The Hervey Foundation for Cats
Different Types of Tabby Cat Patterns

Different Types of Tabby Cat Patterns

Tabby cats are some of the world’s most recognizable cats and for good reason! Not only do they have wonderful personalities, but they come in a variety of captivating and unique patterns.

Some theorize tabbies originally come from wild cats native to parts of North Africa, where they developed striped patterns to help them camouflage into their environments; tall grass, brush, and other plant life. 

After many thousands of years of development, tabby cats have taken on a number of different looks. While they are all distinctly different, they are also very much the same. Tabbies often have similar patterns atop their heads, right above their brow, then in other places on the body. Some have mostly stripes, while others have spots. Regardless, we can break down some of the more common types of tabby cats into a handful of groups.

Classic Tabby Pattern

The classic tabby pattern is the most iconic tabby coat. It has a combination of distinct patterns including swirls, bullseye, or butterfly shapes on the body. These patterns are usually accompanied by solid-coloured patches around the face, neck or belly area as well, and plenty of stripes and colours!

Mackerel Tabby Pattern

The mackerel tabby pattern is characterized by thin stripes running along the cat’s backbone, somewhat resembling a fish skeleton (hence its name). You may find solid-coloured patches around the face, neck or belly area as well. This type of pattern can complement a number of different colours.

Spotted Tabby Pattern
The spotted tabby cat pattern is characterized by blotches or spots appearing all over the body, rather than stripes. This type of tabby cat pattern is relatively rare but can be found in certain breeds such as Bengal cats and American Bobtails. 

Ticked Tabby Pattern

The ticked tabby cat pattern shows itself as a single-colour coat with “ticking” or flecking of another colour, usually black. These tabbies hardly show any striping at all, but a series of tick-shaped flecks that in many cases resemble stripes from afar.

Patched Tabby Pattern

Patched tabby cats have large patches of greyish browns, reds, and oranges – much like the colouration you’d see in a tortoiseshell cat – under their stripes. It’s for that reason they are often referred to as tortie tabbies!

Different Colours

Tabbies come in all sorts of different base colours, with their patterns appearing on cats with silver fur, brown, ginger, white, black, and more! Many years of breeding with different types of cats have resulted in numerous combinations of colour and pattern, providing us with some of the most interesting-looking cats out there! 

No matter the tabby cats’ colours or patterns, they all have one thing in common – they’re incredibly endearing companions that are sure to bring lots of love and joy into your life! They make great family pets and companions, and many are quite intelligent too! 


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