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Tabby Cat Personality Profile | What Makes a Tabby Tick?

Adorable tabby cats look a lot like purr-fect little tigers with dark-line markings on their coats. These felines come with an array of personalities and a fascinating history behind their unique markings.

The tabby cat personality is captivating by nature; their unique patterns come in several patterns, sizes, and colors. Although domestic cats are common breeds with tabby markings, it’s not a specific breed of cat but rather a coat pattern.

Morris, Garfield, and The Cheshire Cat are a few Disney cat characters that depict tabbies’ diverse personalities. Many exhibit mischievous kitties, others are complete foodies, like Garfield, the ginger tabby. And Jennyanydots, the musical cat who sleeps all day, is another well-known example of our tabbies’ many personalities. 

Tabbies, just like people, have personalities of their own. Their environments and their upbringing can do a lot when it comes to shaping your kitties personality. If you’re wondering what to expect with your own tabby cat, let’s take a look at these types of characters.

Tabby Cat Personality: What is a Tabby Cat?

Before we dive into these adorable felines’ personalities, let’s first understand ‘what is a Tabby cat’?

A tabby, also referred to as a “tiger cat,” is not a specific cat breed; it’s a coat pattern. This can be found on any domestic feline (Felis cactus) with a distinctive ‘M’ shaped marking on its forehead, with stripes near its eyes and across its cheeks, along its back, and around its legs and tails.

It can also be characterized by having flecked, banded, swirled, or striped patterns on its face and body.

Two tabby kittens

Tabby Genetics

Tabby cats are unique and special little critters because the pattern on their coats has its own genetic and historical roots from modified genes. The presence of the agouti gene is responsible for making the cat tabby.

The dominant (A/A) agouti gene renders an even distribution of pigment with markings and creates a tabby. A feline with the recessive agouti gene (a/a) is a non-tabby cat, meaning they don’t have any markings.

norwegian forest cat vs maine coon tabby winking

Tabby Fur Patterns

Tabby is a type of dark-striped coat pattern found in both domestic and wild cats. Its appearance can vary from stripes and spots to spirals and more.

There are four distinct coat patterns found on tabby cats and a fifth one formed by any four basic markings in a patched pattern. Let’s take a look at each one.

1. Classic Tabby

The classic tabby has a marble coat coloring. It’s frequently referred to as having swirled or bulls-eye patterns. The stripes on these tabbies are wider than the mackerel tabby’s stripes and have a circular pattern on their sides.

bengal kitten sits on table

The whorl pattern on the classic tabby makes it look like there’s a target on the side of the cat’s body. These kitties are also referred to as “blotched” or “marbled” tabbies.

2. Mackerel Tabby

Mackerel tabbies are absolutely beautiful kitties. And no, they’re not named after their favorite fish, though they won’t say no to sampling some.

tabby cat with bowl of raspberreis

These kitties have vertical stripes running parallel on either side of their bodies. There is usually one large stripe going down the cat’s spine and several thinner lines. These felines also have rings around their tails and legs, and bands of stripes around their bodies. It may look like your kitty is wearing pinstripe pajamas – how adorable!

3. Ticked Tabby

A ticked tabby (otherwise known as an agouti tabby cat) has no stripes or spots on its coat. However, if you look closely at their individual hairs, you’ll notice that each of them has bands of dark and light coloring on it.

young Abyssinian cat in action
young Abyssinian cat in action

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Abyssinians and Somalis are good examples of ticked tabby breeds.

4. Spotted Tabby

Spotted tabbies don’t have stripes but rather spots. If your fur baby’s spots have a dark outline with a lighter color in the center, these spots are called rosettes. Rosettes can vary in size and often resemble broken stripes.

Egyptian mau cat
Egyptian mau cat

Spotted tabbies can be seen in various breeds such as the Bengal, Ocicat, Main Coon, Arabian Mau, Egyptian Mau, Savannah, Australian Mist, and Serengeti cats.

