The tabby cat is one of the most popular types of cats in America. They’re also considered one of the most “classic” looking domestic cats, most likely because they’re the most common.
But just because they’re common doesn’t mean they’re boring. In fact, there are plenty of fascinating facts about tabby cats that you probably don’t know, even if your own kitty is a terrific tabby.
Here are a few facts and tidbits about tabbies that might surprise you!
The Tabby Cat Is Not Actually A Breed Of Cat
Despite the popularity of tabbies, some folks still erroneously consider the tabby cat to be a breed. Tabby cats are not a breed of cat.
When referring to the “tabby,” we’re actually talking about the color pattern of the cat’s fur.
The tabby color pattern is most often stripes, but can sometimes be a combination of stripes, swirls, and even spots.
Every single domestic cat has the gene for the tabby pattern, which is another reason why tabby cats are so ubiquitous.
There Are Four Types Of Tabby Cat Coats
While there are many variations of the tabby cat coat, there are four recognized tabby cat patterns. These include the classic, mackerel, spotted, and ticked.
The classic tabby (pictured above) has a pattern that whorls, usually with a center or “target” on the side of the cat. Many American Shorthair cats have this tabby pattern in a variety of colors.
This pattern is also known as a “blotched tabby.”
Mackerel tabby cats have stripes running up and down their bodies, earning them the nickname of “tiger cats.”
The stripes are in a vertical pattern and make a tabby cat look like a domesticated, little tiger with different color variations.
A spotted tabby cat has, as the name suggests, spots all over their sides. These spots can be large or small, and sometimes they look like broken mackerel stripes.
The spots can be different shapes, including circular, oval, or tiny rosettes.
A ticked tabby, also know as the Agouti tabby, does not have the traditional stripes or spots of the other tabby patterns. At first glance, this cat may not even look like a tabby.
Ticked tabby cats may have classic tabby patterns on their face and agouti hairs on their body. Agouti hairs are individual hairs that are striped with dark and light bands alternating. Each hair is striped with its own pattern.
These hairs make it seem like ticked tabby cats are glistening in the sun.
This pattern is most common in Abyssinians, but other breeds have displayed it as well.
Religions Have Myths About The ‘M’ On Tabby Cats’ Foreheads
Many tabby cats will have a pattern on their forehead that looks like the letter ‘M.’
There are several religious stories as to why the cats have earned this marking. In Christianity, a tabby cat came to the manger to keep baby Jesus warm, so Mary marked him with an ‘M’ to thank him.
In the Islamic religion, a tabby cat called Muezza once saved his master Mohammed’s life by killing a snake that snuck up his sleeve. To commemorate this, all tabby cats were marked with the letter ‘M.’
The scientific reason behind the ‘M’ on the forehead of tabby cats is genetics. It is a standard genetic component of the tabby pattern.
Do you have a tabby cat? What type of pattern do they have? Let us know, and show us your tabby cats in the comments below!