Tabbys are the most common domestic pets cats. They have the reputation for being social and smart, making them adopted at the highest rates compared to other color patterns. But before knowing more about this popular type of cat, let us understand first what is a tabby.
The tabby cat is often mistaken for a breed. However, it is not a breed but a coat pattern which can be found in both mixed breed and purebred cats. This coat features an agouti pattern of alternating dark and pale bands of color along the hair shaft with contrasting darker spots, stripes, or swirls and a prominent M on the forehead.
These are the personality traits of a tabby cat:
Tabby cats are known to be very friendly and socially interactive pets. They associate with humans and also with other cats. They make wonderful companions and are easy to be around with. Their extroverted personality earned them a reputation for being adorable and socially oriented, especially so with orange tabbies. Although they also have their individual traits and you cannot expect all tabbies to be interactive.
Tabbies can display social and friendly personality traits depending on their breed, early socialization and home environment. Some tabby cats, as well as other cats, are quite shy. This may depend on how they have been treated, their past experiences and for some individuals it is simply just not their thing to interact.
Because tabby cats are outgoing and interactive, they are usually perceived to be affectionate especially so with orange tabby cats. Also, the most common coat pattern among domestic cats is tabby, which creates a reputation for being affectionate.
However, the breed of the cat affects a cat’s affectionate personality more than its coat pattern. Some cat breeds are more affectionate than others. This includes Scottish Fold, Ragdoll, Sphynx, Maine Coon, Persian, Siamese and many more. We should also keep in mind that every cat has its own personality regardless of the breed.
Any cat can be affectionate, tabby or not. If it was raised in a good environment, has good training through exercise and stimulation, there is a great chance that it will grow up to be affectionate.
Tabby cats are considered to be smart which is largely based on them being interactive. The more social a cat is, the more stimulated its brains will be, leading to more intelligent interaction. A cat’s intelligence is measured also by how they are able to adapt to new environments.
Although most tabby cats are social and intelligent, their appearance has less to do with their intelligence than their breed. Examples of intelligent breeds that exhibit the tabby pattern are Abyssinian, Bengal, Savannah and Scottish Fold.
There are many ways to develop your cat’s intelligence. Feeding your pet a well-balanced diet is a good start. Allow your feline to explore its surroundings and keep your cat stimulated by having a consistent schedule for play and exercise, providing interactive toys and a good scratch post.
Why are they called tabby?
The name tabby is believed to have come from the word atabi. It is a type of silk spun in the Attabiah region of Baghdad. This silk was exported in large quantities to the British Isles where it was noticed how similar the striped pattern was to the coat of the tiger cat. These tiger cats soon started to be called tabbi cats and later tabby cats.
Other than the classic large swirls or blotches that end in a circular pattern, tabby coat patterns also include mackerel, spotted and ticked. The mackerel tabby markings can be closely compared to patterns of African wild cats that have narrow striped rings around their tail and legs and solid or broken stripes down their sides. The spotted ones have dark blotches that are in oval or round shapes. For a ticked pattern, a closer look is necessary to see their light and dark colored bands in their agouti hairs.
Tabby cats are known for being friendly, affectionate and intelligent. They are loved by cat lovers because of their personality but these characteristics have little to do with the tabby coat pattern and more with the actual breed of the cat.
Image: istockphoto.com / Ingus Kruklitis