5 Types Of Tabby Cat Colors & Patterns

types of tabby cats

Tabby cats are fascinating and incredibly popular! The term “Tabby” refers not to a cat breed but to the distinctive coat patterns these cats exhibit, found in numerous breeds and colors. The classic tabby pattern is a common sight in the United States alone, where pet cats number nearly 60 million.

Originating from the African wildcat, distinctive markings like the mackerel tabby cat pattern’s stripes are characteristic of tabbies. An intriguing feature of these cats is the unique ‘M’ mark on their forehead, steeped in various cultural interpretations.

In Egyptian, ‘Mau’ translates to ‘cat,’ and some believe this mark is associated with significant historical figures like the Virgin Mary or Mohammed, both of whom were fond of tabby cats.

These patterns are present in a wide array of cat breeds, both purebred and mixed. Certain cat breeds are particularly known for their striking tabby patterns. Let’s explore and learn more about these captivating tabby cat breeds!

What Is a Tabby Cat?

What Is a Tabby Cat

The tabby refers to a coat pattern found in various cat breeds and is renowned for its diverse styles and variations. Typically, these felines are called tabby cats because their coat features an array of stripes, swirls, spots, or colored blotches. These distinct patterns can appear on coats of various colors, including gray, brown, and orange.

One of the most distinctive traits of tabby cats is the “M” shaped mark on their foreheads, situated right above their eyes. This unique feature is a hallmark of all tabby cats, making them easily recognizable.

The ubiquity of tabby cats is due to a fascinating genetic aspect: every domestic cat possesses the gene responsible for the tabby pattern. This results in a wide variety of sizes and breeds of cats showcasing the tabby pattern.

Despite their physical differences, tabby cats often display similar behavioral traits. When it comes to a Tabby cat’s personality, they are typically friendly, curious, and outgoing, traits that have endeared them to cat lovers worldwide and contributed to their popularity as pets.

Types of Tabby Cats

Tabby cats exhibit a remarkable variety of sizes and shapes, ranging from the petite to the ponderous. This diversity extends to their tabby patterns as well, with each cat displaying its own unique flair.

Interestingly, there are five basic patterns with tabby cat markings that are recognized as genetically distinct. These patterns are:

types of tabby cats

1. The Classic Tabby

tabby cat patterns

The classic Tabby pattern is characterized by its distinctive whorls, forming a target-like shape on the cat’s side. Often referred to as a “blotched Tabby,” this pattern typically features swirls that are quintessential to the tabby image.

2. The Mackerel Tabby

type of tabby

Mackerel Tabby cats are distinguished by their ringed tails and legs, accompanied by bands of solid or broken stripes across their bodies. Often likened to the tigers of the tabby world due to their striking striped pattern, this pattern is the most prevalent among tabby cats.

3. The Spotted Tabby

spotted tabby cat

Spotted Tabby cats, in contrast to their striped counterparts, feature bands of spots instead of stripes. The size of these spots can vary, and they often resemble broken stripes akin to those seen on a Mackerel Tabby pattern.

4. The Ticked Tabby

ticked tabby

The Ticked Tabby, also known as the Abyssinian Tabby or Agouti Tabby, presents a unique appearance distinct from the more common striped or spotted tabbies. In Ticked Tabby cats, bands of stripes or spots are typically absent, except possibly on their legs.

However, their distinctiveness lies in the close examination of their fur. Each hair on a Ticked Tabby exhibits alternating bands of light and dark coloring, giving their tabby coat a unique texture and appearance. It is considered the rarest of the tabby markings.

5. The Patched Tabby

patched tabby

Patched Tabbies are easily recognizable by their unique coat pattern, featuring patches of dark or grayish brown intermingled with red or orange, all displaying the classic Tabby pattern. The Patched Tabby cat is often called Tortoiseshell or Tortie due to the resemblance of their brown and orange tabby spots to the distinctive patterns found on a tortoise’s shell.

Caring for Tabby Cats

orange and white spotted cat

Caring for a tabby cat depends more on its breed than its coat pattern. The amount of exercise they need will depend on the tabby cat’s breed, age, and size. It’s best to consult your vet for advice tailored to your tabby’s specific needs, including grooming, exercise, and training.

