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Facts About Grey Tabby Cats

Facts About Grey Tabby Cats

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Contrary to popular belief, the grey tabby cat (or gray tabby cat which is also correct), is not a specific breed itself, but rather a coat pattern and color that many cat breeds may have.

The tabby pattern, with the signature “M” on the cat’s forehead, and beautiful intricate markings, are what make this domestic cat so adored. Because of their tabby coat, they are also known as tiger cats.

The hairs on this type of cat are composed of different color pigmentation known as agouti hairs. This type of fur is specific to tabby cats.

Many cat owners say that their tabby is an affectionate, playful, and adorable family pet that likes cuddles and purring all day.

If you’re interested to know what breeds can have grey tabby patterns, what these cats are like, and you want to learn more about their unique history, read on!

13 Fun Facts About Grey Tabby Cats

1. Beautiful Eye Color

Grey tabby cats’ eyes may appear in a variety of different colors such as green, blue, red, hazel, orange, etc. Moreover, tabbies can have heterochromia, which means that each eye can be a different color.

In addition, their paw pads can be brick red or gray in color. As far as the color of their nose is concerned, this is usually determined by genetics, but nose color can also change throughout their life.

2. Different Coat Types

Tabbies can have a long or a short coat, and it is interesting that longhaired tabbies are easier to groom than shorthaired ones because they shed less. There are lots of interesting facts about their coats.

Have you ever seen a solid-colored kitty lying in the sun and noticed traces of tabby markings on its coat? Depending on the breed, almost all cats have some degree of the tabby coat pattern, though sometimes it is barely visible.

There are five different tabby patterns and here is what you need to know about them!

Mackerel Tabby

When we talk about a tiger cat, we refer to the mackerel tabby cat. These cats have parallel stripes that run down their sides in a vertical pattern. The name mackerel comes from a fish with the same vertical markings.

This coat pattern is typical for wild cats and is the most common pattern for tabbies.

Classic Tabby

Also known as bloched, this pattern is characterized by swirls of thick curved bands. This pattern resembles a butterfly pattern or a bullseye when looked at from above.

Along with the mackerel pattern, this is also the most common coat pattern for tabbies.

Spotted Tabby

The name says it all. The coat of these cats is characterized by spots. The spots can be oval-shaped, but sometimes they can resemble longer lines.

The breed that is usually adorned with these kinds of spots is the Ocicat cat.

Ticked Tabby

At the first glance, this coat pattern might not look like a tabby, but it most certainly is. While the rest of the body has no visible lines, the face, legs, and tail are sprinkled with the ticked tabby pattern.

The Abyssinian cat is the typical representation of this pattern.

Patched Tabby

A patched tabby or a tortoiseshell tabby is a cat characterized by the mix of patterns mentioned above, but with one more color in the combination. Just like calico cats, patched tabbies have three colors present on their bodies.

The only feature that makes these cats recognizable as tabbies is the “M” on their foreheads.

3. Temperament Of Grey Tabby Cats

The temperament of grey tabbies is usually determined by the specific breed of cat. But, even though every breed is different and each of them has its own personal traits, there are some characteristics that are believed to be common for all tabbies.

Tabbies are known to be excellent hunters and therefore they would make a perfect house companion if you have a rodent problem in your house or barn.

Their tabby stripes are great camoflage and make them invisible to prey while their strong bodies enable them to move without making a sound.

4. Perfect Roommates

These friendly, family-loving felines can be purrfect companions. They get along with children and even with other pets.

They are social and curious cats who will follow you everywhere around the house for a moment of attention. When they feel the need for personal space, they will leave your side and rest elsewhere.

Cat owners will say that the orange tabby cat is probably the most affectionate type of tabby. Because of their gentle and good nature, tabbies are a popular choice for therapy animals, and having one will certainly make you feel better and happier.

5. Health & Lifespan

Just like their temperament, the health and lifespan of grey tabby cats is also determined by their breed.

However, these kitties have a natural instinct to feed whenever they please, so you might want to be careful with the cat food, as some breeds tend to overeat, leading to health issues such as obesity.

Since these cats are constantly on the lookout for food, they might eat something that can upset their little tummies. This can make them vomit and cough, so if you notice a sudden change in their behavior, take them to the vet immediately.

