Tabby Cats Coat And Gender: 4 Myths & 6 Facts


There is a lot to discover about owning a tabby cat, including their rich history from origins to myths and folktales. However, like with any pet, there may be some myths mixed in with the facts.

Tabby cats, including their coat and gender, are often surrounded by several misconceptions. This article aims to dispel some of the most prevalent myths about tabby cats while also presenting six intriguing facts about them. To begin with, we will debunk seven common myths associated with tabby cats and felines in general.

1. All Orange Tabby Cats Are Male (MYTH)

Orange Tabby felines are some of the most well-known of the group. Even Garfield is an orange Tabby cat! One of the common Myths about orange Tabby cats is that they are all male. That’s not true though. In reality, orange Tabby cats can also be female. The percentages are quite low though, with only 20% of all orange Tabby cats being female. Female orange Tabby cats are not necessarily rare, but they pale in comparison to the male numbers.</p

The explanation for this phenomenon is rooted in the genetic composition of tabby cats with orange fur. The genetics are relatively straightforward for male cats, which is why they are more commonly observed. This is because male cats possess XY chromosomes, requiring only one orange gene to express the color. Conversely, female cats have two XX chromosomes and require both parents to contribute the orange gene for it to manifest.

2. Male Tabby Cats Are More Affectionate Than Female (MYTH)

Assessing a cat’s fondness is a challenging task as each feline has its distinct character. Despite some cat breeds being more affectionate than others, there is no correlation between certain coat patterns and their level of affection. Therefore, the belief that male tabby cats are more loving than female tabby cats is entirely unfounded.

Female felines tend to be more protective and can appear less loving than male cats. Generally, males are more accepting when it comes to being touched and interacted with. Male Tabby Cats also do quite well with welcoming new cats that join the family.

Factors that truly influence a cat’s fondness include:

  • How well the cat is fed
  • Past life experiences
  • The personality of the owner
  • How the cat is raised
  • Social skills of the cat
  • The health of the cat
  • Regardless of whether they have been neutered or spayed

3. Orange Tabby Cats Are More Friendly (MYTH)

Tabby cats with orange coats are generally amiable, but their friendliness is not necessarily greater than that of other cat breeds. The color of a cat’s coat has minimal impact on its sociability. Similarly, the level of affection displayed by male and female cats is determined by various factors such as their breed and upbringing. In truth, some feline breeds are not inclined towards being cuddly or handled.

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It’s impossible to make assumptions about a cat’s character based on its coat and fur color. However, some breeds are known for being more loving and amiable than others. Check out this list of the most affectionate cat breeds.

If you desire a more loving and amiable Tabby Cat, it is advisable to create that impression during their early years. Cats possess an excellent memory and can assimilate and develop with information over time. Their life encounters and social exposure significantly influence their temperament as they mature.

4. Chocolate, Smoke, and Cream Are Rare Coat Colors (FACT)

Some cat coat colors are not as common as others and can be considered rare, such as Chocolate, Smoke, and Cream. The chocolate coat is distinct because it results from a mutation of the black color gene, which dilutes the black into a unique chocolate color. This coat color is only found in a few cat breeds including Havana Brown, Birman, Abyssinian, Cornish Rex, and Persian.

Tabby cats with a smoke-colored coat can be observed in various breeds like the Turkish Angora, Cornish Rex, and Oriental Shorthair, which is identifiable by a slight silver sheen on their fur. This coloration is evident in both longhair and shorthair tabby cats. The cream hue of a cat’s coat results from the dilution of the red/orange gene and is carried by certain breeds such as Birman and Oriental Shorthairs, appearing as a yellow or beige tint.

Although most cats have solid coat colors, tabby patterns such as stripes, spots, and blotches can also be present in their coats, but only in the patterned areas rather than the main part of the coat.

5. Tabby Cats Have Five Different Patterns (FACT)

Despite the common belief that tabby cats have only four distinct patterns, they actually possess five, with one often overlooked by feline enthusiasts. Here is a comprehensive rundown of all five tabby cat coat designs.

  • Classic
  • Mackerel
  • Spotted
  • Ticked (Agouti)
  • Patched

The Classic tabby design resembles a mixture of ice cream with swirls of different sizes and shapes, similar to a marble cake. This pattern is also known as the blotched tabby due to its varying swirl patterns and sizes, which are caused by genetic mutations that differentiate them from tabbies with simple stripes.

Cats with a Mackerel tabby coat are commonly known as tiger cats due to their long, thin stripes that cover their whole body, running vertically down each side of their back and stomach area, resembling the skeleton of a fish, hence the association with the name Mackerel.

