Tabby Cat Personality – Fact Or Fiction?

Explore the intriguing world of tabbies. Is their personality tied to their fur color? Do striped cats hold the secret to an unusual temperament? Are orange tabbies the feline world's lovable slackers? In this article, we will be unraveling tabby myths from fact.

We will also cover the origins of these beliefs, examine the truth behind them, and venture into the curious lives of some iconic tabbies. Expect laughter, surprises, and a newfound appreciation for these patterned purr machines.

Exploring Tabby Traits: Debunking Myths And Confirming Realities

Tabby - a term referring to coat patterns, not a breed - often draws intriguing assumptions. Are tabbies more aggressive, or is the laid-back orange tabby stereotype valid?

Are they inherently more affectionate and perfect as first pets? Our investigation ventures into these purported personality traits, aiming to validate or debunk such claims.

Though scientific consensus doesn't link behavior with coat patterns, many tabby owners remain convinced their pet's personality is distinctly "tabby".

However, it's crucial to discern whether these traits hold true or merely persist as popular myths. Let's get started and dissect these tabby traits, challenging generalizations, and unearthing their origins.

Is there any truth to these myths? If not, where did they come from, and why do they persist?

The Tabby Persona: Myths And Misconceptions

Let's dig deeper into some of the tabby stereotypes we mentioned above.

Fact Or Fiction? - Tabbies Are Aggressive

Researchers have attempted to determine whether fur color and pattern play a part in a cat's tendency toward aggressive behavior.

A study of aggression in cats, conducted by the University of California, collected information from cat owners and analyzed the results. They determined that no particular group of cats was particularly more aggressive than the others

Why Does My Tabby Cat Bite Me?

A cat's teeth and claws are tools they use for various purposes, sometimes even on their owners. Yet, this isn't an exclusive tabby trait. Aggression can arise for various reasons, not linked to the coat pattern or color.

Young cats may bite as a playful gesture, while in general, biting often serves as a feline's form of communication.

The key is understanding the context: Are you petting them, or are you seemingly ignoring them? Your tabby might be communicating a desire for you to stop or a request for attention.

Read more:

Cat Bites – What Every Cat Owner Needs To Know

Fact or Fiction? - Orange Tabbies Are Lazy

Orange tabby cats have earned the reputation that they are lazier than other cats and even other tabbies. One reason for this could be that orange tabbies in pop culture have been given this personality trait.

Garfield is a great example of this. An orange tabby, Garfield spends half his day sleeping and the other half eating.

Because people tend to try and connect with or re-create their favorite characters, it is possible that the characteristics of this popular cartoon cat may have been projected onto pets with a similar appearance.

How popular is Garfield? Popular enough to be on a US postal stamp!


A Garfield post stamp

TCS Member Perspectives: Opinions On The Tabby Personality

Whatever the reason for this personality connection, many cat websites perpetuate the idea that orange tabbies are lazy.

While there are probably many orange tabbies who like to lay around and be lazy, it is not because of their coloring and pattern that they have these personality traits.

Members of our forums have noted in past discussions that they haven't noticed their red tabbies - or any other tabby cat - to be particularly lazy.

In fact, our member MoonstoneWolf shared that they have never met a tabby cat that wasn't a ball of energy!

Fact Or Fiction? - Tabbies Are More Affectionate 

Affectionate tabbies - a heartening stereotype, but misleading nonetheless. Digging into feline breeds and types, you'll encounter conflicting narratives about this claim.

Some sources label tabbies as extremely affectionate, while others add a caveat - tabbies may be affectionate, but not exclusively due to their tabby status.

Again, 70% of cats have tabby markings, so even though there may be large numbers of affectionate tabbies reported, it is most likely because there are simply a lot of cats that are tabbies.

Forum user Dave2006 sought advice about his very affectionate tabby kitten. Many users responded with advice and cited the cat's age, how much attention she is given, and the simple fact that she is a cat as reasons why this tabby kitten is such a lovebug!

Fact Or Fiction? - Tabby Cats Are Good First Pets

The idea that tabby cats are good first pets isn't necessarily a myth. Cats, in general, are identified as good first pets because they are relatively low maintenance while also affectionate and interactive.

Of course, tabbies are good first pets because they are cats!

It is important to keep in mind that cats, like any other pet, will have their own unique and individual personalities.

If you choose a cat to add to your family, take the time to interact with each cat and get to know their personality.

Ultimately, you want to choose the cat whose personality is compatible with the members of your household.

There is a good chance that the cat you choose will be a tabby, but cats without tabby markings are just as amazing as pets.

Read more: 15 Things You Should Know Before Adopting A Cat

Fact Or Fiction? - Tabby Cats Are Good For Kids

The tabby coat pattern can be found in many different breeds of cats, including the adorable domestic shorthair and domestic longhair cats you're likely to find in your local shelter.

If you have your heart set on a kitty with a tabby coat, you can rest assured that you will likely be able to find one that will be good with kids too.

Adoption from shelters or rescue organizations that know their cats well can ensure a match made in heaven. Ask them to pair you with a cat or kitten that would gel well with young ones.

And remember, it's up to you to teach your kids to respect the new family pet.

Read more: How To Mix Cats And Kids The Right Way

A tabby cat starring at the camera

What Is A True Tabby Cat? - The Tabby Archetype

Contrary to popular belief, the characteristic tabby does not refer to a breed. Instead, it describes a particular coat pattern.

There are several tabby patterns but they all share the following traits -

  1. At least some hairs have agouti coloration (more on that in a bit)
  2. Facial markings, including the shape of an M on the cat's forehead.

