Types Of Tabby Cats & Their Patterns : The Ultimate Guide

When you hear the word ‘Tabby Cat,’ everyone has a different mindset to it.

While some might think it is a regular, malnourished, dumpster eating alley cat, others might think it is their favorite cat breed.

However, the common misconception of Tabby cats being a different breed is entirely baseless. Tabby is not a breed, but a color pattern on cats.

Tabby genes are always present in your cat’s genes. Whether they will show it or not depends on the other color and patterns present in their DNA.

The tabby pattern has gained such popularity in the recent days that many cat breeders are promoting this pattern on most cats over others.

In this article, we will talk about the types of tabby cat patterns and how you can differentiate between them. We will also cover the general colors of tabby cats to give you an overall idea.

Tabby Cats: Some Basic Info –

The tabby cat is the most common coat pattern to occur in most of the cat breeds.

All cats have some Tabby pattern in them, but cats do not show these strips, swirls, spots, or ticks if there is a more predominant coat pattern gene present in their DNA.

However, you put the cat under sunlight, and there is a slight chance that you might see these tabby patterns.

Another interesting fact about tabby cats is that the gene, which makes their coat color red, orange, or cream, is also responsible for the tabby pattern.

One of the most striking features of a tabby cat is ’M’ mark on their foreheads.

This mark has a lot of speculation surrounding this mark, and it gives us fascinating stories about the beloved tabby cats.

Egyptians used to worship cats, and people claim that the emblem is related to the Egyptian word ‘mau’, which means cat.

Christians believe that a tabby cat helped mother Mary take care of baby Jesus, and she left a mark on the forehead to express her gratitude.

In Islam, it is a common belief that Mohammed had a tabby cat, and it saved him from a poisonous snake. Mohammed gifted all the tabby cats with a mark of ‘M’ on their forehead.

It is fascinating to think that there are religious backstories for your beloved tabby feline. However, experts attribute the mark ‘M’ to the unique genetics of the tabby cats.

They claim that all the cats have some portions of tabby characteristics in their genes. If you search for any cat pattern by keeping it under the sunlight, you will most likely find some bands or spots on the cat.

Tigers and leopards also share similar characteristics with the tabby cats, and the stripes make them such efficient hunters.

What are the types of tabby cats’ pattern?

All the tabby cats have some standard features, including the outward line from the eyes to their ears and the M-shaped mark on their foreheads.

They have analogous rings on their legs, dark stripes of fur down their spine, and their belly buttons.

The most prevalent tabby cat is brown, and there are predominantly four types of tabby patterns:

  • Classic tabby (blotched)
  • Mackerel tabby (striped)
  • Ticked tabby (Agouti, Abyssinia)
  • Spotted tabby

How to differentiate between the tabby cat patterns?

We all know how tedious it can be to differentiate between tabby cat patterns. We will provide all the details that you need to know about identifying the various types of tabby cats.

1. Common tabby:

The classic tabby cats have swirling patterns on their side, giving them a butterfly wing-like look. The prominent designs are visible due to the high color contrast of the coat.

Most of the American shorthair cats show this type of pattern. They are popularly known as a blotched tabby in some regions.

2. Mackerel tabby:

The resemblance with a fish skeleton is the reason why cat owners call it mackerel tabby. There is a central line that runs along the spine of the cat.

Parallel stripes originate from the central line and run down the sides. The stripes on both sides of the body are parallel and equidistant from each other.

This unique stripe pattern gives them an uncanny resemblance to the tiger cats. As a result, some cat owners refer to them as tiger cats. Mackerel tabby cats have rings like stripes around their legs and tail.

3. Ticked tabby:

This type of pattern is found mainly on Chausie and Abyssinian cats. Ticked tabby has multiple colors on the same hair shaft, and they have usual rings like stripes on their tails and legs.

People also call them Agouti tabby or Abyssinian tabby at different places. One of the main features of this type of pattern is agouti hair on most of its body.

Agouti hair is a particular type of hair with multiple color bands on the same hair strand. The alternating light and dark bands give them a unique look, and they stand out from the other tabby cats.

4. Spotted tabby:

The name explains the pattern on their bodies. Spotted tabby cats have patches of a different color all over their bodies.

The spots’ size and shape can vary from one cat to another, and they do not follow any recognized pattern.

It is easy to confuse between a mackerel tabby having broken stripes and a spotted tabby. Scientists have not deciphered whether the broken mackerel tabby is somehow connected to the spotted tabby or not.

There is another pattern that cat owners often mistake with the tabby pattern.

Patched tabby cats, more commonly known as tortoiseshell tabby cats, have separate brown and red tabby patterns on the same cat.

This pattern almost looks like a mix of tortoiseshell and tabby as they have both of the genes.

We should not consider this to be a separate pattern because patched tabbies show any of the above tabby patterns and do not have any individual characteristics.

Colors of tabby cats:

We have provided a list of all the colors you can see on a tabby cat. Every color has the three main tabby patterns. So, it is quite evident that there can be a variety of tabby cats. The colors are as follows:

1. Brown:

Most of the tabby cats are brown, and they make most of the tabby population. Brown tabby cats have a bronze or brown colored fur with black stripes.

2. Brown and white:

They closely resemble the brown tabby cats, but they have a white tummy and legs. While some of the cats of this color have white spots on the face, some do not.

3. Brown Patched:

This variation of brown tabby cats has dark bronze-colored fur and black stripes with red dots.

4. Brown patched and white:

They resemble the brown patched tabby cats but have white belly, bibs, and legs.

5. Silver:

Silver tabby cats have silver fur all over their body, and the stripes are of black.

6. Silver and white:

It is similar to the Silver tabby cats but has white in the background as well.

7. Silver patched:

Silver patched tabby cats have a silver coat with black stripes, and they have red or cream-colored spots on them.

8. Silver patched and white:

This type of cat has similar characteristics as the Silver patched tabby cats, but it has white in the background.

9. Blue-silver:

The fur is silver in color, and the contrasting stripes are deep blue. [ Read about their eyes also ]

10. Blue-Silver and white:

The background fur has principally silver color, but bib, belly, and paws have white hair. The stripes are deep blue.

11. Blue-silver patched:

Along with silver background and deep blue lines, the cat has cream-colored spots.

12. Blue-silver patched and white:

It is the same as the blue-silver patched tabby, but the belly, bib, and paws have white coats.

13. Red:

Red tabby cats have red (orange/ginger) colored coats with deep, vibrant red tabby patterns.

14. Red and White:

Red and white tabby cats look like the red tabby cat with white belly, bib, and paws.

15. Blue:

This exquisite color combination has a pale bluish ivory color in the background and deep blue bands.

16. Blue Patched:

This particular type of tabby cat shares the resemblance with blue tabby cats but has cream-colored spots.

17. Cream:

Cream-colored tabby cats have an off-white background with darker cream or buff-colored stripes.

18. Cream and White:

The only difference between this and the previous one is the white-colored bib, belly, and paws.

19. Cameo:

This type of tabby cat has the same creamy background with red stripes.


Now, you should be sure that tabby cats are not a breed but a specific type of pattern. Their salient features made them one of the most popular cat patterns in the world.

The four types of hair-patterns and various colors are responsible for a broad color spectrum for tabby cats.

Although several cat breeds can have these tabby patterns, you should accept how they are and love them equally.

Related Reading:

  1. Can I Get Allergy From Tabby?
  2. What should you feed your tabby?
  3. Can Tabby Cats Grow Long Hair?
  4. Do Tabby Cats Only Live In Indoor?