My heart belongs to tabbies

20:00, Jul 29 2010

Tabby is a pattern, not a breed. Those stripes, swirls and dots can appear on the coats of different breeds of cat, and in different colours. My own cat is a tabby of the "brown mackerel" livery, and since having him, I've become a real tabby fan. Hence my indulgence, this Furry Friday, in offering you a gallery of nothing but tabbies.

Wikipedia says the tabby pattern is a "naturally occurring feature that may be related to the coloration of the domestic cat's direct ancestor, the African Wildcat".

As for the word itself, it comes from "the French tabis 'striped silk taffeta', 'a rich, watered silk,' from Middle French atabis (14c.), from Arabic 'attabiya, from 'Attabiy, a neighbourhood of Baghdad where such cloth was first made, named for prince 'Attab of the Omayyad dynasty".

So now you know.

The tabby pattern on a cat seems to frame and highlight the face, as though someone's overdone it with the makeup. Yet as a camouflage it's superb: my cat Merrick is tough to spot outside, and unfortunately inside too, as we seem to have gathered a lot of tabby-coloured rugs into which he melts.

On with the tabbiness - thanks to all who emailed their photos or left them on the Four Legs Good Facebook page.


Covergirl is Izzy the ocicat, who mum Debbie says wasn't too sure about a fall of snow last winter. Maybe because it's the one environment where she's uncamouflaged?

This inquisitive guy is Cricket, so named "because his meow was as annoying as a cricket and twice as loud', says reader Jenney. RIP Cricket.

Ahi has converted a bit of rubbish from a bin into a favourite toy, which owner Katie says Ahi likes to carry around the house.

Another tabby at play: Smooch toys with a ribbon. Thanks for the photo, Faye.

This next fine figure of a tabby is Tiger. Thanks for the photo, Theresa.

Reader Steph sent this picture of 17-month-old adoptee Muzzie in the washing basket: "I just managed to get all the clothes put away and I tossed it off the bed and it landed that way and she ran into it almost immediately."

Revealed: the spottiness of a tabby's tummy (Zeus's).

Kiera curls up, turning her tabby stripes into the ribs of a fan:

Seven-month-old Ira has a peaches and cream colouring:

Owner Linda says Sam is "an SPCA cat and is very close in instinct to being wild but is a loving and sweet pet". All wildness vanishes when they sleep like this...

Indulge me - here's Merrick, in a typical pose. Unlike many cats, he's not jumpy about being tickled on his belly. When we got him from the SPCA it seemed right to choose a name begining with "M", in honour of the typical tabby pattern on his forehead. We weighed up Monty, Milton, Mort...but settled on Merrick because it was the title of a book I'd given to my partner, and it also just seemed right. Which has turned out to be the case.

Rita's a crazy, scatter-brained cat, says reader Aly. Here Rita's camping on mum's bed and having a good laugh about it.

Next, the fine features of Ruby:

Molly has grown up since this picture was taken, but she's a beautiful long-haired example of the tabby. By the way, she shares a home with covergirl Izzy.

Thanks again to all for sharing your photos.

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