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11 Fascinating Facts About Grey Tabby Cats (With Pictures)

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on March 29, 2024 by Nicole Cosgrove

muzzle of a brown domestic cat_Karrtinki_shutterstock

11 Fascinating Facts About Grey Tabby Cats (With Pictures)

If you love your grey tabby cat or are looking at adding a cute grey tabby cat kitten to your family, you’ll enjoy finding out more about the gorgeous cats! We’ve collected 11 facts about grey tabby cats, from legends about how they got those sweet “M” markings on their foreheads to how a grey tabby cat inspired one of the first cuddly toys.

So, snuggle down with a hot drink and your grey tabby cat if you have one, and get ready to learn more about these striking cats.

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The 11 Facts About Grey Tabby Cats

1. Grey Tabby Cats Can Come in Many Different Breeds

Grey tabby cats aren’t a breed but a coat color! Tabby cats can come in several colors and patterns, including grey, brown, orange, red, and others! There are a vast number of breeds with the grey tabby coloration, including the American Shorthair, Abyssinian, and many others.

Gray tabby cute kitten with blue eyes_KDdesignphoto_shutterstock
Image Credit: KDdesignphoto, Shutterstock

2. Most Grey Tabby Cats Have an “M” on Their Foreheads

Look closely at the forehead of any grey tabby, and you’ll likely see a cute “M” mark on their foreheads in a darker fur color. There are many anecdotes about how this marking came to be, so choose the one you like the best.

The first claims that the M was created when the prophet Muhammad laid his hand on the head of his favorite cat. The second says that the Virgin Mary marked the cat’s face in gratitude for them purring when baby Jesus wouldn’t stop crying. The third version suggests that the M is from the Egyptian word “mau” that means “cat.”

3. Grey Tabbies Can Have Different Coat Patterns

As well as having many tabby coat colors, all tabby cats, including grey ones, can have five coat patterns. Classic grey tabby cats have swirled circular patterns along their sides, resembling a target sign. Mackerel grey tabby cats have narrow stripes down their bodies, like tigers, and rings around the tail and legs. They also have a dark stripe along their spine. Spotted grey tabby cats are covered in spots, which can be oval or striped and bisected by tiger stripes.

A ticked grey tabby is more unusual because they don’t have classic tabby stripes. They may have subtle tabby markings on their faces, sometimes even their legs, but if looked at more closely, there are shaded hairs over their bodies. They also possess the agouti gene that’s responsible for tabby markings. Patched tabbies have patches, as the name suggests, with areas of different colors, like brown or grey with red or orange.

Gray striped cat _OlhaTsiplyar_shutterstock
Image Credit: OlhaTsiplyar, Shutterstock

4. Grey Tabbies Can Have a Range of Different Eye Colors

Depending on the breed of your tabby cat, they can have different eye colors, including yellow, green, copper, hazel, and blue. The specific eye colors of different grey tabby cats will depend on their breed, so if you want a grey tabby cat with a particular eye color, it’s best to check their breed standard to see if that’s a possibility.

5. The Grey Tabby Pattern Is Thought to Come from Wild Cats

It’s thought that the beautiful swirling patterns on domestic grey tabby cats are from genes from wild cats. This is a naturally occurring pattern and can be seen in the European Wildcat, African Wildcat, and Asiatic Wildcat, which all have similar coats in terms of patterns and colors.

Grey tabby cat with intense golden eyes_Ysbrand Cosijn_shutterstock
Image by: Ysbrand Cosijn, Shutterstock

6. All Grey Tabby Cats Have the Agouti Gene

The gene that’s responsible for grey tabbies, as well as every other tabby shade, is the agouti gene. This is a dominant gene, so if a cat has it, they will be tabby colored! That’s one of the reasons that you find tabby cats in a huge range of cat breeds. The agouti gene creates striped bands of light and dark across individual hairs.

7. Different Grey Tabby Cats Will Have Different Temperaments

Your grey tabby cat’s temperament will depend more on which breed they are than the color of their fur. So, if you’d love a grey tabby cat, pick a breed that this color is common in but whose temperament also suits what you and your family are looking for in a cat.

Beautiful gray cat lying on the floor_OlhaTsiplyar_shutterstock
Image by: OlhaTsiplyar, Shutterstock

8. The Name Tabby Comes From a Silk-Producing Region

It’s thought that the name “tabby” comes from the French word “taffeta,” a type of striped silk. This word originates from the 14th-century word “atabis,” which can be traced back to the Arabic term “attabiyah,” which refers to a district of Baghdad famed for its striped silk.

It is believed that the first reference to a tabby cat was made in the 1960s, and the term soon became shortened to simply tabby in the 1970s.

9. A Grey Tabby Inspired One of the First Cuddly Toys

One of the US’s first stuffed toys was called the Ithaca Kitty and was produced from 1892 until 1918. The inspiration for the Ithaca Kitty was a grey tabby cat called Caesar Grimalkin. The success of the Ithaca Kitty cuddly toy inspired the creation of other stuffed toys, including bunnies, dogs, and kittens.

emotional grey Tabby cats_BrAt82_shutterstock
Image Credit: BrAt82, Shutterstock

10. National Tabby Day Is on April 30

Celebrate your wonderful tabby cat on April 30, which is National Tabby Day! It’s the perfect time to treat your beautiful grey tabby cat to tasty new treats, a catnip toy, or just extra special cuddles to let them know how much you love them. Check out the #NationalTabbyDay hashtag on Instagram to see gorgeous grey tabby cats.

11. Pusheen Is a Grey Tabby Cat

You’ve probably seen the round grey tabby cat Pusheen on all sorts of merchandise, from cushions to backpacks, phone covers, pencil cases, and more. Pusheen was created by Claire Belton and appeared in many online comics before going viral and taking over our lives in the best possible way.

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Final Thoughts

The grey tabby’s beautiful coat adorns several breeds with distinct personalities and characteristics. Although the tabby coat does not keep the cats hidden in a residential setting, they may have protected their wild ancestors in natural settings. However, regardless of the history of the popular pattern, the grey tabby makes an extraordinary pet for loving owners. We hope the fascinating facts we discussed will inspire you to give one a forever home.

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Featured Image Credit: Karrtinki, Shutterstock

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