Are tabby cats white?

Have you ever wondered if tabby cats are white? Well, prepare to be intrigued as we uncover the captivating world of tabby cats and their coat colors. While tabby cats may often be associated with the classic orange and black stripes, their coats can actually come in a variety of colors, including white. Join us as we explore the fascinating world of tabby cats and unravel the mystery behind their colorful coats.

Are tabby cats white?

The Different Colors of Tabby Cats

Tabby cats are known for their unique coat patterns and a variety of colors. These charming felines come in various shades and combinations, making each tabby cat truly one-of-a-kind. In this article, we will explore the different colors of tabby cats, understand the tabby coat pattern, and highlight the distinctive features of white-tabby cats.

Understanding the Tabby Coat Pattern

What is a Tabby Cat?

A tabby cat refers to a feline with a coat pattern consisting of distinct stripes, swirls, or spots. These patterns are most commonly seen on a cat’s body, but they can also extend to the head and tail. Tabby cats are not a specific breed, but rather a pattern that can be found in various breeds of domestic cats.

Tabby Coat Genetics

The tabby coat pattern is determined by genetics, specifically the presence of agouti genes. Agouti genes control the distribution of pigments in a cat’s fur, resulting in the characteristic stripes, spots, or swirls seen in tabby cats. The pattern is visible due to the contrasting colors between the background fur and the tabby markings.

The Mackerel, Classic, and Ticked Tabby Patterns

There are different variations of the tabby coat pattern. The most common are the mackerel, classic, and ticked tabby patterns.

The mackerel tabby pattern is characterized by thin, straight stripes that run vertically along the cat’s body. These stripes resemble fishbones and give the cat a sleek and elegant appearance.

The classic tabby pattern, also known as the blotched tabby, features larger and more distinct swirling patterns on the cat’s sides. These swirls create a marbled or swirling effect, giving the cat a truly unique and eye-catching look.

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The ticked tabby pattern is characterized by individual hairs that are banded with different colors. This creates a salt-and-pepper or grizzled appearance, with no distinct stripes or swirls visible. This pattern is more commonly seen in certain breeds, such as the Abyssinian or Somali cats.

Common Tabby Colors

Tabby cats come in a wide range of colors. Let’s explore some of the most common tabby colors and their unique characteristics.

Brown/Black Tabby Cats

Brown or black tabby cats are the most common colors seen in tabbies. They typically have dark brown or black stripes on a lighter background, which can be shades of brown, buff, or orange. The intensity of the stripes can vary from bold and pronounced to subtle and faint.

Red/Orange Tabby Cats

Also known as ginger tabbies, red or orange tabby cats have a coat that ranges from a vibrant reddish-orange to a lighter cream color. The distinctive orange stripes stand out against a cream, buff, or white background, giving these cats a warm and sunny appearance.

Gray/Blue Tabby Cats

Gray or blue tabby cats, sometimes referred to as silver tabbies, have a coat color that ranges from light silver-gray to a deep steel blue. The stripes on their coat can be dark gray, black, or even brown. The combination of the gray or blue background color with the contrasting stripes creates a striking and elegant look.

Cream Tabby Cats

Cream tabby cats have a beautiful pale cream or buff-colored coat. Their stripes are usually a shade or two darker than their base color, creating a subtle and elegant look. Cream tabbies often have a soft and gentle appearance, accentuated by their unique coat color.

White-tabby Cats

Is White a Tabby Color?

White tabby cats are often a subject of confusion due to the perception of white cats as lacking tabby markings. While white is not typically considered a tabby color, it is possible for white cats to exhibit tabby patterns. These cats possess a combination of white fur and tabby markings, resulting in a truly unique and eye-catching appearance.

White Tabby Patterns

White tabby cats can display various tabby patterns, including the mackerel, classic, or ticked tabby. The tabby markings on a white coat create a striking contrast and make these cats stand out in a crowd.

White Tabby Genetics

The presence of tabby markings on white cats is determined by genetics. When a cat carries the genes for both white coloring and tabby pattern, it can result in a white tabby cat. These genetics add an intriguing twist to the appearance of white cats and make them even more special and sought after by cat enthusiasts.

Are tabby cats white?

Are Tabby Cats White?

The False Perception of White Tabby Cats

There is a common misconception that tabby cats cannot be white. This misperception arises from the belief that white cats are devoid of any color or patterns. However, white tabby cats do exist and possess both the color white and the tabby coat pattern.

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White Cats with Tabby Markings

Some white cats may have faint or subtle tabby markings. These may appear as ghost stripes or patterns on their fur, indicating their tabby heritage. While these markings may be less pronounced compared to a fully colored tabby cat, they still contribute to the unique beauty of white tabbies.

White Tabby Patterns Explained

White tabby cats can exhibit the same tabby patterns seen in cats of other colors. The mackerel pattern may appear as faint or delicate stripes on a white background, while the classic tabby pattern can manifest as swirls or blotches with a softer contrast against the white fur. The ticked tabby pattern may be less distinguishable on a white coat, but the grizzled effect can still be present in certain areas.

Other Factors Affecting Cat Color Perception

It is important to note that lighting conditions and the angle at which light strikes a cat’s fur can impact color perception. The appearance of a white tabby cat’s markings can vary depending on the lighting conditions, making their patterns more or less visible.

