An M-shape pattern needs to be visible on a cat’s head for it to be recognised as a tabby cat.
A tabby cat is any domestic cat with an obvious M-shape on its forehead. These cats normally have striped coats that make the pattern more apparent. They have stripes on their cheeks, necks, backs, legs, and tails. Sometimes the M will be more visible on a kitten and lessens as they grow older.
There are actually six different types of tabby cats, although some people don’t regard the last two on this list as separate types.
Six Types Of Tabby Cats
The six types of tabby patterns identified are:
This is a tabby cat that has stripes running down perpendicular to its spine. They run down the legs and form rings around the tail. The pattern resembles the skeleton of a fish, which is where it gets its name from.
These types of tabbies have swirls of darker colored fur on their bodies that form a bullseye pattern on both sides as well.
A ticked tabby doesn’t have stripes or spots like the others, instead, the different colors of the coat are distributed over each individual hair causing a salt and pepper type appearance. These tabbies are sometimes called Abyssinian or agouti tabbies.
A spotted tabby has a gene that breaks up the stripes of the mackerel and classic tabby and creates spots instead. Although stripes are still visible on the legs, tail, and head.
Orange tabbies are usually mixed with some white fur as well. Their bellies are usually white and, in most cases, they also have a white patch on the face. Orange female cats are rare with around 80% being male.
Torbies are tabby cats that are of three different colors. (Tortoiseshell and tabby combined) Most of these types of tabbies are female because of their chromosome layout.
What Is A Ghost Tabby Cat?
This is what we call a tabby that has a M pattern that’s barely visible. Sometimes it will be more visible when they’re kittens and then completely fade away as they reach adulthood.
Do Tabby Cats Shed A lot?
Tabby cats can be long-haired or short-haired with single or double coats of fur. So some tabbies can shed a lot depending on the type of coat they have.
Instead, check to see if the breed of your cat is known for shedding a lot.
Why Do Tabby Cats Have M On Their Forehead?
The distinctive M-shape pattern is because of three types of genes found in all cat breeds. So every cat is a tabby cat, but some are more obvious than others depending on what type of pattern their coat has.
This type of marking and coat pattern helps to camouflage the cat while it’s hunting in long grass.
Tabby cat folklore
Before scientists were analyzing the genetic code of cats, there were some other beliefs about how the tabby cat came to be.
Some Christians believe that the cat visited baby Jesus to comfort him. His mother, Mary, stroked its forehead in gratitude and left this pattern there forever.
In an Islamic legend, a tabby cat saved his master Mohammed from a poisonous snake and was specially marked with an M from that day forward.
Another belief is that the cat got this pattern by staring into a mouse hole while frowning for too long, waiting for the rodent to emerge.
Some people believe that the M is related to the Egyptian word for cat “mau”.
What Colors Do Tabby Cats Come In?
Tabby cats can be any color as long as you can see the M on their head. However, there are more commonly seen tabby cat colors listed below.
Are Tabby Cats Rare?
Most domestic cats have the tabby pattern visible, so tabby cats aren’t that rare. Of course, all cats qualify as tabbies as mentioned at the beginning of the article, as they all have the three genes required to create this pattern.
With that said, there are some rare types of tabby colors like the Lavender tabby. This is the rarest color of all tabbies, making it a rare cat overall as well.
Is A Tabby Prone To Obesity?
No, there isn’t any cat coat pattern that’s more prone to obesity than the next. It’s up to you to make sure your cat has a quality diet with mostly protein and very little starch to keep it healthy.
What Kind Of Personality Does A Tabby Cat Have?
Tabby cats make for great family pets as they get along with most people and children very well. They are usually very positive, lively, and interactive with other pets and humans.
Tabby cats are very playful, intelligent, and make wonderful companions. They’re also not known to be vicious if taken care of properly.
Is the tabby cat a lap cat?
Tabby cats make for good lap cats as they enjoy your company and attention. They will happily snooze on your lap for as long as you’re sitting down. They also usually don’t mind being picked up and handled either.
Is the tabby cat affectionate?
Tabby cats are very affectionate and will rub against you with love and purr in your arms with joy.
Do tabby cats like to cuddle?
In general, they do yes. Not only will they enjoy the comfort of your lap, but they’ll also happily sleep on your bed with you at night.
Are tabby cats vocal?
Tabby cats are normally very vocal indeed. They’ll definitely greet you with meowing after you return from a long day at school or work. They’ll also be sure to let you know when they’re hungry or want to go for a walk.
Are Tabby Cats Expensive?
Tabby cats generally aren’t expensive, as they are very common among domestic cats.
Which Two Cats Can Produce A Tabby?
Any two cats can create a tabby cat as almost all cats have the M pattern to some degree, some are just clearer than others.
How Long Do Tabby Cats Live For?
A tabby cat can live anywhere from 8 to 20 years, depending on the breed. Most domestic cats can live a long life of 15 to 20 years. Larger breeds of cats tend to live shorter lives, and smaller cats tend to live longer.
Are Tabby Cats Related To Tigers?
They are not related more closely to tigers than any other domestic cat breed, although they do look the most similar, especially orange mackerel patterned tabbies. This is why they are sometimes referred to as “tiger cats”
Do Tabby Cats Get Along With Dogs?
Yes, they get along with dogs, as most cats do. It’s easier to introduce a cat to the dog while it’s young by slowly showing its behind to the dog while safely holding it in your hands.
If the dog spots the kitten and has a confused or aroused look on its face, you should talk to your dog with a stern voice to indicate to it that it should tone down its emotions.
Which Breeds Of Cats Can Be A Tabby?
All breeds of cats are technically tabbies because they all have the three types of genes required to produce the tabby pattern. It’s just more visible on certain patterns of fur compared to others.
When it’s clearly noticeable, people refer to the cat as a tabby cat. Although you might see the M in most cats if you look hard enough, especially in the sunlight.
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.