The Silver Bengal cat, a highly prized variant of the Bengal family, has a remarkable blend of wild appearance and domestic temperament.
It’s dazzling coat, highlighted by its silver hue, takes the allure of the Bengal breed to another level.
Below, we will delve into the Silver Bengal’s origins, genetic makeup, physical characteristics, rarity, and market pricing.
Origins of the Silver Bengal
Bengal cats were initially created by crossbreeding domestic felines with wild Asian Leopard Cats in the 1960s.
By the early 1990s, the Bengal cat had reached skyrocketing popularity and received official recognition from The International Cat Association (TICA). However, it wasn’t until the end of the 20th century that the Silver Bengal made its entrance, credited largely to the work of breeder Judy Sugden, daughter of Jean Sugden Mill, who was one of the pioneers in the Bengal breed.
Contrary to popular misconceptions, the Silver Bengal did not emerge from crossbreeding a Bengal with a Russian Blue. Instead, it is the product of a Bengal-American Shorthair blend, possibly influenced by the Egyptian Mau.
This silver-toned marvel was officially incorporated into the Bengal breed by TICA in 2004.
Silver Bengal Breeding and Genetics
Silver Bengals owe their unique color to a complex interaction between multiple genes.
Originally, the Egyptian Mau contributed to the silver coat of Early Generation Bengals. However, to improve clarity, contrast, and temperament, breeders later incorporated the American Shorthair into the gene pool.
The ‘agouti silver gene’ mutation is responsible for the distinct silver hue, affecting the distribution of pigment in the fur. Some Silver Bengals possess a special “inhibitor” gene, which ensures that the base of their hair shaft remains snow-white, offering an astonishing sheen under bright light.
What Do Silver Bengal Cats Look Like?
There is no doubt that silver bengals are beautiful.
From a color spectrum that spans silver lynx to silver mink and silver sepia, the variants are impressively diverse. These cats can be spotted, marbled, or even have dark rosettes on their silver base coat.
Another awe-inspiring feature is the coat’s “glitter,” consisting of golden-colored flecks that shine magnificently when exposed to light. However, not all that glitters is gold. While contrast is crucial in a Silver Bengal’s coat, any yellowish or brownish discoloration—known as “tarnish”—is undesirable, as it takes away from the feline’s striking contrast.
How Common Are Silver Bengals?
While the traditional brown and dark-colored Bengals are fairly common, the Silver Bengal is a much rarer find.
Its scarcity has led to a robust and growing demand among cat enthusiasts.
Breeders often have long waiting lists filled with eager prospective owners, reinforcing the Silver Bengal’s status as a highly sought-after domestic cat. This scarcity can be attributed to the complexity involved in breeding for the unique silver hue while maintaining other essential Bengal traits like coat pattern and body structure.
How Much Do Silver Bengal Cats Cost?
A rarity often comes with a price, and the Silver Bengal is no exception.
Potential owners can expect to pay anywhere between $1,500 to $5,000 for one of these cats, which is the upper range of the price for bengals.
Factors that influence this high pricing range include the cat’s age, overall health, pedigree, and specific coat characteristics. Some breeders also price the cat based on its “glitter” quality, as this is considered a particularly desirable trait.
The investment doesn’t just stop at the initial purchase price; given the Silver Bengal’s unique coat and potential for “tarnish,” ongoing grooming and specialized care may also contribute to the overall cost of ownership.
The Silver Bengal, with its intricate genetic heritage and stunning physical characteristics, represents a pinnacle in the art of cat breeding. Its scarcity and the cost associated with it make it one of the most highly coveted felines in the modern world.
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