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When asked what breed their striped cat is, many people reply with “Tabby.” However, like many common cat monikers (Tuxedo, Tortoiseshell, Calico, etc.) “Tabby” refers to the coat pattern, not a specific breed of cat. In fact, every feline has the tabby gene, but it does not present in the coat of every cat. To make things even more interesting, there are five types of Tabby markings: classic, mackerel, spotted, ticked and patched.


Tabbies can range in personality just as they range in coat characteristics. Knowing a tabby’s breed may give you hints into the cat’s personality.

An Abyssinian tabby is very active—climbing high and enjoying a fun game of chase. They are also an affectionate breed and will seek out their parent’s attention often. Their brains need frequent stimulation or they may get a little mischievous.

Physical Attributes


The different types and colors of cats have fascinated us for ages. Illustrator and cat enthusiast Harrison Weir’s book Our Cats and All About Them: Their Varieties, Habits, and Management; and for Show, the Standard of Excellence and Beauty was written all the way back in 1889 and is considered a classic.

Fur length and other details like facial structure, shape of ears and body type are often determined by the cat’s breed. However, regardless of breed, the tabby fur pattern essentially fall into five categories.

Classic tabbies are also known as the “blotched” tabbies. They have larger whorls that look like a target.

The mackerel has a ringed-tail and legs with stripes that travel around their entire body.

Push off the stripes! Spots are all the rage for the spotted tabby. The bands that travel the body of this tabby are not solid but are broken into spots instead.

Some tabbies try patches on for size. The patched tabby sports brown and red/orange patches. They resemble tortoiseshell, a colorful material used in manufacturing, and have been nicknamed Torti Tabbies, or Torbies.

Ticked tabbies have a subtler tabby patterning. Instead of bands of dark fur on their body, these tabbies have stripes or spots–called agouti–on each individual hair of their fur.

Regardless of their fur pattern, tabbies proudly wear the defining ‘M’ on their foreheads and a unique personality that is sure to find them their perfect home.

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