Silver grey tabby british shorthair cat with amber eyes crouching on a tree stump

18 Grey Tabby Cat Facts You Probably Never Considered.

Grey tabby cats have a distinctive look that is admired around the world but how much do you know about these ubiquitous cats?

Check out these interesting facts and you will never look at a grey tabby the same way again!

Grey Tabby Cats Are Not A Breed Of Cat

People often think that tabby cats are a breed of cat. They are not. Tabby cats are cats that have a certain coat pattern that usually consists of stripes, whorls, and spots. 

Well-known cat breeds like the Maine Coon or Persian cat can come as a tabby cat variation amongst other coat types and colors within the breed, so a grey Maine coon tabby cat can be a purebred Maine coon cat!

When people discuss tabby cats, including grey tabbies they are simply referring to a cat with a type of coat. The same can be said for tortoiseshell, calico cats, and bicolor cats!

grey tabby and white european short hair cat crouching indoors
Tabby Cat “M” Forehead

Is there an easy way to identify a grey tabby cat or a tabby of any color? There is, simply look into the cat’s face – a tabby cat will always have an “M” marking on the forehead! 

If you can’t see the cat’s face to check for an “M” marking, check out the tail or legs – tabby cats usually have bands of dark hair and lighter hair around them – other cats don’t!

Their Coats Come In Four Patterns

Grey tabby cats have coats that can come in any of the four main recognized tabby patterns. The 4 patterns are mackerel or striped, classic, ticked, and spotted. 

Grey Mackerel Tabby

black and grey shorthair tabby cat with green eyes lying on side on wooden laminate flooring. grey tiger tabby. striped tabby cat.
Striped or Mackerel Grey Tabby

Grey mackerel tabby cats or striped tabby cats have darker markings, and stripes, that are very similar in structure to the stripes on a tiger. Basically, there is usually a long darker stripe of fully colored hairs along the cat’s backbone, dark stripes of fully colored hairs descend down the cat’s ribs when the cat is in the standing position, and the tail and legs have dark rings around them. 

They are sometimes called mackerel pattern because viewed from above, the pattern resembles a fish skeleton in appearance. Grey tabby cats with this pattern are also called grey striped tabbies or tiger tabbies!

Gray Classic Tabby Cat

grey classic tabby cat outdoors grooming. dark grey tabby cat.
Classic Tabby Cat In Grey

Grey classic tabbies or blotched tabby cats have the common “camo” blotches of dark hair on a lighter background. The patches are neither striped, spotted, or even uniform. They are random whorls and splashes of dark markings. 

The “classic” pattern is perhaps the most common pattern of grey tabby hence being called “classic”.

Grey Ticked Tabby Cat

Grey ticked tabby cats differ considerably from the classic and mackerel pattern tabbies. They have the “M” on the forehead and stripes over the top of the head, they usually have stripes on the tail and on the legs, but they generally have no other discernible markings!

The markings on tabby cats are controlled by specific genes and ticked tabbies have a masking gene that prevents tabby patterns from showing up. 

Rather than having solid color hairs making up the marked areas, all their hairs tend to be “agouti” hairs. These are the hairs that form the lighter body color under the darker tabby markings. 

The agouti hairs in these areas are not solid color hairs but hair that have bands of color – so hair tips have color but the base of the hair does not. On a ticked tabby, the effect is a lighter coat without the heavy tabby markings bar those on the head, legs, and tail. More on agouti hairs later!

Grey Spotted Tabby Cats

Black and silver egyptian mau cat standing on hind legs catching a pink ribbon with mouth. Spotted grey tabby cat.
Egyptian Mau Spotted Grey Tabby

Spotted tabby cats are pretty easy to spot! These cats usually have the forehead “M”, stripes over the face and top of the head, and dark rings on the tail and legs but have clear spots of dark, fully colored hairs in a spotted pattern over their body.

If you have ever seen an Egyptian Mau then you will know what the spotted tabby pattern actually looks like. The Mau is thought to be one of the only true spotted tabby cat breeds in existence (although the spotted British shorthair and Bahraini Dilmun cat would probably contest that!)

