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Bengal Terms

To Help You Understand What Bengal Breeders Are Talking About

Bengal Cat Kittens

Bengal conformation refers to the physical attributes and standards by which Bengal cats are judged in cat shows. Conformation encompasses the breed's ideal physical appearance, structure, and even behavior. If you're referring to The International Cat Association (TICA) standards or similar cat breed organizations, there's a specific set of standards that a Bengal cat should ideally conform to.

General Description: Bengals should be athletic, sleek, and reminiscent of their wild ancestor, the Asian Leopard Cat. They should give an impression of power and agility.

  1. Head:

    • Shape: Broad modified wedge with rounded contours. Longer than it is wide.

    • Ears: Medium to small, relatively short with wide base and rounded tips.

    • Eyes: Oval, almost round. They can be any color, irrespective of coat color.

    • Nose: Large and wide with a slightly puffed nose leather.

    • Chin: Strong chin aligns with the tip of the nose in profile.

    • Muzzle: Full and broad.

  2. Body:

    • Structure: Long, substantial, muscular, yet sleek. Not delicate.

    • Legs and Feet: Medium length legs. Hind legs slightly longer than front. Paws are large and rounded. Knuckles are prominent.

    • Tail: Medium length, thick, with rounded tip.

  3. Coat and Color:

    • Texture: Dense and luxurious, close-lying. Some coats might have a plush feel but should not be double-coated or too long.

    • Patterns: Spotted or marbled. Spots can be of any shape or size and should be random or aligned horizontally. Marbling should be irregular and more horizontally flowy than the classic tabby's.

    • Colors: Brown spotted tabby, seal sepia spotted tabby, seal mink spotted tabby, seal lynx pointed spotted tabby, and variations for marbled. There are also non-standard colors.

  4. Temperament: While not a physical attribute, Bengals are expected to be confident, alert, curious, and engaging with their surroundings.

  5. Penalize: Features that don't align with the standard can be penalized in shows. This includes attributes like a noticeable hock stain, white locket, or kinked tail.

  6. Disqualify: Some features or conditions can lead to disqualification in a show setting. This might include extreme aggressiveness, signs of illness, or deformities.

When breeders refer to Bengal conformation, they're often discussing how closely a particular cat meets these ideal standards. It's important to note that while these standards are used for show and breeding purposes, many wonderful Bengals might not meet every specification and still make fantastic companions! The key is health, temperament, and a loving home.


The Bengal cat is a distinct and striking breed of domestic cat, characterized by its leopard-like spots and strong, athletic build. The breed is a hybrid of domestic cats with the Asian Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), a small wild cat found in parts of Asia. 

  1. Origin:

    • The Bengal breed was created in the United States in the 1970s. Dr. Willard Centerwall originally began crossbreeding domestic cats with the Asian Leopard Cat in an attempt to study feline leukemia. The intention wasn't to create a new breed but to observe the natural immunity of Asian Leopard Cats to the disease.

    • The name "Bengal" is derived from the scientific name of the Asian Leopard Cat.

  2. Appearance:

    • Bengal cats are medium to large in size, with a strong and muscular physique, reminiscent of their wild ancestors.

    • They are best known for their unique coat patterns which can be spotted (resembling a leopard) or marbled (with swirls and patterns similar to marble).

    • The coat can also be glittered, giving it a shimmering appearance in certain lights.

    • Colors can vary from brown, silver, snow, and more.


The term "filial" (often abbreviated as "F") followed by a number is used in genetics, particularly in hybrid animals, to indicate generations removed from a wild ancestor. In the context of Bengal cats:

  • F1: Refers to the first generation of Bengal cats directly resulting from the mating of an Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) with a domestic cat. F1 Bengals are 50% ALC and 50% domestic cat.

  • F2: Refers to the second generation, which is the offspring of an F1 Bengal and another cat (often a domestic cat or another Bengal).

  • F3: Refers to the third generation, and so on.

The higher the F-number, the further the cat is from its wild ancestry. Typically, F4 and later generations are considered fully domesticated and have a temperament suitable for typical pet ownership. The earlier generations (F1-F3) might display more wild behaviors, making them less suitable for traditional pet homes.

Rib Bars

"Rib bars" is a term used in the Bengal cat world to describe a specific marking pattern found on some Bengals. 

  1. Description:

    • Rib bars are essentially vertical stripes or markings that appear on the sides of a Bengal cat, roughly in the area where the ribs are. They are reminiscent of the vertical stripes often seen on domestic tabby cats.

  2. Origin:

    • These markings are a throwback to the Bengal's domestic tabby ancestry. Remember, while Bengals were originally bred from the Asian Leopard Cat (a wild species), they were also crossed with domestic cats, many of which were tabbies.

