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Cat Health

Tabby Cats and Their Patterns


Tabbies are a big part of our lives.

If you follow us on Instagram, you probably know that we have three beautiful full-time tabbies: CassieKyra The Cog and Alexandra. We also have one vocal foster cat we call Kreature. Each of these cats is magnificent and it’s about time someone came up with a holiday celebrating their beauty.

And so, in Celebration of #NationalTabbyDay, we’re talking about a few fun facts you may not know…

To begin, a tabby is not a breed of cat, but a general way of referring to a coat pattern. In fact,  usually “tabby” means stripes, swirls or spots on a cat that is orange, brown, white or grey colored cat.  In fact, the word tabby is often used as a generic term for “cat” (just like “hound” is often used as a general term for dogs). Tabby cats are found in a variety of different breeds.

Let’s take a look at the four basic types of tabby coat patterns.

[heading style=”1″ color=”#ff9933″ style_color=”#ff9933″]Mackerel Tabby[/heading]

Most common. They are the narrow “striped” cats you see. The mackerel tabby cats are named after the mackerel fish because some people think their pattern looks like fish scales (hence the nickname).



[heading style=”1″ color=”#ff9933″ style_color=”#ff9933″]Ticked Tabby[/heading]

Ticked tabbies don’t have distinct stripes. Instead, they have bands of individual colors around each strand of hair, which gives them a mottled look.



[heading style=”1″ color=”#ff9933″ style_color=”#ff9933″]Classic Tabby[/heading]

Classic, Blotched or Marbled patterns are the most common in tabbies. The color patches are arranged in large swirls and loops that sometimes blend together. Classic tabbies have marbled fur – the whorls and loops keep you guessing! Our cat Cassie is a Classic Tabby.



[heading style=”1″ color=”#ff9933″ style_color=”#ff9933″]Spotted Tabby[/heading]

Spotted tabbies have spotted coat patterns. You’ll see these most often in Bengal cats. But there are different types of spotted tabbies:

Oceloid Spots are those similar to the ones found on cheetahs. They can be found in many different types of domestic tabby cats.

Rosette spots are those that have dark centers inside rosettes. These make the spots look like flowers. These are like the ones you’ll see on a leopard or jaguar (you can find a Were-Jaguar in our novel, Shepherd’s Moon!). 



There are other types of coloration, as well. For example, “Tabby and white” have mostly white fur and stripes along their backs or tails. Below are some handy charts that our friends at Messybeast developed:



If your tabby only has markings on the face, legs, and tail, they are called Tabby Points.

  • Caliby: A calico with tabby markings
  • Torbie: A tortoiseshell cat with tabby markings
[heading style=”1″ color=”#ff9933″ style_color=”#ff9933″]The “M” Marking On Foreheads[/heading]

Tabby cats almost always have an “M” marking on their forehead. We think it stands for “marvelous’, “magnificent”, “magic”, and “majestic”. But some people believe the M was placed there by Mohammad and others believe that Mary made her mark on this blessed cat.

Read the story about how tabby cats received the M marking on their forehead, and explore their place in religion (or more accurately, in mythos focused around religion)


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[heading style=”1″ color=”#ff9933″ style_color=”#ff9933″]#NationalTabbyDay[/heading]

Today is National Tabby Day and we’re thrilled to be a part of this important day. The first National Tabby Day to celebrate tabby cats will be held this year on April 30 with the inaugural event taking place at Bideawee Animal Shelter, 410 E 38th Street, New York, NY 10016.

The idea is to celebrate tabby cats and educate that tabbies are not a cat breed but in fact a coat pattern. The spokes-cat for the event is Buffy, whose new book Making The Most of All Nine Lives  is now available.

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