What Makes A Tabby Cat A Tabby?

Tabby cats are the ultimate feline fashionistas, flaunting their iconic coat patterns and playful personalities with confidence. But what exactly makes a tabby cat a tabby? From their mesmerizing stripes to their adorable ‘M’ shaped markings on their foreheads, there’s more to these gorgeous kitties than meets the eye.

In this blog post, we’re going to delve into the captivating world of tabby cats and uncover the traits that make them so special. We’ll explore the history of the tabby gene and how it evolved over time to create the diverse range of tabby patterns we see today. And trust us, you won’t believe how far back this gene goes.

But wait, there’s more. We’ll also discuss the different types of tabby patterns, such as classic, mackerel, spotted, and ticked – each with its own unique charm and personality. You’ll be amazed at how much variation can come from just one gene.

It’s not all about looks though – we’ll also touch upon the quirky and loveable personality traits that are often found in tabby cats. Their playful energy is contagious, and their affectionate nature is sure to melt your heart. They’re truly the perfect companions for any cat lover.

So whether you’re a seasoned tabby cat owner or simply curious about what makes these felines so special, this blog post is your ultimate guide. Get ready to discover all the fascinating facts about what makes a tabby cat a tabby – you won’t be disappointed.

What is a Tabby Cat?

What Makes A Tabby Cat A Tabby-2

You’re probably looking at a tabby cat. These domestic felines are easily recognizable by their unique appearance and have captured the hearts of cat lovers worldwide. As an expert on these adorable creatures, I’m thrilled to share with you all you need to know about them.

So, what exactly is a tabby cat? Tabby cats are a type of domestic feline that is known for their striking coat pattern. This pattern can be found in various cat breeds, including the domestic shorthair and longhair. While the tabby pattern is most commonly associated with brown and gray colors, it can also appear in orange and black. Additionally, some tabby cats may have muted coloring while others have bold and distinct patterns.

Apart from their unique coat pattern, tabby cats have other physical characteristics that set them apart from other cats. They typically have an “M” shape marking on their forehead and a dark line running along their spine. Furthermore, they usually have contrasting colors on their face and body, with darker patches on their head, legs, and tail.

Now that we’ve covered what makes a tabby cat visually distinctive let’s dive deeper into their personalities. Tabby cats are known for being friendly, outgoing, and playful. They thrive in households with children as they are great companions who love to play. Moreover, tabby cats are intelligent and curious creatures who love to explore their surroundings.

As for the different types of tabby patterns out there, there are four main types: classic or blotched tabby pattern, mackerel tabby pattern, spotted tabby pattern, and ticked tabby pattern. The classic or blotched tabby pattern is the most common and recognizable type with bold, swirling patterns on the cat’s sides and a distinctive “M” marking on its forehead. Mackerel tabbies have narrow stripes that run vertically down their bodies and are often referred to as “tiger stripes.” Spotted tabbies have round or oval-shaped spots instead of stripes, while ticked tabbies have a unique look where the individual hairs on their fur are banded with different colors.

The Origins of the Tabby Pattern

The tabby pattern is not only one of the most recognizable coat patterns in cats but also one of the oldest, with a fascinating history that spans centuries and continents.

To begin with, domestic cats are believed to have originated in the Near East around 10,000 years ago. Some of these early felines likely had markings similar to those we now associate with tabby cats, making them one of the oldest known coat patterns in domesticated cats.

The term “tabby” itself comes from the French word “tabis,” which refers to a type of silk fabric with a wavy or watered pattern. This fabric was popular in medieval Europe and often used for clothing. It is thought that the term “tabby” was eventually applied to cats with similar striped or mottled patterns on their fur, due to their resemblance to this type of fabric.

But did you know that ancient Egyptians also depicted tabby cats in their art? This suggests that the tabby pattern has been around for thousands of years and may even have been selectively bred by ancient Egyptians to create cats with distinctive markings. In fact, some experts believe that tabbies were considered sacred by ancient Egyptians and were often depicted alongside their human companions as symbols of protection and good luck.

Over time, the tabby pattern spread throughout the world as domestic cats became more widespread. Today, tabby cats can be found in nearly every country and are one of the most popular coat patterns for domestic cats. From classic brown tabbies to exotic silver tabbies, these feline friends have captured our hearts with their unique and striking coat patterns.

Despite their widespread popularity, however, there is still much we don’t know about what makes a tabby cat a tabby. Some tabbies have distinct stripes, while others have more subtle markings. Some tabbies have spots or swirls, while others have a classic “M” shape on their forehead and a dark line running along their spine. But regardless of these variations, one thing is for sure: tabby cats are beloved by many for their friendly, outgoing, and playful nature.

