What is a tabby cat?
“Tabby,” the basic feline coat pattern, dates back to the time before cats were domesticated. The tabby coat is an excellent form of camouflage. Each hair has two or three dark and light bands, with the tip always dark. There are four variations on the basic tabby pattern.
The mackerel (also called striped or tiger) tabby has a dark line running down the back from the head to the base of the tail, with several stripes branching down the sides. The legs have stripes, and the tail has even rings with a dark tip. There are two rows of dark spots on the stomach. Above the eyes is a mark shaped like an “M” and dark lines run back to the ears. Two dark necklace-like bands appear on the chest.
The blotched, or classic, tabby markings seem to be the closest to those found in the wild. The markings on the head, legs, tail, and stomach are the same as the mackerel tabby. The major difference is that the blotched tabby has dark patches on the shoulder and side, rimmed by one or several lines.
The spotted tabby has uniformly shaped round or oval dark spots all over the body and legs. The forehead has an “M” on it, and a narrow, dark line runs down the back.
The Abyssinian tabby has almost no dark markings on its body; they appear only on the forelegs, the flanks, and the tail. The hairs are banded except on the stomach, where they are light and unicolored.