Despite being well-known in the cat kingdom, Tabby Cats have many unique traits that pet lovers do not know of. We will help you learn what makes a Tabby Cat different from other felines and know how you can distinguish her.
1. Not to be mistaken as a cat breed.
“What breed of cat is a Tabby?” is a question that often comes up when talking about these adorable kitties. If you are looking for a Tabby Cat breed, you will never find one since Tabby is not a breed but a unique type of coat pattern many cats sport.
So, what is a Tabby cat? The word Tabby began as an English name for a Middle Eastern striped silk fabric called Attabi.
It was later on used to describe any breed of feline that has a pattern of blotches, swirls, stripes, or spots on their coat that closely resembles the exotic cloth.
2. Tabby coats do not come in one pattern.
Just as Tabby coats have a variety of colours such as cream, black, brown, grey, and orange, they also have a wide variety of patterns, but the most commonly seen are:
The Classic Blotched Tabby
Tabby kittens born with this pattern have distinct circular swirl markings on coats akin to a marble cake or a bull’s eye.
The Mackerel Tabby
Also known as Tiger Cats, Mackerel Tabbies have solid or broken stripes that run vertically on their bodies. They also have rings around their tails and legs.
The Spotted Tabby
Spotted Tabby patterns, as its name describes, appear round, oval, or even rosette shapes in cats’ coats. These bands of spots can vary in size from small to large.
The Egyptian Mau, Ocicat, and Bengal are some of the purebred cats that can naturally possess spotted Tabby markings. However, it is not unusual for mixed-breed domestic cats to develop this pattern as well.
The Ticked Tabby
The rarest of all Tabby patterns, Ticked Tabby markings do not appear as stripes or spots. Instead, individual hairs are striped with alternating bands of light and dark colouration.
The Patched Tabby
Patched Tabby is characterised by the presence of Tortoiseshell and Tabby markings. Cats sporting this pattern may have 4 to 5 colourations on their fur, such as greyish brown, red, and orange. The marking is more visible on the legs and head.
4. Tabby Cats are more common than they seem.
Is a Tabby Cat a rare cat? No, the Tabby Cat is not a rare feline. In fact, Tabby markings are one of the most common types of coat patterns. Most cat breeds today have Tabby genes, even including those that do not exhibit Tabby markings.
To have a deeper understanding of how the Tabby pattern appears in cats, we need to take a look at genetics.
Felines that acquired the dominant agouti gene (A) will develop Tabby markings. On the other hand, cats with the recessive non-agouti gene (a) will not exhibit Tabby patterns.
In some cases, a solid-coloured cat inherits 2 copies of the recessive non-agouti gene (aa), resulting in the occurrence of ghost striping. It refers to a subtle Tabby pattern that becomes more discernible when exposed to sunlight.
5. Tabby Cats often have a distinct mark.
Most if not all Tabby Cats have an “M”-shaped marking on their foreheads. This particular distinguishing trait has been associated with many interesting myths and legends. Here are some of them:
- Experts have theorised that the Tabby markings originated from an ancient Egyptian cat breed called Mau. Today, her descendant, the Egyptian Mau, often has a vague “M” marking on her forehead.
- According to Christian folklore, a Tabby Cat appeared in the manger and kept baby Jesus in company by staying by his side and offering him warmth and calming purrs.
- Mary stroked her initials, the letter M, on the feline’s forehead as a sign of her gratitude.
- In an Islamic legend, the prophet Mohammed owns a Tabby Cat named Muezza, whom he loved so much.
- Some say he cut off his garment’s sleeve where his cat was snoozing to avoid waking her up when he needed to attend the prayer.
- On one occasion, it is believed that Muezza saved his life from a poisonous snake. So, he blessed her with an “M” marking on her forehead.
But why do Tabby Cats have “M” markings on their forehead? There is no clear explanation for this distinctive trait of Tabby Cats. However, the M-shaped mark is arguably simply a common result of Tabby patterns.
6. Female orange Tabby Cats are hard to come by.
The ginger gene in cats is sex-linked since the X chromosome carries this specific gene. Thus, males only need one copy of the said gene to become a ginger cat whilst females must possess 2 copies to sport a ginger coat.
If you are wondering: “Are orange Tabby Cats always male?” the answer is no. Although most orange Tabby Cats are male, around 20–25% are female.
7. Tabby pattern will not determine a cat’s personality.
Numerous Tabby Cat owners attest that their feline friends are adventurous social butterflies with high intelligence. Whilst this seems to be a common trait in many Tabby Cats, the coat pattern does not influence Tabby cat personality.
Rather, other factors such as their breed, genetics, quality of socialisation, and type of pet parenting they received mould them into the unique kitties that they are.
Hence, some Tabby kittens will have outgoing personalities whilst other Tabbies are more content to stay in their own bubbles.
So, is a Tabby Cat a good cat? Yes, the Tabby Cat is a good feline companion to have, but remember that each Tabby has a unique personality.
If you want to bring home a Tabby kitten, spend some time with her first. This way you can gauge if she is the perfect match for you.
8. Tabby Cat pattern does not correlate to being hypoallergenic.
Are Tabby Cats hypoallergenic? Tabby Cats are considered non-hypoallergenic. Generally, all cats can potentially trigger allergies in humans.
However, felines with shorter coats are less likely to cause allergic reactions than long-haired ones.
The most suitable purebred Tabby Cats for allergy sufferers are:
9. Tabby Cats come in different shapes and sizes.
How big do Tabby Cats get? The answer depends on what type of breed the Tabby Cat is. For instance, Tabby kittens with a Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest Cat lineage will be on the larger and heftier side.
On the other hand, Tabby Cats that come from a bloodline of purebred smaller felines like the American Curl, Singapura, and Devon Rex will inherit their slim and compact build.
You may also like
10. Tabby Cats can live long life.
How long do Tabby Cats live? The Tabby Cat’s lifespan ranges from 15–20 years. However, coat patterns have no bearing on a cat’s life expectancy.
Breed, genetics, lifestyle, and other factors are the denominators that will greatly affect a Tabby kitten’s longevity.
Purebred cats tend to live shorter lives compared to mixed breeds because of their propensity to hereditary diseases.
Moreover, indoor cats will more likely outlive the outdoor ones since they have less exposure to the harsh and dangerous threats found outdoors.
Help Tabby kittens enjoy a long life by providing them with a safe indoor home, nutritious and balanced meals, and ample amounts of exercise. Regular visits to the vet are also necessary to ensure they are in good health.
11. Tabby Cat prices can range between affordable and expensive.
How much you will need to pay for a Tabby kitten largely depends on her breed. Randomly bred Tabby kittens have a price tag of around £100 or less.
Some Tabby purebreds, such as the Manx is categorised as the cheaper breed, costing around £150–£500. In comparison, Tabbies from exotic breeds like the Egyptian Mau require a large sum, costing approximately £500 to over £1,000.
Invest a good amount of time in searching for a trustworthy breeder. Talk to the vet or close friends and ask for referrals. Or you can inquire from cat club registries.
By taking these necessary measures, you will eventually find the right Tabby kitten for you.