Tabby is just a colour pattern, not a breed
A common answer when asked “Which cat do you own?” is “A tabby cat.” Okay with that, but which breed? Because, tabby is one of the six patterns normally observed in cats, others are Solid, Particolour, Calico & Bi-Colour, Colour Point and Shaded & Smoke.
Tabby colour pattern can be observed in almost every breed like Indi Mau, Persian, Classic Longhair, Bengal, Maine Coon, Exotic Shorthair, etc. Tabby means a pattern (usually formed by a darker colour) observed on a solid colour. A short hint to identify if your cat is a tabby or not, is, it has an ‘M’ type marking on its fore head. Did you know that colour pattern in cats also affects their temperament? Tabby cats are considered to be more loving and cuddly towards pet parents irrespective of carrying wild genes.
Basic five types of tabby patterns can be observed in cats.
1. Mackerel Tabby
2. Classic (Blotched) Tabby
3. Spotted Tabby
4. Ticked Tabby—Agouti
5. Patched Tabby
Striped, aka ‘Mackerel’, is the most common tabby pattern. Narrow stripes run parallel on the cat’s body coat, sometimes gently curving, other times breaking up into bars and spots. Mackerel can also be referred to as ‘tiger’ like markings.
Classic (Blotched) Tabby
The classic tabby cat resembles marble type marking. The markings are thick curving bands in a whirled or swirled pattern with a distinctive mark on each side of the body resembling a bullseye.
A spotted tabby has spots all over his sides. These spots can be large or small, and sometimes appear to be broken mackerel stripes. They can be round, oval or rosettes. The best example of rosetted tabby is a Bengal cat.
A ticked tabby cat does not have the traditional stripes or spots on her body, and may not, at first, seem to be a tabby. However, like all tabbies, this coat pattern has tabby markings on the face and agouti hairs on the body. Little markings can be observed on their limbs. on Common example of agouti tabby is a Abyssinian cat.
Patched tabbies, in the typical form, there are separate patches of brown tabby and red tabby on the same animal. A tortie who also carries the tabby gene is often called a torbie. Patched tabbies can show any one of the above four distinct tabby patterns. The markings are usually more apparent on the legs and head. So, the next time someone asks you, “Which cat do you own?”, hopefully you won’t answer it as a tabby cat!
(Saquib Pathan is President of Feline Club of India (FCI))