Tabby cats, depending on their breed, generally live over 15 years. Common health issues include hyperthyroidism, vomiting, urinary problems, stomach upset, and weight loss. Regular yearly vet check-ups are crucial for maintaining their health.

Popular Cat Breeds with Tabby Patterns

Discover the diverse world of popular cat breeds that showcase the striking and beloved tabby patterns, each with their own unique flair and cat personality.

1. Persian

grey and white tabby cat

Tabby Persian cats stand out with their unique beauty, featuring adorable faces and chubby bodies. Smaller than breeds like the Maine Coon, they’re known for their quiet, calm personalities. These cats love relaxing and enjoying a view from a window.

Known for their affectionate nature, Persians love being pampered and adored by their families. They do require daily grooming due to their high-maintenance coats. Thanks to their gentle temperament, Persian tabbies are friendly and loving for families, seniors, or apartment living.

2. American Shorthair

multi colored tabby

American Shorthairs are well-balanced in their personality, enjoying playtime but not excessively active or needy for attention. Many of them feature the classic Tabby patterns.

These cats are intelligent and social. Unlike some felines, they don’t shy away from strangers, often staying visible and interactive. While not fans of being held or overly pampered, they appreciate cozy snuggles next to their family on the couch and enjoy sleeping at the foot of the bed, making them affectionate companions.

3. Abyssinian

tabby types

Nicknamed “Aby” cats, these energetic and inquisitive felines have often ticked Tabby’s coats. Abys are always on the lookout for something to climb, chase, or explore. They adore high places, so a tall cat tree would be a hit in their home.

Abys crave attention and playtime, often following you around and seeking your attention, especially if you’re busy. If you’re planning to bring an Aby cat into your family, it’s a good idea to have plenty of toys to keep them entertained, or they might find their own amusement with household items.

If you’re away for work or school, consider getting a playmate for your Aby to keep this lively cat company, especially if you don’t have other pets.

4. Maine Coon

tabby cat

The Maine Coon, a favorite among pedigreed Tabby cats, is loved for its friendly, easy-going nature, especially with kids. These cats enjoy being close to their family and are happy to get attention, but they’re also content to simply watch you as you go about your tasks.

They have a natural instinct to chase mice and rodents, but in their absence, they’re just as happy playing with toys. They require daily playtime that engages their instinct to hunt and explore. It’s important to keep them mentally and physically active to prevent any behavioral problems.

5. Bengal

different types of tabby cats

Bengal cats have a unique lineage, with only a part of their ancestry tracing back to a wild cat. Most of their genetic makeup comes from regular domestic cats, and that’s where modern Bengals fit in.

Bengals must be at least four generations (F4) removed from their wild ancestor to be considered domestic. They are not typically recommended for first-time cat owners due to their bold personalities. Bengals often enjoy adventurous activities and might even like joining you on outings, provided they’re safely on a leash.


In conclusion, the world of tabby cats is rich and diverse, with each type offering its own unique charm.

From the striking stripes of the Mackerel tabbies to the intricate spots of the Spotted, the elusive patterns of the Ticked, the patchwork beauty of the Patched, and the iconic swirls of the Classic, these cats capture our hearts with their distinct personalities and stunning appearances.

Whether they’re lounging in sunbeams or playfully pouncing, tabbies bring joy and vibrancy to any home, making them cherished companions for cat lovers everywhere.

Mahvash Kazmi
Mahvash Kazmi, with a rich academic background in English Literature and Journalism, is not just a master of words but also a passionate advocate for the voiceless. Her vast experience, from teaching to insightful content creation, is underpinned by a profound love for animals and an unwavering commitment to conservation. An ardent animal lover, she often finds solace in nature's tales and the gentle purrs of her beloved Persian cat, Gracie. Her dedication to the environment and the written word combine to create truly compelling writing. With a heart that beats for the wild and the written word, she crafts compelling stories on animal issues, urging readers to coalesce for a cause.

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