The magnificent OCELOT (Leopardus pardalis) Photo by David Barstow
*Roman Bengals marble pattern breed goal
The marble pattern is one of the most spectacular patterns in bengal breed and in nature. The marble pattern develops more slowly and can take up to 2 years to see the final end "WOW" results of it's intricacies and it is well worth the wait.
Roman Bengals is dedicated to further improve this marble pattern in an attempt to recreate the exotic patterning found in great cats such as the margay, ocelot, king cheetah, clouded leopard and of course the marbled cat in our beloved bengal cats.
Marbling does not exist naturally in the Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) in which the bengal breed is derived from. The marble pattern was introduced by way of the domestic short hair cat when it was outcrossed to create the breed in the early years of breed development. It is a recessive trait that is carried genetically. Both parents have to carry the marble genes to produce marble kittens. For example two spotted bengals carrying the hidden genes of the marble can produce marble kittens as well as spotted kittens.
Below is a great diagram of the inheritance of the King Cheetah marbling, taken by Lesley Morgan Blythe while on safari in South Africa. This inheritance works exactly the same with the marble bengal and is much easier to understand when presented visually like this.
Copyrighted Photo by Lesley Morgan Blythe. Used with permission.
Below you can see the first marble bengal that emerged in the famous Millwood cattery owned by Jean (Sugden) Mill, creator of the marvelous bengal breed. The first marble appeared in 1987.
Note that this first marble bengal has no bullseye patterning. Not sure what I mean when I say bullseye....? Then keep reading to find out about the dreaded bullseye!
The classic bullseyed tabby pattern of the domestic short looks like the black and white illustration you see below. This is something WE DO NOT WANT TO SEE in our bengal cats. Unfortunately we see far too many marble bengals with this tabby cat bullseye type of patterning. This type of patterning gene is very strong and risistant and is very difficult to rid a breeding program of its' effects on the horizontal and diagonal flow that we strive to achieve. This is slowly changing though as bengal breeders are now realizing the incredible potential of the exotic marble bengal and are working hard to eliminate this trait. Some bengal breeders still utilize domestic shorthair cats for outrossing for new blood lines or to create silver bengals for example. This unfortunately allows the bullseye pattern to reinforce itself throughout the bengal breed working against our personal breed goal of ocelot patterning.
Through highly selective breeding, discipline and intense focus on our breed program we believe that we can achieve our goal of creating the fabulous marble patterns found in the exotic wildcats around the world like the Ocelot at the top of the page. Many people love the rosetted spotted bengals while disregarding the marble bengal completely. Some breeders even find the marble bengal cat a bad trait in which needs to be erradicated. That is UNTIL they see a highly exotic marble in person. Exotic marble bengals are much more exotic looking than a rosetted spotted bengal cat. Thankfully a few specialized breeders around the world, including Roman Bengals, have dedicated themselves to this magnificent variation of the bengal cat.
Some Terms you should know.....
There are many differences of marble patterns that we should address. Not all marbles look the same. Each and everyone is as unique as the personality of each cat is unique. Just as the King Cheetah has a different marbling pattern from that of the Margay, bengals too, have differences between thier marble pattern types. Nonetheless they are all still marble bengals and all beautiful but Roman Bengals has specific goals and wants these words associated with our marbles!
Chaining-Chaining is what we would call the marbling of a Margay or some Ocelot's like the one pictured at the beginning of this page. The pattern consists of a diagonal or horizontal flow of long rosetted type striping with black outlining almost looking like chain links.. This is the pattern we at Roman Bengals is focusing on.
Tri-Color- this refers to having 3 colors on the coat of the cat making up the marble patter. It usually consists of a light ground color, medium browns and mahoganies, etc, and an even darker border color around the medium color. To be considered a TRI COLORED marble bengal the colors must be distinctly different from eachother.
Quad-Color- is starting to be used more and more referring to marbles that have 4 distinct colors. The fourth color is usually white as it refers to the whited underbody of the tri-color marble. As the whited underbody genetics unfold themselves in our breeding programs you will see this term used more frequently. For now there are very few true Adult Whited Underbody bengals in existence though several breeders around the world are diligently working to bring this to fruition. Roman Bengals is fortunate enough to be a part of breeding whited underbodied bengals.
Horizontal and/or Diagonal Flow- This is what we look for in an exotic marble bengal pattern. The pattern is constructed with a literal flow from the upper shoulder to the back of the cat or from the upper shoulder to the lower hip of the marble bengal cat. If you look at this diagram here of Sutera Maju you can see more clearly. Thank you Marc King for this diagram. Thank you also to Carol at Sutera for the use of these photos of Sutera Maju!
More examples of Diagonal or Horizontal Pattern:
Awagati Moon Jelli of Queen Anne Cats a F2 snow marble shows us fantastic diagonal flow in her patterning. Superb! Thank you Gaynor of Queen Anne Cats for the use of this photo.
Our own Chloes Fire Spirit of Roman Bengals exhibiting diagonal flow in her marble pattern.
Our own ZenDada Sun Ray of Roman Bengals has a lovely horizontal flow in his stunning marble pattern.
More about Marble Bengals and Marble Patterning
Please click on the following links for more in depth information about marble bengal patterns.
- Dissecting the Marble Pattern by Julie Moseley of ZenDada Bengals .PDF
- Marble Bengal Terminology
- Marble Bengal Cats in a Rosetted Spot breeding program
- Pictures of various marble patterns that exist in wild cats around the world