Agouti is a type of coloration where each shaft of hair has at least two different bands of color. You'd have to look closely to see them because the overall effect is often a brownish mix.

Agouti coloration is extremely useful for camouflage, making it a popular pattern in many animal species.

Big cats that appear to be brown, such as lions or mountain lions, typically have agouti coloration.

A big and strong mountain lion stalking his prey

The agouti makes the base layer of any tabby pattern.

While a pure agouti tabby is rare in domestic cats, you can see it in Abyssinian cats. Some fanciers refer to this as a ticked tabby pattern.

An Abyssiniian cat sitting on a white background

The Tabby Patterns

Tabby patterns, as noted, are varied, with pure agouti being one among them. The others combine agouti hair with a darker solid color in diverse patterns. The cat world broadly recognizes the following tabby patterns:

  1. Ticked/agouti
  2. Striped or mackerel tabby
  3. Spotted tabby
  4. Classic, blotched, or Marble tabby

The fun doesn't end there though! Tabby cats can also have a bullseye pattern, and some Bengal tabbies even have rosette markings.

What Does The Tabby Cat 'M' Marking Symbolize?

Believe it or not, the meaning of the 'M' marking is rooted in religious legend and myth.

A Christian myth explains that the marking was given by Jesus's mother, Mary, as a symbol of gratitude after a tabby cat approached baby Jesus to provide him with comfort.

A very similar legend from the Islam religion also characterizes the marking as a symbol of gratitude. In this legend, a tabby cat killed a snake that had been hiding in Muhammad's sleeve, saving him from potential danger.

The Egyptians also had an explanation for the marking, but theirs was more of an observation than a blessing. It was believed that cats had a connection to the moon, as evidenced by the way light reflects in their eyes.

According to Egyptian culture, the 'M' marking symbolized that connection, as well as the Egyptian word Mau for "cat".

Are Tabby Cats Predominantly Male Or Female?

Tabby cats can be either male or female. In fact, the tabby pattern is a dominant trait, so there is a high likelihood for a cat of either gender to have a tabby coat.

This question isn't totally irrelevant, though. The belief that there are a greater number of male tabby cats than female tabby cats comes from the fact that there is a significant sex difference in orange tabby cats, specifically.

The color of a cat's fur depends on the genes that are passed down from their parents. Male cats need only one X gene to have orange fur, whereas female cats need two X genes to have orange fur, so only 20% of orange tabbies are female.

Tabby Hall of Fame

From fictional cartoon characters to celebrity pets, there are many famous tabbies that we have grown to know and love!


A huge Garfield themed air balloon flying in the sky

While many people believe that the beloved cartoon character is supposed to be a Persian cat, the comic's creator has admitted that he did not have a particular breed in mind when he designed Garfield. Nonetheless, he has tabby markings.

Morris the Cat

Morris was the well-known spokes-kitty for the popular brand of pet food, 9 Lives. He was in many of the brand's commercials, and his picture was featured on the 9 Lives packaging.

Actually, Morris was played by various red tabby cats. All of them were rescued from shelters. Here's one memorable commercial featuring Morris -

Larry, The Chief Mouser

A cute tabby cat sitting on the front porch

Many famous cats are made so by being pets of celebrity families. While Larry may have fallen into this category, he has also earned a reputation of his own.

Larry was appointed the Chief Mouser of 10 Downing Street by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Appointing a resident cat to be the chief mouser has been a tradition in the United Kingdom since the 1500s. Larry has been serving since 2011 and is well-known for being horrible at this job, earning him the new nickname, Lazy Larry.

Tabby Cats: The Truth Behind Color And Personality

While there is no evidence to support the idea that cats of certain colors possess certain personality traits, it is not surprising that cat owners continuously try to find a connection.

They want to try and understand why their cat acts or behaves a certain way.

Attributing those characteristics to appearance is an easy way to do so, especially when other cat owners may have cats that look the same and have similar behaviors.

It is far more effective, however, to get to know your cat and treat them as individuals with their own personalities. This way, you'll never miss out on a great pet because you've heard untrue information about their potential behavior!


To read more about cat personalities and myths, check out these articles:

Does Coat Color Affect Cat Personality?

Black Cat Facts And Myths

An orange tabby cat peeping out of the blanket, Tabby Cat Personality: Fact or Fiction?

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7 comments on “Tabby Cat Personality – Fact Or Fiction?

Are Maine Coon cats high maintenance? October 25, 2023
Me hace soñar esta historia. Me gusta este blog. Recomendado tu recomendación.
Fancy March 12, 2023
A 12year old 18lb Orange Tabby cat attack and attempted to kill me and my Minature Schnauzer puppy in 1967. It was like something out of a Stephen Spilberg movie. I was never mean to him (Navy was his name ). NEVER TRUST an Orange Tabby !!!
destiny March 6, 2023
i was wondering who the author/writer of this was and when this was published? im doing research for a school project just want the credit to go to the right person
Got Omnia March 24, 2022
They look so cute and cool!
Morehappawness March 23, 2022
Tabby cat cute and kind cats or a little bit fastidious and aggressive cats?
catloverfromwayback September 25, 2021
I’ve had four tabbies and a torbie, all with completely different personalities. Only one was aggressive and I suspect he had been teased or abused as a kitten. He was affectionate but you had to be very careful around him - one second past his time limit and he’d shred your hand. One of the others was my darling girl, her biting was limited to a love-bite (or love-chomp) on my chin when she was lying on my chest.
carlygirl August 4, 2021
Tabbies are so cool.

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