The term "tabby" comes from the French word tabis, which means "rich and striped silk". The pattern which is referred to as "tabby" is not specific to any single breed. Also, it is a natural phenomenon occurring in cats. The history of these patterns can be traced back to the ancestors of today's cats like the African wildcat and other similar species like the European wildcat and Asian wildcat. The color may not be restricted to a single shade; a tabby can be fresh orange or ginger, brown, gray, or even a mixture with patches. The markings can be in the form of stripes, whirls, or spots on the body. They may often have tiger stripes on the sides of their tummies. Swirls and ring patterns around the legs and tail is another characteristic of a tabby. These patterns will vary depending upon the breed of the tabby cat.
A tabby cat has four distinct patterns, they are:
- A typical tabby cat has a prominent M-shaped marking on its forehead. This shape is present between the ears and above the eyes. There are many tales about the origin of this mark. One story says that Mary gave her initial to a cat because it had kept Jesus warm, when Jesus was very cold. They may even have a bull's-eye pattern on their sides. Brown tabbies with green eyes are among the most common varieties seen.
- They can also camouflage themselves very well in the wild. The various stripes or patterns help these cats to blend well among the leaves. This pattern can be seen on domestic as well as wild cats. For example, the leopard is a spotted wild cat, and the tiger has stripes on its body.
- The striped tabby cat has vertical lines on the body that resemble the bones of a fish. The pattern is also referred to as a Mackerel pattern. A spotted tabby has spots all over the body, particularly around the stomach area. Blotched tabbies, also known as classic tabbies, have the 'M' pattern as mentioned earlier. Ticked tabbies have a coat that has distinct coloring in patterns and will have agouti hair over the body.
- This type of pattern has two colors of hair, which include a light shade and a darker shade.
Some Other Facts
- A tabby doesn't have a specific personality, because it will inherit the characteristics of the particular breed.
- It has been majorly observed that these cats tend to be smarter, more playful, and friendlier than other felines.
- Such cats are also called the "dogs among cats", because they like to cuddle and sit on the lap for hours.
- Similar to the above point, it is impossible to know the height and weight, because the characteristics depends on the breed of the cat.
- Tabby cats have one thing common with tigers, they too have backward-pointing spines on the middle part of the tongue.