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What Breed Is My Tabby Cat? How To Tell, Types & Helpful Tools

Tabby cats have been around for centuries, going back to ancient Egypt and likely further. Where many people get confused, however, is thinking that Tabby cats are a breed when, in fact, “Tabby” is simply a coat pattern. What that means is that many breeds of cats can be Tabbies. That includes breeds like the Maine Coon, Domestic Shorthair, Abyssinian, and many others.

Knowing that Tabby is a color and not a breed, one question many cat owners have is what breed their Tabby cat happens to be. If that’s you, and you’re trying to figure out the breed of your Tabby, read on. We’ve got information on the methods you can use to figure it out below!

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What are the Different Types of Tabby Cat Patterns?

types of tabby cat colors
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The 5 Most Common Tabby Coat Patterns

Before determining what breed of cat your Tabby is, it’s helpful to know about the Tabby patterns. There are five of them, including:

1. Classic

Often called a “blotched” Tabby, the classic pattern consists of whorls that look like a target. And, of course, most Tabbies have the unmistakable “M” marking on their forehead.

Silver tabby Scottish Straight cat playing clear plastic bag
Image Credit: Miss Zea, Shutterstock
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2. Mackerel

Rings on their legs and tails, plus stripes covering the rest of the cat’s body, are the signs of a mackerel Tabby.

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3. Patched

This Tabby type, often called tortoiseshell, is made when a cat has patches of red and orange along with the Tabby pattern.

patched tabby pattern
Image Credit: Rob Kirby, Shutterstock
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4. Spotted

Various sizes and bands of spots identify this type of Tabby. Some can be broken, making the spotted Tabby look similar to the mackerel Tabby.

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5. Ticked

A lack of noticeable bands and stripes set this Tabby type apart, but you can still see bands of light and dark coloring on their hair, called “ticking.”

Norwegian forest cat ticked tabby
Image Credit: terazitu, Shutterstock

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How to Tell Your Breed of Tabby Cat

As we’ve seen, many breeds can be Tabby cats. The methods you can use to determine the actual breed of your cat look beyond the Tabby pattern and focus on other traits seen in particular breeds.

1. Your Cat’s Size

Size is one of the easiest ways to determine what breed of cat your Tabby happens to be. That’s because there are only three main sizes of cats, including dwarf, medium, and large. If your Tabby is exceptionally small, it might be a Balinese or Singapura. Medium-sized Tabbies can be Abyssinian, Oriental, and several others. If your Tabby is large, it might be a Maine Coon, Savannah, or Siberian cat.

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2. The Length of Your Cat’s Fur

There are four types of cat hair: long, short, curly, and cats with no hair. Surprisingly, a Sphinx cat, which is hairless, can still be a Tabby cat as the markings that make a cat a Tabby will be seen on its skin! A Persian cat with long hair can also be a Tabby, as well as a Ragdoll and a Himalayan. The American Shorthair cat tells you the length of its coat in its name and can be a Tabby cat, and the Abyssinian can also be a Tabby with medium-length hair.

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3. The Shape of Your Cat’s Ears

Cats can possess three types of ear features: ear tufts, folded ears, and curled ears. The American Curl, not surprisingly, is one curled breed that can be a Tabby, and the Scottish Fold, with its folded ears, can also have the Tabby pattern. If your Tabby cat has tufted ears, it’s possibly a Maine Coon, Ragdoll, or American Lynx, among others.

tabby cat at night
Image Credit: Darkmoon_Art, Pixabay
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4. The Shape of Your Cat’s Face

Although this method of determining the breed of your Tabby cat isn’t the easiest, it might still offer some clues. This is especially true if your Tabby cat has a flat face, like a Persian, or a narrow face, like a Cornish Rex.

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5. The Length of Your Cat’s Tail

Another method of determining your Tabby’s breed is to look at their tail, but, like the shape of a cat’s face, this one is also rather difficult. The American Bobtail cat with its bobbed tail can be a Tabby, and the Manx with its short tail can also be. Besides the length, however, determining the breed of a cat by its tail alone isn’t the most accurate method as they all look similar.

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6. Your Cat’s Manners and Character

Using your cat’s manners and character to tell its breed is probably the most difficult method. The reason is that, like people, all cats are unique individuals with unique mannerisms and characters. However, if your Tabby cat is shy and non-aggressive, it might be a Persian, Ragdoll, or British Shorthair. An affectionate Tabby that seeks out human contact could be a Korat or Devon Rex.

a close up of an orange tabby cat
Image Credit: Sam Chang, Unsplash

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Are There Tools You Can Use to Determine a Tabby Cats Breed?

We’ve looked at visual markers to determine your Tabby’s breed, so let’s look at some tools you can use to do the same.


Several apps on the market can help you determine your Tabby’s breed, including Cat Scanner.

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You’ll find many quizzes online to help you figure out your Tabby cat’s breed. You should note, however, that they aren’t scientific and rely mostly on anecdotal evidence.

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DNA Testing

DNA testing is one of the best tools to determine your Tabby’s breed. Several companies perform the testing and let you know your cat’s breed and overall health.

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Ask Your Veterinarian

One of the most accurate methods of determining your Tabby’s breed is asking your veterinarian. They have years of experience and training that can often come in very handy when you want to know your Tabby’s specific breed.

blue tabby maine coon cat licking homemade ice cream treat popsicle
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Almost all genetic lines of domesticated cats can come in the Tabby pattern, making it often difficult to determine their exact breed. We hope the information in this article will help you figure out your Tabby’s exact lineage and give you insight into their personality and heritage. Regardless of their exact breed, if you have a Tabby cat you adore, its breed might not matter to you. Best of luck figuring out the breed of your fine feline!

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Featured Image Credit: Alex Zotov, Shutterstock