As with all CFA Breeds of cats, there are certain traits that tend to define a breed because of their uniqueness to the breed. In the case of the Bengal, we believe that these traits are:
MOST IMPORTANT DEFINING TRAITS:
1. Rosetted Spots for Pelt/Coat Pattern - these are a design in which the outer ring of color encircles the distinct inner color. The shapes and designs of these rosettes are unique and breeder inspiration is drawn from Jaguars, Leopards, Clouded Leopards, Snow Leopards, Margays etc. It is only the Bengal Cat who has this rosette spot design (Vs. Solid Spot Design) within the CFA cat breeds. Parts of the Pattern are:
Note: The marble pattern is also incredibly beautiful on a Bengal Cat but it is not the reason that this breed was developed or nearly as popular.
2. Pelt/Coat Texture - There is an unusual softness to the Bengal coat. Luxurious Silk Satin feel that sometimes comes with a glossy/lacquered/glass like finish that shows off their musculature. Stiff coats are less desireable
3. Smaller head - In comparison to the body of the Bengal, the head is ideally smaller and longer (than wider). This includes adult males.
4. Skull & Profile curve - No flat planes is ideal - Almost a convex curve from the tip of the nose through the forehead and over the back of their skull. (No large brow ridge)
5. Larger Rounded Eyes - remind us their nocturnal ancestor to help them to hunt at night.
6. Elongated Vertebrae - The vertebrae of the bengal are longer than most all domestic cat breeds. It starts from the base of the head and goes to the tip of the tail. It creates a very movable tail in a Bengal who can use the tip to flip it's tail back and forth looking like a lure to it's prey. Vertebrae are more rectangle than square. The Bengals ALC ancestors sleep in trees which has given them this elongated spine.
7. Muscled Body - Their muscular body and short lying pelt creates a cat where you can see the muscle movement on a Bengal without necessarily having to hold them.
8. Low set tail - The base of the tail is set lower than the back of the cat. Like all cats, a happy Bengal can hold their tail high but there is still a difference of where the base of the tail is coming from.
9. Glitter - The clear part of within some shafts of the hairs in the Bengal that refract light giving their pelt a sparkle effect under certain lighting - especially seen in natural light.
10. Ocelli - Light thumbprint size patches on the back of the ear remind us of their wild ancestry.
11. Puffy Whisker Pads - This is a trait that helps to make the face of a Bengal more wild looking.
12. Dexterous Tail - Thick and with longer vertebrae than most domestic cats, they can use the tip of their tail like a lure - flicking it back and forth to attract their prey to come closer.
(Not consistently seen/bred for yet by the majority of CFA Bengal Breeders):
1. Lighter colored to White - Spectacles/Goggles - Not just on the charcoals, but the lighter ring of fur around the eye is desirous for some Bengal Breeders. It is more dramatic in Bengals than other Tabby breeds and reminds us of our wild ancestor the ALC.
2. Lighter or Whited bellies and inside of legs - This is a unique trait to the Bengal that correlates to our ALC ancestor and a few other wild cats species (but not all of them).
Note: it is incorrect to believe that a whited belly correlates to sleeping in trees as some species like the Tiger have a whited belly yet are not tree dwelling cats.
3. Primordial Pouch - This is a extra amount of loose skin and fur that hangs from their stomachs. If a Bengal has this trait, it is easily seen even before they are pregnant and not due to the deflation of the stomach after birthing kittens. (it is theorized to be the result of a need to gorge themselves on food when each very large meals)
4. Long Toes (Fingers) - Bengals can use their front toes nimbly - similar to the way that humans use fingers vs. their toes. The front toes/fingers on a Bengal are usually longer (matching their elongated spine) which allows them to catch, play and paw at desired items with unusual dexterity.
5. Webbed Feet/Paws - Many Bengals have webbed feet that come from their ALC ancestor's use of water for fishing, swimming and body elimination functions.
6. Shoulder Blade slicing movement - Bengals love to prowl and often walk low to the ground, this gives a scissor like action with their shoulder blades that is distinct from other cat breeds.