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23 Fascinating Facts About Tabby Cats (2023 Update)

The tabby cat is one of the most popular cats in the world. It’s often affectionate and friendly, and they are not expensive to purchase. If you have a tabby cat and want to learn some interesting facts about it, keep reading while we list 23 fascinating facts about tabby cats.

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Tabby Basics

1. Tabby is not a breed

tabby cat with vest harness
Image Credit: Sari ONeal, Shutterstock

The Tabby cat is not a breed, but a pattern of markings on the cat’s body. Almost every cat breed has members that are considered tabby cats.

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2. Tabby cats have the letter M on their forehead

A tabby cat’s defining characteristic is the letter M’s presence on the cat’s forehead between the ears. It will also have stripes by the eyes and across the cheeks.

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3. Tabby cats are available in several colors

three different colored maine coon kittens
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Tabby cats are available in several colors, including black, white, red, brown, lavender, blue, cream, fawn, chocolate, sable, and many more.

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Tabby Patterns

4. Tabby cats may have spots

Tabby cats can have many patterns on their body, and some may have spots. These spots can be bright, causing the cat to have an almost leopard appearance or be nearly invisible. Some cat breeds presenting a tabby cat with spots include the Bengal, Egyptian Maw, Ocicat, Savannah, and Exotic Shorthair.

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5. Tabby cats may have a mackerel pattern

mackerel tabby cat lying on the floor
Image Credit: Amaya Eguizábal, Pixabay

The Mackeral pattern tabby cat, as the name suggests, is a pattern that resembles fish bones with a long stripe down their back from shoulder to tail and a series of vertical stripes down the sides. This pattern is extremely common and found in most breeds that present the tabby pattern.

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6. Tabby cats may have a tortoiseshell pattern

The tortoiseshell pattern is a tri-color pattern that is rare in male cats but relatively common in female cats because the color genes are related to sex. While you can find it in any breed, those most likely to present the tortoiseshell pattern are the Manx, Scottish Fold, and the American Shorthair.

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7. Tabby cats can have a patched pattern

a patched tabby cat lying outdoors
Image Credit: TheLazyPineapple, Shutterstock

Patched tabby cats have large patches of color that follow no uniform pattern. The spots can be different on one side than the other, and any breed that presents the tabby pattern can have patches, so it is quite common.

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8. Tabby cats may shimmer

Some tabby cats have a shiny coat that sparkles in the sunlight. Others have an agouti that causes the hair to have bands of different colors at the base than the tip. This banding causes the hair to appear to change color as it moves or when you pet it.

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Tabby Facts

9. Tabby cats have large personalities

Most owners describe their tabby cats as having large personalities. It has a wide range of emotions that it has no problem projecting. It can often experience mood swings and disappear for a short time, but it is usually friendly and playful.

three tabby maine coon cats
Image Credit: skeeze, Pixabay
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10. Tabby cats are excellent hunters

Since ancient times, humans have been using tabby cats in their homes, barns, and boats for their excellent hunting capabilities. They can easily catch mice, rats, birds, and other small prey that may invade your space.

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11. Tabby cats prefer groups

Unlike many cats that prefer a life of solitude, tabby cats will form colonies if left in the wild to help improve their survival chances. It will often share food and shelter with others and may even help raise children. However, it will still likely become territorial if raised alone.

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12. Tabby cats will require a scratching post

Tabby cats are fierce scratchers and can tear up furniture and rugs if not provided with a proper scratching post. Luckily, tabby cats are intelligent, so it’s easy to train them to use the post and leave the furniture and curtains alone.

The Hepper Hi-Lo Modern Cat Scratcher is a functional and stylish design that makes it the ultimate scratching spot for your cat – and a superhero in the battle against furniture destruction. Unlike most cat toys that end up being ignored, this one's a crowd-pleaser for both cats and their hoomans.

grey cat upside down on hepper hi-lo cat scratcher

With its 3 configurations, thick textured cardboard, and solid birch plywood frame, it encourages your cat's natural scratching instincts, so they stay away from your precious furniture, rugs, and curtains, among all other things they shouldn't scratch. The Hi-Lo is like your home's mini guardian, keeping it safe while looking super sleek and trendy.

