Some cat breeds seem so similar that telling them apart can be somewhat difficult. However, some cats have defining features that make it easier to tell them apart from others. One of these features is the “M” on cats’ foreheads, and prospective owners may wonder if Bengal cats have these markings.
Bengal cats do have an “M” on their forehead. This is due to the fact that they are part of a wider selection of cats known as tabbies, which are further divided into subcategories based primarily on their coat patterns. Other cat breeds like Maine Coons also have this “M” on their foreheads.
Understanding the differences between cat breeds and the main characteristics of a Bengal will ensure you will be able to distinguish them from other tabby breeds. Below, we go into more detail about this “M” on Bengal cats’ foreheads, and discuss other breeds that also have this marking.
The classic “M” marking on cats’ foreheads serves to distinguish them as tabby cats. Several explanations steeped in folklore can be found regarding this distinct marking. However, it’s simply a result of genetics, and is present in many cat breeds with tabby coats.
According to a Christian tale the “M” is believed to be a reward from Mary, given to a cat that snuggled up against Jesus in his cradle when he was an infant to keep him warm. Muslim folklore believes it was a mark of reward given to a cat that killed a poisonous snake that was trying to attack the prophet Muhammad. Others assert the marking stands for “mau”, the ancient Egyptian word for cat.
However, the truth is that it is due to genetics and the three gene variants that can actually be found in every cat, irrespective of breed. Geneticists also believe the striped patterns these cats have may be as a result of their sojourn in the wild before they became domesticated. This is due to the fact that several wild cats also possess them, since they serve as an effective camouflage.
A tabby cat is a feline that has a coat featuring stripes and/or spots. While they are commonly considered to be a specific breed, they are not. The truth is that this distinct pattern can be found on the coats of cats belonging to different breeds, and so tabby just refers to the coat pattern.
The fur on classic tabby cats appears in dark whorls with a bold bull’s eye on either side, set against a paler background. The result is often considered to be reminiscent of a marble cake, and cats with this coat pattern are also known as marbled cats.
Cats in this category happen to be the most common kind of tabby. They tend to have the usual “M” shape on their foreheads as well as a dark line running from their eyes, with another down their spine.
The dark line that runs along their backs also has other stripes that flow from it down their bodies in continuous or broken streaks. It is owing to the resulting visual effect which is somewhat similar to a fish skeleton that these cats are referred to as mackerel tabbies. They are often referred to as tiger tabbies as well.
These cats tend to resemble mackerel tabbies, although the lines that run perpendicular to their bodies are frequently broken into spots which may vary in appearance, and may be round or oval, or even take the form of rosettes.
There are two main breeds in which this spotted pattern tends to appear. They include the Bobtail, which is also known for its trademark stubby tail, and the Ocicat, which is often thought to resemble wildcats, especially the ocelot.
Unlike other tabbies, pets in this category possess hairs which show bands of color reflected in their coat. Also known as agouti hairs, they result in fur which seems to be a solid color with darker and lighter hues seamlessly flowing into each other.
However, a closer look may reveal the same stripes present in other tabbies, albeit much fainter. That said, they may have visible markings on their limbs and their tails. This coat pattern can be found in Abyssinians and Somalis.
All Bengals do have an “M” on their forehead, as they are all tabbies. They tend to have coats that come in a classic or spotted pattern and also have spots on their abdomens. Bengals’ coats tend to come in three main colors: brown, silver, and white.
Their stripes or rosettes always contrast with the background, which is always lighter. Spots and bands are always present on their tails, which end in a darker color than the base hue of their coat.
Now we’ve established that all Bengals are tabbies but not all tabbies are Bengals, what other unique features does the breed possess?
Bengals can remind you of a wild cat with their distinct rosettes and tawny coats. And the truth is that they actually have wild origins, being descendants of an Asian leopard cat and a tomcat (an act of interbreeding carried out to ensure a domestic pet which possessed the beauty of the feral feline).
They are generally marbled or spotted tabbies and are rather muscular with eyes that may be blue, gold, green, or hazel.
Bengals are generally very athletic and can be somewhat restless. They love to explore and play and must be kept engaged to stave off boredom.
These pets are particularly talkative and vocal. They also share a love of water with Abyssinians and Maine Coons, making them rather unusual for felines. Bengals are also noted for their friendliness and are also rather adventurous.
Other cat breeds that have an “M” on their foreheads include Abyssinians, Australian Mist cats, Lynx Point Siamese cats, and Maine Coons. These cats are all tabbies, and they all have their own unique traits and characteristics that set them apart from Bengals.
Considered to be one of the oldest cat breeds, Abyssinians are noted for their large round ears, slender build, and green-gold eyes. Playful, energetic, and social, they tend to have a ticked tabby coat. The most common colors of Abyssinians include fawn, blue, red, and ruddy.
First introduced in Australia in the 1970s, these pets, which have a solid build and a hardy constitution, are known for their coats that have a misty appearance, from which their name is derived.
The breed is actually a cross between an Abyssinian, a Bengal, and a domestic tabby. It is noted for its friendliness, gentle behavior, and penchant for mischief.
Inquisitive yet independent, these felines are considered to be similar to lynxes in appearance and Siamese cats in temperament, hence their name. The result of crossbreeding between a Seal Point Siamese and a tabby in the 1960s, they come in coats colors including apricot, caramel, cinnamon, cream, chocolate, and lilac.
A breed of many names, these pets are also known as Tabby Point Siamese, Lynx Colorpoint Shorthairs (by the American Cat Fanciers Association), Tabby Points, or Colorpoint Shorthairs.
Fond of water, capable of withstanding glacial climates, and pretty friendly, Maine Coons can be distinguished by their large sizes, shaggy coats, and tufted paws. Their tails also boast impressive amounts of fur and serve as a blanket of sorts, providing warmth and comfort.
Maine Coons are also remarkable owing to their exceptional intelligence and their almost canine-like friendliness. In addition to tabby patterned coats, Maine Coons can also have fur with solid or tortoiseshell patterns. Some of their most common colors include black, blue, cameo, cream, red, and silver.
Laidback and easygoing, and noted for their folded ears and thick short fur, Scottish Folds are believed to be the descendants of barn cats. So, they need a fair amount of playtime and exercise. These pets have a stocky, solid build, short legs, and rounded eyes.
They tend to come in a variety of patterns and may be tabbies. Common coat colors include black, cream, fawn, blue, lilac, chocolate, cinnamon, and red.
Bengal cats do have an “M” on their forehead. The “M” is as a result of genetics. Cats that have this distinct marking are known as tabby cats. Other breeds that have that distinct “M” marking include Abyssinians, Australian Mists, Lynx Point Siamese Cats, Maine Coons, and Scottish Folds.