White Tabby Cats vs. Non-Tabby White Cats

Differentiating White-tabby Cats from Non-Tabby Whites

Distinguishing a white tabby cat from a non-tabby white cat can be challenging, especially when subtle tabby markings are present on a white coat. To determine if a white cat is a white tabby, it is essential to observe the presence of distinct tabby patterns, such as stripes, swirls, or spots, within their white fur.

The Effect of Tabby Genetics on White Cats

Tabby genetics play a vital role in determining the presence of tabby markings on white cats. If a white cat inherits the genes for the tabby pattern, it can exhibit tabby markings despite its predominantly white coat. However, if a white cat does not possess the necessary tabby genes, it will not display any tabby patterns.

Spotting Tabby Patterns on White Cats

Observing a white cat in different lighting conditions and from various angles can help spot any tabby patterns. It is also important to note that not all white cats possess tabby markings. Some white cats may have solid white coats with no visible tabby patterns, while others may exhibit subtle or pronounced tabby markings on their white fur.

Health Considerations for White Tabby Cats

Deafness in White Cats with Blue Eyes

White tabby cats, especially those with blue eyes, might be prone to hearing impairments, including partial or complete deafness. The connection between white coat color and deafness is believed to be due to a genetic mutation that affects the development of cells involved in hearing. It is essential for owners of white tabby cats to be aware of this potential health concern and make accommodations to ensure the cat’s well-being.

Potential Sunburn and Skin Cancer Risks

White cats, including white tabbies, have a higher risk of sunburn and skin cancer due to their lack of pigmentation. The white fur provides minimal protection against the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. To mitigate this risk, it is recommended to keep white tabbies indoors during peak sun hours and apply pet-safe sunscreen to exposed areas, such as the nose and ears, when venturing outside.

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Regular Check-ups for White Tabby Cats

Owners of white tabby cats should prioritize regular veterinary check-ups to monitor their cat’s overall health. These check-ups can help detect any potential health issues early on and ensure timely intervention and treatment, if necessary. Regular vaccinations, parasite prevention, and dental care are equally important for the well-being of white tabby cats.

Famous White Tabby Cats in History

Félicette – The First Cat in Space

Félicette, a black and white tabby cat, made history on October 18, 1963, as the first cat to travel to space. The French space program, CNES, sent Félicette on a brief suborbital mission to study the effects of space travel on animals. Despite the significance of her contribution to space exploration, Félicette’s mission and subsequent recovery were largely overshadowed by the achievements of human astronauts.

Snowball – The Cat Who Survived the Titanic

Snowball, a white tabby cat, achieved worldwide fame for surviving the tragic sinking of the Titanic in 1912. The resilient feline was reportedly owned by Mrs. Margaret Hays, a first-class passenger, and was on board the ill-fated ship when it met its untimely demise. Snowball was rescued and brought to safety, becoming a symbol of hope and survival amidst the tragedy.

Hamlet – Karl Lagerfeld’s Iconic Cat

Hamlet, a white Turkish Angora tabby cat, was the beloved pet of the iconic fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld. Often seen accompanying Lagerfeld to fashion shows and events, Hamlet gained a reputation as a fashionable feline and made numerous appearances on social media and in the press. Hamlet’s regal white coat and captivating blue eyes made him a true fashion icon in the world of cats.

Larry – The Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office

Larry, a tabby cat with a predominantly white coat, holds the esteemed position of Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office in the United Kingdom. He is the resident cat at 10 Downing Street, the official residence and office of the British Prime Minister. Larry’s main role is to control the population of mice and rats within the government building, making him an essential member of the Prime Minister’s staff.

Adopting a White Tabby Cat

Finding White-tabby Cats in Shelters

If you’re considering adopting a white tabby cat, visiting local animal shelters and rescue organizations is a great place to start. These facilities often have a variety of cats available for adoption, including white tabbies looking for their forever homes. The dedicated staff can provide information about each cat’s personality, behavior, and specific care needs, helping you find the perfect addition to your family.

Preparation for a White-tabby Cat

Before bringing a white tabby cat home, it’s important to prepare your living space to ensure their safety and comfort. This includes providing a cozy bed, scratching posts, litter boxes, and appropriate toys. Additionally, securing windows and balconies, removing toxic plants, and keeping cleaning products out of reach are essential precautions for their well-being.

Caring for a White-tabby Cat

Caring for a white tabby cat involves regular grooming to maintain their pristine coat. Brushing their fur helps remove loose hairs and reduces the risk of matting. It is also important to clean their ears, trim their nails, and practice dental hygiene. Regular playtime and mental stimulation are equally vital for their overall well-being.


Tabby cats come in a fascinating array of colors and patterns, each with its own unique charm. From brown and black tabbies to red, gray, and cream varieties, these cats offer a truly diverse range of colors for cat lovers to enjoy. White tabby cats, despite being a subject of misconception, exhibit the distinct tabby patterns on their predominantly white coats, adding an extra layer of beauty and intrigue. Whether you’re considering adopting a white tabby or simply appreciate their colorful companionship, these cats are sure to bring joy and love into your life.