Other health problems that these cats are prone to are issues with the urinary tract and hyperthyroidism.

As far as their lifespan is concerned, indoor tabby cats can live up to 18 years which is quite long compared to outdoor cats. Due to the many dangers lurking outside, it is believed that outdoor-only cats live no more than 5 years.

6. The Grey Tabby Cat’s Genetics

An interesting fact about cat coat patterns is that almost all felines have tabby markings on their bodies. Some are visible and some are not. This is due to the fact that only recognizable tabby cats have agouti hairs.

Agouti gene

The tabby gene that is responsible for this pattern, is called the agouti gene. There are two possible alleles when it comes to deciding the color of a cat.

The one is an ‘A‘ gene – a dominant agouti gene and the other one is an ‘a’ – a recessive non-agouti gene. The combination that will make your cat a tabby is the A/A or A/a.

7. The Name Origin

Scientists have traced the DNA of these beloved cats and they believe that the tabby coat pattern appeared in the Middle ages, but it only became common sometime in the 18th century.

It is believed that the word “tabby” originated from the French word “tabi” meaning taffeta which is a type of silk fabric that originated from the Middle French word “atabis”, somewhere in the 14th century.

The word “atabis” derives from the Arabic term “attabiya” which is actually a reference to the district of Baghdad called Attabiya, famous for its striped silk.

There are also some connections to the Spanish word “ataviar” which can be translated as “to decorate” or “to wear”. Finally, the name “tabby” started to be used in the 17th century.

8. Purebred Grey Tabby Cats

Grey tabbies are not a specific breed of cat, but a coat color and pattern that determines the cat’s appearance. However, there are many purebred cat breeds that can have this particular coat combination.

Read on to find out which purebred cats may have a grey coat color and a tabby coat pattern and pick your favorite one!

Abyssinian Cat

This unique type of cat is actually a medium-sized cat and it’s one of the oldest cat breeds in the world. They’re characterized by a long body and long, muscular legs.

These cats are active and curious, needing constant amusement. So, if you get one for yourself, make sure you have enough toys around the house to keep them entertained.

When it comes to feeding, these cats are very active and burn a lot of calories throughout the day, so there is no need for a strict feeding schedule as they will usually stay fit anyway.

Even though the most dominant color of the Abyssinian cat is red, they can also be grey in color.

Domestic Shorthair Cat

This is probably the cat that has the most colors and patterns of all. They can come in many different colors, and the grey tabby coat is just one of them.

This domestic cat is mixed with all kinds of breeds, so its personality can vary. Some are affectionate, cuddly, and loveable, while others are loners who would prefer their personal space to be undisturbed.

This family cat will not only bring you joy, but since they are such good hunters, they can also help get rid of mice and annoying bugs around the house.

American Bobtail Cat

Named for their cute little tail, this cat breed is pretty rare and expensive. Cat lovers are willing to spend thousands of dollars in order to get this cat, and for good reason.

This intelligent breed resembles a bobtail wild cat, but with a pretty tame personality. Even though these cats can grow rather large, they are loving and affectionate and get along with children, other cats, and dogs that are used to cats.

American Curl Cat

Walnut-shaped eyes, a long tail, and unique-looking ears are traits that make this cat so special. Honestly, the ears on the American curl are a true show-stopper.

These gentle, affectionate, and determined kitties will never leave you alone. They will follow you around the house, waiting for a cuddle and demanding your attention.

Their silky coat is available in many colors and patterns so you could find your new grey tabby kitten within this breed as well.

American Shorthair Cat

Although similar in appearance to the domestic shorthair, this purebred kitty is a completely different cat. Heavily muscled and strong, it’s not hard to work out what this cat was bred for: to get rid of rodents from your house or barn.

Although playful and friendly, these tabbies need their own space. Don’t bother them too much, because if they are willing to play, they will come to you by themselves. They come in a variety of coat colors and the grey tabby pattern is one of them.

READ ALSO: Cat Comparison – Norwegian Forest Cat Vs Maine Coon

Maine Coon

These large, luxurious, and intimidating cats are one of the most popular breeds in the US. Despite their huge appearance, Maine Coons are affectionate cats, and therefore deserve their title as the “gentle giants” of the cat family.