5. Patched Tabby

Patched tabbies have ‘patches’ of dark or greyish brown, red, orange colors on their coats with tabby markings. These felines are often referred to as tortoiseshell tabbies because of their brown and orange patterns, similar to the shell of a tortoise. 

young-tabby persian-cat lying on pavement outside

Tabby Cat Personalities & Breeds

Because these kitties exist across a variety of breeds, tabby cat’s personalities are more distinct to their breed rather than their markings that identify them. The tabby pattern can be seen in a range of purebred and mixed breeds.

Every tabby is completely unique, so generally speaking, they are friendly and intelligent kitties. They are often considered the most outgoing of all domestic felines, keen on playing and exploring. Plus, these kitties offer endless cuddles and make perfect family pets – for kids and adults alike.

Let’s take a look at the tabby cat personality traits of some breeds with tabby markings.

1. Abyssinian

Abyssinian, nicknamed “aby,” cats are highly active, curious little felines. These felines are always looking for a place to climb up or something to chase around. Aby cats love playtime. If you have one or five of these kitties, it’s best to invest in a scratching post or an interactive cat toy to use up their energy.

Abyssinian Cat lying down

These felines love heights and would probably adore having a tall cat tree in the home. If you’re thinking of adding an Aby cat to the family, it’s best to stock up on cat toys to keep them occupied.

2. American Shorthair

American Shorthairs are smart and sociable felines. Although they have a middle-of-the-road personality type, they enjoy playtime but are not overly demanding of attention. These kitties are also seen as the most classic of tabbies.

american shorthair kittens
american shorthair kittens

These adorable balls of love won’t be hiding under your bed when strangers come over. While they don’t enjoy being cuddled and held, they do like snuggling up on the couch next to you or may sleep at the foot of your bed.

3. Maine Coon

These fluffy felines are the most popular pedigree tabbies. They are known to be the gentle giants of all kitties, often said to be more like dogs than cats.

young-maine-coon cat lying down

A Maine Coon’s personality is known to be good-natured, friendly, lovable, and vocal. They love attention and being with family, often supervising relative gatherings or chasing after a cat wand.

maine coon cat staring at camera from window sill

They are one of the largest domesticated cat breeds, with sizable bodies and a double-layer of long thick hair. You’ll find yourself falling in love with your tabby Maine Coon cat in no time.

4. Oriental

Oriental tabbies come in a diverse range of colors. If you’re looking for a vocal kitty and, well, a little high-maintenance, he’s your guy. These little meow machines crave attention. You’ll often find them sitting on your lap or following your every move.

5. Ocicat

The spotted tabby patterned cat, the Ocicat, makes this feline look like a wild cat, notably, an Ocelot. Ironically, the Ocicat has no feral cat DNA in its gene pool. These kitties got their name through careful breeding.

ocicat cat breed
ocicat cat breed

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Ocicats are social kitties and enjoy the company of their families. They’ll gladly play games with you and even walk on a leash – if you train them to do so. Ocicats are one of the more expensive cat breeds.

6. American Curl

The American Curl comes in a variation of tabby patterns. It’s a newer breed of feline, named for its cute ears that curl backward.

tabby cat personality american curl

These kitties are gentle, kind, and friendly. They are moderately active but won’t make much of a fuss being left alone.

7. Domestic Shorthair

The Domestic Shorthair is a group of mixed breeds that come in an assortment of tabby patterns and colorings. And much like their appearance, their personalities vary.

Grey tabby plays with plush mouse

These kitties can be playful, vocal, docile, affectionate, and quiet all bundled into one. But more often than not, they are social felines with playful personalities.

A Footnote: Tabby Cat Personality

From twirls to stripes and sweet rosettes – tabbies and their personalities are the cutest of kitties. No matter what breed you like, chances are you’ll find a tabby cat to suit your liking.

bengal cat sits on stool

From the mischievous Bengal Cat to the energetic Abyssinian felines and gentle giant Maine Coons, there is a tabby out there that you’re bound to fall in love with.

tabby cat licks human finger

Now that we’ve covered adorable tabby cat personalities and how to identify each one, what are you’ve favorite?

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