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You're a Tabby too!

Friday Mar 16, 2007 01:48:00 PM

I want to be in Tabbyland! And I'll tell you why!

According to the book "The Complete Encyclopedia of the Cat", every cat has a tabby pattern in it's make-up, even non-tabby cats. You can sometimes see this in non-tabby kittens which have vague , but still quite clear tabby markings that disappear as they get older. Very occasionally, the tabby markings remain visiable, but only in certain lights - like when cat is lying in the sun and you can see markings on legs and tail. These fadded tabby markings are called "ghost markings". (Ghost markings are considered a fault in many breeds.)

Because all cats carry a tabby gene, two solid color cats will sometimes have tabby kittens in their litters. (The cat across the street, which is a Jellical or Tuxedo cat, gave birth to four tabby black tabby kittens, but I think the father was the orange tabby stray that My Bean refers to as "Tigger".)

Tabby is a camouflage pattern that enables the cat to merge more or less with it's enviroment so it's prey does not see it and it can hunt more successfully.

Cat's develop the Tabby pattern when they inherit a dominate agrouti gene (A) from their parents. The pattern comes into being because the agrouti gene, to a greater or lesser extent, suppresses the production of the basic color on the hair shaft in specific places, so that a set of alternating dark and light-colored band is formed on each hair, but it then misses out the hair in some places. These retain their basic color over their whole length and form a pattern on the agrouti background.

There are four different types of tabby patterns: the ticked tabby, the striped or mackeral tabby, the classic or marbled tabby, and the spotted tabby.

The ticked tabby is often called the Aby Tabby because the coloration was first seen in the Abyssinian breed of cat. Somali and Singapuras also display ticked tabby markings. A ticked tabby gene will usually mask the operation of the gene that causes a striped or marbled coat. Ticked tabby is not so much a pattern, but the absence of one.

The stripped or mackerel tabbies are popularly called "tiger cats". Stripped tabbys have uninterrupted stripes on their bodies, although sometimes these stripes are interrupted by spots. Preference in shows for for uninterrupted, thin stripes on the cat. The stripped gene is dominant over the classic tabby pattern.

The classic, blotched or marbled tabby has butterfly markings on each side at the height of the shoulder with a broad stripe running along the back from the butterfly to the tail. The cats also have an "Oyster mark" on both flanks, surrounded by one or more closed rings.

The spotted tabby has the same markings as the stripped and classic tabby, but on the sides and back they have a clearly defined pattern of spots. The Ocicat is a good example of a spotted tabby. Norwegian Forrest Cats also display a spotted tabby pattern.

When naming a tabby the basic color of the cat is always said first - for example a Blue Stripped Tabby or a Lilac Classic Tabby. A cat is never really a "Brown" tabby. A "brown" tabby is either a black tabby or a "Chocolate tabby" as Chocolate is the color designation for brown in cats. Most brown tabbys have a basic black coat with brown markings, making them "Black Tabbys".

A tortoiseshell tabby is called a tortie tabby, but to be a true torti tabby, the pattern of the coat needs to be visiable in both colors, and not just in the red and cream parts. A tortie tabby must have tabby markings in the basic color eumelanin (black,chocolate, cinnamon, blue, fawn or lilac).

Now, I say I am a Black Tabby. I have a black coat with black markings. It all looks the same though, so of course, every says "Oh, you are a black cat," which is true! But some of my hairs have two colors on them, black and white, so I do carry a tabby gene. So, since I am a black tabby, I think I should be allowed into tabbyland! Don't you?

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Posted By: 2007/06/16 12:04:19 PM
very interesting...mom sees these "invisible" stripes on my back in light.

Posted By: Alex - RIP 2007/03/16 11:38:55 PM
I'm a classic tabby. On solid color cats the evidence of your inner tabby-ness can be seen on your forehead. That little blotchy, stripy thing above your eyes is called a "scarab" and most kitties have one. It proves that we all have tabby heritage.

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