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All The Types of Tabby Cats You Need to Know About

Published by Annie Anderson
Last updated: December 18, 2023

If you’re planning to own a cat, then that’s great! You’re going to have a lifetime of cuddles and love. But the first question is: What kind of cat will you get? Would it be a long hair cat or less hair cat?

You’ve probably heard of the tabby cat, but you’ll be surprised to know that there is more to the name than just a breed (or is it even a breed?)

If you want to know all about the different types of tabby cats, then read on as I talk about everything you need to know about these kinds of cats and what makes them so different from one another.

Why am I showing this? Because I want to help you know about the tabby cats AND what type you should get suitable for you and your household!

What Are Tabby Cats?

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You’ll be surprised to know that tabby cats are NOT a breed! These cats are also known as alley cats or mixed breeds. Because of that, tabby cats are a very common type, a domestic cat known for their distinctive coating.

They usually have a mark resembling the letter M on their forehead and stripes around their body. These lines look like a tiger pattern, which may have been related to the cat’s direct ancestor, which is the African wildcat.

They call this coating a tabby as it derives from the word “Tabis”, which means “rich watered silk.” It can also be compared to the Spanish word ataviar, implying to luxurious clothing. When the term “tabby cat” was coined, it meant more of a “cat with the striped coat,” then it simply became “tabby” during the 18th century.

So while a tabby cat is a coat, you can find different types of patterns to help distinguish the different types of tabby cats you can find around the world.Tabby kittens are very active and adventurous, already looking like a mini adult.

Some tabby kittens are born without stripes, which soon appear after a few weeks. They then grow and mature until they are six months old, then are fully developed when they are a year old.

Different Types of Tabby Cats

The tabby is NOT a breed, and you can find its distinctive coating in both domestic and purebred cats. Not all tabby cats are the same and have their type of pattern to easily distinguish, though it may not seem like that at first.Whether they have swirlsstripes, or even patches, you’ll easily be able to identify the tabby act based on these five types:


The classic tabby is also known as a blotched or marbled tabby. It has a marble patterned coat and random spots or stripes around him. This tabby might have dark lines on its back or a spotted stomach or even a huge “bullseye” spot on its side. Usually, classic tabby cats have a brown coat or black stripes over their original color.

You can identify this type of Tabby by searching for blotchy patterns or wide stripes. If you find the bullseye on its side, then that’s most likely the classic tabby cat.


The Mackerel looks like as if you were looking at a cat wearing striped pajamas. They are also known as the fishbone tabby, with striped fur and dotted lines along its back, neck, legs, and its tail. Its stripes are narrower than the classic tabby, looking like fish bones.

You can identify these types of tabby cats by its thin stripes and an unbroken pattern. The Mackerel tabby cat’s line on its spine runs down, covering his whole back.


The spotted tabby owns the oval-shaped marks or vertically aligned spots, far different from the lines of the typical tabby cat. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find any stripes on this tabby cat! We refer this cat as spotted because of its broken stripes, which resemble spots. You’ll see that the cat has these broken marks elongated with other lines around its legs, head, or tail.

You’ll be able to distinguish this spotted tabby cat through its broken lines with a variety of shapes and sizes. The spotted tabby’s spots are more blotchy than any other tabby pattern.

Agouti Ticked

This type of tabby cat is popularly known as the ticked tabby, which doesn’t have the usual stripes or spots on its body. Instead, the cat has the traditional markings on his face but the agouti hairs around his whole body.

Agouti hairs are individual furs striped with dark bands. You’ll be able to know if it’s an Agouti tabby if you see faint lines around his face, tail, or legs.



Patched tabby cats are also known as tortoiseshell cats, with separate patches around his legs and head. It has the blended characteristics that have patterns of one or all the different tabby markings. They are usually colored brown and red, with the most prominent markings on the cat’s head or legs.

The Tabby’s Letter M

No matter the coating or type of tabby cat, you may have noticed that most, if not all, of them, possess the letter M on their forehead. Even big jungle cats have this marking!

Many legends explain why the M shows, dating back to the Egyptian days. Since cats were called Mau (like meow!) and the word translates to seeing/light, that is what the M symbolized.​

Other stories and legends explain the letter M, usually from other religions and mythologies.

Breeds With the Tabby Pattern

Like what I mentioned, many domestic AND purebred cats have the distinctive tabby pattern, such as:

  • American Bobtail
  • Egyptian Mau
  • Shorthaired Persians
  • Maine Coon
  • Manx
  • Ragdoll
  • Somali
  • Siberian (natural breed of tabby cats)
  • Scottish Folds

So the tabby cat isn’t “just” a mixed breed, but even the beautiful and bred cats share the similar coating!

How to Care for a Tabby Cat

Caring for a tabby cat isn’t difficult. In fact, just like many bred cats, they require the similar love and attention. As long as you invest in the right food and cat equipment, he’ll enjoy your company and live a healthy life and he could be a good apartment cat.If you just got a tabby for your home, here are three tips to follow:

  • Allow your cat to familiarize himself around your house. The cat will sniff and walk around, so let him explore. Don’t overwhelm your new cat with a lot of people, but make sure he’s welcomed with open arms.
  • Invest in toys, a bed, litter box, and food. These are the essential necessities you need to keep your cat healthy. Choose the best and strongest products for him to enjoy and stay comfortable in.
  • Distinguishing your tabby cat apart from other domestic cat breeds may be difficult, which is why it’s best to let your tabby wear a unique collar for you to identify him quickly.

In Conclusion

Having a cat is a fulfilling duty with many benefits, but if you’re still on the first few stages of getting a cat, make sure you get the right breed and coat that you will love on your new feline friend! That’s why it’s important to know about the main types of tabby cats, so you can quickly identify your cat apart from the many other tabbies that look the same! I hope that this article on the different types of tabby cats helped you become more knowledgeable on these particular coats and patterns. So what are you waiting for? Adopt or purchase a tabby cat and enjoy their love and affection today! Cat Mating and Reproduction Read our guide

If you have any questions or would like to add more information about these types of tabby cats, then comment down below. I would love to hear what you have to think.

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