Other Tabby Pattern Facts

People sometimes ask, given the random nature of the pattern shapes – two classic grey tabby cats never having the exact same markings – how do these patterns form? 

Well, certain genes define the pattern type a cat will exhibit or not, but it has been discovered as recently as 2020 that skin thickness plays a big role in the actual individual distribution of markings. 

A study has found that in the areas of dark markings the cat’s skin is actually thicker than in the lighter areas! This is thought to be because of the random distribution of certain skin cells that define the type and location of hair to be grown on the cell. Follow the link to learn more.

They Can Be Longhair or Shorthair 

If you are a fan of long hair cats then you will be pleased to find out that grey tabby cats can be either long-haired or shorthairs.

Grey and white persian cat sitting next to garden planter on a sunny day. long haired grey tabby cat.
Persian – Long Haired Grey Tabby Cat

The only problem is that long hair cats are significantly less common than shorthair cats because for a cat to be longhair it must inherit the recessive longhair gene from both parents.  The recessive nature of this gene means that only 10% of all cats worldwide have long hair!

If you want to ensure long-haired offspring in cats then both parents have to be long-haired. Alternatively, two shorthair parents that carry the recessive longhair gene can have long-haired offspring but the probabilities of a kitten being produced with long hair are vastly reduced.

Now, add in the fact you want a grey tabby longhair version and you are really looking for quite an uncommon cat!

18 Cat Breeds That Produce Grey Tabby Cats

Grey tabby cats are often domestic shorthair cats or longhair cats. Domestic shorthair and longhair cats are cats of mixed breed or of no discernible breed. Basically, most of the cats on the planet are mixed-breed cats!

a sliver grey tabby american shorthair cat sitting
American Shorthair Grey Tabby Cat

But, as we have mentioned earlier, some of the best-known and most popular grey cat breeds in the world also produce grey tabby cats. 

Many cat breeds have specific characteristics related to physical proportions, character, and coat type. If you want to adopt or buy a cat with certain characteristics you might need to look at acquiring a purebred cat. 

So, which breeds might offer a grey tabby cat option? These are the breeds that you can check out if you want a tabby cat with certain characteristics : 

American ShorthairMaine CoonBritish Shorthair 
Persian CatSingapuraManx Cat
Norwegian Forest CatEgyptian MauOriental Cat
American BobtailAmerican CurlDomestic Shorthair
Domestic LonghairScottish FoldBritish Longhair
European Shorthair OcicatThai Cat
Tabby maine coon sitting on a stone wall
Maine Coon Tabby Cat – LARGE!

They Can Be Big Or Small Sized

The biggest domestic cat’s on the planet tend to come from the Maine Coon breed and one of the smallest breeds is the Singapura.

Maine coon cats can weigh in at a hefty 8.5 kgs and be up to a meter long! Singapura cats on the other hand can be as small as 1.8 kgs when fully mature.

Both these cats come in grey tabby versions. The Maine Coon is available in striped or classic variations whilst the Singapura is a ticked tabby cat breed. 

So if you have a preference for a big, gray tabby – make it a giant Maine Coon!

They Don’t Have A Specific Personality Or Temperament 

Cats have various personalities and temperaments often dependent on how they socialized as kittens, the environment they have developed in and the temperament of other cats around them as they have developed. 

grey tabby cat kittens with blue eyes.

Some cat breeds are recognized for producing cats that are intelligent, social, aloof, clingy, or even lazy. 

Grey tabby cats are not specifically known for being cats of any specific temperament or personality – you are as likely to find a friendly grey tabby as an unsocial, aloof tabby cat.

This is unlike, say, orange tabby cats. These cats are scientifically proven to be more affectionate than other cats and scientists believed this is likely due to their size, the tolerance for risk that develops from their large size, and their self-confidence that develops from successful risk-taking.

Compare that to Maine coon cats which are one of the biggest cat breeds and have a reputation for friendliness and sociability and there may be something in the size factor vs friendliness.

