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10 tabby cat questions answered

National Tabby Day! Your Top 10 Tabby Cat Questions Answered

In honor of National Tabby Day, here are your top 10 tabby cat questions and their answers, ranging from questions about their personalities, breed, and lifespan to information on how you can get a purr-fectly adorable tabby cat of your very own to be your fur-ever friend.

6 minute read

National Tabby Day is April 30th – a day set aside to celebrate cats of all stripes! I’m pretty paw-tial to tabbies because my very first cat was a gray tabby named, well, Tabby, of course!

Not only was Tabby my first cat, but my first pet rescue too! We rescued him from a pet store that was giving him away to a good home. 

You see, Tabby had reached the ripe old age of 6 months old, and no one wanted to pay for a kitten that “big.” So he kept getting passed over for the little ones. But we thought he was perfect and brought him home.

So in honor of National Tabby Day – and in memory of my own special Tabby – here are answers to 10 of your most-searched-for tabby cat questions!

1. What Breed Is a Tabby Cat?

Although some people think tabbies are a specific breed, the distinction actually refers to a color pattern. Tabby patterns fall into several categories including classic, mackerel, spotted, ticked, and patched. Occasionally, as with a black cat, the stripes can be almost invisible unless you happen to catch a glimpse of them when the kitty is basking in bright sunlight.

One thing they all share is the distinctive “M” on their forehead. There are several legends on how the tabby cat got this one-of-a-kind mark. 

The most popular tells us that a tabby cat snuggled up to the baby Jesus to keep him warm in the manger. To show her gratitude, Jesus’ mother Mary marked the forehead of the cat with her own initial.

Another legend says it came from a cat staring at a mousehole for so long and so seriously that it developed little kitty frown lines!

No matter how the tabby came to be, they are wonderful, loving companions who all deserve fur-ever homes

2. What Is a Tabby Cat’s Personality?

While every cat has its own unique personality, there are some traits that tabby cat parents say are more common in their M-marked feline friends. Tabby cats are widely known to be playful, friendly, affectionate, and loving.

Since around 70% of cats have tabby markings, this means most kitties, in general, are playful, friendly, affectionate, and loving – and I think most cat parents would agree with that!

If your tabby cat belongs to a specific breed, like the good-natured Maine Coon or the playful and curious Abyssinian, they are likely to have the personality traits associated with that breed.

3. Are Orange Tabby Cats Friendly?

Some people say orange cats in general are more feisty than their less fiery-colored companions.

Another stereotype says that orange tabby cats are lazier than other cats – though some suspect this is due to the popularity of a certain cartoon orange tabby who eats lasagna and hates Mondays.

There haven’t been any studies that show orange cats are more aggressive or lazier than other cats – but we do know that treating our kitties with love and affection encourages them to be friendly and affectionate, no matter what color they are.

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4. Do Tabby Cats Shed?

Yes, tabby cats do shed.

You may be surprised to learn that whether your tabby cat has long hair or short hair doesn’t really affect how much they shed.

Since “tabby cat” refers to a pattern on their fur, tabby cats can come in all different breeds. Your tabby cat’s breed definitely affects how much they shed.

For example, the beautiful long-haired Siberian tabby cat doesn’t shed much at all! If you’re looking for a short-haired tabby that doesn’t shed much, there are cats like the impish Devon Rex or sweet and loyal Bengal.

Even if your tabby cat is from a more shed-tastic breed, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your house fluff-free.

Brushing your cat regularly can be a big help. You can use a regular slicker brush or a de-shedding tool like a Furminator. These are especially helpful for cats with thick undercoats (Side benefit: it’ll help your cat have fewer hairballs too!).

For the hair that manages to escape your regular brushing and go fluffing around your house, a vacuum cleaner that’s designed to suck up pet hair is your best friend.

5. Are Tabby Cats Hypoallergenic?

Despite what you may have heard, there is actually no such thing as a 100% hypoallergenic cat. 

However, if someone is allergic to cats, there are cat breeds that will probably cause less of an allergic reaction than others.

When people are allergic to cats, it’s not the hair itself that they’re reacting to – well, not exactly. They’re allergic to a specific protein that is found in the cat’s saliva, dander, or urine, and since cats lick their fur to clean themselves, the protein gets on the hair too.

