Photos, Pictures, Breed Information
Tabby cats are the quintessential cat. All
cats carry the tabby gene.
The tabby gene is an incredibly diverse
gene that can create a variety of coat patterns, the most familiar of
which is the striped tiger-like pattern on many domestic cats, both
pure-bred and random-bred.
Even cats with single-color coats carry some form of the tabby gene.
One tabby gene is dominant, known as the agouti gene. Any cat that
inherits it from at least one parent will have a patterned coat. A cat
that inherits the genetically recessive non-agouti gene from both
parents will have a solid color coat, but if you look carefully even at
solid-coat cats, you may see faint tabby markings. Because all cats
carry a tabby gene, two solid-color cats will sometimes have tabby
kittens in their litters.
Tabbies come in four distinctive patterns: mackerel, classic, ticked,
and spotted. The tabby gene can also mix with other marking genes to
create cats that display both, such as calico tabby, pointed tabbies
and tabbies with white fur.
Mackerel tabbies are probably the most familiar type of tabby and are
sometimes referred to as "tiger cats" They have narrow vertical stripes
running from their spine across the belly. They also have the stripes
ringing their tails and lining their legs.
Mackarel tabby cats can come in many color variations but the pattern
of the stripes is always the same.
Classic, or marbled tabbies as they are sometimes called, have
blotched, wide stripes that run horizontally across the cat's body,
often swirling and creating spirals and bull's eyes.
This pattern appears to be the most recessive of the tabby patterns,
meaning both parents must at least carry the gene to produce it, unlike
the other tabby patterns, which are far more dominant. It is much more
likely for a litter of mixed kittens to be mackerel-patterned (even if
neither parent are) than classically-patterned.
Ticking is where the hairs show alternating bands of light and dark,
giving the coat a flecked appearance. Ticking is on the head, legs and
Ticked Tabbies are an ancient and possibly the original domestic tabby
variety. They do not have the stripes and spotted coat patterns of the
other tabbies. Instead the entire cat will appear to be one uniform
color until you look closely, when you can see that each individual
hair is banded with two or more colors starting at the root and ending
at the tip. This can cause them to have a sandy or salt and pepper-like
Instead of stripes, these
cats have small spots and rosettes. These
cats can come in any color but the spots are generally black. Some
spotted tabbies can even be black cats with darker black spots on
them. There is some debate about whether or not spotted cats
are in fact tabbies.
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