If you want a grey tabby cat with a certain character or personality the best advice may be to search out a breed known for the characteristics you seek that can be a grey tabby variation and then check out the cat’s energy in person so you can see exactly what you are getting! 

Alternatively, visit before you adopt or buy and make sure the cat is displaying characteristics that you favor.

Grey Tabby Cat White Patches Are Not Actually White 

tabby and white american short hair cat rubbing against a fence post on a frosty morning
American Shorthair Grey Tabby With White Patches.

Have you ever noticed how tabby cats tend to have a white chin and white hair on their bellies? It is the same with grey tabby cats. 

But did you know that the white hair is not strictly white? Actually, it is hair that has had the color masked by a masking gene!

This means that grey and white tabby cats are not strictly white but are masked! And this goes for the majority of cats that appear to have white in their coat. Cats have two colors red and black, all other colors are derived from these two colors. This means white cats or cats with white patches are either exhibiting a masking gene that masks the red or black or they may be albino!

Grey Tabby Cats Share The Agouti Gene With All Other Tabby Cats

Grey tabby cats share the same agouti gene with tabby cats of all colors. The agouti gene is responsible for a specific type of cat hair. 

Most cat hairs are one single, solid color, but agouti hairs are single hairs that have various bands of color exhibited along their length. The hair might have two bands of red, a band of black, and two colorless bands along its length. 

All tabby cats have agouti hairs that make up the lighter-colored areas of their coats under their darker markings. It is the banding of colors along the hair that makes the hairs seem lighter in colors than the darker solid color hairs that make up the markings.

Grey Tabby Cats Can Be Found Worldwide

Side Shot Of An Egyptian Mau Exploring A Roof Top Terrace. spotted light grey tabby cat.
Egyptian Mau Spotted Tabby In Cairo

Some cats have historically come from one area of the world and some cats with certain characteristics are considered to be of a landrace of cats.

For instance, Siamese cats are known to have developed in Thailand and they have specific, notable, characteristics. Many other cats living in the same region share similar characteristics with the Siamese cat breed whilst being different – they may be of the same general landrace.

Grey tabby cats do not occur in sporadic parts of the world – they are global! Grey tabby cats can be found worldwide, although tabby cats with different coat patterns may be more common in some areas than others – ticked tabby cats seem to be more common in SE Asia, spotted tabby cats may be more common in North Africa and the Middle East, and classic tabbies slightly more common in the northern hemisphere.

Grey Tabby Cats Can Live For 20 Years!

The oldest recorded house cat was a domestic shorthair cat called “Creme Puff” who lived for 38 years and 3 days. The current oldest cat in the world is “Corduroy” a 26-year-old tabby cat. 

Now, here is the thing, the current oldest cat record seemingly changes relatively regularly, with new holders all coming in over 25 years of age – meaning it is relatively common for the oldest cat in the world to be over 20 years of age!

And the holders are often domestic shorthairs rather than purebreds. Corduroy was a mackerel pattern brown tabby cat – which goes to show your tabby cat might live to over 20 years of age given the right conditions!

They Can Have Various Eye Colors

close up of a green eyed egyptian mau spotted grey tabby cat lying on a chair
Gooseberry Eyed Egyptian Mau Tabby

Some people hanker after a cat with particular eye color, they want something distinctive. Grey tabby cats can come with a variety of eye colors, but some are more distinctive than others! 

Grey tabby kittens are all born with blue eyes and these may remain into maturity, but some breeds are known for their startling eye colors – British Shorthair cats have deep orange or amber eyes which, with a grey tabby coat can be quite distinctive. The Egyptian Mau is a spotted grey tabby cat that is lauded for its gooseberry green eyes.

Of course, light green, golden and yellow eyes are all common but no particular eye color is actually associated with coat color in the cat world and this includes these cats!

a close up of the face of a tabby cat with blue eyes

Grey Tabby Cat Prices Vary – Significantly!

If you are interested in acquiring a gray tabby it can be useful to know what such a cat might cost. 

A grey tabby kitten that is a domestic shorthair cat or longhair of no specific breed can be found for as little as $60 or £50. 

