Here are 6 facts about the grey tabby cat…
I am dictating this. The software spells “grey” rather than “gray”. That tells you that I’m in the UK although I nearly always write about American cats! That is because the best stories about domestic cats come from America and there are more domestic cats in American than anywhere else. It is the centre of the domestic cat world. Enough of that! In Britain the word is spelt “grey” and in America it is spelt “gray”.
It is beleived that the word “tabby” comes from the word “Atabi” a type of silk manufactured in the Attabiah district of Baghdad. The silk was exported to England in large quantities. Looked at, this silk appeared to have faint stripes and the stripes looked similar to the stripes of a cat that was called, at the time, the “Striped Cat” or “Tiger Cat”. As a result, this type of cat became known as the “Tabbi” and the word was later modified to the one we now know so well namely “tabby”.
The Maine Coon is one of the world’s most popular purebred cats. It is said that there are two types depending upon which cat association registers the cat. The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) prefer a more refined Maine Coon cat whereas The International Cat Association (TICA) prefer a more natural barn cat appearance. I am with them on this because the Maine Coon originates in barn cats. The point that I’m getting to is that the grey or grey/brown tabby is a natural colour for a regular barn cat and it is said that the grey or brown-and-white Maine Coon is the best looking version of this popular purebred cat.
The history of the tabby pattern is complicated but essentially it comes from the North African wildcat which is the ancestor of all domestic cats and the tabby cat in particular. You will see a faint brown/grey tabby coat on the wildcat. The modern grey tabby cat pattern is quite high contrast by comparison. It is said that this came about because of matings between imported wildcat into Europe and the existing domestic cats there.
Although in the cat fancy sometimes cat associations specify the eye colour to go with the type of coat, with respect to the tabby cat there is a wide range of eye colours.
There are five types of tabby coat namely the mackerel tabby, blotched tabby, spotted tabby, ticked tabby and patched tabby. However, there are many, many variants of these basic tabby patterns. The list is too long to set out here. The silver tabby is very similar to the grey tabby. There are many variants of silver tabby cat such as the fawn silver tabby and the blue silver patched tabby.
The premier book on cat genetics, Robinson’s Genetics for Breeders and Veterinarians tells us that the “common tabby is grey or yellow in colour”. In exhibition mackerel tabby cats, the stripes should be continuous i.e. unbroken if possible. The genotype is A-B-D-Mc-.
All tabby cats are agouti i.e. they have the dominant agouti allele A.