These adorable giants are pretty intelligent so it won’t take long to train them, but they do require a large space to meet all their cat needs.

They come in a variety of colors and patterns, and the tabby pattern is considered to be an original Maine Coon pattern which can come in a lovely grey color.


Despite the fact that the Ocicat cat looks like it wandered from the forest straight to your door, this kitty has no wild cat DNA in it at all. They are loving and curious creatures who are typically very devoted to their human companion. This cat strongly resembles the wild ocelot, hence the name.

Ocicat is an Abyssinian-Siamese mix and just like their ancestors, they can be quite naughty when not kept busy and amused. It is important to provide them with plenty of toys and playtime.

This is another cat that comes in a variety of different colors and patterns, one of them being the grey tabby pattern.

READ ALSO: Lynx Point Siamese Cat – Breed Characteristics

Siamese Cat

This popular breed has survived more than 1000 years and contributed to the creation of many other breeds, such as the Havana Brown, the Oriental, the Ocicat, and others.

Talkative, loud, and with quite an attitude, Siamese cats are not for everyone. They are social, curious, and demanding. Bear in mind that they’ll follow you around for a chat if you try to leave them alone.

The tabby pattern came about quite late, as this pattern was not the original breed characteristic, but nowadays they can be found in grey tabby colors.

African Wildcat

Also known as the Egyptian wildcat, this native African cat is pretty small compared to its wildcat relatives, in fact it is not much bigger than a domestic cat. The natural habitats of the African wildcat are savannas, forests, and deserts of Africa.

The African wildcat cat looks quite similar to the domestic tabby cat.

Mainly active at night, because of hot temperatures, these cats are usually solitary creatures, but will form a pack in order to mate.

Egyptian Mau

Demanding and loud, these cats won’t leave you alone. Ever. They are in constant need of affection and your attention. So this cat will be a lovely companion if you like chatty cats.

The Egyptian Mau is a playful and active cat in constant need of some kind of entertainment. Cat lovers will love their signature “chortling” sounds. These cats have all the features of a spotted tabby and come in grey colors.

Scottish Fold Cat

Just like the American curl cat is distinctive for its tail, the Scottish fold is recognizable by its unusual folded ears. An interesting fact is that this breed owes its origin to a cat named Susie, who had folded ears because of genetic mutation.

They like attention and cuddles to a certain extent and will back away if they need personal space. Scottish folds are not really a lap cat, but more of a prefer-to-be-near-you kind of a cat.

They come in different patterns and colors, including grey. Interestingly, their eye color corresponds to the dominant color of their coat.

Oriental Cat

This funny-looking cat has unforgettable features that cannot go unnoticed. A long nose, wedge-shaped head, and bat-like ears make this breed so unique and special.

Like the Siamese, Oriental cats are talkative and demanding. With their weird sounds that are sometimes referred to as “honks”, they’ll soon make sure they have your full attention.

Their coat comes in different patterns and colors, and amongst all the options, you will find a grey tabby kitten just for you.

Norwegian Forest Cat

Skogkatt, as they call it in Norwegian, is an ancient breed. The breed developed naturally in Norwegian forests. This large, wild-looking cat has lynx-like ears and a big fluffy coat to protect it from cold Scandinavian winters.

Independent, but friendly, the Norwegian forest cat is the perfect pet for cat owners with children. They will snuggle by your side and ask for attention only when they need to. Larger than an average cat, this typically grey cat comes in a tabby pattern as well.

READ ALSO: Top 11 Ragdoll Breeders In California In 2023

Ragdoll Cat

Mesmerizing blue eyes and fluffy soft fur cannot go unnoticed when it comes to this cat goddess.

The Ragdoll is your typical lap cat; they will snuggle by your side, follow you around the house, and shower you with affection.

They’re very dependent on their owners and won’t let you go very easily. However, if not trained very well, they may have certain behavior issues.

This cat breed comes in different coat colors as well as coat patterns, and of course, the grey tabby pattern is one of them.

