Home / Bengal Colors & Genetics

Bengal Colors & Genetics

Bengal Colors & Genetics

Genetics is the study of how genes and traits are passed down from one generation to the next. At Pet Perfect Bengals we recognize that genes carry information that affects the Bengal's health, personality, and appearance; Therefore, we select only the highest-quality Bengals to help improve the breed. We hope this page will help you better understand Bengal colors and color genetics.

Gene – A unit of heredity that is transferred from a parent to offspring and is held to determine certain characteristics of the offspring

Allele – One of two or more versions of a gene. There are two kinds of alleles, recessive and dominant

Recessive allele – Two alleles are needed for the trait to be expressed. Lowercase letters represent recessive alleles

Dominant allele – Only one allele is needed for the trait to be expressed. Upper case letters represent dominant alleles

Codominance – Two different alleles are expressed to an equal degree within the cat

Incomplete dominance – Is when an allele does not completely mask the effects of the other allele, and the cat’s appearance is a blend of both traits

Heterozygous – Having two different alleles of a particular gene

Homozigose – Having two different alleles of a particular gene

Genotype – The genetic constitution of a cat

Phenotype – The observable characteristics in an individual resulting from the expression of genes

Melanin – The color pigment in a cat’s fur. The two kinds of melanin are pheomelanin and eumelanin.

Pheomelanin – Yellow and red pigment.

Eumelanin – Dark brown and black pigment.

Bengal cats have two alleles from each of the genes below, inheriting one from each parent.



Brown Gene

(b) Chocolate
(b1) Cinnamon

Silver Gene

(i) non-inhibitor (I) Inhibitor

Snow Gene

(cs) Colorpoint siamese
(cb) Colorpoint bermese
(C) Color
(Domestic Cat)

Dilute Gene

(d) Dilute (D) Wild type (full color)


(a) Non-agouti variant (Domestic Cat)
(Apb) Agouti variant (Asian Leopard Cat)
(A) Agouti variant (Domestic Cat)

Punnett squares

Kittens receive 50% of their genetic makeup from each of their parents.
By using Punnett squares you can get an idea of what their offspring may look like.

When filling in a Punnett square write parent1’s genes on top and parent2’s on the side. The possible kitten genes will be written in the middle.


Parent1’s Genes: Silver carrier of Dilute, Agouti variant (Asian Leopard Cat) & Color Point Siamese (B/B, I/i, C/cs, D/d, A/Apb)

Parent2’s Genes: Silver Lynx carrier of Dilute & non-Agouti variant (Domestic Cat) ( B/B, I/i, cs/cs, D/d, A/a)

Snow Genes

Parent1’s genes: C/C

Parent2’s genes: cs/cs

Parent 2

Parent 1


The possible kittens & likely percentages are:

50% (cs/cs) Snow Lynx

50% (C/cs) full color (Either Brown or Silver)

Silver Genes

Parent1’s genes: I/i

Parent2’s genes: I/i

Parent 2

Parent 1


The possible kittens & likely percentages are:

25% I/I (Silver)

50% I/i (Silver)

25% i/i (Non-Silver)

That means we have 75% Silver & 25% Non-Silver

Brown Genes

Parent1’s genes: B/B

Parent2’s genes: B/B

Parent 2

Parent 1


The possible kittens & likely percentages are:

100% B/B (Brown)

*Silver is Dominant over Brown.

Dilute Genes

Parent1’s genes: D/d

Parent2’s genes: D/d

Parent 2

Parent 1


The possible kittens & likely percentages are:

50% d/D (non-dilute)

25% D/D (non-dilute)

25% d/d (dilute)

That means we have 25% Dilute and 75% Non-Dilute

Agouti Gene

Parent1’s genes: A/Apb

Parent2’s genes: A/a

Parent 2

Parent 1


The possible kittens & likely percentages are:

25% A/A (Non-Charcoal)

25% A/Apb (Non-Charcoal)

25% a/A (Non- Charcoal)

25% a/Apb (Charcoal)

That means we have 25% Charcoal & 75% Non-Charcoal

50% Lynx
50% full color
75% silver
25% non-silver
100% brown
25% dilute
75% non-dilute
25% charcoal
75% non-charcoal

Putting it all together:

1. First figure out how many Snows & Silver Snows there are:

50% Snow Lynx

75% Silver x 50% Lynx = 37.5% Silver Lynx
25% non-silver x 50% Lynx = 12.5% Lynx

2. Second, how many are Silver & Brown

50% full color (Silver or Brown)

75% Silver x 50% (full color) = 37.5% Silver
25% Non-Silver x 50% (full color) = 12.5% Non-Silver

12.5% (non-silver color) x 100% Brown = 12.5% Brown

3. Third, How many Dilute

Take the Total Snows, Silver & Browns and bring Dilute into the equation

25% dilute & 75% Non-Dilute


37.5% Silver Lynx

37.5% Silver Lynx x 25% dilute = 9.375% Blue Silver Lynx
37.5 Silver lynx x 75% non-dilute = 28.125% Silver Lynx