Tabby cats have stripes that extend up to their head, covering their ears and tail, and there is usually a thick stripe running down the center of their back. While the markings are typically evenly spaced, some may be larger than others due to the cat’s genes.

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Tabby cats with spotted coats display both small and large spots throughout their body, which is a variation of the Mackerel tabby pattern, but with spots instead of swirls.

The Ticked tabby, commonly found in Abyssinian cats, has a distinct coat pattern that lacks the typical spots and stripes on the body, tail, torso, neck, and legs. Instead, the individual hairs on their bodies are ticked, making it more challenging to recognize their pattern.

Tabby cats with a ticked coat have stripes on individual hairs instead of being spread across the body as a whole, but they can still be recognized by their facial markings and the M-shaped marking on their forehead, especially in lighter-colored cats, and the visibility of these markings can be affected by lighting conditions.

While agouti cats are often mistaken for patched tabby cats, the latter have distinct markings that are limited to certain areas such as the tail, legs, and neck, featuring small stripe patterns or patches and blotches; additionally, these cats can exhibit various color modifiers and patterns within those specific locations.

6. Male Spayed Cats Are Much Calmer (FACT)

Spaying cats is aimed at reducing their anxiety levels, especially when they are in heat, as unspayed males and females tend to become agitated. Although the procedure is effective for both genders, it has a more significant impact on male cats, making them notably more relaxed than their female counterparts.

Male cats that have been neutered are generally more affectionate and cuddly. They tend to shift their attention from female cats to their owners, and may even become overly attached to specific people or objects.

Female cats may take a longer time to recover after being spayed as they need to process their hormones, which can result in redirected aggression.

7. Tabby Cats Can Come In Any Coat Color (FACT)

It is a little-known fact that tabby cats can have a coat color in almost any shade. The tabby gene, which is one of the most dominant genes, can be found in nearly every cat, and its markings may or may not appear depending on their genetics. Even rare colors such as Smoke, Chocolate, and Cream can still contain the tabby gene. Additionally, bi-color coats can also display the tabby pattern. Mackerel tabby cats with dark colors contrasting with white are not uncommon. It should be noted that Tabby is not a specific breed of cat and does not determine the coat color.

8. All Tabby Cats Have Stripes (MYTH)

Most domestic house cats have the tabby pattern. While the majority of Tabby Cats display some type of stripe pattern, not all of them do. It’s important to remember that these cats can feature a variety of unique patterns, including stripes, swirls, blotches, patches and spots. The ticked pattern is more difficult to identify depending on the cat’s overall Coat.Can Calico Cats Have Stripes?

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9. The M on A Tabbys Forehead Is In Their DNA (FACT)

Tabby cats are easily recognizable by the M-shaped marking on their forehead, which is one of the most distinctive features of their coat.

Several ancient tales and legends revolve around the M-shaped marking on the forehead of tabby cats. One of these stories links it to ancient Egyptians who called cats “Mau,” while another claims that Mary gave the marking to a tabby cat that jumped into her manger. Some stories also mention Prophet Mohammed praying with a cat beside him.

Although stories about the M-shaped forehead marking in tabby cats are amusing, there is scientific evidence that it is linked to their distinct DNA, and while its origins remain unclear, it is a natural gene found in all tabby cats.

10. Tabby Cats Can Be Left Or Right Pawed (FACT)

Similar to humans who have a dominant hand, tabby cats also exhibit a preference for one paw over the other.

Tabby cats have a dominant paw preference, regardless of their gender. They can either be left-pawed or right-pawed, with a higher percentage of male tabbies being left-pawed and female tabbies being right-pawed.

Studies have revealed that cats exhibit paw preference, with 39% of them preferring their right paw and 28.3% favoring their left paw, particularly male cats. However, some cats are ambidextrous and do not show any preference at all. The preference for a specific paw is linked to the brain structure of each gender.

Tabby cats that favor their left paw tend to use the right hemisphere of their brain for other tasks. They also tend to exhibit greater awareness of their environment, which can sometimes lead to fearfulness and caution, as well as occasional displays of aggression. However, these behaviors are typically only observed in stressful situations and not during normal daily activities.

If you want to determine whether your Tabby Cat’s dominant paw is left or right, you can simply observe which paw they use first when walking towards you or reaching for a toy.

You can also check this YouTube video about this topic:

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[Wikipedia] [Encyclopedia Britannica] [National Geographic] [cdc.gov] [Purina]

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