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23 Fascinating Facts About Tabby Cats (2024 Update)

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on February 9, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Red and grey cat sitting on the window sill

23 Fascinating Facts About Tabby Cats (2024 Update)

The tabby cat is one of the most popular cats in the world, and their gorgeous coats can have various colors and patterns. They’re often affectionate and friendly, and they are not expensive to purchase. If you have a tabby cat and want to learn interesting facts about it, keep reading while we list 23 fascinating facts about tabby cats.



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Tabby Basics

1. Tabby is not a breed

tabby cat with vest harness
Image by: Sari ONeal, Shutterstock

The Tabby cat is not a breed but a pattern of markings on the cat’s body. Almost every cat breed has members that are considered tabby cats.

2. Tabby cats have the letter M on their forehead

A tabby cat’s defining characteristic is the letter M’s presence on the cat’s forehead between the ears. They will also have stripes by the eyes and across the cheeks.

3. Tabby cats are available in several colors

three different colored maine coon kittens
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Tabby cats are available in several colors: black, white, red, brown, lavender, blue, cream, fawn, chocolate, sable, and many more.

Tabby Patterns

4. Tabby cats may have spots

Tabby cats can have many patterns on their body, and some have spots. These spots can be bright, causing the cat to have a leopard-like appearance or be nearly invisible. Some cat breeds with tabby coats and unique spots include the Bengal, Egyptian Maw, Ocicat, Savannah, and Exotic Shorthair.

5. Tabby cats may have a mackerel pattern

mackerel tabby cat lying on the floor
Image Credit: Amaya Eguizábal, Pixabay

The Mackeral pattern tabby cat, as the name suggests, is a pattern that resembles fish bones with a long stripe down their back from shoulder to tail and a series of vertical stripes down the sides. This pattern is pervasive in most breeds that present the tabby pattern.

6. Tabby cats may have a tortoiseshell pattern

The tortoiseshell pattern is a tri-color pattern that is rare in male cats but relatively common in female cats because the color genes are related to sex. While you can find it in any breed, those most likely to present the tortoiseshell pattern are the Manx, Scottish Fold, and American Shorthair.

7. Tabby cats can have a patched pattern

a patched tabby cat lying outdoors
Image Credit: TheLazyPineapple, Shutterstock

Patched tabby cats have large patches of color that follow no uniform pattern. The spots can be different on one side than the other, and any breed with the tabby pattern can have patches, so it is pretty common.

8. Tabby cats may shimmer

Some tabby cats have a shiny coat that sparkles in the sunlight. Others have an agouti that causes the hair to have bands of different colors at the base than the tip. This banding causes the hair to appear to change color as they move or when you pet them.

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Tabby Facts

9. Tabby cats have large personalities

Most owners describe their tabby cats as having large personalities. They have a wide range of emotions that they have no problem projecting. They can often experience mood swings and disappear for a short time but are usually friendly and playful.

three tabby maine coon cats
Image Credit: skeeze, Pixabay

10. Tabby cats are excellent hunters

Since ancient times, humans have used tabby cats in their homes, barns, and boats for their excellent hunting capabilities. They can easily catch mice, rats, birds, and other small prey that invade your space.

11. Tabby cats prefer groups

Unlike many cats that prefer a life of solitude, tabby cats form colonies if left in the wild to help improve their survival chances. They share food and shelter with others and may even help raise children. However, they will still likely become territorial if raised alone.

12. Tabby cats will require a scratching post

Tabby cats are fierce scratchers and can tear up furniture and rugs if not provided with a proper scratching post. Luckily, tabby cats are intelligent, so it’s easy to train them to use the post and leave the furniture and curtains alone.

The Hepper Hi-Lo Modern Cat Scratcher is a functional and stylish design that makes it the ultimate scratching spot for your cat – and a superhero in the battle against furniture destruction. Unlike most cat toys that end up being ignored, this one's a crowd-pleaser for both cats and their hoomans.

