Hampton Yukon of Foothill Felines, rosetted seal mink Bengal male at 5 months old.
Yukon is a grandson of our own QCH Foothill Felines Mochamelo.
Photo by Tammie Ekkelboom.
On this page, we will discuss a little about the genetics and history of the SNOW BENGAL. Plus, we've included lots and lots of pictures!! Most of the pictures on this page are of snow Bengals that we've bred here at Foothill Felines over the years, and are photos taken by their owners and sent to us as their babies have grown. However, a few of these beautiful snow Bengal cats are not of our breeding, and we will note such. Thank you to all of you who have shared your pictures with us!! These photos are all clickable; just click on any image for a larger view.
SEAL LYNXPOINT SPOTTED SNOW BENGALS
The story of the snow Bengal begins with the start of the Bengal Cat breed itself.
The Asian Leopard Cat, which is the foundation wild cat for this breed, has no doubt had many naturally occurring breedings with domestic cats over the course of many decades and centuries.
However, we really owe the development of this incredibly successful domestic breed of cat, the Bengal, to Jean Sugden Mill. She
actively bred her female Asian leopard cat to her short-haired, black domestic male, and recorded the results of this breeding, and the subsequent breeding of the daughter back to the father, and so on. Male offspring of the Asian Leopard Cat to a domestic cat (considered F-1 generation, or sometimes referred to as
"filial" or "foundation" cats) are always sterile, and males two and three generations from the ALC/domestic cross (F-2 and F-3 generations) are almost always sterile.
Originally begun in 1963, the development of the Bengal breed had to be put on hold until the late 1970's, when Jean Mill became actively involved again. It was believed about that time that the leopard cats themselves may have developed a natural immunity to feline leukemia, and this important theory warranted more research.
More leopard cats and their eventual offspring were added to the gene pool, and the Bengal breed was underway.
Even early on, there would
appear in some of the litters white kittens, with blue eyes, that
would develop varying degrees of spotting as they grew older.
This was the first type of snow Bengal, and is known as the "Seal Lynxpoint" snow Bengal. This
type of snow Bengal has the colorpoint gene often found in the Siamese genepool; obviously, one or more of the many domestic cats used in the early days of the Bengal breed carried this recessive colorpoint gene.
All snow Bengals are actually derivations of the very same albino gene often found in Nature, which can show up in many wild species. In its full expression, the albino gene will cause the individual to be white-haired and have pink eyes.
GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT OF FOOTHILL FELINES MYA, SEAL LYNXPOINT SPOTTED BENGAL FEMALE
About a decade later,
in the late 1980's, two other Bengal breeders, Gene Johnson (Gogees cattery) and
Bob Dundon (Nola cattery) began breeding for a different type of snow Bengal. By
introducing the Burmese domestic cat genepool into their breeding programs, they were
hoping to obtain a more vibrant color and additional contrast to their snows, and thus began
the development of "Seal Mink" and "Seal Sepia" snow Bengals. Sepias and Minks are considered genetically different from each other,
as well as from Lynxpoints; therefore, each type of snow is classified as a separate division within the Bengal breed itself.
This is because the Mink has to inherit a copy of each of the lynxpoint/colorpoint and the Burmese/sepia genes. The Sepia must inherit two copies of the Burmese/sepia gene, while
the Lynxpoint inherits two copies of the lynxpoint/colorpoint gene.
QCH Foothill Felines Mochamelo, female seal mink spotted snow Bengal.
A seal mink snow Bengal is usually a green-eyed snow Bengal, born light beige in color, with the markings developing to be a medium brown color. A seal sepia snow Bengal is usually gold to green eyed, and born medium to dark brown in color, with the markings developing to be even darker. The foundation cat to look for in Bengal pedigrees is "Nola Kotton Pickin of Gogees", now recognized as the foundation sire for the seal mink and seal sepia snows. What we've been discussing is just a small portion of the genetics involved with snow Bengals. The term "seal" actually refers to the expression of color within the pattern ... the pattern in this discussion being either "lynxpoint", "mink" or "sepia". There can also be other colors within these 3 snow Bengal divisions, PLUS each of these divisions can be expressed with either of the two patterns included within the Bengal breed: spotted, or marbled.
Nola Kotton Pickin of Gogees, foundation cat for sepia and mink snow Bengals.
Kotton was bred by Bob Dundon; owned by Gene Ducote. Photo courtesy of Gene Ducote.
