We are asked quite frequently to
explain what traits make a Bengal a Bengal. "Type" is a term used to
describe those traits that make any animal qualified to be categorized as
part of its breed. "Type" is that set of characteristics that
differentiate a Bengal from other cats which may also have spots.
Although an Egyptian Mau, Ocicat and Savannah are all spotted cats, they
should look VERY different from a Bengal. "Type" is that set of
individual traits which makes up an Egyptian Mau or Bengal or Savannah as
different breeds. Overall "type" means that you can look at a cat and
know it is an Egyptian Mau or an Ocicat or a Savannah vs. a Bengal.
So what is "type" in a Bengal?
The main focus for items that make up Bengal type are outlined in our breed
standard. This is a set of individual traits which were agreed to by
the Bengal breeders and voted on by the parent club of our breed. This
is the set of traits that judges use to evaluate individuals in the show
ring. It is also the set of traits which are used to judge the quality
of kittens or members of our breeding populations in a cattery. Cats
that produce kittens that closely resemble the desired traits are more
highly prized and valued vs. those that resemble it to a lesser degree.
The breed standard is the "yardstick" against which all Bengals should be
What is Show Quality?
A kitten that is considered "show"
quality is a kitten that VERY closely represents almost all of the traits in
the breed standard. These kittens are very hard to produce as a
breeder. They represent years of work and selection for cats of
certain traits. Putting those cats together in such a way that they
compliment each other. We desire that their offspring produce the best traits of
both parents and do not produce the faults of either parent. Typically
this takes years of work and experimentation and sometimes heartbreak. A
breeder usually wants these kittens to be placed in show homes so that their
hard work is demonstrated to other breeders, validating their breeding
program. Once in a while, a breeder will place one of these highly
prized kittens in a pet situation. They will be the most highly sought
after and highly priced of available kittens. Understanding the
reasons behind this are important in understanding the appropriateness of
*** Note: Just because someone on
the internet classifies a kitten as "show" quality does not make it so.
Before you pay the "show" price, take some time to ask the tough questions
about what the breeder believes qualifies this kitten as that quality.
Any good breeder will be happy to discuss these things with you.
Otherwise, they are simply classifying the kitten as show quality based on
the markings. Markings are important, but again, there are MANY
spotted cats out there. Learning what makes a Bengal a Bengal will
teach your eye what traits are important to YOU in your
new family member.
I am placing some breed information in
the form of a PowerPoint file here so that anyone desiring it, can educate
themselves on what makes up a show quality kitten vs. a breeder quality
kitten vs. a pet quality kitten. In summation, it is the number of
traits that adhere closely to the breed standard.
What is Breeder Quality?
Breeder Quality is a cat with enough excellent
points that it is valued to pass them onto another generation. It
probably has one or several traits that are not extremely "flashy" which is
desired for the show ring. There are so many cats in competition that
it really must be the "Best of the Best" to be shown. So, things like
pattern or contrast or profile or eye shape or tail carriage might keep a
cat from placing well in the show ring. But if the remaining elements
are excellent, it would be a valued member of a breeding program. Two
non disqualifying, non-severe faults typically means Breeder Quality.
This could be things like pattern anomalies such as vertical markings, rib
bars, eye color, eye shape, ear size and shape, etc...
What is Pet Quality?
Pet Quality is a very wide ranging category. It
can mean that a kitten or cat has more than two show faults but the rest of
the kitten is excellent in quality. Or it may mean that the kitten has
no qualities that should be passed on to progeny such as lockets (white
markings), tail faults or is a non showable color such as blue or melanistic
(black). So, as you can see,
just because a kitten is pet quality does not mean that it is not beautiful.
You need to ask lots of questions about what traits makes this kitten Pet
Quality vs. Breeder Quality. It may mean that the kitten is just as
beautiful as a show kitten, but does not have the required love of showing.
So ask questions!