In genetics we have a code. This code is compilation of groupings of letters that represent specific traits. Some are dominant (denoted with a capital letter i.e. A, B, C and typically over powers the recessive trait), some are recessive (denoted with a lower case letter i.e. a, b, cs) and some need to be paired together to produce specific new traits. Each trait set will include 1-3 letters on each side of a forward slash. The first 1-3 letters is a trait from one parent. The second set of letters is the trait from the second parent. In the Bengal breed we have several “letters” that work together to design a cat’s physical features (phenotype) as well as traits you can’t see but they still carry (genotype).
Relevant Bengal Cat Alleles
“A” Alleles (an allele is a variant of a trait that is contributed to the offspring, one from each parent). This specific allele defines patterned or non-patterned cats. It is referred to as agouti or non-agouti.
A- This is a patterned allele and shows up as a patterned cat. It is a dominant trait.
a- This is the domestic (from domestic non-Asian leopard cats) non-agouti gene, part of the puzzle for charcoals and solid colored cats. This is a recessive trait.
APb- This is the Asian Leopard cat (ALC) non-agouti gene, part of the puzzle for charcoals.
Combinations produce differently patterned cats
A/A is a cat with pattern like spots, rosettes, and marbling
A/a is a cat with pattern but when paired correctly can produce a non-patterned solid cat
Apb/A is a cat with pattern like spots, rosettes and marbling
a/a is a solid cat (one solid color) some of these cats have a ghosting effect where some pattern can be seen
APb/a for many is a charcoal (at this present time, but there is evidence suggesting charcoal is more than a genotype )
You cannot carry for charcoal. You either are or you are not a charcoal
Charcoal is a pattern effect that can change pattern and color
The charcoal is not recognized by TICA but is recognized in CFA. Regardless they can still be shown.
Click here for more on APb
APb/APb is a patterned cat and for many not considered a charcoal (many theories point to the fact that charcoal is more than a genotype and that APb/APb cats can be charcoal)
Alone this trait represents patterns, but combining the A allele with color point, inhibitor and dilute genes can alter what the outward expression of the cat looks like in regards to color. More on this below.
It is suggested that “A” is dominant over “a” and either dominant or is incomplete (a trait that isn’t full expressed and may be a combination of both traits) with APb and both are dominant over “a”.
There are other A alleles like A2 H2-H5 these are seen in most Early Generation (First generation-third generation) cats and not very common in most Stud Book Traditional (all cats that are 4th generation or higher) cats.
“B” allele is the primary color. For almost all Bengals this is black. Even if a cat is brown they are typically referred to as a black spotted….
The only time this changes is with chocolate or cinnamon Bengals. These are recessive to black.
B- This represents Black. This trait is dominant
b-This represents Chocolate. This trait is recessive BUT dominant over cinnamon
b1-This represents Cinnamon. This trait is recessive
B/B is Black as the primary color
b/b is Chocolate as the primary color
b1/b1 is Cinnamon as the primary color
When these alleles are combined with other specific alleles you can dilute these colors to produce fawns and lilac cats. More on this later.
The chocolate and cinnamon Bengals are not recognized as standard colors in either TICA and CFA.
“C” allele or color point series. These includes the seal lynx point, seal sepia point and seal mink point. Color Points refer to darker coloration on the ears, nose and tail…
C- This is a cat with no color points. This is a dominant trait.
cs- is a cat that contains the Siamese gene (seal lynx point)
cb- is a cat that contains the Burmese gene (seal sepia tabby)
Note: this does not mean these traits came from the Siamese or Burmese breed. It refers to the fact that they are the same genes that are an influence in these breeds.
Combinations produce differently color pointed cats
C/C is a cat that has no color points and carries no color point.
C/cs is a cat who carries seal lynx point
C/cb is a cat who carries seal sepia tabby
cs/cs is a seal lynx point
cb/cb is a seal sepia tabby
cs/cb is a seal mink tabby
You cannot carry for seal mink. You need both components to create the color point type.
