Perhaps the most difficult color to work with as a Bengal breeder, is the silver variant. Accepted by TICA for championship status in May of 2004 and ACFA in May of 2007, quality silver Bengal cats are still rare in the show ring.
The Egyptian Mau was one of the many breeds used in the development of the Bengal. It is therefore, no surprise that we find many silver Early Generation cats. Later, the silver American Shorthair was incorporated to improve the clarity and contrast of the coat. The loving temperament of the ASH was also a welcome bonus. Now, the hard work begins as the breeder attempts to incorporate the attributes of the Mau and ASH, while still keeping the wild look, pattern, and body type as indicated by the Bengal breed standard.
Silver Bengals may be spotted or marbled. A "smoke" is a melanistic silver, and is therefore not eligible for championship status. Some breeders include Smokes in their silver programs if they are working on producing "charcoal silvers". Some smokes carry the charcoal gene, but some do not. It is important to locate a knowledgeable, well informed, reputable breeder if you are interested in adding a silver Bengal cat to your family or breeding program.
Silver Bengal Colors
What Is The Silver Inhibiter Gene?
The silver gene is not actually a color gene, but more accurately, a color "inhibitor" gene. That is to say, it inhibits the red/gold/brown melanin (pigment) of the hair shaft. An easy way to explain this gene is to compare it to humans. As we age, our natural color is “inhibited” and turns silver, gray, white! The silver Bengal, if you will, is born prematurely gray! Also, as with humans, The graying can be partially expressed (salt and pepper) or fully expressed. "Tarnish" is the term frequently used to describe brown and/or yellowish hairs that appear in areas where the inhibitor gene is not fully expressed. This is where it becomes hard for the breeder to produce cats with little to no tarnish, making the color and contrast very crisp. Commonly, tarnish is localized around the mussel, feet, or down the back, but may also present over the entire body. There are also a variety of hues associated with silvers, often referred to as soft or cold. As with all colors of Bengals, pelts change with age. Viewing the parents is the best measure in predicting the appearance of a kitten when mature.
How To know Your Bengal Is Silver
Since the silver gene inhibits the melanin, the roots of the hair shaft have no pigmentation, and should be snow white in color. To the uneducated eye, it is easy to confuse a cold brown or charcoal for a silver, as it is to miss name a silver snow for a snow (yes, there are snow lynx and snow mink silvers!). Because color changes on registration papers can only be changed once, it is imperative to make an accurate and knowledgeable assessment. The most reliable place to examine the hair shaft is the base of the tail, close to the backbone.
Gallery Of Silvers
Add A Little Shine In Your Life!
- Siver Snow
- Silver Charcoal
- Silver Blue