What Are The Different Types Of Tabby Cat Markings?

Tabby cats are super adorable. With so many of them, many people assume the Tabby is a cat breed on its own. But, it’s not true at all. The Tabby refers to the specific coat pattern on a cat. In fact, there are 5 different kinds of tabby cat markings. What may be confusing is that many breeds have these Tabby markings. Yet, what makes Tabby cats unique is the letter M pattern on their forehead. That’s how you can identify a true tabby cat. So what are the different types of tabby cat markings? And, how did they evolve? Let’s dive into all the fun tabby cat facts.

How the Tabby Cat Evolved

Tabby cats have been around for centuries. Wild cats have long had the tabby pattern, evolving from their ancestor’s classic stripes. From the Persian to the Turkish Angora, cats with Tabby markings have existed all over the world. To know if a cat is for sure a tabby, you have to search for the letter M on its forehead. This mark is what makes tabbies exceptionally unique. Some say it stands for ‘Mau,’ or cat in Egyptian. While others believe it has religious origins – standing for Mohammed the Prophet or Mother Mary. What we do know for sure is that a Tabbies genetics tell us these are ancient kitties. Technically speaking, all cats are tabbies. Yet, only certain cats show certain tabby cat genes. These genes do not affect a tabby’s personality – these genes are solely expressed in a kitty’s fur patterns.

What Are The Different Types of Tabby Cat Markings?

Classic Tabby

Also known as a ‘blotched’ tabby, the classic tabby has distinct ‘whorls’ on its sides. These swirling patterns are dark and bold, making a clear contrast on a kitty’s fur. Sometimes, these swirly lines can even look like a bullseye. A classic tabby also has three broad lines around its neck that some call a necklace. These lines extend down Tabby’s spine as well. Fun fact: Despite its ‘classic tabby’ name, this kind of tabby is actually caused by a recessive gene. That means it takes two cats with the classic tabby traits to make this kitty. types of tabby cat markings

Mackerel Tabby (AKA Striped Tabby)

It may not be called the ‘classic tabby,’ but the mackerel tabby is actually the most common tabby pattern. So, how do you recognize a mackerel tabby? Mackerels (also known as striped tabbies) have thin lines that run vertically down their sides, legs, and even tail. To some, these lines resemble the ribs of a fish skeleton. And, that’s how this kitty got mackerel in its name! You will often find Maine Coon cats with mackerel tabby cat markings. pretty abyssinian closeup

Agouti (or Ticked) Tabby

If you see an agouti tabby, you may not think it’s a Tabby at first. That’s because agouti tabbies do not have the swirls or vertical lines like the classic or mackerel tabbies. The only thing that the agouti shares with these other tabbies are similar face markings. This includes the classic ‘M’ marking that separates tabbies from other kitties. The reason many call this a ‘ticked’ tabby is because of its unique agouti hairs. These hairs create a faint striped (or ticked) pattern of light and dark hairs on the cat’s sides. To notice these hairs, you have to look closely at an agouti tabby. Or, observe this kitty in the sunlight – these hairs make an agouti tabby shimmer in the sun! The Abyssinian cat is especially known for their glorious ticked coats. types of tabby cat markings


This tabby looks just like its name – it has spots all around its sides, almost like a jaguar or leopard. These spots can be round or oval-shaped. There isn’t always a clear pattern to these spots – sometimes, they run in lines while other times the spots are scattered. Spotted tabbies will also have necklace patterns like other tabbies, with a line pattern laying gracefully around their neck. American Bobtail, Ocicat, and Bengal cat breeds are perfect examples of spotted tabbies. types of tabby cat markings


These kitties have patches of color all over their bodies. Typically, patched tabbies have brown and orange patches all over their bodies. There are also blue patched tabbies that have rare grey and cream patches. Have you heard of tortoiseshell cats before? Well, tortie cats are actually patched tabbies. Any tortoiseshell cat that has the signature tabby face is a patched tabby. Some call these kitties ‘torbie’ cats, for their shared characteristics. Tabby cats are some of the world’s most ancient kitties. Even though tabbies aren’t a breed, that doesn’t take away the importance of tabby cats. Do you or someone you know have a tabby at home? Or, maybe you have a stray tabby you always say hi to? We hope that this post helps you identify exactly what kind of tabby these cute kitties are!

Want to learn even more about cat coats and patterns? Check out this article here on CattitudeDaily.com.

types of tabby cat markings

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