But, if you want a purebred cat with certain specific characteristics like a Maine coon or a Persian cat then you can expect to pay considerably more if you can even find the right color combo! 

Purebred cats vary in price depending on certification, how distinctive and unusual their coat is, and on the breeding status of the cat. 

A purebred cat that has a grey tabby coat with a certificate demonstrating generational lineage and certificated for breeding will often start from $1200 (£1000) and rise from there.

They Are Healthy Cats

Some cats from specific breeds are known to suffer from health problems that are common to the breed. 

Persian cats are known to have a hard time with eye discharge problems and dental problems associated with their brachycephalic features (flat faces). They also tend to suffer from haircoat disorders arising from their longhair coats.

a sitting grey and white persian tabby cat watching a suspended ball
Persian Tabby With Flat Face

Siamese cats have been associated with eye problems for quite some time – they have a habit of developing strabismus which is a condition that leads to a cross-eyed appearance in the cat, as well as feline glaucoma and progressive retinal atrophy.

Scottish Fold cats are perhaps the most controversial of all breeds as they have a tendency to suffer from degenerative joint disease, a painful, debilitating condition that is a by-product of genetic mutations which give their ears the characteristic folded appearance for which they have become sought after.

Grey Tabby Cats, on the other hand, are generally healthy cats. A standard domestic shorthair grey tabby should be relatively risk-free from a health perspective – they still suffer the usual cat problems like poor kidneys that become less efficient and more problematic with age, but nothing that is specific to their coat pattern or markings – just avoid grey Persian tabbies or grey Scottish fold tabby cats!

They Shed Hair And Are Never Hypoallergenic!

Lots of people suffer from allergies to cats and they understand that for the greater part, cat hair seems to be the problem. 

Essentially, the problem is really a protein, Fel D1. This protein is in the cat’s saliva. The saliva finds its way onto cat hairs when the cat grooms. People come into contact with the protein when they pet the cat when the cat sheds hair or skin dander into the environment. Contact with this protein-contaminated material creates an immune response in allergy sufferers.

Here is the bad news. Blue-grey tabby cats are not hypoallergenic and they all shed hair – long and shorthair versions. There is no such thing as a grey tabby cat that is hypoallergenic (or any cat for that matter)! There is also no such thing as a cat that doesn’t shed hair

So if you suffer cat allergies and want to own a cat, the best you can hope for is to take precautions not to come into contact with the protein – groom the cat regularly to reduce dander in the environment, keep cats out of rooms, and opt for a neutered female cat because they generally produce less Fel D1!

They Always Have A Pink Nose!

close up of the face of a silver and grey scottish fold cat lying head on paws

Grey tabby cats have special noses! They are special because of their color. 

A grey tabby cat will never have an all-black nose like many black cats – nor will they have an all-pink nose like a ginger tabby. 

Grey tabby cats always have noses that are pink but outlined with black pigment!

Silver Tabby Cats Are Not Grey Tabby Cats!

Silver tabby cats are not grey and black tabby cats. 

Silvering is when the ground colors on the tabby cat’s coat (the areas that are not the darker stripes) are made up of hairs that lack color at the roots. 

In solid color cats the same effect, hairs that lack color at the roots, are referred to as a “smoke” coat. In tabbies, it is a silver coat. 

This means you can have brown tabby cats that are silver, red tabby cats that are silver tabby cats, and blue tabby cats that are silver!

Grey Is Not A Recognised Tabby Color!

We saved this one to last because it is a shocker! 

Grey Tabby Cats are actually not a recognized tabby color – there are blue tabby cats, silver tabby cats, or brown tabby cats with gray field. 

A blue tabby cat is a tabby with grey stripes in the darker markings and a lighter grey background color – these are probably closer to what people presume are grey tabby cats but they are called blue in the cat fancy world!

A cat with black stripes on a grey background is often described as a brown (insert coat pattern) tabby over grey field!

A cat with black stripes that are white at the root on a grey background is called a silver blue tabby cat.

A grey tabby cat does not exist in the cat fancy world!