Sometimes, there cam be confusion as to whether or not a Bengal kitten might be a snow Bengal or, which kind of snow Bengal, or in fact, be some other color.
Lynxpoint snow Bengals are the ONLY type of Bengal to retain a clear blue eye color as adults. If the kitten in question grows up and keeps the blue eye color (and all else is genetically correct), this would have to be a lynxpoint snow kitten.
If the kitten's eyes change color from blue, and there are NO Burmese in the kitten's pedigree, then you can know for sure that the kitten is NOT a snow Bengal.
SEAL MINK SPOTTED SNOW BENGALS
We should point out that any of the genes (lynxpoint or sepia) which create snow Bengals are recessive genes; and as is true with any recessive gene (other examples of "recessive" genes include, but are not limited to: marble; long-hair; dilute colors; glitter), this gene can be carried recessively for many generations before it may actually show up in a kitten(s). In other words, one may have a traditional leopard spotted Bengal and that Bengal may carry all kinds of recessive genes, including either the lynxpoint/colorpoint or sepia/Burmese genes, without anyone being aware of this. (Note: if the cat actually carried TWO of the same or related recessive genes, the cat itself would be expressing those traits; i.e., if a Bengal cat carried two recessive genes for snow, the cat would actually BE a snow Bengal.)
GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT OF FOOTHILL FELINES MAUI, SEAL MINK SPOTTED BENGAL MALE
In order to produce a snow Bengal, (the same is true with marble Bengals, or any type of Bengal expressing a recessive trait), both parents must either carry or express either the lynxpoint/colorpoint gene or the sepia/Burmese gene. And one of the most interesting parts about these recessive traits is that, if both parents express a recessive trait (i.e., if both parents are a marble, or a snow, or have long hair, or are a dilute color, or even express more than one known recessive trait ...) then their offspring will ALWAYS also express those recessive traits. A great example of this that pertains to snow Bengals, is when a snow marble male is bred to a snow marble female. In that scenario, the entire litter of kittens will all be snow marbles. What color snow marble they will be will depend upon other factors.
SEAL MINK MARBLED SNOW BENGALS (MALES)
If one parent is a seal
sepia and one parent is a seal mink, their litter of kittens should be 50% seal sepia and 50% seal mink!! Additionally, if one parent is
seal mink, and the other is seal lynxpoint, you will statistically be likely to get a litter that is 50% seal mink and 50% seal lynxpoint!!
and her 3 one-week-old daughters.
From left to right: 1 spotted seal mink, 1 spotted blue lynxpoint, and 1 spotted seal lynxpoint. This litter is out of a spotted seal lynxpoint queen and a spotted seal mink sire. Both these parents carried the dilute color "blue", which was then expressed in one of the kittens. The seal mink kitten received one lynxpoint/colorpoint gene from her mother (who, as a lynxpoint herself, could only pass on this snow gene), and one sepia/Burmese gene from her father. The two lynxpoint daughters received one lynxpoint/colorpoint gene from their mother and also one from their father. Because their father is a seal mink snow, he carries a copy of both the lynxpoint/colorpoint and the sepia/Burmese snow genes, and therefore could pass on either one to each of his offspring.
What happens if you are
planning to breed two full color (say, leopard spotted or marbled)
Bengals, yet you know from their pedigrees that each has the recessive
gene for snow Bengal
if the recessive gene on both sides
is for seal lynxpoint, you will get a litter that is 25% full
color; 50% full color carrying the recessive gene for seal lynxpoint,
and 25% actual seal lynxpoint kittens!!
MORE SNOW BENGALS
People often wonder, can
they enter their SBT (SBT stands for "stud book tradition", which is a cat fancier term denoting
full breed status) snow Bengal in a TICA cat show?? Of course!!
Snow Bengals are highly popular in cat shows, and can be shown in the tabby division, by their color
and pattern. Snow Bengals are a very valuable part of the Bengal
cat breed, and are beloved by many for their classic beauty and
timeless elegance. Currently, the following snow Bengal colors/patterns are included in the Bengal Breed Standard, and
are eligible to be entered into cat shows hosted by any of the cat fancier registrations which recognize the Bengal Cat:
Seal Lynxpoint Spotted; Seal Lynxpoint Marbled; Silver Lynxpoint Spotted; Silver Lynxpoint Marbled; Seal Mink Spotted; Seal Mink Marbled;
Silver Mink Spotted; Silver Mink Marbled; Seal Sepia Spotted; Seal Sepia Marbled; Silver Sepia Spotted; Silver Sepia Marbled.
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