The Patterns found on Tabby Cats:
It is this pattern that appears most often on tabby cats. The classic (known as blotched tabbies in the United Kingdom) has large swirls or blotches that end in a circular pattern at the sides. Three broad lines run from the neck to the tail, and around the neck there are wide bands of color (known as a necklace.)
Classic tabby cats tails have broad bands, as do their legs, and the belly will have a row of vest button blotches. On the shoulders are patterns that are very similar to butterfly wings.
Mackerel tabby markings closely correspond to the patterns seen on African wild cats. Some people suggest that mackerel tabbies should have been called classic, because their coat pattern was the original, and more reminiscent of the domestic cats origins.
Mackerel tabbies have narrow striped rings around their tail and legs, solid or broken stripes down their sides and one or more 'necklaces' on the front of their chests. Along the belly of the mackerel tabby you will find a double row of 'vest buttons.'
The sides, shoulders and haunches can show fine parallel lines or markings somewhat like the bones of a fish, which is how they came to be called mackerel tabby cats, (they are also sometimes known as tiger tabbies.)
The dark blotches of the coat pattern of some tabbies are formed into oval or round spots. Sometimes the spots run in lines, this is often known as the interrupted mackerel pattern, however whether these spots developed from mackerel tabby cats, or are a completely separate mutation remains unknown.
Spotted tabbies usually show a faint trace of a necklace and have a line of spots, or sometimes blotches, running from the neck to the very tip of their tail.
Cats with ticked coat markings do not display the usual stripes, blotches or swirls of the tabby pattern and do not at first glance seem to be tabby cats at all. A closer look will show that the hairs are in fact striped with light and dark colored bands, these are known as agouti hairs, most tabbies will have some agouti hairs that make up part of their coat pattern.
The faces of ticked (or agouti) tabby cats will show the traditional 'M' marking, and ticked tabbies may show a faint necklace.
The Abyssinian cat is a very good example of a ticked tabby and their coats often appear to shimmer in the sunlight due to the agouti hairs.
Tabby cats that have random patches of different colors are known as tortoiseshell (tortie), if the markings are tabby, the cats are called patched tabby cats (torbie). Mackerel, spotted, ticked or classic markings can show in the patches, and the tabby pattern usually shows more distinctly on the head and legs.
Brown patched tabbies have patches of deep brown tabby markings and patches of red (orange or ginger) tabby markings. Blue patched tabbies have patches of soft blue (gray) tabby markings and patches of cream tabby markings.