Orange Tabby Cats

LT here.  First, I have received some comments about typos.  Human readers have found some and say I should be more careful but my cat readers are amazed that I make so few – considering I type with paws.  Maybe we should have a contest and the reader that finds the most typos gets a free t-shirt.  Let me know your thoughts.

Now, for those majestic orange tabby cats.  Yes, you have seen some of them in various types of media – print, cartoons, movies, commercials, etc.  My favorite was or is (depending on whether we are talking about the original) Morris.  He and I hung out when he was older and I liked him because he treated everyone like an equal.  He was even known to share the wealth – always plenty of wet food at his place!  Then there is Garfield – don’t get me started.  Garfield is more likely to take my food than throw a can my way.  We all know cats have “cattitude” – well, Garfield has “tabbitude” – much worse!  But everyone is different – that’s how life is I suppose.

So, what is a “tabby” anyway?  The word tabby refers to the coat pattern (it’s not a breed) and it is very common (note, tabbies will not admit to that because they think they are special). Tabbies can be wild (I know some wild ones) or domestic (like Morris).  They come in all colors although cats can’t see a lot of colors so we really don’t care about the color of a cat – or anything or anybody else.  We care more about movement – that we see very well!

As for humans, it seems that orange tabbies are the favorite.  Not sure why, ask you are favorite human and let me know what is so appealing about the orange tabbies.  Maybe it’s the way the spots and swirls of color are highlighted on the orange tabby.  Also, depending on the particular cat, the stripes, swirls, and spots may cover the whole body or just part of it.  It’s nature at its finest.  Yes, nature does favor cats over humans – just think of the effort it takes to do those swirls and stripes – and it’s natural!  Humans have to go to a hairdresser.

There are five different varieties of tabbies:

  • Mackerel (ok, I’m getting hungry)
  • Classic (like Led Zeppelin for you older readers)
  • Spotted (very cool!)
  • Ticked (I guess these are the angry ones like Garfield)
  • Patched (these are like quilts I guess)

I am not sure why the tabbies get these different names but let’s look closer.  The “m” in mackerel refers to the inverted markings above the eyes.  The mackerel tabby pattern (i.e., the way in which the stripes are arranged) can actually appear on other types of cats as well.

Classic tabbies (also known as blotched or marbled – I prefer marbled) also have the “M” pattern.  But the body markings are thick curving bands instead of stripes and spots.  There can even be a distinctive bullseye pattern on the side of the body – a shout-out to you cats with that pattern – stay away from hunters!

Spotted tabbies – ok, I am guessing these tabbies have spots.  I must say I find them to be very attractive (I can see spots).  The most common is black spots against a brown base but there can be red spots on orange and even light orange on cream color.  Yes, nature again at its finest!  Remember, tabbies are not a breed so the pattern can be on various types of lucky cats.

Ticked tabbies (are these the ones you accidentally splashed with water?).  These are also called Abyssinian – I can’t say that word and it ticks me off so now I’m a ticked cat.  The ticked pattern does not include the traditional stripes or spots on the body but the face has tabby markings.  The ticked pattern can include agouti (so many weird words) hairs.  Agouti hairs are lighter hairs that are striped with alternating light and dark bands – tastefully done I might add!  Yes, nature does favor cats – but we know that.

Patched tabbies have patches (what a surprise) of dark or grayish brown and patches of red or orange.  It’s my understanding that these patches are not repairs but are natural.  These are often referred to as Tortoiseshell because humans can’t settle on one name – they always have to have several for something.

Ok, now we know a lot about tabbies so why are the orange tabbies “majestic”?  Search me – just kidding, I don’t have pockets.  I guess it’s the fault of humans.  For some reason when cats got into cartoons, shows, movies, dancing, etc. the humans preferred the orange ones.  I hear Garfield actually was awful at his audition but got the role because of his color and he was friends with the right cats. My guess is that the orange tabbies are majestic because the color stands out for humans (not for cats).  For me, all the tabby colors and patterns are cool!  More fun to have some variety I suppose. 

Stay cool,