Bengal Cat

If you are considering becoming a cat owner for the first time, we would not recommend the Bengal cat as your first pet. These naughty little creatures are quite challenging for novice pet owners. They are active, playful cats that don’t like to be bored.

Apart from being always on alert, running, jumping, and sometimes even destroying your belongings, they attach closely to their human companions.

Their soft, silky coat comes in several colors and patterns and the grey tabby pattern is one of them.

9. Hybrid Grey Tabby Cats

The grey tabby pattern isn’t particular to purebred cats. In fact, there are more hybrid grey tabby cats than purebred ones.

Some of these mixes include: Persian Rex, Persian Ragdoll, Maine Coon Scottish Fold, Maine Coon Persian, and many more.

10. The Beauty Behind The “M” Shape Marking

All tabby cats have a distinctive marking in the shape of the letter “M” on their foreheads. There are a few popular myths about how this mark appeared.

One myth talks about how the prophet Muhammed chose his favorite cat and laid his hand on its head, hence the marking.

Another story tells of how the cat stopped baby Jesus’s cries when it started to purr and the Virgin Mary marked its face as a sign of gratitude.

The Egyptian word for cat is “Mau”, and since the cats were considered gods by the Egyptians, the marking “M” is believed to represent the name Mau.

The last one is quite a cute idea. It is believed that the mark “M” is just a frown, created by a cat concentrating on a mouse mole!

11. Grey Tabby Cats Are Famous For World Records

A grey tabby cat named Stewie held two Guinness’ World Records for being the longest cat in the world. Stewie was a grey tabby Maine Coon cat, the breed that is ever popular for its large size.

Sadly, this kitty passed away in 2013, but his name is still in the Guiness’ Book of World Records.

12. Grey Tabby Cats Were Toy Inspiration

Ithaca Kitty, the first American stuffed toy, was inspired by a grey tabby called Caesar Grimalkin. It was designed by Celia Mattison Smith and Charity Smith and patented in 1892.

Shortly after that, the stuffed toy appeared in shops all around the country. Nowadays, grey tabby cats continue to inspire people all around the world.

13. National Tabby Day

Believe it or not, the National Tabby Day is a real thing which takes place on the 30th of April. On this day, these lovely cats receive extra treats and belly rubs.

A good thing to know is that a lot of breeders give at least a small discount on grey tabby cats on their national day.

Other Tabby Cat Colors

Did you know that all orange cats are tabby cats? Yes, that’s true, because the gene that creates the color red is also responsible for creating a tabby pattern, that is why all orange tabby cats will always be tabbies.

Besides orange, or as it is also called red color, tabbies can be found in cream and brown colors as well.


Is A Grey Tabby Cat Rare?

A grey tabby cat isn’t rare; you can find them very often. In addition, this combination of coat color and pattern is very popular among cat lovers.

Is A Grey Tabby A Type Of Cat?

A grey tabby isn’t a specific type or breed of cat, but it refers to the coat color and coat patterns that are a possible combination within a certain cat breed.

What Are Some Colors Other Than Grey That A Tabby Cat Can Be?

A grey tabby combination is one of the most popular and frequent. However, this tabby pattern can appear in some other colors such as cream, orange, and brown.

Are Grey Tabby Cats Friendly?

Usually, the temperament of these cats depends on their breed. However, grey tabby cats are known to be very friendly, lovely, active, and affectionate felines.

They can be great pets for families with small children or even other pets that are used to cats. Moreover, they’re excellent hunters, which is perfect if you live in a big house with a lot of space around it.

Are Grey Tabby Cats Always Female?

Grey tabby cats aren’t necessarily female cats. Both female and male cats can have this beautiful coat color and pattern.

Final thoughts

There you have it, the complete guide on these gorgeous grey cats. This article provides you with a lot of interesting facts about these beautiful furry creatures.

So, grey tabby cats are not a specific breed of cat but a combination of coat color and pattern that is specific for certain cat breeds.

There are different breeds that include the grey tabby cat, so we are sure you will find one for your needs. Keep in mind that each cat breed has its own traits and each of them comes in a different price range.

Since this cat is a common domestic shorthair cat, you will probably find one roaming the streets, so look no further. Give this kitty a new home and we are sure that it will shower you with love in return.