The Friendly and Beautiful Tabby Cat

Tabby cats are some of the most popular pets in the world. These felines are characterized by their distinctive striped coats, which can come in a variety of colors and patterns, and the “M” on their foreheads.

An Orange Tabby Cat

What are Tabby Cats and Where Do They Come From?

Tabby cats are some of the most popular pets in the world, and their distinctive markings have been beloved by cat lovers for centuries. But where did these cats get their name? It turns out that the answer is a bit of a mystery. The word “tabby” is thought to be derived from the French word “attabaire,” meaning striped or striped cloth. It’s also possible that it comes from the Arabic word “attabiya,” meaning a type of silk with a striped pattern.

While tabby cats are often thought of as being domesticated animals, they actually have a long history that stretches back to ancient Egypt. It is believed that the first tabby cats were brought to Europe by Crusaders in the Middle Ages, and they quickly became popular pets among the nobility.

Today, tabby cats can be found in homes all over the world, and their popularity shows no sign of waning. Thanks to their friendly dispositions and beautiful coats, tabby cats continue to be one of the most beloved pet choices for cat lovers everywhere.

The Tabby’s Appearance

A tabby cat is not actually a breed of cat, but rather a coat pattern that can be found in many different breeds.

Tabby cats typically have striped coats and marbled patterns. The stripes can be any color, but they are usually dark brown or black. The background color of the coat may be black, brown, gray, or orange. There are also tabby cats with dilute colors, such as blue or cream.

Patterns can vary widely, but all tabby cats have one thing in common: their coats are marked with distinct whorls and swirls. These patterns are created by the agouti gene, which gives each individual hair a banded appearance.

Agouti Hairs

Agouti hairs are a type of hair found on many mammals, including rabbits, squirrels, rats, and of course, the tabby cat. Each individual hair is banded with lighter and darker colored regions. The agouti gene causes the different color bands to be produced. These hairs, when combined together, provide the striped appearance that is characteristic of the tabby cat. This gene is responsible for the wide variety of coat colors seen in tabbies.

Agouti Hairs

The agouti gene is also responsible for causing each hair to grow in a single cycle. This helps to prevent the coat from becoming matted and tangled. Agouti hairs are an important adaptation that helps the tabby to keep their coats healthy and clean.

The Tabby “M”

Most all tabby cats have a distinctly ‘M’ shaped mark on their forehead. This unique feature is often referred to as the ‘Tabby M’. This marking is thought to be the signature of the tabby cat, and is one of the best ways to identify this particular breed. Tabbies are distinguished not only by the distinctive “M” marking, but also by the thin stripes on their faces and the distinctive markings surrounding their eyes. When you see a cat with a striped coat and an ‘M’ on its forehead, there’s a good chance it’s a tabby!

The Tabby Cat M

What Are The Different Types Of Tabby Patterns?

There are actually five different types of tabby patterns, each with its own distinct markings. There are also variations within the five patterns, but the five basic patterns are:

Mackerel Tabby Pattern

The first type is called mackerel, and is characterized by horizontal stripes that run down the length of the body. It gets its name from a pattern of stripes that is said to resemble a fish skeleton. Many experts believe that the mackerel pattern, the original coat pattern of the African wildcat, was the inspiration for the modern variety of all tabby designs.

Mackerel Tabby cats are distinguished by their unique patterning, which includes rings around the tail and legs and bands of solid or broken stripes elsewhere. The base color of the coat is usually a light brown or orange, with dark brown or black stripes running along the length of the body. This pattern is often seen in Bengals, Maine Coons, and Savannah Cats. While the mackerel tabby pattern is not unique to any one breed, it is nonetheless an important part of many cat breeds’ history and identity.

Mackerel Patterned Tabby

Classic Tabby Pattern

The second type, called classic, features large swirls or patches of color. The classic pattern is one of the most recognizable patterns in the animal kingdom. It has broader stripes that form a sort of “bull’s-eye” pattern on the sides. Often referred to as a ‘tiger striped’ pattern, the classic tabby is actually created by a variation in the pigmentation of the hairs. The hairs themselves are banded with alternating dark and light colors, which creates the distinctive ‘tiger’ look.

While the pattern can occur in many different color combinations, the most popular and well-known variety is the brown classic tabby. This popular pattern is often seen in domestic cats, but it can also be found in other animals, such as lions, tigers, and leopards.

Classic Pattern Tabby

Spotted Tabby Patterns

One of the most eye-catching patterns is the spotted tabby. As the name suggests, this pattern consists of bands of spots scattered across the coat, often in a dark color against a lighter fur background. The size and shape of the spots can vary, but they typically have defined edges and clear centers. Spotted tabbies are often very striking animals, and their unique coats are sure to turn heads when they walk into a room.

Spotted Pattern Tabby

Ticked Tabby Pattern

The fourth type of tabby is the ticked tabby, and is characterized by a variegated coat with alternating light and dark lines of color. Ticked tabbies are distinguished by the bands or stripes that appear on their legs and tails only. The ticked tabby pattern is found in many different breeds of cats, including the Abyssinian, the Egyptian Mau, and the Ocicat.

