Tabby VS Tiger Cat : What Are The Differences & Similarities? Know Here

You are probably familiar with tabby cats as they are quite common, and might have heard of the term ‘tiger cats’.

You might be wondering about the significant difference between these two types of cats and whether they possess any similarities.

In this article, we try to answer some of the tabby cat’s questions and the tiger cat that might be through your curious mind.

The main differences between tabby cats and tiger cats are body-color, patterns on their body & personality. While tabby cats are available in a wide range of coat colors, tiger cats are found in beige or brown colored coats with darker colored stripes all over the body.

Tabby vs. tiger cat: Are they the same?

Tiger cat is a unique nickname associated with tabby cats. Tiger cats are tabby cats with a specific pattern on their coat that resembles a tiger.

These stripes are evident throughout the cat’s body, including the tail, the head, and its entire body. Usually, the mackerel tabby cats are called tiger carts.

All tabby cats cannot be called tiger cats, but all tiger cats can undoubtedly be called tabby cats.

The tiger cats’ striped patterns can help you distinguish them as wild cats, while all the other tabby cat patterns are evident on a wide variety of domestic cats.

However, due to cross-breeding, the patterns are also available in certain domesticated cats.

Tabby vs. Tiger cats: What are the differences?

1. Body Color

Tabby cats are available in a wide range of coat colors. Grey, beige, brown, orange are some of the commonly available shades of the tabby cat.

Since tabby cats belong to various breeds, their coat color is also determined by their breed. Patterns of a darker color usually run throughout the body of the cat.

Tiger cats are usually found in a restricted number of colors. They typically have a beige or brown colored coat with darker colored stripes all over the body.

The stripes are usually black, brown, or orange. This color pattern is also referred to as the infamous ‘mackerel tabby’.

2. Patterns on their body

Tabby cats are found in four distinctive patterns: mackerel, classic, ticked and spotted. All these patterns are unique and beautiful in their ways.

These patterns are found in a wide range of cats belonging to a variety of breeds. The mackerel tabby pattern is quite popular and is located in the tiger cats.

The cats with the classic tabby pattern are also called blotched tabbies as they have beautiful swirls all over their body.

The ticked tabbies have different colors of the same scheme on each shaft of hair on their body.

The spotted tabby cats are quite similar to the classic and the mackerel tabby cats, but their patterns are broken, which gives the illusion of spots on their bodies.

The tiger cats are known to have mackerel tabby patterns on their body. It has narrow stripes running all over its body.

You will notice that these stripes seem to emerge from the dark stripe along the cat’s spine if you look closely.

The lines usually run towards their stomach and are often parallel to one another.

Since these stripes resemble a fish’s skeleton, their pattern was named mackerel, and some people even call them ‘tiger cats’ because of their strong resemblance to the magnificent stripes of a tiger.

3. Statistics

The most commonly available types of tabby cats are the ‘tiger cats’ with striped patterns. They are found in most purebred cats, including the Persian, Sphynx, Ocicat, etc.

They are commonly found in breeds like American shorthair, Maine coons, American Bobtails, etc. One interesting thing to note is that all tiger cats are tabby cats, but all tabby cats are not tiger cats.

There are many references to the tiger cat in popular culture, ‘Garfield’ being the most popular among them.

Other patterns of the tabby category are not as common as the tiger or the mackerel pattern.

Some of the tabby patterns like the spotted tabbies are only found across a few specific breeds. We often associate tabby cats with either stripes or blotches on their body.

4. Personality

The tabby patterns are not breed-specific, making it more challenging to determine the cat’s specific personality with the tabby pattern.

They usually have characters quite similar to all other domestic cats. These cats are known for their playful and active nature.

They get along with people very well and love to interact and show affection at times. However, these cats do not do very well in new surroundings and are prone to stress and anxiety.

Tiger cats are known to have all the personality traits of a tabby cat. However, the tiger-like stripes on their body often portray a mysterious, whimsical, and majestic nature to the onlooker.

These cats are very active and love to embark on adventures. Tiger cats or the mackerel tabby patterns are also found among breeds of wild cats. It is hard to domesticate such cats.

They are aggressive and can attack you if they feel threatened. These cats are also excellent hunters and kill small animals for their food.

Are Tabby Cats Like Tiger-Cats?

There is constant confusion between tabby cats and tiger cats because of their similarity in looks. As you probably know, tabby cats have a specific color pattern, giving them this name.

When you see a tiger cat in a picture, it would feel like that the tiger cat looks exactly like a tabby cat. Well, you are not exactly incorrect, but you cannot call tabby cats tiger cats.

To understand this statement, we have to look at the different types of tabby cats possible. Primarily there are four types of coat patterns, and they are:

  • Classic tabby
  • Mackerel tabby
  • Spotted tabby
  • Patched tabby

Tiger cats belong to the mackerel tabby type, and that is why it might seem that tabby cats are like tiger cats. In contrast, it is only mackerel tabby cats that look like tiger cats.

Mackerel tabby or tiger cats have a long dark-colored patch going along the spine and thin patches coming from the spine to the belly. As a result, it looks like a fishbone structure, and it received the name “Mackerel” for the same reason.

So, if you find any other cat with a Mackerel tabby pattern, they would look like Tiger cats.


Tiger cats and tabby cats are very similar as they belong to the same category.

Tiger cats are simply the nicknames of mackerel tabbies, and they possess all the characteristics of a tabby cat. These cats need immense love and care and will surely be an excellent addition to your home.

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