Image Credits: Pixabay
The word tabby refers to any domestic cat having a coat of distinctive stripes, swirling patterns, dots, or lines. There is always a mark with a faint resemblance to the word M on the animal's forehead. Contrary to popular perception, it is not a cat breed. The tabby pattern can be seen on multiple breeds and is a naturally occurring feature. Genetic studies have revealed a connection of tabbies to wildcats scattered all over the world.
Tabby patterns are of four types: Mackerel, Ticked, Classic,
and Spotted. All four are genetically distinct. There is also a fifth tabby
pattern. This is a "Patched" tabby. It comes across as a
tortoiseshell or calico cat complete with tabby patches. All such patterns have
been observed in many random-bred populations. A number of extra patterns are
located in particular breeds. The Sokoke breed is a modified version of the
Classic Tabby. Some cats are due to the mix of domestic and wild genes. The
Bengal breed has marbled along with rosette patterns.
Mackerel and Classic
The Mackerel tabby pattern is observed as a vertical and
gently curving stripe on the body side. These stripes are narrow. They could be
broken into many bars or can be continuous. Spots are seen on the stomach and
the flanks. The "M" shape is seen on the forehead, along with a few
dark lines across the corners of the eyes. The Classic Tabby usually has a dark
brown pattern, along with black and ochres. All colors are seen except white.
Cats of this genetic disposition bear the M pattern on the forehead and the
body markings are of a swirled or whirled pattern. There is another pattern
too, the butterfly one is a light colored one observed on shoulders. Three thin
lines run along the animal's spine.
Ticked and Spotted
The Ticked tabby pattern generates agouti hairs. These are hairs having distinct color bands. They break up the tabby patterns into "sand" or the "salt-and-pepper" like appearance. The lower legs exhibit barring or residual ghost striping. The same pattern is also observed on the belly and the face. It is also seen on the tip of the tail. The design is observed as a long dark line that runs along the back. It is usually seen in the spine. The Spotted tabby can be described as a modifier which breaks up Mackerel tabby pattern. The result is that the stripes look like spots. In a similar manner, the Classic tabby pattern stripes could be broken into bigger spots. Both the smaller and the bigger spot patterns can be observed in the Bengal, Ocicat, Australian Mist, Arabian Mau, Serengeti, Maine Coon, and Egyptian Mau breeds.