How to Identify the Breed of Your Tabby Cat

So you’ve found yourself with an adorable tabby cat, but now you’re curious to know what breed they belong to. Identifying the breed of a tabby cat can be a fascinating journey filled with unique patterns, characteristics, and colors. In this article, we will explore some tips and tricks to help you uncover the mysterious lineage of your beloved feline friend. Get ready to embark on a fun adventure of discovery, as we delve into the world of tabby cat breeds!

How to Identify the Breed of Your Tabby Cat

Understanding Tabby Cats

Tabby cats are one of the most common and popular types of cats. They are known for their distinctive coat patterns, which can vary widely. Understanding their characteristics, coat patterns, and colors can help you appreciate and identify your own tabby cat.

Tabby Cat Characteristics

Tabby cats have a unique set of characteristics that set them apart from other cats. They typically have an “M” marking on their forehead and stripes on their face, legs, and tail. Their bodies are slender with a graceful appearance, and they have large, expressive eyes. Tabby cats come in a variety of coat patterns and colors, which we will explore further.

Physical Features

Coat Length

Tabby cats can have various coat lengths, ranging from short to medium to long. Short-haired tabbies have a dense, smooth coat that is easy to care for. Medium-haired tabbies have a slightly longer and thicker coat, requiring a bit more grooming. Long-haired tabbies have luxurious, fluffy coats that require regular brushing to prevent matting and tangling.

Eye Color

The eye color of tabby cats can vary, but most commonly, they have vibrant green or hazel eyes. However, some tabby cats may have blue or yellow eyes, adding to their uniqueness and charm.

Body Structure

Tabby cats have a well-proportioned body structure. They have a muscular build with strong legs and a medium-sized tail. Their bodies are agile and lean, allowing them to be excellent climbers and jumpers.

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Tabby Cat Coat Patterns

Tabby cats are famous for their beautiful and diverse coat patterns. Each pattern has its own unique markings and characteristics. Here are some of the most common tabby cat coat patterns:

Classic Tabby

The classic tabby pattern is characterized by bold, swirling patterns on the cat’s sides. These swirls resemble the letter “bullseye” or a marble pattern. The patterns usually have a dark outline and are often called “blotched” tabbies due to their large, round markings.

Mackerel Tabby

The mackerel tabby pattern is characterized by narrow, vertical stripes that resemble fishbones. These stripes extend from the cat’s spine towards its belly. This pattern is also known as a striped or tiger tabby pattern.

Spotted Tabby

As the name suggests, spotted tabbies have distinctive spots on their coats. The spots can be large or small, and they are evenly distributed across the body. This pattern is often associated with wildcat-like appearances.

Ticked Tabby

Ticked tabbies have a unique pattern where each hair has multiple bands of color. This gives the cat’s coat a shimmering appearance. The ticking is most noticeable on the cat’s back, but it can also be present on the head, legs, and tail.

Patched Tabby

Patched tabbies, also known as tortoiseshell tabbies, have patches of different colors on their coats. These patches can be a combination of tabby patterns with solid colors or other tabby patterns. This pattern is more commonly seen in female tabby cats.

Tabby Cat Colors

In addition to various coat patterns, tabby cats also come in different colors. Here are some of the most common tabby cat colors:

Brown Tabby

Brown tabbies have a warm and rich brown color as the base of their coats. The color intensity can vary, ranging from light golden brown to deep chocolate brown. This color is often associated with a classic tabby pattern.

Grey Tabby

Grey tabbies, also known as blue tabbies, have a cool-toned and soft grey color as the base of their coats. The shade of grey can range from light silver to dark charcoal. This color is often associated with a mackerel tabby pattern.

Red Tabby

Red tabbies have a vibrant and fiery orange color as the base of their coats. The intensity of the red can vary from a pale ginger to a deep copper color. This color is often associated with a classic or mackerel tabby pattern.

Cream Tabby

Cream tabbies have a soft and pale cream color as the base of their coats. This color resembles a pastel shade of orange. Cream tabbies can have various tabby patterns, but the markings are usually lighter in color.

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Silver Tabby

Silver tabbies have a striking silver color as the base of their coats. The silver hue can range from a light pewter shade to a shimmering platinum color. This color is often associated with a classic or mackerel tabby pattern.