At Excited Cats, we’ve admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest, so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

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13. Tabby cats rule the roost

Tabby cats like to be in charge of the area around them, and you will need to prove you are the alpha from day one to keep them from becoming spoiled and demanding you do things their way. Even well-behaved cats can try to assert their dominance on occasion. Cats attempting to be the boss will often knock the thing off shelves and countertops. It may also shred curtains or chew wires.

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14. Tabby cats enjoy being around people

Tabby cats enjoy the company of humans and usually spend most of their time in the same room as their owner. It will also quickly come running when you get home or first get up to be the first to greet you. It also likes the company of children and other pets.

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15. Everything belongs to a tabby cat

Tabby cats can be selfish and regard everything in the home as theirs. They will require training if you want them to stay off the bed or consider other areas of the home off-limits. Otherwise, they will do as they please and can become quite creative at accessing areas you have blocked off. You will also need to train them to leave other cats’ food alone.

close up of a tabby cat
Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay
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16. Tabby cats like attention

Tabby cats love attention and will often go to great lengths to get it if it’s feeling left out. Ordinarily, quiet cats can become very vocal if you lock it out of the room, and it may begin to scratch at the floor. It may also misbehave in other ways, especially if it brings the attention it’s craving.

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17. Tabby cats prefer a clean environment

Tabby cats are neat freaks, and though they don’t like baths, they will spend a considerable part of their day grooming themselves. They expect you to do your part to keep their living space clean, especially their litter box. It can do excessive scratching and even kick waste out of the box if you don’t remove it after each use.

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18. Tabby cats are curious

Tabby cats have a curious nature and will often watch you do everything from cooking dinner to playing a video game. It’s often right under your feet when you are doing something important and can become a nuisance. It can also be relentless when it wants to do something, like unroll the toilet paper.

mackerel tabby cat playing with roll of toilet paper
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock
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19. Tabby cats have a naughty side

Tabby cats can also have a naughty, mischievous side and sometimes enjoy doing things that make you angry. If they know something bugs you, like unrolling the toilet paper, they will often do it every night when you go to sleep. One of our cats would pull the hair stop out of the bathroom sink and leave it at the foot of our bed every night until we stopped using it.

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20. Tabby cats require a car cage

Most tabby cats do not like to go in the car, and you will likely hear the most extreme vocalizations when you attempt to take them to the vet. It can also become aggressive and can even become flighty, so it’s extremely important to put your cat in a travel cage when you need to transport it.

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21. Tabby cats will interrupt you

As we mentioned earlier, your tabby cat would like to be the center of attention. If it notices you on the telephone, computer, or television, it will take steps to interrupt you to get back and keep your attention. Trying to ignore the cat will only cause it to resort to more drastic measures.

tabby kitten standing on the book at the desk
Image Credit: Tracy Lundgren, Pixabay
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22. Tabby cats are intelligent

Tabby cats are smart, and they will watch you and learn your behaviors. They will use this knowledge to get what they want and often predict what you will do before you do it. You can also train your tabby cat to stay off the furniture, fetch a ball, solve a puzzle, and many other tricks.

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23. Tabby cats outnumber non-tabby cats

Tabby cats make up the vast majority of cats, and you will struggle to find cats without the trademark M on their forehead. Solid color cats available in many breeds, including the British Blue and the Angora cats, and hairless cats like the Sphynx and the Peterbald are the primary exceptions.

Image Credit: Tomas Andreopoulos, Pexels

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We hope you have enjoyed reading about all of the traits you are likely to find when owning a tabby cat and have learned a little more about them. Tabby cats are friendly, intelligent, clean, and available in various colors and patterns to suit any taste. If we have convinced to get one as your next pet, please share these 23 fascinating facts about tabby cats on Facebook and Twitter.

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Featured Image Credit: Okssi, Shutterstock