Cats have lived alongside humans as far back as natural history can inform us. It is estimated now that the number of cats living on the streets is equal to or more than the number living indoors as pets. Tabby Cats are among the most distinguishable type of cat roaming the streets and lounging on the back of most pet owners couches. They are easily identified by the famous “M” painted in their fur across their forehead. They are also covered in stripes lining their eyes, neck, back, legs and along the rest of their body.
A “Tabby Cat” is not so much a specific breed of cat, as it is a physical appearance of one. Their easily identifiable markings are seen in most any domesticated breed of cat nowadays. Along with stripes, other markings may include flecks, spots, swirls, bands, and lines. This is the most commonly found pattern found in the fur of cats of several breeds found throughout the world.
These patterns occur naturally and are inherited from the cat’s wild ancestors because the blotched patterns make for hiding in the wild much easier. The camouflage made hiding from enemies and prey alike a simple task. Leopards and Tigers are some wild cats that exhibit Tabby like patterns still today.
What Color is a Tabby Cat?
There is no one specific color scheme associated with Tabby Cats because, again, a Tabby is distinguished by the pattern of their fur, not the color. While black based color schemes are the most commonly found fur color, Tabby Cat’s are also, brown, grey, orange, and white. Also, it is important to note that not every Tabby Cat has solid Tabby-like patterns. Some may exhibit spots or are piebald against a white background fur coat.
Patterns are Unique and Special
While there are many variations of religious stories involving the origination of the Tabby Cat’s prominent “M” across their forehead, the actual origin is based in genetic science. If you have a Tabby Cat, you may be interested in knowing that their pattern is very specific to them as an individual. Just like a human, how a cat’s parents look will always be a direct cause to how a Tabby Cat’s pattern ends up. Your cats stripes are unique are begin developing long before he is born, or his hair begins to grow. They are based solely on his genes and are determined at birth through his DNA.
Your cat may be born with one of four different Tabby Cat patterns. Among these patterns include the most commonly seen pattern, which is the Mackerel pattern. This is the tiger like stripes found on orange and ginger colored Tabby Cats. Other patterns include ticked, spotted, and classic.
Ticked Tabby Cats tend to have solid colored bodies, but are born with stripes around their faces. Spotted Tabby Cats have, of course, more distinguishable spots throughout their fur, similarly mocking their leopard sister’s look. Classic fur coated Tabby Cats have swirled stripes and a “bullseye” type pattern on each side of their body. A dark line will run along the length of their spine and their stripes will appear wide and “swirled”.
The Genes Responsible for the Original Look
As stated above, “Tabby” is used to describe a look, not a breed. Tabby Cat patterns can occur in many different breeds of cats. The three genes that are responsible for these patterns are the Agouti Signaling Protein or ASIP, Taqpep, and Mc1R.
The ASIP gene is in charge of determining whether a cat’s coat is stripped or solid. The Taqpep involves the pattern expression of their coat, meaning that when a kitten is born, the fur pattern that they are born with will be their pattern for the remainder of their life. The Mc1R gene is in control of the pigment color of the fur, or how light or dark the cat’s fur will appear to be.
These genes will determine what pattern and color scheme your Tabby Cat will inherit.
Get a Tabby Cat!
Tabby Cats remain popular among the cat loving community and that will probably always be the case. They are gorgeous cats with a wide range of personality and emotions. If you’re looking for an animal that is unafraid of expressing how they are feeling (or unafraid of anything for that matter) look no further. They are a confusing, yet fun-loving companion for any human.