Types of Tabby Patterns

Tabby cats are some of the most beloved feline companions, with their distinct and eye-catching coat patterns being a significant reason why. There are four main types of tabby patterns: classic, mackerel, spotted, and patched. Understanding these patterns can help you appreciate your furry friend’s unique beauty and personality even more.

The classic tabby pattern is the most recognizable and common. It features bold, swirling patterns on the cat’s sides and a distinctive “M” marking on its forehead. This pattern is also known as “blotched,” and it can extend down the cat’s back to form thin stripes along the sides. Classic tabbies may also have a “bullseye” pattern on their sides, formed by concentric circles of darker fur. The result is a stunning pattern that sets classic tabbies apart from other tabby types.

The mackerel tabby pattern is named after the fish that it resembles – a fish skeleton. Narrow, vertical stripes run down the length of the cat’s body, broken up by dots or dashes and sometimes extending down to the tail. While mackerel tabbies may have an “M” marking on their forehead like classic tabbies, they tend to have fewer swirls and more defined stripes. This gives them a sleek, tiger-like appearance that is both elegant and regal.

The spotted tabby pattern is the least common of the four types but still easily recognizable. As the name suggests, this pattern features spots instead of stripes or swirls. These spots can vary in size and may be arranged in clusters or randomly across the cat’s body. The colors of spotted tabbies can vary from light to dark, but they usually have an “M” marking on their forehead, which sets them apart as a true tabby.

Finally, there is the patched tabby pattern, also known as tortoiseshell or calico. This pattern features a combination of colors rather than distinct stripes or spots. The patches can be any combination of colors and may be arranged in a random or symmetrical pattern across the cat’s body. Patched tabbies are almost always female, with the gene for this pattern linked to the X chromosome. This unique pattern gives patched tabbies an individuality that few other cats possess.

Classic or Blotched Tabby Pattern

Tabby cats are one of the most popular and beloved cat breeds around, and for good reason – their unique coat patterns are like works of art that you can admire all day long. In fact, there are four main types of tabby patterns: classic, mackerel, spotted, and patched. Today, we’re going to dive deeper into the classic or blotched tabby pattern, which is the most common and recognizable among them.

The classic or blotched tabby pattern is characterized by bold, swirling stripes on the cat’s fur that resemble a bullseye or target. The classic tabby pattern has four distinct markings: the M-shaped marking on the forehead, stripes on the cheeks, vertical stripes on the body, and circular markings on the sides. These markings are typically darker than the base color of the cat’s fur and may be black, brown, or gray. On the other hand, the blotched tabby pattern is very similar to the classic pattern but with more irregular and broken stripes that can appear almost random in their placement.

What’s truly fascinating about these patterns is that they come in a variety of colors – black, brown, gray, red, cream, silver, and blue. This means that no matter what color your cat may be, their tabby pattern will stand out and make them even more beautiful.

It’s important to note that not all tabbies have the same pattern. Each cat is unique and may have variations in their markings. However, the classic and blotched tabby patterns are still the most recognizable and common types.

If you’re lucky enough to have a classic or blotched tabby cat in your life, take a moment to appreciate their unique appearance and personality – after all, they are truly one-of-a-kind. And while you’re at it, here are some interesting facts about these beautiful cats:

Mackerel Tabby Pattern

Today, we’re going to dive into the captivating world of felines and explore the wondrous Mackerel tabby pattern. This particular coat design is one of the most commonly seen among cats and is characterized by its dark, narrow stripes that run vertically down a cat’s body, resembling the bones of a fish. The stripes are evenly spaced and set against a lighter background color that can range from cream to orange to gray.

The Mackerel tabby pattern is also known as the “fishbone” pattern, and it can be seen on both short and long-haired cats. Moreover, this unique pattern does not discriminate against any specific breed of cat. Whether you have a Maine Coon or a Siamese, there’s a good chance you’ll see some Mackerel tabby stripes.

Interestingly, this pattern has its roots in the wild. In their natural habitat, cats with this pattern would have been better camouflaged, making them more effective hunters. As humans began to domesticate cats, they likely preferred those with this pattern because of their hunting abilities. So, in essence, we can thank natural selection and human preference for the prevalence of this beautiful pattern in cats today.

One fascinating fact about the Mackerel tabby pattern is that it can be inherited. If both parents have this pattern, their offspring are more likely to have it too. However, not all cats with the Mackerel tabby pattern will exhibit it in the same way. Some may have more pronounced stripes than others or may have a slightly different background color. Either way, each Mackerel tabby cat is unique in its own right.