  3. Breed Standard:

    • For show-quality Bengal cats, especially those with the spotted pattern, rib bars are generally considered undesirable. This is because they disrupt the horizontal flow and random placement of spots that are desired in the breed standard. The preference in the show ring is for a clear coat without these vertical markings.

    • However, many pet-quality Bengals have rib bars, and this does not detract from their beauty or value as a companion.

  4. Comparison with Wild Ancestry:

    • It's interesting to note that while the rib bars are seen as a throwback to the domestic tabby, even the Asian Leopard Cat (the wild ancestor of the Bengal) can have vertical markings on its sides. However, in creating the Bengal breed, the goal was to accentuate a pattern that somewhat resembled the larger, rosetted or spotted patterns seen in big cats like leopards and jaguars.

While rib bars are not desired for show standards, they are a natural and common marking on many Bengals. The presence of rib bars doesn't affect the cat's personality or overall health.


In the Bengal cat world, the term "pelt" is used to describe the cat's coat, but it's more than just fur. When enthusiasts and breeders refer to the Bengal's pelt, they're emphasizing its unique, luxurious texture and quality. 

  1. Feel and Texture:

    • Bengal cats have a coat that feels incredibly soft and plush, almost more like a rabbit's fur or a wild animal's pelt than a typical domestic cat's fur.

  2. Appearance:

    • Beyond just the texture, the pelt often has a sheen or glitter to it, making the cat appear to shimmer in certain lighting conditions.

  3. Wild Ancestry:

    • The use of the term "pelt" also draws a connection to the Bengal's wild ancestry, the Asian Leopard Cat. It underscores the breed's exotic look and feel, which is closer to a wild cat than many other domestic breeds.

  4. Health and Care:

    • Despite its luxurious feel, the Bengal's pelt is relatively low-maintenance. It doesn't mat easily, and it requires minimal grooming compared to longer-haired breeds. However, regular petting or brushing can help remove loose hairs and distribute natural oils.

When Bengal enthusiasts talk about a Bengal's pelt, they're referring to the unique and luxurious quality of the cat's coat, which is both a tactile and visual experience. It's one of the many features that makes the Bengal breed stand out.


Rosettes are one of the hallmark features of the Bengal cat's coat pattern. These are essentially spots with a particular configuration that makes them distinct from regular solid spots. Rosettes in Bengals are inspired by markings found on wild cats, like leopards and jaguars.


    • A rosette is a spot that has a darker outline with one or more lighter shades or even a completely different color inside. This gives the appearance of a "rose-like" pattern, hence the name.

  1. Types of Rosettes:

    • Doughnut Rosettes: These rosettes are circular with a lighter center, looking somewhat like a doughnut.

    • Arrowhead Rosettes: These have a distinct shape that resembles an arrowhead.

    • Paw Print Rosettes: These rosettes look like the footprints of an animal, with a part of the rosette being more open.

    • Cluster Rosettes: A cluster of smaller spots that together form a larger, rosetted pattern.

    • Clouded Rosettes: Inspired by the clouded leopard, these are large, irregularly-shaped rosettes that often appear cloud-like.

  2. Significance:

    • Rosettes are highly desired in the Bengal breed standard, especially for show cats, because they give Bengals their wild appearance. A Bengal cat with well-defined, contrasted rosettes often resembles its larger wild counterparts, like the leopard or jaguar.

    • The more pronounced and distinct the rosettes, the more the cat may be prized in the show ring, especially if the rosettes are uniformly distributed and have high contrast with the base coat color.

  3. Variability:

    • Not all Bengals will have rosetted patterns. Some may have simple solid spots, which is also accepted within the breed standard, though they may not be as highly prized in competitive shows as rosetted Bengals.

    • The type and clarity of rosettes can vary widely even within the same litter, depending on the genetics of the parents.

  4. Development:

    • Rosettes can develop and become more pronounced as a Bengal kitten grows. Sometimes, a Bengal might appear to have solid spots as a very young kitten, but as they age, these spots might break up or spread out to form rosettes.

Rosettes are one of the distinguishing features of many Bengal cats, giving them a wild, exotic appearance. The type, clarity, and distribution of these rosettes can play a significant role in the cat's appearance and its adherence to breed standards, especially in show settings.


"Rufinism" in Bengal cats refers to the warm, reddish or orange-toned hue that can be seen in their coat. This term is derived from "rufous," which means "red." When we talk about rufinism in Bengals, it's in the context of the warmth and richness of their coat color.

