- Category: Pet News
A lot of cat owners, including myself, will call the average domestic cat a tabby. If you have adopted a furry feline and don’t know the breed, the tabby is sometimes used as the default name, sort of like calling a dog, a mutt. However a Tabby is not a cat breed. It is the pattern of a kitty's coat. And it happens to be the most common of all the feline coat patterns.
Therefore, no matter what color or markings you see on your cat, all felines possess the tabby gene. Other colors or patterns may hide those tabby markings, but they're always present.
This is Sammy, my favorite “tabby” cat!
Sometimes you can see those faint tabby markings on a solid-colored cat who is sitting in the bright sun. And have you ever seen a solid red or orange or cream cat without the familiar tabby markings? You won't, because the gene that makes a cat red or cream also makes the tabby markings visible.
All Tabby Cats have the common “M” on their foreheads
All tabbies have thin pencil lines on their faces, expressive markings around the eyes, and a distinct letter "M" on their foreheads. Some believe the "M" is for Mau, the word for "cat" in ancient Egypt. Others think the "M" stands for Mohammed, who loved tabbies. Still others believe it is the blessing of the Virgin Mary. I think it stays for merriment – aren’t tabbies happy cats?
There are four distinct tabby patterns:
Although there are many variations of each, the tabby pattern falls into four basic types. A fifth includes tabby as part of another basic color pattern such as the patched tabby, which may be a calico or tortoiseshell cat with tabby patches (which is called a torbie.) Some breeds also have tabby points within their color standards. That’s why our tabbies seem omnipresent and always ready to adopt! In fact, the gene for tabby pattern can be found in all domestic cats. Look at a jet black kitty basking in the sun and you will most likely see some hidden tabby markings.
Types of Tabby Patterns
The Mackerel tabby pattern has vertical, gently curving stripes on the side of the body. The stripes are narrow and may be continuous or broken into bars and spots on the flanks and stomach. An "M" shape appears on the forehead along with dark lines across the cat's cheeks to the corners of its eyes. Mackerels are also called 'Fishbone tabbies' probably because they are named after the mackerel fish. Mackerel is the most common tabby pattern. Their legs and tail have dark bars as do the cat's cheeks.
The Spotted tabby is a modifier that breaks up the Mackerel tabby pattern so that the stripes appear as spots. Similarly, the stripes of the Classic tabby pattern may be broken into larger spots. Both large spot and small spot patterns can be seen in the Australian Mist, Bengal, Egyptian Mau, Maine Coon, and Ocicat breeds.
Most tabby cats will have agouti hairs as part of their pattern. If you look closely, you'll see different bands of color down the length of the cat's individual hairs. Cats with an all-ticked pattern almost shimmer in the sunlight, because of the color variation.
The Classic Tabby
This pattern usually has whorls ending in a target on the side of the cat. Many American Shorthair cats demonstrate this pattern. The Classic (also known as "Blotched" or "Marbled") tabby tends to have a pattern of dark browns, but also occurs in grey. Classic tabbies have the "M" pattern on their foreheads but the body markings have a whirled or swirled pattern (often called a "bullseye") on the cat's sides. There is also a light colored "butterfly" pattern on the shoulders and three thin stripes (the center stripe is dark) running along its spine. Like the Mackerel tabby, Classic tabbies have dark bars on the legs, tail, and cheeks.
Now that you know the type of ‘tabby’ cat pattern that your cat might have, you will probably be interested to learn about their behavior in the following article:
Click Here: Orange Tabby Cat Behaviors