If you think that the tabby cat is quite a common breed, you wouldn’t entirely be wrong. The term “tabby” actually doesn’t refer to a breed, but rather, to a feline’s coat pattern—which is probably the reason why tabby cats are so common! Tabby cat markings appear in different breeds, even in felines that aren’t exactly domesticated.

There are five different types of coat patterns seen in tabby cats. Colors also differ accordingly, which may also indicate tabby cat personality characteristics. Before we discuss these in detail, let’s take a quick look at historical and genetic facts about tabby cats.

Genetics and History

Tabby coat patterns are extremely popular and possibly the oldest coat pattern is known to be present in cats. Tabby cats come in different shapes, colors, and sizes. One of the most distinguishable marks on a tabby cat is an “M” shaped pattern on the forehead, which is present in most tabbies.

A special cat gene called agouti is responsible for whether or not a cat appears with tabby markings. Cats with the agouti gene have distinguishable tabby coat patterns while those that do not are referred to as solid cats, which may include calico cats, tri-color and bi-color cats, tortoise shells, tuxedos, and cats with pointed markings.

Tabby Coat Patterns

Tabby coat patterns come in five basic types.

  1. Classic tabby – Also referred to as the “blotched” tabby, the classic pattern is made up of whorls that look like what appears to be a target on the side of the cat’s body.
  2. Mackerel tabby – The mackerel pattern resembles rings of solid and broken strips around the body and the tabby cat’s legs and tails.
  3. Spotted tabby – The coat of a spotted tabby cat feature bands of spots in varying sizes. The spots can sometimes appear as broken stripes.
  4. Patched tabby – Patched tabbies have patches in dark or grayish brown, red, or orange going with their tabby markings. The patches look similar to that seen on the shell of a tortoise, earning patched tabby cats the name “torbies.”
  5. Ticked tabby – Ticked tabbies, also known as agouti tabbies, feature isolated bands of color that are only noticeable if you look closely. The marks appear more distinctively on their legs. You will also easily notice the M mark on the forehead on a ticked tabby.

Tabby Cat Colors

Aside from the pattern, colors also vary, which may indicate tabby cat personality. The color orange is the most popular tabby cat color and are usually considered the friendliest cats.

  1. Orange – Orange tabby cats are males, more often than not. The orange tabby markings may appear in classic, mackerel, ticked, or striped patterns.
  2. Ginger – Ginger tabby cats are also quite common. The markings are of a darker orange on ginger tabbies.
  3. Gray – Tabby markings on gray cats usually appear in contrast to a slightly lighter colored coat.
  4. Brown – Brown coat markings make it easier to identify a tabby cat.
  5. Black – Black cats can also be tabby cats. Sometimes, the tabby markings are only noticeable if you look close enough. Black tabby markings may appear in contrast with silver-colored patterns on the coat.


Tabby Cats Personality

We have established that being a tabby refers to a cat’s coat pattern and not its breed. Tabby cats are generally known for being gentle and affectionate pets.  They are also popular for being intelligent and friendly towards people and other animals.

Tabby cats’ personality, males and females both, is the result of thousands of years of domestication despite their physical resemblance to their distant tiger cousins in the wild.

A cat’s personality is sometimes associated with its color. There had been studies that correlated coat color to the tabby cat personality. Gray colored tabbies, for instance, as well as bi-color cats, are largely known for being highly affectionate.

A 2012 survey conducted by the University of California; Berkeley researchers showed some interesting perspectives on tabby cat personality. Orange cats were shown to be the friendliest, according to the 189 cat owners surveyed.

While this is a popular assumption about orange tabby cat personality, facts would tell us of course that every cat possesses a unique personality that’s inherent to its breed and influenced by the environment where it was raised—tabby or non-tabby.

Tabby Cats Temperament

Tabby cats, like any other cat, have unique temperaments according to their breed, health, and upbringing. Most tabby cats, however, are known to be outgoing and sociable, making them a very popular choice for a first pet.

Tabby cats are good to have around children and actually make excellent therapy animals. Most tabbies will have no difficulty getting along with other animals in the household, including birds. A stray tabby cat that you take home with you can easily adapt to his new home, as long as his needs are provided and he feels safe and secure.

Cat Personalities According to Breed

Ginger, orange, black, or gray, tabby cats’ personalities could largely depend on the cat’s breed. Some breeds are friendlier than others and some, more aloof.

If you’re considering adopting a tabby, you may consider looking at Siamese, Abyssinian, Burmese, Bengal, Scottish Fold, and Cornish Rex cats. These cat breeds are known to be among the most affectionate. Persian, Sphynx, Cymric, Ragdoll, American Shorthair, Oriental Shorthair, and Tonkinese cats are also known to be highly affectionate breeds.

Some tabby cats are calmer than others. If you’re looking to adopt a tabby cat that’s well-mannered, you may consider looking at breeds like Himalayan, Ragdoll, Maine, British Shorthair, Japanese Bobtail, and Birman cats.

If you happen to be the owner of a tabby cat of the Russian Blue, Kora, or Ragamuffin breed, don’t be surprised if your pet is almost always lounging or asleep. These breeds are known to be among the laziest cat breeds around.

Tabby cat’s personality traits aren’t all the same, but there’s no doubt that tabbies make excellent companions and household pets. Classic, spotted, ticked, patched, or mackerel, tabby cats’ personality is definitely fun and delightful whatever the color or type of tabby you have. Regardless of what breed, they come from, tabby cats are friendly, affectionate, intelligent, and sociable, which is why they make great pets for first-time cat owners.