  1. Appearance:

    • Rufinism gives the Bengal's coat a warm, vibrant glow. This reddish tint is often most noticeable in brown Bengals, but can be present in other color variations as well.

  2. Desirability:

    • Whether or not a high degree of rufinism is desirable depends on breeder and owner preferences. Some Bengal enthusiasts love the rich, warm tones, while others may prefer a cooler, more neutral base coat.

    • In show settings, the standards set by cat associations will determine how much rufinism is desired. Different associations might have different standards.

  3. Genetics:

    • The exact genetic mechanisms behind rufinism in Bengals aren't entirely clear, and it's likely influenced by multiple genes. Through selective breeding, breeders can influence the degree of rufinism in their Bengal lines.

  4. Comparison:

    • In the wild, many species of cats exhibit a range of colors, from cooler grays and browns to warmer, rufous tones. Rufinism in Bengals can be seen as mirroring this natural variation.

Rufinism is the warm, reddish undertone seen in some Bengal cats. It's one of the many features that can influence a Bengal's overall appearance and desirability for breeding or showing.


SBT" in the context of Bengal cats stands for "Stud Book Tradition." It's a term used to designate a specific generation or lineage of Bengal cats. Here's what it means:

  1. Definition:

    • SBT Bengals are at least the fourth generation removed from the wild Asian Leopard Cat. Specifically, an SBT Bengal is a cat that has Bengal-to-Bengal breeding for at least three generations.

  2. Generations:

    • The Bengal breeding begins with a cross between an Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) and a domestic cat, producing an F1 generation.

    • When an F1 is bred with another Bengal or domestic cat, you get the F2 generation. F3 is the subsequent generation, and when two F3 Bengals are bred, their offspring are considered SBT or F4.

    • While the F1, F2, and F3 generations are often referred to by their "F" designation, the SBT term is used for F4 and beyond.

  3. Importance:

    • SBT Bengals are significant because they represent a stable and predictable temperament suitable for pet ownership. The earlier generations (F1-F3) are closer to the wild Asian Leopard Cat and might exhibit more wild behaviors, making them less suitable for the average pet owner.

    • In many cat registration bodies and associations, only SBT Bengals are eligible for championship competitions because they're considered fully domesticated.

  4. Temperament:

    • By the time a Bengal cat is SBT, it should exhibit a consistent domesticated temperament, making it more predictable as a family pet. However, even SBT Bengals can retain the high energy and playfulness that the breed is known for.

  5. Breed Standard:

    • Physical and behavioral traits become more standardized by the SBT generation, and these cats are more likely to conform to the breed standard set by cat associations.

SBT denotes a Bengal cat that is at least four generations removed from the wild Asian Leopard Cat. This designation is an assurance of a more domesticated temperament suitable for pet ownership and is often a requirement for championship cat shows.


TIBCS stands for "The International Bengal Cat Society." It is an organization dedicated to the Bengal breed of cats. Here's some information about TIBCS:

  1. Purpose and Goals:

    • TIBCS aims to preserve and promote the Bengal breed. It provides education about the breed, supports responsible breeding practices, and sets standards for the breed.

  2. Membership:

    • The organization comprises breeders, Bengal cat owners, and enthusiasts from around the world. Members often benefit from educational resources, networking opportunities, and the ability to participate in society-sponsored events and shows.

  3. Breed Standards:

    • TIBCS plays a role in defining and updating the breed standards for Bengal cats. This includes characteristics like coat color, pattern, body structure, and overall health.

  4. Education and Outreach:

    • The society educates the public about the Bengal breed, their needs, and their history. This helps potential Bengal owners understand what to expect and how to care for these unique cats.

  5. Support for Breeders:

    • TIBCS provides resources and guidelines for ethical breeding. They emphasize the importance of health testing, responsible breeding practices, and maintaining the integrity of the Bengal breed.

  6. Publications:

    • TIBCS often produces publications, including newsletters and magazines, that cover various topics related to Bengals. These can range from care tips to breed history to highlights from cat shows.

  7. Events:

    • The society may host or be involved in various events, including Bengal cat shows, where breeders and owners can showcase their cats and compete based on breed standards.

  8. Advocacy:

    • Given that Bengals are a hybrid breed with a wild ancestry (Asian Leopard Cat), there are sometimes legal issues or misconceptions surrounding their ownership. TIBCS often plays an advocacy role, helping to address misconceptions and promote the breed in a positive light.

TIBCS is a key organization in the Bengal cat world, supporting breeders, owners, and enthusiasts while promoting ethical practices and a deeper understanding of this unique breed. If you're interested in Bengals, whether as a potential owner or breeder, connecting with TIBCS or similar organizations can be a valuable step.

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