Ticked Pattern Tabby Cat

The Patched Tabby Pattern

Finally, the fifth pattern of tabby is called patched. A patched tabby is a cat with distinct markings, usually consisting of dark stripes on a light background. The pattern can vary considerably, but it typically includes darker patches on the shoulders, back, and sides. Patched tabbies are often called calicos or tortoiseshells, depending on their coat color. While the patched tabby pattern is relatively common in domestic cats, it is also found in some wild species, such as the Bengal tiger.

Patched Pattern Tabby

All five types of tabby patterns are equally beautiful, making it one of the most popular coat patterns among cat lovers. And while the tabby coat pattern is most commonly associated with orange cats, tabby cats can actually come in a variety of colors, including black, brown, gray, and even white. Regardless of their coloration, all tabby cats share the same beautiful fur pattern.

The Tabby Cat’s Personality

While they may be best known for their looks, tabbies also have playful personalities and make wonderful companions. Tabby cats are known for their friendly dispositions and outgoing personalities. They enjoy being around people and other animals, and they are often quick to make new friends.

Tabby cats also have a reputation for being playful and curious. They love to explore their surroundings, and they are always up for a good game of chasing a toy or playing with a scratching post. As a result, tabby cats can make excellent pets for people who are looking for an active and engaging companion.

In addition to their fun-loving personalities, tabby cats are also known for being loyal and loving companions. They form strong bonds with their owners and prefer to spend most of their time close to the people they love.

Tabbies are very intelligent, and can be easily trained to perform tricks or obey commands.

Tabby Cat Playing with a Ball

However, tabby cats do have their own unique personality traits. For example, they are known for being particularly vocal, and will often meow loudly to get attention, or to have their wishes known.

Overall, if you’re looking for a cat with personality, a tabby is the perfect choice.

The Tabby’s Health

The health of Tabby cats can vary depending on their specific breed. Health issues common to Tabby cats include hyperthyroidism, vomiting, urinary difficulties, upset stomach, and weight loss, according to the ASPCA Pet Health Insurance program. Regular visits to the vet are important to help catch these problems early and keep your Tabby cat healthy and happy.

Life Expectancy

The average lifespan of a tabby cat is between 12 and 15 years, although some individual cats may live for 20 years or more.

Size and Weight

Male tabby cats are typically larger and heavier than their female counterparts. However, there is a wide range of variation in size and weight within each gender, and again within each breed.

For example, a large male tabby cat may weigh 12 pounds or more, while a small tabby female cat may weigh only 8 pounds. The average weight for both male and female tabby cats is around 10 pounds.

Male tabby cats also tend to be longer than females, with an average length of 21 inches compared to 19 inches for females.

Again, there is significant variation within each gender and breed, and some individual cats may deviate considerably from the average. Ultimately, size and weight can vary significantly from one tabby cat to the next, regardless of gender or the breed.

Famous Tabby Cats

Tabby cats have been a part of human culture for centuries, appearing in artwork, literature, and even folklore. Often considered to be lucky animals, tabby cats have been featured prominently in many famous works of art.

Lady with an Ermine

One of the most famous examples is Leonardo da Vinci’s “Lady with an Ermine,” which depicts the Italian Renaissance artist’s patron, Cecilia Gallerani, holding a white ermine that is rumored to be a tabby cat.


More recently, the orange tabby cat has become synonymous with the character Garfield, appearing in one of the longest-running comic strips in history.

Garfield the Cat



One of the most famous tabby cats was T.S. Eliot’s “Jellylorum,” who served as the inspiration for the poet’s iconic work of poetry “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats”, which became the basis for the famous play “Cats”. Jellylorum was a caramel-colored tabby with a distinctive “M” mark on her forehead, and she was known for her affectionate nature.


Another famous tabby was Morris the Cat, who rose to fame in the 1970s as the spokesperson for 9Lives cat food. With his suave demeanor and debonair attitude, Morris helped to make tabby cats even more popular than they already were.

Morris the Cat


Perhaps the most famous recent day tabby is Maru, the Japanese cat who has become an internet sensation for his love of boxes. Maru’s Box Challenge videos have been viewed millions of times, and he has even been featured on television.

In addition to these tabbies, there have been many other notable tabby cats throughout history, including President Abraham Lincoln’s cat, Dixie, and Rip van Winkle, the feline companion of author Washington Irving. Tabby cats have truly earned their place in the spotlight.

Myths and Legends About Tabbies

Tabby cats have long been associated with mystery and magic, and they have been the subject of many myths and legends.

  • Some believe that tabby cats are magical creatures, capable of giving their owners good luck or bad luck.
  • Others believe that they are the reincarnated souls of dead sailors, and that they have the power to grant safe passage on stormy seas.
  • One popular belief is that tabby cats are descended from tigers, and that their striped coats give them special powers.
  • Another legend claims that tabbies are able to see into the future, and that their markings are a map of all the places they will visit in their lifetime.
  • Some cultures believe that tabby cats are able to commune with otherworldly spirits.

A Myth About Tabbies

Regardless of whether these stories are true, there is no denying that tabby cats are creatures of great beauty and fascination. With their striking coats and elegant demeanor, they continue to captivate the hearts and imaginations of cat lovers around the world.

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