History, Origin, Folklore, and Markings of Tabby Cats

Tabby cat with yellow eyes and brown and white fur leaning against window

Tabby cats are the most popular of the cat color patterns, if domestic cats are the most popular of all. Tabbies appear in a variety of patterns, including stripes, whorls, swirls, dots, and dashes, and are approved in the breed standards of over two dozen cat varieties. They come in a variety of hues, including red, cream, black, blue, silver, brown, and tan. Cato.

Although there are numerous variants, the tabby pattern is divided into four categories. The "patched" tabby, for example, is a or tortoiseshell cat with tabby patches (the latter is known as a "torbie"). Within their color criteria, several pointed breeds accept "tabby points." Is it any surprise that the tabby cat is so popular? In reality, all domestic cats have the gene for the tabby pattern. Try looking at a "coal-black" cat in the sun and seeing if you can spot the concealed tabby markings.


Click Play to Learn More About the Majestic Tabby Cat

Tabby cats are nearly as ancient as Mother Earth, which is why we include tabby cats in our March photo galleries, when the earth is in full bloom. Tabby cats can be found all over the world, from small stray cats that evolved into the Singapura breed, to stray animals on Cypress, the canals of Venice, and the streets of Rome, to pedigreed cats with roots in a variety of countries:

  • American bobtail
  • Egyptian mau
  • Javanese (Tabby Points)
  • Maine coon
  • Norwegian forest cat
  • Persian
  • Rex
  • Scottish fold
  • Siamese
  • Somali
  • Turkish angora

These are just a few of the many breeds that accept the .

The Magnificent "M"

One of the most consistent markings of tabby cats is the magnificent "M" centered on their foreheads just above the eyes. This M is the stuff of legends.

  • Named for Mau, the name which cats were called in ancient Egypt (likely the sound of "meow."
  • Named after Mohammed, who treasured tabby cats
  • Named after the Virgin Mary
  • Named for a brown tabby cat (Beloved of Bast), our favorite explanation.

While some may see tabby cats as "common" since they can be found almost anywhere, those of us who have them in our homes regard them as royalty, as befitting their origins. It wouldn't be the same without it.