Beautiful, Wonderful Tabby Cats

Our tabby mix cat, named Misty. Notice the "M" on her forehead? That's a typical tabby marking.
Our tabby mix cat, named Misty. Notice the "M" on her forehead? That's a typical tabby marking. | Source

This Is A VERY Uniquely Colored Tabby Cat! Fascinating!

"Tabby" is not a breed, but rather a description of a pattern on the cat's coat ~

I didn't even realize this, but tabby cats are not actually a breed of cat. The word "tabby" refers to the markings on the cats coat. Therefore, many breeds can actually be considered to be tabby cats. I had always referred to some of the "quirks" in our cat, Misty, as being due to her being a "tabby". Now I guess I have to find a different explanation for her sweet little "quirks," since tabby is simply referring to the marks on her coat!

There are basically four types of traditional tabby cat markings ~

  1. Classic ~ This refers to the markings that look like "whorls" and usually there will be a "target" shape on the side of the cat's coat.
  2. Mackerel ~ This is more of a "striped" look to the cat's coat. It is such a common pattern among cats that it's been said that this should be the "classic" tabby type. Tabbies who have this marking will usually also have "ringed" tails (which is what our kitty, Misty has)... and their coats will range in color from oranges to silver-gray, to brown and white patterns. In addition, they will have bands of stripes running on the sides of their bodies, as well as some on their legs.
  3. Spotted ~ Two cat breeds especially show this pattern, the Ocicat and the American Bobtail cat.
  4. The last pattern type is called "Agouti" or "Ticked" ~ this is where the coloring is different as you go down each individual hair of the cat, the Abyssinian cat breed has a coat that is a good example of a "ticked" tabby pattern.


Misty is a good girl, who always says her "prayers."
Misty is a good girl, who always says her "prayers." | Source

Some stories about the "M" on a Tabby's forehead...

There are a couple of stories of how tabbies got the "M" that is a distinct marking that most of them share, and it is on their forehead. The most well known is probably the "Manger story."

This is a story about Mary and the baby Jesus, lying in the manger. They were surrounded by manger animals that night, and the baby Jesus was fussing and cold, so Mary asked the manger animals to help her out by moving in closer to warm him up. The first animal to respond was a sweet little tabby cat that cuddled right up next to him, loudly and contentedly purring, and keeping him warm. Mary was so thankful that she placed her initial "M" on his forehead.

There is another story about Mohammed and the tabby cat as well. It is said that Mohammed loved cats. The legend goes that he once cut a sleeve off of his garment in order to keep from waking his cat who was sleeping on the garment sleeve. There is also a legend that Mohammed bestowed the ability of cats to always land on their feet onto cats, and another story that a snake crawled up his sleeve, and his cat saved him from the snake. All of these stories combine so that people have said that Mohammed bestowed the "M" on the cats forehead to show his gratitude.

Look at that cute little striped tail, I call it her "Daniel Boone" tail...

Look at that striping down Misty's tail, common in the "Mackerel" pattern tabby.
Look at that striping down Misty's tail, common in the "Mackerel" pattern tabby. | Source

Consider a "tabby" cat when thinking of adopting...

Something that I believe is common to tabby cats, even though "tabby" does refer to their markings, I believe that they are very friendly and social cats. Some can be vocal and "talk" a lot, and they make wonderful pets. Maybe that is due more to the fact that they tend to be "mixed breed"... "Mutts" of the cat world, if you will.

And everyone "knows" that "mutts" make fantastic companions and pets! Any tabby cat that I have ever known has been sweet, affectionate, purrs easily and usually LOUDLY... and tends to bond well with everyone in the family. So, if you are considering adopting a cat, look for one with "tabby" markings. This can be a wonderful choice.

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Comments 9 comments

IdeaMorphist profile image

IdeaMorphist 5 years ago from Chicagoland

I love all cats! Great hub!


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

The only breeds of domestic cats are Persians,Siamese, short-haired domestic and long-haired domestic cats. When people refer to breeds of cats, they are usually talking about jungle cats and other exotic breeds like manxes. Any colouring differences are not reference to breeds. Thanks for the information on the M. My cat is a tabby.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Thanks for the interesting information about tabby cats and the lovely photos. My favorite photo is the second one, because one of my cats "says his prayers" too, like Misty!


picklesandrufus profile image

picklesandrufus 5 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

Interesting info.! Love the photo with the crossed legs.


KathyH profile image

KathyH 5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

Thanks, IdeaMorphist! I love them, too, they add so much to life! :)

Thanks Flora! :) I agree, and I think that a lot of cats fall into either the domestic short-hair or domestic long-hair categories! :) Thanks for stopping by!

And you're welcome, AliciaC! :) Isn't it cute when they look like they're saying prayers? I just had to get a picture of her doing that! :) Glad you liked it!

Thanks picklesandrufus! :) Glad you liked it! :)


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

My favorite pet growing up was my "talkative" Tabby cat. He lived nearly 18 years. Love the breed! Interesting facts. Thanks much, Steph


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland

Hi Kathy - this is one awesome and beautiful hub! The stories about Mohammed and the Baby Jesus are wonderful, I have never heard this before.

Like you, I also thought that 'Tabby' was a breed - as I always say, you learn something everyday from Hub Pages and it's writers!

I agree with you about 'Mutts' or cross-breeds. I've had a few dogs in my time and at least half were cross-breeds. Like the cross-breed cats, they are very friendly, sociable, intelligent, beautiful and make wonderful pets! I would especially recommend them - cats or dogs - for first time owners and folks with young kids.

A great hub and the photos are beautiful - Misty is one awesome looking cat! Voted up!


KathyH profile image

KathyH 5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

Thank you Steph! :) Our Misty tends to be VERY talkative as well, and I have a good friend who's tabby was, too. It was an interesting topic to write about! Glad you liked it!


KathyH profile image

KathyH 5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

Thanks so much, Seeker7, I'm so glad you liked it! :) And I'll tell Misty what you said about her, hopefully she won't get too big of a head from it! (WINKING!!!) Thanks for your thoughtful comment! :)

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