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Charcoal Genetic    
Charcoal is not a new color. In fact, it's one of the oldest colors natural to the Bengal. However, for years, it has been unknowingly bred out of the Bengal pedigree. Why? Because for this beautiful color to come to fruit, a recessive gene is required, one that is not approved in the Bengal Standard set by the breed's forefathers. This gene is called Non-Agouti, which you can read about in detail on our Charcoal Genetics 101 section. In short, that unapproved gene allows the Charcoal gene to show it's true colors. And because, until recently, no one had linked the necessity of the Non-Agouti gene to the production of Charcoals. In fact, until recently, most breeders didn't know Charcoal itself was its own color!

In the past, many thought that Charcoals were merely dark shades of Brown, or Silver, or Snow. Some are still mistaken as such – the lighter shaded ones, usually by those not familiar with Charcoal. This is also because the term 'charcoal' was used to describe a particularity dark shade of brown. As of yet, Charcoal is not an official color in the TICA registration, making it harder for breeders less acquainted with the color to say what is and isn't Charcoal. However, those who love this unique color, along with the TICA geneticist, are looking into and pushing for Charcoals to be recognized and registered as they are.

Another setback to this beautiful color was that, in previous years, the Bengal Standard's view on the color brown. In it, rufus – which is a bright, warm brown – was preferred. This pushed the cool-colored Charcoal browns out of the cat show limelight. Good news, though, is that in recent years, the Standard has been reviewed, and that preference has been taken out. Charcoals browns, as well as other shades, are making a comeback in the show hall!

Charcoal Genetik

Right now it is theorized (with agreement from TICA's Geneticist) that Charcoals have a separate gene type than that of regular colored Bengals. The Asian Leopard cat is the contributor of this gene, which is why charcoals are seen more often in higher generations.

Let's break it down.

Agouti is the gene that controls fur pattern and shading. (It's labled 'A' or 'a' in genetics.) To put it simply, 'A' is the regular patterned expression, and 'a' is the melanistic contributor. If you have AA you have a cat that has regular color and does not carry melanistic, Aa is a regular color that does carry, and of course, aa is a melanistic.

Now, the ALC gene effects the A (note this - that means it's really a pattern and shade, and not a color). We call this A1. It is theorized that because ALC's don't come across the domestic cat 'a' gene, it isn't accustomed to it and can't block it out completely. Where a normal Aa Bengal would look like any other (and carry melanistic), a A1a Bengal is one where the melanistic gene shows through the partly-dominate A1 - and there you have it! Charcoal! That also means that ALL charcoals carry for melanistic - most likely one of the reasons they are so rare, because most breeders try to breed melanistic out of their lines, which eliminates Charcoal as well.
  So lets put this information towards carrying and litters. An A1A Bengal (regular-looking Bengal but with one charcoal gene, and not carrying melanistic) is a 'carrier'.(Also note that some charcoal 'carriers' may have the typical charcoal 'markers' - see below - but not the charcoal's unique color. This is a good way to spot a carrier!) Another way that it can be carried is to be A1A1 - and the only way to get this is to pair a charcoal with a charcoal and have a regular-looking kitten... who would be a 'carrier' with both genes. Charcoals - A1a - also have to carry for melanistic to be a charcoal. (Note this also - that means that any regular-color Bengal that produces and therefore carries for melanistic can't carry charcoal - because otherwise they would be a charcoal themselves!)

Alternatively, there is one other way to produce charcoal. If you pair a Charcoal with a regular carrying for melanistic (which is Aa) or a melanistic itself (aa)... the charcoal parent could take that recessive 'a' and make A1a kittens.

There is also one way to assure entire litters of only charcoal. If you take an A1A1 (that normal-looking kitten from two charcoals) and pair it with an aa (a melanistic)... every kitten will be A1a, charcoal!


Click below on the DNA strand to the possible outcomes of throwing combinations in PDF - see format.


Charcoal Gene


Note: Thanks to Terra Sinclair and TICA geneticist Dr. Pflueger for above Charcoal gene theories.

All content, text and images are the property and were made available by Naamah Bengals.

Please contact me to obtain my permission to copy the information or photos, because I take the time and effort to explain our unique and Charcoals seriously. To erhalten.Copyright by naamahbengals.tripod.com
The Markers

Charcoal bengals have a few markers that set them apart from normal Bengals, aside from their base color difference. The first marker is the dark mask - almost every charcoal bengal has darker fur from their forehead down to their nose, and around their cheeks. If it has a normal light face, it's probably not a charcoal! The second marker is the thick back stripe. Charcoals have a thick, shaded strope down their back, obscuring their normal Bengal back stripe.

(Exception-see "Snow" below)
  Every once in a while there is a charcoal line that dosen't have the stripe or dark face, though that is less prefered than their darker, more striking cousins.

A common occurrence in litters from charcoal lines are 'charcoal expression' kittens. These kittens have the dark back stripe of a charcoal, and sometimes the dark face, but have a bright backround color and are not charcoal.
Charcoal Glitter

Most charcoals that I know of are glittered, with silver glitter. This includes the brown charcoals. It's not known why brown charcoals have silver glitter (less like the crystal glitter of silvers and snows, more like mercury) and not gold glitter, but that seems to be the case in most instances.

Different Starts ?

Sometimes charcoal brown kittens are born looking silver, because of their jet black markings and light background, with no hint of brown. As they grow, their background color will be more gray, or silver-gray. One way to make sure the kitten isn't silver is to look at the kitten’s undercoat color - if it is not pure white, it is not a silver cat. Also, if neither parent is silver, the kitten cannot be silver. I have never had a 'white' charcoal, only 'black'.

Some charcoal kittens are born so dark that they almost look melanistic, but they will have a lighter color on the face, belly, and sometimes the legs. These are the 'black charcoals'. They are not melanistic - melanistic cats are all black from head to toe. These kittens backgrounds lighten up as they grow.

Click on the thumbnail image to see a full timeline of Growing-Up-Charcoal-Silver, featuring Mercury At Midnight - a good example of both 'black' charcoal at birth and of the 'dirty fuzzies'.
  Also below is an example of a semi-dark charcoal brown, and a 'black' charcoal silver as kittens. Both kittens grew up to look like regular contrasted charcoals.

Different Starts
Charcoal Dark Phase

I have noticed, at least in my charcoal silver kittens, that there is a 'dark phase' starting at the same time other kittens have their light fuzzies. The coat looses all contrast, becoming dark and dirty-looking.

They look like a bad smoke, but at around 8 weeks, they start clearing up and their background lightens drastically. Scroll up to the growing-up-charcoal timeline photo for a good example.
 
 
         
 
     

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