on.
  • Phenotype – This is what you see from the genetic makeup such as brown marbling, silver spotted and so on.
  • Heterozygous – This means having two different copies of an allele like A/a.
  • Homozygous – This is having two identical copies of an allele like A/A.
  • ? – This means there is an unknown allele present. This can either be a recessive or dominant allele. It would take more DNA testing or a test breeding in order to actually figure out the unknown allele.
  • Carrying – This is when a dominant allele also contains a recessive allele tagging along with the gene pair like C,cs. This would be considered carrying. For example, a Bengal that is brown spotted that carries for a Seal Lynx Point (SLP) and marble. You actually can’t see the SLP or the marble but they are present in the genetic coding and can be passed onto future generations.

When it comes to dominant alleles they only need one copy to be actually seen such as A/a. When it comes to recessive alleles they need two copies to be actually seen such as d/d.

Here are some genetic basics to help demonstrate coloring through genetics. Every color loci has a gene pair. One of the alleles is provided by each parent and then written in order of their dominance. The dominant genes are always represented in capital letters and listed first. The recessive genes are always represented in lower case letters. Sometimes dominant genes are referred to as “wild genes.”

Genetic Lettering

Below is a list of genetic lettering that help determine a Bengals coloring:

  • A – This stands for Agouti loci. Agouti means “banded hair.” If you look closely at the individual hairs of a Bengal, you would see that they are striped and contain different colors. “A” would be the dominate form and “a” is the recessive form.
  • B – This stands for Brown loci or full brown and “b” is chocolate which is the recessive gene to the brown and is more dominant than a cinnamon color which is labeled “b1.”
  • C – This is for color-point restriction loci. Color-point works with the melanin in how and where it will be distributed on the Bengal. Places like the ears, nose, feet, and the tail, for instance.
  • D – Stands for dilution or dense color loci. Dilution is where you will find pigment that is diluted down to lighter colors on the coat. “D” is either full color or dense color and “d” is dilution or sometimes called the Blue gene.
  • E – This stands for an Amber loci and doesn’t really seem to affect Bengal cats as much as it does other domestic cats. “E” is full-color and “e” is an Amber gene.
  • I – This is an Inhibitor gene and it can affect the pigment of the coat.

Silver Bengal Genetics

When it comes to the creation of Silver Bengals, they are created by what’s known as the Inhibitor gene (I/?). It’s called this because it inhibits but doesn’t eliminate the warm pigments found in their coats. The Inhibitor gene is the dominant gene and that means it only requires one copy in order to create the silver color. It also means that in order for the Bengal to be silver that one of the parents must also be silver, so the Inhibitor gene can’t be “carried.” If there’s an “i” in the code this is a non-inhibitor or non-silver gene. Some cats can be found with two copies of the Inhibitor or I/I and they will have less tarnish and there will be even warmer pigmentation on the coat.

Sample Genetic Code

The below genetic code is what the most popular color Brown Bengal would like like:

A/a B/B C/C D/D
A/A B/b C/C D/D
A/A B/b1 C/C D/D
A/A B/B C/cb D/D
A/A B/B C/cs D/D
A/A B/B C/C D/d

Now, if any of these code lines have the Inhibitor gene present (I/i), these Bengals will end up being born as the beautiful Silver Bengal. That’s all it takes to change the entire genetic code of a Brown Bengal to a Silver. This is because the dominant alleles only need one copy to look the color that we see on our cats.

So, does this help you understand exactly what a Silver Bengal is and how they are genetically created? Please let us know what you think by leaving us a comment below.

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