12.5% Lynx

12.5% Lynx x 25% dilute = 3.125% Blue Lynx
12.5% Lynx x 75% non-dilute = 9.375 Lynx


37.5% Silver

37.5% Silver x 25% dilute = 9.375% Blue Silver
37.5% silver x 75% non-dilute = 28.125% Silver

12.5% Non-Silver (Brown)

12.5% Brown x 25% dilute = 3.125% Blue
12.5% Brown x 75% non-dilute = 9.375 Brown

4. Fourth, Take your totals from above and figure how many charcoals are in each section

25% charcoal
75% non-charcoal
9.375% Blue Silver Lynx x 25% Charcoal = 2.34375% Charcoal Blue Silver Lynx

28.125% Silver Lynx x 25% Charcoal = 7.03125% Charcoal Silver Lynx

3.125% Blue Lynx x 25% Charcoal = 0.78125% Charcoal Blue Lynx

9.375% Lynx x 25% Charcoal = 2.34375% Charcoal Lynx

9.375% Blue Silver x 25% Charcoal = 2.34375% Charcoal Blue Silver

28.125% Silver x 25% Charcoal = 7.03125% Charcoal Silver

3.125% Blue x 25% Charcoal = 0.78125% Charcoal Blue

9.375% Brown x 25% Charcoal = 2.34375% Charcoal Brown

9.375% Blue Silver Lynx x 75% Non-Charcoal = 7.03125% Blue Silver Lynx

28.125% Silver Lynx x 75% Non-Charcoal = 21.09375% Silver Lynx

3.125% Blue Lynx x 75% Non-Charcoal = 2.34375% Blue Lynx

9.375% Lynx x 75% Non-Charcoal = 7.03125% Lynx

9.375% Blue Silver x 75% Non-Charcoal = 7.03125% Blue Silver

28.125% Silver x 75% Non-Charcoal = 21.09375% Silver

3.125% Blue x 75% Non-Charcoal = 2.34375% Blue

9.375% Brown x 75% Non-Charcoal = 7.03125% Brown

5. Organize the colors in a chart if you’d like to easily see them

Lynx 7.03125% Silver 21.09375% Blue 2.34375% Brown 7.03125%
Charcoal Lynx 2.34375% Charcoal Silver 7.03125% Charcoal Blue 0.78125% Charcoal Brown 2.34375%
Blue Lynx 2.34375% Blue Silver 7.03125%
Charcoal Blue Lynx 0.78125% Charcoal Blue Silver 2.34375%
Silver Lynx 21.09375%
Charcoal Silver Lynx 7.03125%
Blue Silver Lynx 7.03125%
Charcoal Blue Silver Lynx 2.34375%
Total that will look
Lynx or Charcoal
Lynx: 50%
Total that will look
Silver or Charcoal
Silver: 37.5%
Total that will be Blue
or Charcoal
Blue: 3.125
Total that will be
Brown or Charcoal
Brown: 9.375%

6. Add up your %’s to equal 100%

Lynx 50% + Silver 37.5% + Dilute (Blue) 3.125% + Brown 9.375% = 100%


There are three variations of the brown color from darkest to lightest they are: brown, chocolate, and cinnamon. Although brown is the most common Bengal color, chocolate, and cinnamon are some of the rarest.

Brown is one of the two base colors, the other is Orange. Other genes alter brown making it look different. this is what gives us the many Bengal colors such as silver, snow, and blue. The brown gene produces both kinds of melanin. Because of this, it has the most diverse coat color.

The Brown gene has three alleles:

Wild-type black: B

Chocolate: b

Cinnamon: b1

Wild-type black (B) creates the brown color in Bengals and is dominant to both chocolate (b) and cinnamon (b1). Cinnamon (b1) is recessive to both Wild-type black (B) and chocolate (b).

(B/B, B/b, or B/b1) Brown

(b/b or b/b1) Chocolate

(b1/b1) Cinnamon

The Orange gene has two alleles:

Orange: O

Non-orange: o

The non-orange allele (o) allows for the typical production of melanin, however, the Orange allele (O) prevents the production of eumelanin creating an entirely orange cat. Orange (O) and non-orange (o) are codominant. Bengals cannot be an orange color but because it is dominant to the brown gene I included it here.


Fun fact: The orange gene is located in the X chromosome. When a cat has two X chromosomes it will have two alleles. This gives the chance of having both an Orange (O) and a non-orange (o) allele. Because these alleles are codominant both traits will be expressed in the same cat. This creates a cat that is both orange and black commonly known as a tortoiseshell. Since males typically only have one X chromosome (one allele, either O or o) it is unusual to see this in males.


(O/o) Tortoiseshell

(O/O) orange in females

(O) orange in males


The Silver Bengal’s coat color is made up of many different shades of white, gray, and black with as little tarnish as possible.
(Tarnish is the yellow/rusty brown color mostly seen on the face and paws of some silvers).