“D” is the allele for dilute or Color density. Dilute cats include the:
Blue (diluted from black)
Lilac (diluted from chocolate)
Fawn (diluted from cinnamon)
To be dilute a cat must be d/d. It is recessive to D, a non-diluted cat.
D/D is a non-dilute cat
D/d is a cat that carriers dilute
d/d is a dilute cat
Although Blue is recognized by CFA it is not recognized by TICA. Lilac and Fawn are not recognized by any organization.
“E” is the extension or “amber” gene. Most Bengals will get color test results back with E/E which represents a cat with black pigments. Whereas the “e” produces an increase in red pigments. It was thought to be the origin of the sorrel colored Bengals but this is no longer the assumption and unfortunately there is no further conclusions at this time.
Finally, we have the I allele.
“I” is the inhibitor (inhibits many of the color pigments) allele. This is a dominant gene and represents the silver cats. A cat either is silver or it is not. As such a cat cannot carry the inhibitor gene/silver.
I/I is a cat that is silver
I/i is a cat that is silver
i/i is a cat that is not silver
Click here for more on the inhibitor gene
The Genetic Code
The genetic code is the genotype. These are the genetic traits that make up a cat. Some traits you can see outwardly such as color or pattern, some you cannot which means that either the cat doesn’t have those genes or they carry them. If they are paired correctly with another cat that has these same unseen carried genes, these recessive traits may appear in the offspring.
A genotype is written out like a sentence. If you know what the individual traits and components mean you can easily read it.
If you color test your cat, the results will be in this order:
There currently is not a test for silver so the inhibitor gene (I) will be a guesstimate based on parentage.
Some of these alleles are located in different spots (locus) on the chromosome (the structure that carries genetic information) and because of this we can have all sorts of combinations that results in different colors.
Some of these combinations will change what you see on the outside or the phenotype. Think “P” physical = phenotype. The alternative is genotype or the actual genetics. “G” genetics = genotype.
Some of these recessive traits can change the appearance of a cat. For example:
A/A E/E B/B C/C d/d i/i
Normally this cat would be a brown cat who doesn’t carry for any recessives however because d/d represents dilution this cat will not look brown it will be a greyish blue on a sandy peach characteristic of the blue Bengals.
This also occurs with the inhibitor gene. For example:
A/A E/E B/B C/C D/D I/I
Normally this cat would be a brown cat who doesn’t carry for any recessives however because I/I represents the inhibitor gene, this cat will not be brown it will be silver as is characteristic of the silver Bengals.
We can have more than one set of alleles affecting what the cat looks like.
APb/APb E/E/ B/B cs/cs D/D I/I
The first set of alleles is APb/APb. The combination of alleles represents a cat with two copies of the ALC non agouti gene . The second is cs/cs this combination represents a seal lynx point cat. Finally, this cat has the inhibitor gene so this cat is also silver. This cat is called a Seal Silver Spotted Lynx (tabby) point similar to the cat below .
Property of Elysian Bengals
If we take away the seal lynx, but the cat remains a carrier we have a completely different looking cat.
APb/a E/E/ B/B C/cs D/D I/I
Property of Elysian Bengals
This is cat is a Black Silver Charcoal Spotted tabby that carriers for seal lynx point. This means if she is paired with a cat that is a seal lynx or carries for seal lynx, she can produce a seal lynx. In fact, she did, the kitten posted above.
A solid cat is one whose pattern is masked so they appear to have no pattern. Some solid cats will have what we call ghosting. This is where some pattern can be seen.
A solid cat will ALWAYS be a/a as the A allele. When paired with other alleles we get different colors. For example:
a/a E/E/ B/B C/C D/D i/i
This cat will be solid black also called a Melanistic.
a/a E/E/ B/B cs/cs D/D i/i
This will look similar to a Siamese. It is called a Seal Point.
a/a E/E/ B/B C/C D/D I/I
This cat will be a solid black with a silver undercoat. It is called a Black Smoke.
Solid + silver = smoke