My heart belongs to tabbies

Last updated 08:00 30/07/2010

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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Post a comment
Mum21   #1   08:06 am Jul 30 2010

I was always told that true Tabby cats are female only (as in vets and vet nurses telling me)- yet I have had two males. Maybe I've never seen a true Tabby? Love it anyways, both my boys are gone, but they had beautiful markings, solid black swirls and spots.

zac and izzy's mum   #2   08:22 am Jul 30 2010

oh smooch looks like my little tabby Izzy, I love tabbys the ones i have had are the most affectonate things and love snuggles

kater   #3   08:55 am Jul 30 2010

Awwww, cute kitties! Thanks Nick, just what I needed to start the day off right :-)

@Mum21, I think you are thinking of tortoiseshell cats (my own personal fav pattern) which are predominantly female (though there can be males, they're just less common).

JS   #4   08:56 am Jul 30 2010

Mum 21, Tabbys can be either male or female but tortoiseshell and calico cats are usually only female. Very rarely a male cat can be born with these makings but they have an extra x chromosome and are usually sterile.

Sass   #5   09:00 am Jul 30 2010

As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing better than a tabby mog. Our beautiful Papillon had such a lovely fluffy spotty belly that you couldn't help but pat it when he presented (flaunted?) it. Since he passed on, our family seemed to have moved into a black and white phase and I miss having a tabby round...:(

T   #6   09:02 am Jul 30 2010

My two wee tabbies are marked like Zeus and Sam :) they are brother and sister, but the boy is more of a tan colour, while the girl is more silvery. @mum21 - That would be Tortishell cats. They are only female because the female gene XX carries both the orange gene and the black gene. A male can only carry one trait on their one X chromosome, so can be either black or orange, not both.

anon   #7   09:06 am Jul 30 2010

Its tortiseshells that are female only.

bens dad   #8   09:13 am Jul 30 2010

Its always great at the end of a not so great week to see these :)

Claire+   #9   09:24 am Jul 30 2010

o those spotty tummies get me every time <3

paul   #10   09:25 am Jul 30 2010

I love Tabbies, the range of colours is amazing. The green tabby colouring always fascinates me (half cat-half vegetable?)

@Mum21 - growing up we had tabby cats in all colours, and they were male as well as female.

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