Hepper Hi-Lo Cardboard Cat Scratcher with Real...
  • Premium Materials - Hepper's cardboard scratcher is made with dense, B-flute cardboard, and a metal...
  • High, Low and Lower - A single cat scratch pad won't keep your cat engaged. 3 unique positions keeps...
  • Activates Muscles - The Hi Lo isn't just a cat nail file to stop the chief cat couch scratcher. The...

With its 3 configurations, thick textured cardboard, and solid birch plywood frame, it encourages your cat's natural scratching instincts, so they stay away from your precious furniture, rugs, and curtains, among all other things they shouldn't scratch. The Hi-Lo is like your home's mini guardian, keeping it safe while looking super sleek and trendy.

At Catster, we’ve admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest, so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

13. Tabby cats rule the roost

Tabby cats like to be in charge of the area around them, and you will need to prove you are the alpha from day one to keep them from becoming spoiled and demanding you do things their way.

Even well-behaved cats can try to assert their dominance on occasion. Cats attempting to be the boss will often knock objects off shelves and countertops. They can also shred curtains or chew wires.

14. Tabby cats enjoy being around people

Tabby cats enjoy the company of humans and usually spend most of their time in the same room as their owner. They quickly come running when you get home or first get up to be the first to greet you. They also like the company of children and other pets.

15. Everything belongs to a tabby cat

Tabby cats can be selfish and regard everything in the home as theirs. They require training if you want them to stay off the bed or consider other areas of the home off-limits. Otherwise, they will do as they please and can become creative at accessing areas you have blocked off. You must also train them to leave other cats’ food alone.

close up of a tabby cat
Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

16. Tabby cats like attention

Tabby cats love attention and go to great lengths to get it if they feel left out. Ordinarily, quiet cats can become very vocal if you lock them out of the room, and they may begin to scratch the floor. They also misbehave in other ways, especially if it brings the attention they’re craving.

17. Tabby cats prefer a clean environment

Tabby cats are neat freaks, and though they don’t like baths, they spend much of their day grooming themselves. They expect you to do your part to keep their living space clean, especially their litter box. They can kick waste out of the box if you don’t remove it promptly.

18. Tabby cats are curious

Tabby cats are curious and watch you do everything from cooking dinner to playing a video game. They’ll be right under your feet when you are doing something important and can become a nuisance. They can also be relentless when they want to do something, like unroll the toilet paper.

mackerel tabby cat playing with roll of toilet paper
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

19. Tabby cats have a naughty side

Tabby cats can also have a naughty, mischievous side and sometimes enjoy doing things that make you angry. If they know something bugs you, like unrolling the toilet paper, they will often do it every night when you go to sleep.

20. Tabby cats require a car cage

Most tabby cats do not like to go in the car, and you will likely hear the most extreme vocalizations when you attempt to take them to the vet. They can also become aggressive and flighty, so it’s extremely important to put your cat in a travel cage when transporting them.

21. Tabby cats will interrupt you

As we mentioned, your tabby cat wants to be the center of attention. If they see you on the telephone, computer, or television, they will take steps to interrupt you to keep your attention. Trying to ignore the cat will only cause them to resort to more drastic measures.

tabby kitten standing on the book at the desk
Image Credit: Tracy Lundgren, Pixabay

22. Tabby cats are intelligent

Tabby cats are smart and will watch you and learn your behaviors. They will use this knowledge to get what they want and often predict what you will do before you do it. You can train your tabby cat to stay off the furniture, fetch a ball, solve a puzzle, and perform other tricks.

23. Tabby cats outnumber non-tabby cats

Tabby cats account for a large percentage of felines, and you will struggle to find cats without the trademark M on their forehead. Solid color cats are available in many breeds, including the British Blue and Angora cats, and hairless cats like the Sphynx and the Peterbald are the primary exceptions.

Image Credit: Tomas Andreopoulos, Pexels

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We hope you have enjoyed reading about all the traits you are likely to find when owning a tabby cat and have learned more about them. Tabby cats are friendly, intelligent, clean, and available in various colors and patterns to suit any taste. If we convinced you to get one as your next pet, please share these 23 fascinating facts about tabby cats on Facebook and Twitter.

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Featured Image Credit: Okssi, Shutterstock

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