Tabby cats (also called “tabbies”) have a distinctive coat. They may seem like a breed of their own, but tabbies are not a breed. The term “tabby” refers to their striped coat pattern. Many tabby cats have the trademark “M” created by the stripes on the forehead of the tabby. Tabby kittens can get their coat patterns from either the father or the mother, so the unique markings often appear in the litters of cat breeders’ breeding programs and in the unplanned random feline novels. A large percentage of the wildcats are believed to be tabbies because the gene is so dominant, and it is most likely the dominant gene because the pattern is best for camouflage. There are quite a few tabby patterns (all here!), But arguably the most popular one is the macbyel tabby.
Holy Mackerel – is that a tiger? All about the mackerel tabby cat pattern
Of all the tabby variations, the mackerel tabby pattern is the one most commonly associated with traditional tabby markings. The mackerel tabby cat has stripes that are perpendicular to the cat’s spine, lining its legs, and encircling its tail. They are sometimes referred to as “tiger cats” because their stripes resemble the only striated large cat found in the wild, yes, Panthera tigris. While they can be referred to as tiger cats, the actual coat color of a tiger, an orange ground with black stripes, does not appear on Felis catus or house cats. However, many cats of the prestigious breed have the showy tabby coat: from the Norwegian forest cat to the Maine Coon.
So, a mackerel tabby cat pattern can appear in many different breeds of cats and refers to the arrangement of the stripes on the kitten’s body – specifically, the stripes running vertically across the cat from its spine. The stripes are often solid lines, but they can be broken and are born with them. That seems to be all there is to know about tabbies, but keep reading!
Where did the name tabby cat and the name mackerel tabby cat come from?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the term tabby comes from a type of silk taffeta with a wavy surface, which was made in Baghdad and was called ‘attābī’ after its origins in the neighborhood. The French called it tabis and in the early 17th century it made its way into English as a tabby. It wasn’t until the late 18th century that the word tabby changed from describing a type of fabric to describing a type of cat. And when it made that jump, the quick-witted tabby left textiles in the dust!
The tabby pattern with tiger stripes has been called “mackerel” because the stripes that detach from the cat’s spine resemble a fish skeleton.
Interesting facts about mackerel tabby cats
There are two notable macbyel tabby properties that make it a real standout. As mentioned, the “M” refers to the inverted chevron markings above his eyes. Is it a mask Are they eyebrows? Folklore reports that it could be an Islamic prophet, a blessed virgin mother, or even an ancient sacred Egyptian icon. In reality, it’s probably just evolution.
The most common nose color for tabbies is pink with a black pigment ring that can change.
Tabbitude – what’s wrong with tabby cats and their attitudes?
What about the infamous “tabbitude”? Every cat parent is familiar with the ubiquitous kattitude. And it is reported that tabbies have it in spades. So is there any truth in it?
I met a wonderful mackerel tabby named McGee at my local animal shelter, the North Fork Animal Welfare League. McGee is sociable, loving and very playful – sometimes a little too playful. He jumped straight to the cat tower closest to your face and sought a lot of affection. They would stroke him and then chew, probably just a little overwrought. He showed no sign that he was an annoyed cat, he would just be super excited; so excited that if you tried to get away from him he would jump down and rub his body against your legs.
Is McGee an ambassador for all mackerel tabbies? Not so fast! Gabrielle Stroup, Shelter Manager at NFAWL, says, “We have brought tabby cats into our facility with a range of personalities. Many of them come from our community cat partners, where we take in and adopt kittens from wild cats. In a litter there are extremely friendly tabbies, extremely shy tabbies and everything in between. These are kittens that have the same mother, most likely the same father, and are all cared for in the same way. “
While tabbies are ultimately considered to be the cattiest of cats, this is probably not true. “Cats are individuals, including tabbies,” says Stroup, quelling the tabby tude rumors!
And of course they are all individually lovable. Mackerel Tabby McGee is now calling for attention from his forever adored family. And just like the saying “a tiger can’t change its stripes”, it’s impossible to resist the cuteness that lies at the core of all macbyel tabby cats.
Thumbnail: Photography © Keren_J | Thinkstock.
Tell us: Do you have a mackerel tabby? We want to hear from him / her!
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