Tabby is not a specific breed but describes a coat pattern that can come in many different shades and colours. All tabbies have a spine line down the center of the back. They have bars or stripes on the legs, buttons down the tummy and rings around the tail. Some have more elaborate markings, such as bracelets, necklaces or butterflies across the shoulders. The pattern on a kitten at birth will remain as such throughout its life, and will never change.
One distinguishing feature of tabbies is their facial markings that include a distinctive M on their foreheads and expressive pencil-thin striped markings around the eyes that look a little like eyeliner. There are several ideas about how these markings came about.
- The prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, was an acknowledged cat lover. It is said that the M marking on the forehead of the tabby cat was created when he rested his hand on the brow of his favourite cat.
- Christians believe that when newborn baby Jesus wouldn’t stop crying, a cat climbed into the manger and started to purr, sending him off to sleep. In gratitude, the Virgin Mary marked the cat’s face with the first letter of her name.
- A non-religious version suggests that the M is a set of frown lines, the result of a cat staring at a mousehole in concentration, waiting for a mouse to emerge.
Tabbies are considered friendly, happy-go-lucky cats, intelligent, very affectionate and wonderful companions.
Sadly, tabby cats are often overlooked or taken for granted. There are several beautiful tabby cats at APROP currently looking for homes.