Are Tabbies Considered a Breed?

CatChannel expert Jeanne Adlon, professional cat sitter, talks about tabby cats.

By Jeanne Adlon | Posted: September 24, 2010, 3 a.m. EDT

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Q: I have two tabby cats. Are tabbies considered a breed?

A: I have a cute tabby cat as well. They are very common, but according to what I have read, tabbies are not a breed. Tabby refers to a pattern of stripes and swirls and/or a combination of stripes and spots on their coats. Many have what looks like an “M” on their foreheads. There are long-haired and short-haired tabbies and approximately 25 breeds that have tabby markings including Persians, Maine Coons and the tail-less Manx.

I have more house calls with tabbies than any other coat markings, and in one household I care for two super-sweet gray tabbies, Mikey and Freddie. They are sometimes hard to tell apart, which might be a problem because Mikey gets a daily pill. Fortunately, Freddie has a large white spot on his chest, which clearly identifies him. Mikey is also extra affectionate, both before and after his pill!

Striped tabbies are the most common and are known as mackerel tabbies. They tend to have rings around their tails and stripes across their neck and chest. If your kitty has large swirls on his side with what looks like a bullseye, you are the proud parent of a classic tabby. The Ocitat breed is a good example of a spotted tabby, with a coat pattern similar to a cheetah. They are less common that the mackerel or classic.

Whatever version of tabbies shares your home, enjoy them and make sure you keep them well-brushed. It is good for their overall health and a better way to show off their beautiful coats. As always, I welcome your stories and comments.

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Reader Comments

Evelyn    Beamsville, ON

9/30/2010 10:34:36 PM

Good article.

Holly    Stouffville, ON

9/30/2010 4:06:02 PM

I have a gorgeous brown mackerel tabby named Kenya. She's just beautiful!! Her brother, Jin, is a black and white cat..... I suppose they are just both American Short Haired - or Domestic Short Haired cats since tabbies aren't a breed, and her brother is just a plain old short haired cat. (He's gorgeous too). ;)

Shirley    Tucson, AZ

9/30/2010 2:27:18 PM

Very interesting.

Anna    Peterborough, ON

9/30/2010 1:31:20 PM

Interesting. thanks, catchannel!

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