Specific Tabby Breeds

While tabby cats are not a specific breed, there are several cat breeds that commonly have tabby markings and patterns. Here are some of the most popular tabby cat breeds:

American Shorthair

The American Shorthair is a versatile breed that often comes in a variety of tabby patterns and colors. These cats have a muscular build, round faces, and gentle temperaments. They are known for their intelligence and adaptability.

Maine Coon

Maine Coons are well-known for their large size and friendly personalities. While they can come in various colors, tabby patterns such as classic, mackerel, and ticked are quite common. They have luxurious, semi-long coats and tufted ears.

British Shorthair

The British Shorthair is a robust and compact breed with a round face and dense coat. Tabby patterns can be found in various colors within this breed, including classic, mackerel, and spotted. They have a calm and affectionate nature, making them wonderful companions.

Norwegian Forest Cat

The Norwegian Forest Cat is a majestic and long-haired breed that is often associated with their tabby patterns. These cats have a strong and athletic build, allowing them to excel in climbing and outdoor activities. They are known for their friendly and independent nature.


The Bengal breed is unique as it is a cross between a domestic cat and an Asian leopard cat. Bengals often have a spotted tabby pattern, resembling the appearance of a wild leopard. They have a muscular build, high energy levels, and an adventurous spirit.

Genetic Testing

If you’re curious about the specific breed or ancestry of your tabby cat, genetic testing can provide valuable insights. DNA testing is available for cats, allowing you to identify their genetic background and potentially uncover any breed-specific traits or health considerations.

Mixed Breed Identification

In addition to determining specific breeds, genetic testing can also identify the presence of mixed breeds in your tabby cat’s lineage. This can help you understand the unique combination of characteristics and behaviors that make your cat so special.

Observing Behavior and Traits

Understanding your tabby cat’s personality traits, activity level, size, and weight can help you provide the best care and enrichment for them.

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Personality Traits

Tabby cats are known for their friendly and sociable nature. They are often affectionate and enjoy spending time with their human companions. However, each cat has its own unique personality, so it’s essential to observe and understand your cat’s individual temperament.

Activity Level

Tabby cats are generally active and energetic, enjoying playtime and exercise. However, the activity level can vary among individuals. Some tabbies may be more laid-back and prefer a calm and relaxed environment, while others may be highly active and require more mental and physical stimulation.

Size and Weight

Tabby cats come in various sizes, ranging from small to large. The average weight of a tabby cat can vary depending on its breed and individual genetics. It’s important to monitor your cat’s weight and ensure they maintain a healthy body condition.

Consulting a Veterinarian or Breeder

If you have any specific concerns or questions about your tabby cat’s health, behavior, or breed-related traits, it’s always advisable to consult a veterinarian or a reputable breeder.

Professional Opinion

Veterinarians are trained professionals who can provide valuable advice on your tabby cat’s general health, vaccinations, diet, and behavior. They can conduct physical examinations and diagnostic tests to ensure your cat’s well-being.

Pedigree Papers

If you obtained your tabby cat from a breeder, they may provide you with pedigree papers that detail your cat’s lineage and breed information. These papers can be helpful in understanding your cat’s specific breed traits and history.

Online Resources and Cat Communities

The internet is a valuable resource for cat lovers, providing access to various online databases, forums, and breed identification services.

Breed Databases

Online breed databases can help you research and identify specific tabby cat breeds, providing information on their characteristics, coat patterns, and colors. These databases can be a useful reference when trying to determine your cat’s breed.

Online Forums

Participating in online cat forums and communities can connect you with other tabby cat owners and enthusiasts. This allows you to share experiences, seek advice, and learn from the collective knowledge of fellow cat lovers.

Breed Identification Services

There are online services available that can help you identify your tabby cat’s breed through genetic testing or by analyzing photos and descriptions. These services can provide insights into your cat’s genetic makeup and potential breed origins.


Tabby cats are fascinating and beloved companions, with their unique coat patterns, colors, and diverse breeds. Understanding their characteristics, observing their behavior, and seeking professional advice can help you provide the best care and enrichment for your tabby cat. Whether you have a classic tabby, a mackerel tabby, or any other beautiful tabby variation, your cat’s individuality and charming personality make them a cherished member of your family.