The Bengal Breed - a TICA Perspective

A Breed Seminar by Jeff and Heather Roberts

Comprehensive seminar notes on the Bengal Breed from the TICA perspective, including history and detailed notes on what TICA judges look for in Bengal show cats. Click Here. Also see published Bengal breed standards by other Cat Associations.

Are Bengal Cats Hypoallergenic?

It is not uncommon to hear that Bengal cats are hypoallergenic, that is, that persons with cat allergies do not react to Bengals... True? Find out here.


Asian Leopard Cat or ALC

The Bengal breed of domestic cat was developed by the breeding of the wild Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) with short-haired domestic cats. ALCs are nocturnal loners, so they don't travel in a pride or pack. Noted to be shy they have never been recorded as being kept as pets successfully in the US. Asian Leopard Cats are found naturally in Islands of Malaysia and Thailand extending to the mainland of Asia.



ALCs live near streams and for this reason they hunt near water, have no fear of water and are known to defecate in it. The first few generations of Bengal (ALC + domestic cat) is often hard to litter box train and they can have a wild temperament. Due to the wildness of the early generations, Cat Associations such as TICA will not register kittens that aren't at least 4 generations domestic. Our cats at Boulder Bengals are somewhere around 10 generations domestic, go home box trained and sweet!

The ALC is relatively small, approximately 16 pounds. The ALCs in the southern climates have the darkest coat colors and their clear unticked coats display sharp contrast of spots. Unpreferred for breeding are the ticked variety found in the cooler northern and mainland areas such as the Amur Leopard Cat. As for spots, some have rosetting, some have solid one color spots. Some spots are round, some are arrowhead in shape. The estrous cycle is annual in the cooler climates usually giving birth near the month of May. Litters average one to four cubs. The Asian Leopard Cat has many varieties considered nearly extinct and endangered.

Conformation - Bengal Breed Standards

Conformation regards a Bengal cat that is of the correct "type". The Bengal cat fits the standard closely especially as regards to body structure, including head, ear set, eye set, tail set, straigtness of legs, width of chest, length of neck, etc. When showing a pedigree animal, points are assigned for each of his features and how the conform to breed standards. For Bengal breed standards published by various cat associations, click here.


What is F1...? F2...? F3....?

"Filial" designates the generation, or the sequence of generations following the parental generation. Filial, in Bengalese, indicates the hybrid generations, 1-3, or Filial 1-3. Specifically referred to as: F1, F2, and F3. TICA recognizes the fourth generation (F4) Bengal as a "Stud Book Traditional" or an acceptable, pedigree animal qualified to show for championship. F1 and F2 (and some F3) cats can have trouble box training and may not have the gentle temperament needed to be properly socialized as a pet. F1-F3 cannot be shown for championship. Kitten survival rate in early generations is low, and male kittens are usually sterile.

Boulder Bengal kittens are several generations (at least 10) domestic, are box trained and are sweet pets. Good animal breeders test their lines for heart and other problems with the goal of breeding out health and personality issues as generations progress.

TICA registration numbers start with "SBT". The following depicts filial chart from wild ALC to domestic SBT:

F1: ALC mates with a domestic short-hair SBT -- first gen Bengal 50% ALC blood, males are sterile, not all kittens survive
F2: F1 mates with an SBT (grandparent is wild ALC)
some fertile males
F3: F2 mates with an SBT (great-grandparent is wild ALC) males likely fertile
F4/SBT: F3 mates with SBT 8-12% ALC blood, fertile kittens

Other Breeds Emerging from Bengals

Breeders are developing new lines of Toygers, Cheetohs, Savannahs, etc. from Bengals. More...

Bengal Kitten with the Fuzzies

Fuzzies or Fuzzy Uglies

Found in Bengal kittens only. Around the age of 4 1/2 weeks to 7 weeks old Bengal kittens begin to have longer hairs protruding from their coat. Many consider it a stage of being the "fuzzy uglies" (I can't use the word "ugly" when referring to kittens) where the Bengal is about to begin a great transformation. The kitten loses contrast and its coat takes on a dull appearance.

The undercoat becomes more prominent in the weeks to come as the fuzzy fur falls out, and eventually becomes a sleek and glossy pelt with the spots or rosettes developing with deeper contrasting colors.


Bengals are the only domestic breed of cat with this recessive gene, established by the Gogees breeding program. All the kittens produced at Boulder Bengals have been glittered. What this means is that the very tips of their fur is gold, and when they sit in a sun beam, their faces and pelts twinkle with glitter. This quality is not required for show cats, but glittered coats are beautiful and of course, desirable.


Spots on a Bengal cat that are less horizontal and essentially vertically aligned and are touching each other. Spots chained together create a stripe effect. This is known as "mackereling". Also referred to as "rib bars" or "rib stripes". Mackereling is acceptable and common on Bengal kittens sold as pets. Heavy mackereling should not fair well in a show ring, however after horizontal striping on the legs, tail and head crown (that is not excessive) is reasonably tolerated by judges. There are many Bengal cats that are championed while having some degree of striping. Mackereling is found anywhere on the torso, where as rib stripes are found on the torso behind the front legs.

Rib Bars or Rib Stripes

Usually found on the torso behind the front legs, they are spots on a Bengal cat which are vertically aligned and are touching each other. These spots chained together create what looks like a stripe. This is also known as "mackeraling". Rib Bars are acceptable in pet Bengal cats, but can lose points in a championship show.


Rosette Spot Pattern

Spotted (not marbled) Bengals usually develop symmetrical spot patterns (rather than random). However spots can either be solid dark against the base coat color, in the shape of arrowheads, or rosettes. Rosettes are usually "C" shaped, with a dark outer ring and lighter color inside the circle. Tri-colored rosettes mean the cat's base coat is very light, the rings of the rosette are very dark, and the center of the rings are a medium color.

Two of our queens, Diva and Sparkle with beautiful rosettes:

Bengal queens with rosettes


Essentially any other forground (spot) color other than black. If the spots are not black you would refer to the cat as a sorrel. Depending on the breeder some consider sorrel to be a coat deep orange in ground color or a more intense tawney color. As an aside the deeper orange is usually found on the facial region and flank of the torso.


Ticked Bengal Pelt

Bengals referred to as "ticked" are by no means undesirable. A ticked Bengal cat displays a lack of contrast in spots due to multi-colored hair shafts. Giving a salt & pepper or faded appearance as opposed to clearlly defined rosettes or spots. To many Bengal enthusiasts, ticking is not desirable unlike in an ocicat where ticking is good. The ticking gene was introduced on the domestic side by the Egyptian Mau when the Bengal standard allowed outcrossing to expand the gene pool. Bengal cats in foundation programs must now only use SBT Egyptian Maus, no other breeds.