If you have mild cat allergies but still are interested in adopting a tabby cat, then looking for a breed that has low levels of this protein is your best bet. Interestingly enough, this includes some of the “low shedding” cats mentioned above: the Siberian and the Bengal

6. How Long Do Tabby Cats Live?

Tabby cat life expectancy can be 15 to 20 years. There’s a lot you can do to help your cat reach that goal – including keeping your kitty indoors, feeding her nutritious food, and making sure she gets her regular veterinary checkups.

Our pets give us so much love and joy, and one of the best ways we can show we love them too is by doing what we can to give them long, happy, and healthy lives.

Download your free monthly cat health checklist.

7. How Much Do Tabby Cats Weigh? What’s the Average Weight of a Tabby Cat?

The average tabby cat weighs about 6-10 pounds. 

It’s important to remember that we call a cat a  “tabby” because of her fur pattern, not her breed – and some breeds weigh a lot more than 10 pounds!  Some cats, like Maine Coons, weigh 15-20 pounds or more.

What’s more important than the number on the scale is whether your tabby cat is at the ideal weight for her. There are some quick checks you can do at home to see if your kitty may need to lose a few ounces. 

If you suspect your kitty may need to trim down a little to live her best life, please speak to your veterinarian to create a weight loss plan that is safe, effective, and tailored to her specific kitty needs.

8. Do Tabby Cats Have Spots?

Yes, tabby cats can absolutely have spots! They also can have swirls all over their body, stripes down their sides like a tiger, patches of color, or hardly any patterns at all.

The one thing they all will have in common is that distinctive “M” on their forehead.

Fun Fact: the tabbies with patches of color are tortoiseshells, and a tortoiseshell tabby cat is called a “torbie.”

9. Do Tabby Cats Get Along With Other Cats?

Every tabby cat is going to have its own unique personality, just like people do. 

For example, if someone asked, “Do children get along with other children?” that’d be a hard question to answer. Some children get along great with other children. Some get along horribly. And even if they do get along well with other children, sometimes they’re going to have an off day.

Tabby cats are very similar to that. If a tabby cat has been around cats or other animals since they were little, they’ve probably learned how to get along with (or at least tolerate) them.

Tabby cats that weren’t socialized with other animals when they were little may have more difficulties. 

If you’re getting ready to adopt a tabby cat of your very own and already have pets in your household, please speak with people who work at your local rescue shelter and let them know about your concerns. They probably will have information about which cats play well with others (It may even already be noted on the kitty’s information sheet!).

10. How Much Does a Tabby Cat Cost?

That’s one of the best things about getting a tabby cat of your own – “tabby” isn’t a breed, so you don’t have to pay big bucks to a breeder or pet shop!

You get to go to the best possible place to find a new furry family friend: your local rescue shelter

You will most likely have to pay a small fee to cover (or partially cover) the cost of spaying or neutering and vaccinations, but then you’ll get to take home a beautiful boy or girl who will be fur-ever grateful for their new loving home.

The Tail End

Tabby cats are beautiful animals that make wonderful family pets. They have a wide range of personalities and a wide range of looks, so there’s pretty much a perfect tabby for everyone. If you’re interested in giving a pretty little tabby cat their fur-ever home, please head to your local rescue shelter and have a look.

Happy National Tabby Day!

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Kristen Levine is a nationally acclaimed pet expert, influencer, and Fear Free Certified® Professional with over 30 years of experience in the industry. She's helped millions of pet parents provide the best care at every stage of their pet’s life.

Her blog, Pet Living with Kristen Levine has been featured in Pop Sugar, Good Housekeeping, New York Times, USA Today, and more.

She's also the founder of FWV Fetching, the first marketing agency exclusively serving pet and animal health companies.

Her early work with the SPCA led her to a lifelong career in the pet industry, advocating for pet adoption and rescue as well as for pets and their parents here on her blog and in the media.

She’s frequently booked on satellite media tours and national shows, like FOX & Friends, Good Morning America, and Daytime, to talk about pet trends and new products.

Insanely passionate about pets since she was a little girl, Kristen has had more than 30 pets in her lifetime — including dogs, cats, goats, donkeys, a horse, a gerbil, mice, and chickens!

In 2022, she launched to help pet parents keep pet homes clean -- to love more, stress less.

Kristen is married and lives in the mountains of North Carolina with her dog Tulip.

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