CFA Bengal Terminology
Cat Fanciers Association
This is a way for all of the Bengal Enthusiasts in CFA to use words that are in alignment with dictionary definitions as well as used consistency in the CFA Bengal Standard. This current list of terms still needs to be reviewed by the breed council. If you are a Bengal breed council member (or CFA Judge), please forward your comments to Teresa at
2019 Proposed CFA Bengal Definitions:
CLOUDED LEOPARD PATTERN: I found it interesting that many of us have different ideas when describing a "Clouded Leopard Pattern". Some of these differences are parts of most important aspects of the Clouded Leopard pattern which are:
1. Block/Chunk style of shape (Rosetted Spots are not as circular)
2. Less ground color as far as space is concerned (Rosette Spots make up a significant majority of their Pelt/Coat).
3. Larger Rosettes (for Bengals, I've heard this referred to as either large pancake/circular or large block style)
4. Vertical Rosettes - Often rectangular that can go from near the top of the spine to their belly.
5. Ombre Shading - This is where the tone color of the inner part of a rosette starts darker and graduates to a lighter shade at the color progresses throughout the inner rosette.
COAT- This is the fur and skin that the Bengal Cat wears (Aka: Pelt)
DEFINING BENGAL TRAIT: These are the most popular traits that are mostly unique to the Bengal Cat Breed.
Silk Satin Pelt/Coat Texture
Large Nocturnal Eyes
Long muscular body
EAR DIRECTION: Viewing a cat from their frontal view, Bengal kittens have ear directions that are more vertical. As the kitten ages, the ear direction moves towards the side of the face but not usually equally on the side as on top (as Ear Placement is described). Example: Ear direction is currently written in the 2019 Bengal Standard from the Profile point-of-view as "slight tilt forward in profile view".
EAR PLACEMENT: This solely has to do with the placement of the base of the ears. It is separate from Ear Direction.
EAR SHAPE: This describes the shape of the ear, not the size.
EAR SIZE: The 2019 standard starts with "Medium to Small...".
GENOTYPE (aka: Type or Typey) - also see "Phenotype": Oxford dictionary definition of this word is:
"the genetic constitution of an individual organism."
For Bengals, it's important to note that when we are talking about "typey" cats, we should also be including the qualities of their Pelt as these are also part of the genetic identity of each cat species.
GLITTER: Translucent hair shafts where air is trapped at the tip of a peice of fur causing it to refract light when in good outdoor style lighting.
HEAD SHAPE: This includes both boning of the skull as well as soft tissues like the Nose and whisker pads.
JAGUAR ROSETTES: This style of rosettes are generally larger and also have a spots inside some of the Bengals rosettes.
LYNX: This word is generally used in combination with "Point" in reference to the Bengals that have two Siamese Colorpoint color alleles. It's important to note that CFA uses "TABBY" interchangeably with "LYNX". This is why you don't see the word "TABBY" added to any "Lynx Point" color description - it's already stated by using the word "Lynx".
MIDNIGHT CHARCOAL: This is simply a marketing term for us and our clients to be able to better describe the Charcoals that are Apb/a. These cats can often differ in color from the Twilight Charcoals. This color style usually has more drama to them - Darker tones, no browns, wider cape, high contrasted facial markings etc.
PELT - This is the fur and skin that the Bengal Cat wears (Aka: Coat)
PHENOTYPE (aka: Type or Typey) - also see "Genotype": Oxford dictionary definition of this word is:
"the set of observable characteristics of an individual resulting from the interaction of its genotype with the environment."
For Bengals, it's important to note that when we are talking about "typey" cats, we should also be including the qualities of their Pelt as these are also unique to certain Rosette spotted and Solid Spotted cat species. If we would start using additional descriptors when we discuss "type", it would be helpful to everyone. It is not only about structure.
ROSETTE SPOT aka: ROSETTED - This is one of the "Two toned" spots that can be seen on Bengals, Jaguars, Ocelots, Leopards etc. Like a rose, the outer ring encircles the inner color. Patterns can be: Clustered (Paw Prints and Broken outer rings), Donut, Pancake, Clouded, Jaguar (Rosette with solid spot inside) etc. For the Bengal, Rosettes are the #1 defining trait.
We could go one step further and suggest that two toned spots where only one side of the spot has the 2nd color (often seen as a 1/2 moon shape) is not a rosette as it doesn't meet the definitions below and is not as desired as the patterns where the darker color encircles the inner color/shade.
Definition of rosette - (Merriam Webster Dictionary online)
1 : an ornament usually made of material gathered or pleated so as to resemble a rose and worn as a badge of office, as evidence of having won a decoration (such as the Medal of Honor), or as trimming
2 : a disk of foliage or a floral design usually in relief used as a decorative motif
3 : a structure or color marking on an animal suggestive of a rosette especially : one of the groups of spots on a leopard
4 : a cluster of leaves in crowded circles or spirals arising basally from a crown (as in the dandelion) or apically from an axis with greatly shortened internodes (as in many tropical palms)
5 : a food decoration or garnish in the shape of a rose
SKULL - Refers only to the boning of the head of a Bengal. It does not include soft tissues/cartelage like Nose and Whisker pads.
SOLID SPOT- This is where spots are a single color. Rosette Spotted Bengals will have these on their toes, feet, legs and tail and can also have a few randomly placed on their coat. Cats with completely Solid Spot Patterns are what is seen in Ocicats, Egyptian Maus and were most common when Bengals first came into the cat fancy. (Note: The term "single spot" has also used for this description but since a Bengal with solid spots has many more than one single spot, it is more gramatically correct to call them solid spots.
TWILIGHT CHARCOAL: This is simply a marketing term for us and our clients to be able to better describe the Charcoals that are Apb/Apb. These cats can often differ in color from the Midnight Charcoals and are more like the Iriotmote Cats (Subspecies of the ALC). This color style usually has less drama to them - browns/reds can be seen at times, less dramatic cape, less highly contrasted facial markings. Since this Charcoal Bengal has 2 of the ALC Apb Alleles, it is arguably more authentic to the wild ancestor and should not be held in less esteem than their more dramatic counterparts.
TWO TONED SPOT- This includes all cats that are rosetted and adds in cats with a few additional designs where the outer ring does not encircle the inner color/pattern. These are most commonly seen as Arrowhead Spots (where only one side of the spot has the outer ring color as well as all those mentioned in the Rosette Spot definition) Arrowhead spots can be either two toned or a single tone as defined in the "Solid Spot" term above.
TYPE (aka: Typey)- Breed Type is the whole of the characteristics that are typical of a breed of domesticated animal. Breed type may include details of form or color that are not directly related to the economic value of the animal, and are usually defined in breed standards. Wikipedia 2019
Please also refer to the full words for "Phenotype" and "Genotype"