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Bengal Cat Forums • View topic - Genetics of the Bengal
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 Post subject: Genetics of the Bengal
PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 4:03 pm 
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Asian Leopard Cat

Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2007 3:43 pm
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Location: France (Dijon)
Perhaps someone could make this a sticky... ;)

Just a quick explanation, some other sites will be better for details !

Colours in cats and in Bengals may seem a bit hard to understand at first but it's not so hard once you've understood a few principles ;).

Colours are genetically determined.
As every living being (well, eucaryotes at least :lol: ) cats have two sets of chromosomes.
Each gene is carried on what is called a locus (plural loci), which is the "place" it takes on the chromosome.
For one gene, there are very often different possibilities (caused by a variation in the DNA pattern) which are called alleles.
Because you have 2 sets of chromosomes, you have 2 alleles for each gene.
They can be similar (homozygous) or not (heterozygous).

Some allele may be dominant (they will take over any other allele) or recessive (you will see the result only when your cat is homozygous for that gene).
By convention dominant alleles are written with a capital letter, recessive in er low case (correct me if that's not the right term ;)).

Many genes code for a cat colour, we usually list them in the alphabetical order :lol:... In bold, the ones that interest us most in Bengals ;) (for the accepted colours).

A/a : agouti. Agouti means some hairs are ticked so cats with a pattern (stripes, spots or all ticked over like Abyssinians) are agoutis, AA or Aa.
aa cats are called solid (for eg a black cat is aa). All Bengals (of recognized colours) are A- (usually AA, although some Aa exist, when you cross 2 of them, that's when you get melanistic Bengals... ;))



Agouti (brown) bengal



Solid black (melanistic) bengal

B/b : black is dominant, B. A patterned "black" cat is what we call brown ;) (like brown bengals ; the black shows in the patterns and tail end). b is for chocolate cats (bb) which do not exist in Bengals. All Bengals are black B-, but with some others genes kicking in to get the other colours... ;)



Chocolate oriental cat (this color doesn't exist in Bengals, see above for blacks)

C/cb/cs : the "category" gene. C means no influence of that gene on the colouring, it's the "normal" cats (see first pic for illustration).

cb is the burmese colouring : darker extremities but eye colour normal (green to yellow) and body colour just a bit lighter.
In Bengals, that's the sepia snows or AOC snows, cbcb.



Sepia snow bengal (BRIDLEWOOD KNIGHT WITH WHITE SATIN)

cs is the siamese colouring : dark extremities and creamy body (with pattern showing if cat is A-), blue eyes.
In Bengals, that's lynxpoint snows, cscs



Blue eyed snow bengal

Because cs and cb are co-dominant, if you have both of them you'll have an in between colouring : body a bit darker than colourpoint and aqua eyes. That's the mink colouring, cscb.



Mink snow bengal (Purebliss Pleasuredome)

You also have a c which gives white cats with blue eyes and ca which gives albinos cats but not in Bengals.

D/d is the diluted gene. D- cats are normal but dd cats are diluted.
Here are the dilutions of each colours :
black => blue (ie, blue Bengals are B- dd)



chocolate => lilac
orange or red => cream
... (I'm leaving the fawn, cinnamon and so on to Abyssinian owners :lol: ).

I/i : inhibitor gene. Here, we have the modified gene which is dominant : a "normal" cat will be ii, a cat Ii or II does not synthetize the red/yellow pigment, pheomelamine.
That's what cause silver cats (in patterned cats) or smoked cats (in solid cats).



Black silver bengal

Although we mostly think of black silver cats (like silver Bengals), it can also happen on red cats : they end up quite a strange but beautiful colour ;) (not white because it's not as easy as that...).

L/l : L for short hair, l for long hair. Bengals are L-.

Ta/t : the "ticked" gene.
Ta is not entirely dominant over t and causes the ticked pattern in cats such as Abyssinians, Somalis and so on.
tt cats will express the pattern carried by the mc gene.
Tat cats will have more markings such as collars that TaTa cats.



Ticked abyssinian

Mc/mc : the mackerel and blotched patterns gene. Mc dominant will code for a mackerel pattern (vertical), mc recessive for a blotched pattern (circular).
A theorical allele, mz, is supposed to code for the horizontal pattern found in Bengals and ALC but as spotted should be Mc- and marbled mcmc it's a bit contradictory...



Marbled brown bengal

Sp/sp : it was first thought that spots were another t allele but it seems that it's a different gene that interracts. Sp is dominant and breaks up the pattern into spots. When the cat is mackerel, that means spots, when the cat is blotched, that means big patches like those you can see on some marbles... (probably)



Rosetted brown bengal with horizontal alignment of the rosettes

I put those 2 last genes not in the alphabetical order, because I thought it would be a bit more understandable to talk about the T gene first ;).

There are of course lots of other genes (S for white patches, sex linked O for the orange coloured cats...) but those don't apply to Bengals and so I won't talk about them here, I think there's already enough to understand... ;)

Here are a few exemples of Bengal colours written in genetic code (considering they're all A- B- L- mzmz ) :

Brown spotted : C- D- ii Sp- T
Brown marbled : C- D- ii tbtb
Blue spotted : C- dd ii Sp- T
Black silver marbled : C- D- I- tbtb
Lynxpoint snow spotted : cscs D- ii Sp- T-
Black silver sepia snow marbled : cbcb D- I- tbtb

And so on... ;)

That's why sometime breeders get some colours they have some difficulties to determine, because silver snows are not VERY different from snows to the untrained eye, the same is true for silver blue... Also, you can have some dark sepias and light browns...

That's why understanding the genetics is important because usually you can work up the colour from the parents and grand parents ;)...

Edited to add pics.


Last edited by AnnC on Sat Mar 19, 2011 7:37 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 4:08 pm 
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The Boss
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Done...

Thank you for taking the time to write this Ann, very much appreciated! :wink:


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 4:20 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 4:27 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 1:05 am 
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good work AnnC, thanks :D


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 10:08 am 
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 9:06 am 
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 3:06 pm 
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Asian Leopard Cat

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You're right, sorry, I learned that with the ancient nomenclature and still didn't update :lol:

I'm editing the first post ;)


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2009 2:23 pm 
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2009 11:42 am 
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2009 3:20 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 4:48 pm 
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Tim and the Family Feline

Tigra, Azlan, Bilbo and Zion


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