Cats 101: Tabby Cats – 10 Interesting Facts about Tabby Cats – Animal Facts
Tabby cats are considered one of the most “classic” looking domestic cats, most likely because tabby cats are the most common. If you ask someone what kind of cat they have, chances are good they answer that they have a tabby cat. Heck, we even have our own orange tabby, Rusty. Let’s get to know this ubiquitous kitty.
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10. Despite the popularity of tabbies, many people still consider the tabby cat its own breed. Tabby cats are not a breed of cat. When referring to the “Tabby” in tabby cats, we are actually talking about the color pattern of the cat’s fur. The tabby color pattern is most often stripes, but can sometimes be a combination of stripes, swirls, and even spots. Every single domestic cat breed has the gene for the tabby pattern. The pattern can show up in various recognized breeds such as Maine Coons, Abyssinians, Bengals, British and American Shorthairs and quite a few others.
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9. So, What’s With The “M” On your Tabby Cat’s Forehead?
Many tabby cats will have a pattern on their forehead that looks like the letter “M”.
Several religions have stories as to why tabbies have earned this marking. In Christianity, a tabby came to the Manger to keep baby Jesus warm, so Mary marked him with an “M” to thank him.
In Islam, a tabby cat called Muezza once saved his master Mohammed’s life by killing a snake that crept up his sleeve.
The scientific reason behind the M on the forehead of tabby cats is nothing more than genetics. The “M’ it appears is written in DNA.
8. Tabby cats have four unique pattern types. These include: mackerel, blotched, striped and ticked. Each of these patterns looks different, but the blotched pattern is the most commonly occurring. Blotched tabbies are also called “classic” or “marbled” tabbies.
7. Tabby patterns are likely common because they are the best suited for the wild. These patterns assist in camouflage when cats are hiding in tall grass or brush hunting for prey. Tigers and leopards both have tabby type patterns.
6. Tabby cats were named after a striped silk made in Baghdad. The cats were compared to the silk, giving them the name “tabby.” The silk comes from the Attabiy district in Baghdad and the 14th century Middle French term for it was “atabis,” that soon turned to “tabis.” This, of course, translated into our English word, “tabby.”
5. Orange tabby cats, like our cat Rusty here, are almost always male. This fact tells us that gender and coat color genetics are somehow related, at least in orange tabby cats. Up to 80% of orange tabbies are male.
The reason? The gene that codes for orange fur is on the X chromosome. Since females have two X’s and males are XY, this means that a female orange cat must inherit two orange genes (one from each parent) whereas a male only needs one, which he gets from his mother.
Conversely, most Calico and tortoiseshell cats are female with only about 1 in 3,000 being male.
4. The town of Talkeetna, Alaska, has a unique mayor – a 17-year-old orange tabby cat named Stubbs.
Stubbs first swept the vote as a write-in candidate 15 years ago and has been presiding over the 900-resident historic district ever since.
Residents say they are quite satisfied with his leadership thus far and that he is perhaps their best mayor….ever. They also say they like that he never raises taxes.
3. The original tabby fur pattern most closely matches that of the African wildcat and the European wildcat.
These petite wild cats can trace their respective origins back as far as 131,000 years. However, the first domesticated cats appeared only about 10,000 years ago.
Scientific researchers say that even today there is very little genetic or appearance variation between the domestic tabby cat and its closely linked wild cat cousins.
2. One thing you’ll never see is a tabby with a solid orange coat. For some reason, orange tabbies will always have some sort of pattern in their coat—the mackerel one, in particular, makes them look quite a lot like little tigers! And for what it’s worth, domestic house cats and tigers share about 96% of their DNA—oh my!
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1. True to their cartoon mascot Garfield, orange tabbies tend to enjoy eating–so much so that leaving their food out all day (a freedom that many cat owners enjoy) can lead to a big cat—and big problems. Just like in humans, obesity in cats has been linked with a variety of health problems, including feline diabetes, cancer, and joint damage. A proper cat diet is a must for orange tabbies!