The silver gene is an add-on to the other genes/colors. This means you can have a silver blue, silver snow, or just a silver Bengal. Although silver is not very visible in a lynx mink or sepia, it completely changes the brown color, therefore, in a way, it is dominant to brown.


The Silver gene has two alleles:

Inhibitor: I

Non-inhibitor: i


The non-inhibitor allele (i) allows for the regular production of melanin, however, the Inhibitor allele (I) restricts or inhibits melanin production, especially pheomelanin. A cat with an Inhibitor allele (I) will be white and void of color in the places on the hair shaft where pheomelanin would have been produced. In all silver cats, the base of their hairs will be completely white. The strength of an Inhibitor allele (I) can vary greatly. When you can see the pheomelanin in a silver’s phenotype it is called tarnish. A weak Inhibitor allele (I) will allow for much tarnish, while a strong one will restrict all pheomelanin production (no tarnish).


(I/I or I/i) Silver


The Snow Bengal has a tipped coloration similar to that of the Siamese or Burmese cat. The snow color has three variations from lightest to darkest;
they are seal lynx, seal mink, and seal sepia. The seal lynx Bengal is the only Bengal with blue eyes.


The snow or colorpoint gene is temperature sensitive. It only allows for the production of melanin when it is below body temperature. This creates a cat with dark extremities and a light midsection. The amount of contrast seen in the coat is highly variable depending on the allele. When a cat has two colorpoint alleles you will always see the trait expressed in the cat phenotype

The Colorpoint gene has three alleles:

Full Color: C

Colorpoint Siamese: cs

Colorpoint Burmese: cb

Full Color (C) does not affect the production of melanin, however, colorpoint Siamese (cs) and colorpoint Burmese (cb) do. Colorpoint siamese (cs) creates more contrast between the warm and cold areas on the coat when compared to colorpoint Burmese (cb). Colorpoint siamese (cs) and colorpoint Burmese (cb) are incompletely dominant, and when paired together will produce a mix of the two traits.

(cs/cs) seal lynx

(cs/cb) seal mink

(cb/cb) seal sepia


Dilute has three variations: blue, lilac, and fawn. Blue Bengals are bluish-gray, lilacs are purplish-gray, and fawn Bengals are pale brown. Lilac and fawn are THE rarest Bengal colors.

The dilute gene interacts with the other genes by softening the base color. Dilute does not alter the amount or kind of pigment, but the distribution of pigment.

The Dilute gene has three alleles:

Full Color: D

Dilute: d


Full color (D) allows for the regular distribution of pigment. The dilute allele (d), on the other hand, unevenly distributes and lumps together pigment granules on a hair shaft.
This turns a black/brown coat blue, and an orange coat cream.


(B/B, B/b, or B/b1) & (d/d)
Brown Bengals become blue by adding homozygous dilute

(b/b, or b/b1) & (d/d)
Chocolate Bengals become lilac by adding homozygous dilute
(b1/b1) & (d/d)

Cinnamon Bengals become fawn by adding homozygous dilute


Charcoal is not a stand-alone color but instead an add-on to the base color. Charcoal Bengals have a dark masked face and a dark stripe or cape down their back. There are three variations of charcoal: light charcoal, dark charcoal, and melanistic. As their name suggests dark charcoal is typically darker than light charcoal, however, they can be difficult to tell apart without a genetic test. The third variation, melanistic, doesn’t sport the mask and cape that both light and dark charcoal do, instead it creates a solid appearance similar to that of a panther.

The Charcoal or Agouti gene controls pigment expression on a hair shaft.

The Agouti gene has three alleles:

Agouti variant (Domestic Cat): A

Non-Agouti (Domestic Cat): a

Agouti variant (Asian Leopard Cat): Apb


What is agouti? Agouti causes Melanin to be inconsistently deposited on hairs as they grow to create alternating, distinct bands of color to form on each hair. An agouti cat will have a minimum of two colors distributed on a single hair.


The Agouti variant (Domestic Cat) A allows for the regular expression of pigment and is dominant over all other agouti alleles


Non-agouti variant (Domestic Cat) prevents inconsistent melanin production. When a cat has two copies of this allele it is called melanistic. Melanistic cats have dark solid-colored coats. This means a brown melanistic cat will look nearly completely black, whereas a blue melanistic cat will be a solid dark blue color. Only in certain lighting will you be able to see the pattern of a melanistic Bengal.


Agouti variant (Asian Leopard Cat) Apb comes from the Asian leopard cat, therefore, Bengals are the only domestic cat that can produce this allele. Apb creates the “mask” and “cape” associated with charcoal Bengals. Agouti variant (Asian Leopard Cat) Apb is incompletely dominant over the non-agouti variant (Domestic Cat) a. When these alleles are together they create a mix of the two traits.


(a/a) melanistic
(a/Apb) dark charcoal
(Apb/Apb) light charcoal