Glossary of Bengal Terms


There are a number of terms which are used in breeding and showing Bengals which may be helpful for the bengal owner who is interested in learning more about this wonderful animal. Here are a few that you may be interested to know:


Asian Leopard Cat or ALC

Its ORDER is Carnivore. Its FAMILY is Felidae. Its Genus is Felis. They are nocturnal and live/hunt alone, except during mating times. Noted to be shy they have never been recorded as being kept as pet's successfully in the US. Asian Leopard Cats are found naturally in Islands of Malaysia and Thailand extending to the mainland of Asia. There are some 21 different distinct subspecies, by region. They live near streams and for this reason they hunt near water, have no fear of water and are known to defecate in it to hide their scent. Relatively small, the females are approximately 7-11 pounds and males, being the larger animal in the breed average 16 pounds. As for spots, some have rosetting, some have solid one color spots. Some spots are round, some are arrowhead in shape. The Asian Leopard Cat has many varieties considered nearly extinct and endangered.



Cat color that results from each individual hair follicle having contrasting bands of color

Agouti refers to the several bands of colour (ticking) on a single hair


This term suffers some confusion. Foundation relates to "foundation breeding stock", in any breed, regardless of generation or ancestry. A foundation stock Bengal could be an ALC, F1, F2, F3, or SBT. However, TICA registers the filial Bengals as Foundation Bengals. Consequently TICA refers to filial only as “foundation” and this is where confusion can set in. Breeders commonly refer to cats in their initial breeding as "foundation stock". From this two-word description we gain a clear perspective between filial and foundation.


Designates the generation or the sequence of generations following the parental generation. Filial, in Bengalese, indicates the hybrid generations, 1-3. Specifically referred to as: F1, F2, and F3. TICA has their own term for *filial adding to the confusion.


Cross bred from an Asian Leopard cat and a domestic short haired tabby. Bengals at least 4 generations removed from the ALC in its heritage may be eligible for show and are regarded as SBT's. Ancestors prior to 4 generations removed are regarded as Filial stock or (by TICA) as foundations. They are completely domestic.


Stands for Stud Book Tradition. A term designated by TICA, The International Cat Association. SBT indicates that the Bengal is pedigreed and is at least 4 generations removed from the Asian Leopard Cat. To be an SBT there must only be Bengal to Bengal breeding. No longer does the Bengal standard allow outcrosses. PHOTO


Type or "Typey"
A buz word among breeders to describe a Bengal that is of the correct "type" that fits the Bengal standard closely. This term usually encompasses the word conformation as well, i.e, “A bengal which is typey exemplifies the look, character and conformation described in the Bengal standard.”


Conformation is the term that refers to the standards of physical construction described in the “Bengal standard”. The Bengal cat that fits that description closely is described as having good conformation.


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. The kitten looses contrast and its coat takes on a dull appearance. The undercoat becomes more prominent in the weeks to come. Many maintain that this is a throwback from its wild heritage, supposing that the fuzzies would act as a protection in the wild for ALC kittens as they begin to venture out.


Glitter is unique to bengals, though not all bengals carry the gene for glitter. Hairs of their coat are hollow-tipped with bubbles trapped within them—light refracts and shines like gold glitter or craystaline glitter on glittered snows or silver-colored bengals. See “Bengal Articles” for the history of glitter.


Spots on a Bengal cat that are vertically aligned and are touching each other. Spots chained together create a 'stripe' effect. The reason that this is not preferred is that it resembles a Macherel Tabby pattern rather than an Asian Leopard Cat’s, which has a distinct horizontal alignment, or random arrangement to its pattern. Mackereling is acceptable on a "pet quality" Bengal cat. There are many Bengal cats that are championed while having some small degree of striping. Mackereling is found anywhere on the torso where as “rib bars” are found on the torso behind the front legs.


Rib Bars
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 a 'stripe' effect. Rib Bars are acceptable in "pet quality" Bengal cats, but lose points in a show ring.


Originating from the obvious, many wild cats have soft coats; a 'pelt'. Quality Bengals have a very plush, short, tight and soft coat if they are 'pelted'. Pelting usually goes hand in hand with Bengals that show sharp contrast in markings. If you see sharp contrast of markings in a photo it's a safe bet that the Bengal is 'pelted'.


Rosettes are spots which are defined by a darker color on the outside, with a lighter color on the inside. The shapes that are most common are donut, arrowhead and paw-print rosettes.


Refers to the backgound or ground color. Red in tone, auburn undercoat. There is no good or bad about rufinism; it is described a positive in the Bengal Standard.


Essentially any other foreground (spot or rosette outline) color other than black, i.e. browns and auburns, lighter than black. Depending on the breeder some consider sorrel to be a coat deep orange in ground color or a more intense tawney color.


Golden, with less red/auburn. Another way to understand tawney is it is like the color of a cougar; cooler in color than sorrel.


Whited Tummy, Lighted Tummy
Light or white underside; chin to neck, the chest, the stomach and down the inside of the legs. A truly bright t-shirt white tummy is characteristic of the ALC, and a hard trait to lock in. The lighted tummy is much more common.


Ticking or Agouti
Ticking or agouti describes a pelt in which the individual hairs are marked with alternating bands of light and dark color. A 'ticked' Bengal cat can exhibit reduced visual contrast in their pattern. Bengals referred to, as 'ticked' are by no means undesirable. A good example of an agouti coat is the Abyssinian.


Acronym for The International Cat Association.


T. I. B. C. S.
Acronym for The International Bengal Cat Society. Pronounced "tibbs". Founded by Gene Ducote of Gogees, a top breeder of Bengal cats for many years.