No, black tabby cats are not considered rare just as it is with orange and other tabby colors. The tabby pattern can be seen in many cat breeds. In general, though, certain colors are quite rare including smoked, chocolate, cream, lilac or lavender, roan, fawn and chinchilla.
Tabby cat coat patterns and personality
A tabby cat is any domestic cat that has a distinctive M-shaped marking on its forehead. The eyes usually have a long eyeliner-like stripe on the cheek that is akin to the Egyptian symbol, the Eye of Horus. They also have pale areas of fur around the eyeliner and may have thin facial pencil line patterns.
The tabby cat personality is unique and these cats are considered outgoing and adventurous. They are known to be friendly, affectionate and smart although a large part of their personality and temperament may also be dependent on their breed.
Tabby cats usually have horizontal stripes and bars on the legs and lines that resemble bracelets around the paws. It is common to see tabbies with a dark stripe from their shoulders to the base of the tail while some have a shoulder pattern that is described as a butterfly. They have more or less 70 to 80 color variations and their coat features an agouti pattern where there are alternating dark and pale bands of color along the hair shaft along with contrasting spots, stripes or swirls.
These are the five coat patterns among tabby cats:
1. Classic tabby
Characterized by bold and swirling patterns that resemble a marble cake. Also called a blotched tabby. The circular smudges on a classic tabby cat’s body resemble a bullseye.
2. Mackerel tabby
This pattern is characterized by narrow stripes running parallel down the cat’s sides. Tabby cats with this pattern are also called tiger cats and their bodies have narrow, non-broken and evenly-spaced stripes vertically running down the sides. These stripes branch from one that runs along the top of the cat’s back and down to the spine resembling a fish skeleton, thus the term “mackerel”.
3. Spotted tabby
Tabby cats with this pattern have spots all over their sides. The spots may be large or small but may also appear as broken mackerel stripes and could be round, rosette or oval. Usually, a mackerel tabby with a broken pattern looks like a spotted tabby but it is not known if the spots developed from the former or a separate gene pool.
4. Ticked tabby
This pattern is sometimes called the agouti or Abyssinian tabby and does not feature the traditional stripes or spots. Tabby cats with this pattern have agouti hairs on the body.
5. Patched tabby
This pattern features separate patches of brown and red and is usually described as a tortoiseshell tabby or torbie. Patched tabby cats may show any of the distinct patterns mentioned above with the markings more pronounced on the head and legs.
Cat breeds that feature the tabby pattern
These are some of the cat breeds that feature the tabby coat pattern:
- American Bobtail
- American Shorthair
- American Curl
- Devon Rex
- Domestic Shorthair
- Maine Coon
- Norwegian Forest
- Egyptian Mau
Interestingly, the tabby pattern acts as excellent built-in camouflage and helps to disguise the cat especially in the woods.
These are the common color markings among tabby cats:
- grey – this marking is prominent since it comes in contrast with a lighter coat color
- orange – it is most common among male cats and may also come in different patterns like the classic, ticked, striped and mackerel
- ginger – it is usually characterized by dark orange markings
- black – this marking usually appears with an opposite coat color like silver
- brown – this marking is also characterized by the classic pattern
Tabby cats are special because of their unique coat patterns and popular for their affectionate and outgoing nature. These cats are not rare regardless if they are black or not. Rare cat coat colors includechocolate, cream, lilac or lavender, smoked, roan, fawn and chinchilla.
Image: istockphoto.com / GlobalP