Tabby cats are very popular and come in many patterns.

If you are thinking about getting a new cat, these ones have a lot to offer. Once you have learned about these options, you should be able to make the right decision.

Each of these types of tabbies has a unique look.

History of the Tabby

The Tabby cat originally had the pattern of the modern-day Mackerel variety. Most experts believe that this cat came from African and European wild cats, which makes sense given their overall appearance.

Other patterns started coming about as the result of selective breeding as well as unintended mutations. 

Tabby Cat Breeds

There are many different tabby cat breeds, including:

  • Abyssinian: These cats are not always classified as tabbies, but they tend to have the ticked pattern when they are.
  • Domestic Shorthair: The Domestic Shorthair makes for a great pet for just about anyone. It comes in just about every color you could imagine, and it doesn’t have the health problems that many others do.
  • American Bobtail: The American Bobtail varies greatly in terms of its size and coloration. These cats are often a combination of tabby and solid. The classic pattern is the most common one with Bobtails.

Tabby Colors

You will find that tabby cats come in a wide range of colors, including:

  • Orange: All orange cats are tabbies, and while it may seem like they are one solid color, this is rarely the case. All you have to do is just look a bit closer to see the different shares that are present.
  • Brown: There are also tabbies that have a brown coloration that almost looks bronze in the right lighting. It is usually accompanied by black stripes, which makes for a beautiful overall coat.
  • Silver: Silver tabby cats also have black markings with some white.
  • Black: Tabbies can actually have numerous shades of black, ranging from very light (almost brown) to extremely dark and deep.
  • Gray: It is not uncommon for tabby patterns to feature streaks of dark grey along with black.
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Main Types of Tabby Cat Patterns

1. The Classic Tabby

Classic tabbies have an “M” shape stripe on their face just above the eyes. They have a brown and black marbled coat with a bullseye on the side of its body. Most of these cats have very thick stripes that are very wide. It also has black blotchy spots in random areas. These cats also have swirling lines that almost seem like they are going in a circular pattern.

2. Spotted Tabby

The spotted tabby resembles some of its wild ancestors with its light brown and black spotted coat. These cats also have black stripes on their legs. They typically have oval markings on the upper part of their body going up to the head. 

The Oricat is known for having a spotted tabby pattern. It gets its name from how much it looks like the wild ocelot.

The spots that these cats have all over their body vary greatly in both size and shape. Some spots are tiny while others are much bigger. Some are oval-shaped while others are almost perfectly round.

It can be fairly easy to mistake a spotted tabby for a mackerel if you aren’t paying close enough attention to their pattern. Spotted tabbies have a spotted coat, while mackerels are striped.

3. Mackerel

The Mackerel or Striped Tabby has a series of thin stripes on its chest. These strips can be broken or solid, depending on where they are on its body. They go all the way down their sides, resembling the pattern of a tiger.

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These cats can also be identified by the distinct rings on their tails. It is the most common tabby pattern in the world. If you look on their belly, you will find two dark spotted lines.

The unbroken pattern of Mackerels is another one of their defining physical characteristics. Their stripes go down either side of their body.

There is one stripe that goes down the middle of the back as well. This is probably the easiest way to tell if a tabby is indeed a Mackerel.

4. Patched

The Patched Tabby, which is sometimes called a tortoiseshell cat, has a very interesting pattern. These cats can have the pattern of any other Tabby, or a combination. They typically have a red and brown coat with thin lines going down their head. 

There are also very distinct markings on this cat’s legs, which is how they are commonly identified. This is definitely one of the most interesting looking tabbies.

You will find that these cats have light/ginger hair in addition to their brown areas.

5. Ticked

The Ticked Tabby or Abyssinian has the appearance of a wild feline with small spots and sometimes stripes on its legs and tail. It has agouti hairs that feature a multitude of darker shades of color. These cats are known for shimmering when they are exposed to daylight.

gray tabby cat


  • Some of the different tabby breeds include the Abyssinian, Domestic Shorthair, and American Bobtail.
  • Tabbies come in a wide variety of colors, including orange, brown, silver, gray and black.
  • The Classic Tabby is characterized by the bullseye on its side as well as an “M” pattern just above its eyes. They also have swirling lines that appear to go in circles.
  • The Spotted Tabby pattern features dark spots that vary greatly in terms of both their size and shape. These cats strongly resemble their wild ancestors.
  • Mackerel Tabbies have a striped pattern that can be either solid or broken. They also have two distinct lines of dark spots going down their belly.
  • The Patched or Tortoiseshell Tabby sometimes has a combination of all the other patterns. It can usually be identified fairly quickly by the markings on its legs.
  • Ticked Tabbies have a series of small spots as well as dark stripes on their tail and legs. They too strongly resemble African wildcats.
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Hi! I'm Anna and I´m a certified cynologist (KAU, ACW). Expert, blue cross volunteer, owner of Chinese crested kennel "Salvador Dali" and breedless friend called Fenya. "I can't imagine my life without dogs and I totally support the idea #AdoptDontShop".