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Classic Tabbies vs. Marble Bengals

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Right, I figured it'd be useful to make a thread about classic tabbies and marble bengals and the differences between the two.

Classic tabby is a pattern and can be found in lots of different breeds of cats (including your normal moggies).

The marble pattern in bengals started out as a variation of the classic tabby pattern. I.e the genes for the spotting reacted in an interesting and beautiful way with the classic tabby genes. People went oh wow that's a beautiful cat and lo and behold a new pattern was allowed in bengals.

Classic tabby is a pattern where instead of the stripes of a mackarel tabby you get thicker swirls running in a circular pattern on the cat's flank. It's really pretty. The pattern on the side is often called "a bulls eye".

In the marble bengals the pattern is more chaotic and the breeders are working hard at getting away from the bulls eye type pattern. The coat is usually clearer (not always though, there are for example some silver classic tabby American shorthairs that are really clear coated) it often has the bengal red rufous colouring in the coat and usually tricoloured. This is basically where the swirls have a dark outline and then a paler colour inside. Giving the cat three different colours in the coat. The background colour, the outline of the markings and the inside of the markings.

Of course marble bengals are also bengals so you'd expect to see puffy whisker pads, small ears, long body, thick tail and a demanding, active personality.

Photos! none of these are mine btw.

British shorthair brown classic tabby:

More british shorthairs

American shorthair, silver classic tabby

A simlar angle but this one is a marble bengal, the pattern has horizontal flow to it and the bulls eye pattern has been broken up. You can also see hints of a paler colour inside some of the pattern.

Another marble bengal with a very chaotic pattern and you can see the three colours easily

I'm not an expert though so please correct me if I've gone wrong but I figured it was worth it to get the conversation started.
post #2 of 17
My gorgeous girl, Penny, has the lighter coloring inside her marbling. It looks like several connected rufus spots that are outlined in dark brown.

post #3 of 17
Easiest way to explain is the classic tabby is a "bullseye" marking - rounded circles. The marbled tabby is a long horizonal type of marking. Kinda like you stretched out the bullseye and made it long and broken

Now with the Ocicat, the spotting on the sides should resemble a bullseye but not a definate one - just the illusion of the classic tabby pattern.
post #4 of 17
Here's another example of a Bengal marble. This is one of my early breedings........Kaibengals Minnie Chained Melody. This girl is an absolute knockout, with a one of kind heart shaped rosette on her rump.
Hope (from TCS) has her full sister, Angel.

post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
GingersMom - I'd been thinking of pm'ing you for pictures, thanks! She's so pretty.

Nial - Wow that's a stunning cat. And that rosetta awwww

Anyway I've found often now when talking to people a lot of them are aware of the bengal marble pattern but seem to not know that the classic tabby pattern exists and from that think that all classic tabbies are bengal mixes. I've run into that a few times now.
post #6 of 17
the classic tabby patteren is very known here in london UK yes you get on the other fourms my cat is a bengal because of the markings when infact his a dsh classic tabby. but some really dont want to hear this and still insist there a bengal or bengal mix. but does it really matter unless there reg? no you will still give them all the love you would anyway.
beautiful pictures by the way... one day.
post #7 of 17
Of course the spotted Bengals and spotted Oci's get called the opposite breed too
post #8 of 17
Here is Angel's picture with her marbled markings.

post #9 of 17
I've heard of instances where the classic tabby pattern has even appeared in Egyptian Maus. Some breeders refer to these cats as "marbles" as well. I'll try to drag up some good pictures. . . You can see one on this site:

I'd love to find a classic patterned mau to show in HHP one day. . .
post #10 of 17
Interesting (about the maus) - I've never heard of classic in them - must be a well kept "secret" in mau breeders!
post #11 of 17

I'm enjoying the discussion on tabbys. I wondered if this pic is clear enough for
you to make a guess as to what kind. He has short hair and very little undercoat.
He also has what reminds me of a butterfly pattern on the back of his neck.
post #12 of 17
Brown classic tabby domestic
post #13 of 17

So is there a spectrum of classic tabby to mackerel tabby, or are they distinct patterns? The brown tabby Bevy posted is definitely a classic tabby, with that bullseye marking, but he has some stripes as well, which are a good deal thicker than on a mackerel tabby--still, stripes rather than swirls.

post #14 of 17

All tabbies can have some striped areas, even pedigree cats can have a few incorrect markings so having more stripes on his leg than whatever you're comparing him to doesn't change his pattern - still classic tabby. 


Oci's can get stripes on the shoulders, they are still spotted cats, not mackeral patterned. You look at the whole pattern, not just one part. 

post #15 of 17

The people I work with call Egyptian Mau stripes, barring. These usually appear on the barrel, just behind the front legs. Selective breeding is needed to clear this up.

post #16 of 17

I thought with SBT Bengals it was unusual to see symmetrical markings?
With the first Bengal its hard to tell but its coat does seem very symmetrical from what I can see...
...the second clearly is not though, and has much better defined border and internal coloring of its body markings, which to me along with other features is classic SBT Bengal...

I am wondering if this is a common simple difference in filial generation... or maybe that I am simply wrong?!?

post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hey hey,


Marbled bengal cats are quite often somewhat symmetrical, it's more that the pattern on each side has that horizontal flow and not the circular bullseye pattern that you get in classic tabbies.


It really does depend on the cat how chaotic or strong the marbled pattern is. Same with if the lines are very bold and you don't see much of the border and internal colour or if that's very obvious in the cat, but yeah some breeders breed for the strong contrast between the markings and the undercoat, others go for very chaotic markings etc. the pattern can show up very differently just depending on the cats but I wouldn't read too much into symmetry.


Almost all the marbled cats are somewhat symmetrical if seen from above, same with the spotted tabbies as well really. It's just how patterns develop in cats.

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