Spotted Tabby Pattern

One of the most common tabby patterns, spotted tabbies are easily identifiable by their symmetrical spots of varying sizes and shapes.

But what causes these spots? Well, it all comes down to a genetic mutation that affects the distribution of pigment in the cat’s fur. This mutation creates areas of lighter or darker fur, resulting in the beautiful spotted pattern we see today. And while spotted tabbies can come in a range of colors, including brown, gray, and orange, it’s their striking spots that make them stand out from the crowd.

What’s even more fascinating is that these spots can change over time. Kittens may be born with small or faint spots that become more pronounced as they age, and some cats may develop new spots as they grow older while others may lose spots as they get older. This means that no two spotted tabbies are the same, and their ever-changing patterns make them even more unique and special.

Ticked Tabby Pattern

If not, prepare to be captivated by one of the most fascinating coat patterns found in felines. The ticked tabby pattern is a work of art, characterized by a stunning series of darker and lighter bands of hair on each individual hair shaft. This creates an almost magical shimmering appearance that sets ticked tabby cats apart from other types of tabbies.

This mesmerizing pattern is often observed in breeds such as Abyssinians, Somali cats, and Ocicats, and is sometimes referred to as the agouti pattern. The ticking effect is caused by the way individual hairs are pigmented – with bands of dark pigment alternating with bands of light pigment. This creates a distinct and beautiful appearance that sets ticked tabby cats apart from other tabbies.

Interestingly, the ticked tabby pattern can also appear in non-tabby cats. For instance, even a solid black cat may have ticking on its fur that is only visible under certain lighting conditions. This is because the agouti gene responsible for the ticked pattern can be present in any breed or color of cat.

But what makes the ticked tabby pattern so unique? Here are a few key characteristics:

  • The individual hairs on a ticked tabby cat are pigmented with bands of dark and light pigment, creating a distinct appearance.
  • Unlike other tabby patterns, which have clear stripes or spots, the ticked tabby pattern appears to be almost blended together.
  • The ticked tabby pattern can change over time as the cat ages and their coat develops.
  • This pattern is not exclusive to any particular breed or color of cat.

Personality Traits of a Tabby Cat

Look no further than the tabby cat breed. With their distinctive and beautiful ticked coat patterns, tabby cats also possess personalities that make them stand out from other cats.

Firstly, tabby cats are playful creatures that love to chase after toys and climb on furniture. These energetic felines need plenty of exercise to keep them happy and healthy. They will keep you entertained with their antics and provide hours of amusement.

Secondly, tabby cats are affectionate companions who crave attention and love to cuddle. They will follow you around, curl up in your lap, and purr contentedly while being petted. Their loving nature makes them perfect for anyone who requires a furry friend to snuggle up with on the couch.

Thirdly, tabby cats are curious creatures who are always exploring their surroundings. They investigate new toys, furniture, or anything that piques their interest. This inquisitive nature makes them excellent companions for those who love to discover new things.

Fourthly, tabby cats are independent creatures that don’t require constant attention. They can entertain themselves when needed and can be left alone for short periods without causing any problems. This independence makes them great pets for busy cat lovers who still want a companion in their lives.

Lastly, tabby cats are vocal creatures who communicate in various ways, from meows to chirps and purrs. They express their emotions with different sounds, making them excellent conversationalists. They will tell you when they’re happy or frustrated, making it easy to understand their needs.


In conclusion, it’s not difficult to see why tabby cats are such beloved feline companions. Their unique coat patterns are visually stunning and their charming personalities only add to their appeal. From the classic and blotched tabby pattern to the mackerel, spotted, and ticked patterns, each cat is a masterpiece of nature.

Tabbies have been around for thousands of years, with ancient Egyptians considering them sacred symbols of protection and good luck. And today, they continue to capture our hearts with their playful, curious, affectionate, independent, and vocal nature.

If you’re looking for a feline friend who is both an energetic playmate for children and a loving snuggle buddy for adults, then a tabby cat might just be the perfect choice. These intelligent and curious creatures love nothing more than exploring their surroundings and bonding with their human companions.

By understanding the different types of tabby patterns that exist – whether it’s the bold swirling stripes of the classic or blotched tabby; the narrow vertical stripes resembling fishbones on a mackerel tabby; symmetrical spots of varying sizes and shapes on a spotted tabby; or distinct bands of hair on each individual hair shaft on a ticked tabby – we can appreciate just how special these cats truly are.

So what makes a tabby cat a tabby? It’s not just their mesmerizing coat pattern but also their lovable personality traits that set them apart from other cats.