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

10 Interesting Grey Tabby Cat Facts.

One of the most popular cats is the grey tabby cat. These grey-striped cats are distinctive and easy-going. Read on to discover more about these amazing cats…

If you have been thinking of adopting a cat, you might have thought of getting a tabby cat. After all, they are one of the most well-dressed cats there are. You will mostly find them in browns or oranges and occasionally in greys.

If you have come across a gray tabby cat and are still debating about adding it to your family, here are 10 interesting facts that might change your mind. 

Grey Tabby Cats Can Be Of Different Breeds

Cats can be of different breeds and still be called tabby because of their coats. For example, a grey tabby cat can be a giant Maine Coon, American Shorthair, Oriental, or other breeds. Its coat will be grey and have different patterns, such as stripes, swirls, spots, and lines. Mackerel tabby cats can be grey tabbies, but their coat is dominated by stripes giving them the mackerel pattern in their description.

Even the gray can be of various shades and may not be the same for two cats. But what they all have in common is a cute, distinctive M on their forehead. 

They can be both purebreds and mixed breeds, longhair or shorthair. There are over 10 grey cat breeds and numerous other cat breeds with tabby patterns, and they can create hybrid offspring as well. Generally, there are more hybrid felines than purebreds. 

grey tabby and white american short hair cat rubbing against a fence post on a frosty morning
American Shorthair Grey Tabby Cat

The M On Their Forehead Comes from Different Legends

The ‘M’ marking is a signature pattern of a grey tabbies DNA. However, there are still many legends surrounding how it came to be. 

Cats were presumed to be God-like and magical creatures in Ancient Egypt, bringing good luck to the people. They were known as Mau, and the M is thought to be a symbol of that. 

There are also religious myths about it. In Islam, it is believed that a cat offered protection to Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), and the sign appeared when he touched its head. 

Christians believe that the M symbolizes Mary’s gratitude for keeping baby Jesus company through a difficult night. 

There is another non-religious and non-historical legend. Which is, the M is a permanent frown developed after years of staring at mouse holes.

close up of a grey tabby cat eating raw chicken from a bowl

Their Name Comes From A Type of Silk

There are contradicting beliefs about the origin of the word tabby. Some people believe that it comes from the French word taffeta. Others believe it to be derived from the Arabic word ‘attabis,’ which is based on a place in Baghdad called Attabiyah.

Both words refer to a type of silk with irregular patterns and have been used in literature. While the use of the former term can be dated back to the 1600s, the latter has an even older history, starting from the 14th century,

Before tabby was used concerning cats, stripped felines as such were referred to as “tiger cats.” 

They Have Different Eye And Nose Colors

Grey tabby cat eye color can be a whole range of colors depending on what breed they are. They could be yellow, hazel, copper, or blue. Genetics also determines what colors their noses are. 

However, the shade might slightly change throughout the day due to different variables such as heat, cold, elevation of heart rate, high or low blood pressure. 

Even their paw pads can be of a couple of colors, such as brick red or grey. 

black and grey tabby cat with green eyes lying on side on wooden laminate flooring
Green Eyed Tabby Cat

All Gray Tabby Cats Carry The Same Gene

Tabby cats carry a gene called the agouti gene, which possesses all the dominant tabby features. Since they often create hybrid offspring, tabby cats make up 60 to 70% of household cats. 

The agouti gene contains a signature protein marker, which creates the alternating coat color pigments. That is, when a feline has a dominant agouti gene in its DNA, it becomes a tabby cat because of the switching hair color bands. 

While other tabby cats can get the agouti gene through a tabby or shaded-furred parent, a grey tabby kitten gets its grey color from at least one grey tabby parent. 

A silver tabby cat is a grey tabby that has dark stripes that have colorless hair near the skin that change to black coloration further along the hair – this gives the coat a slightly different sheen to the normal grey tabby that has full black stripes and grey body hair. This is another genetic variation brought on by a silvering gene.

Not All Grey Tabbies Have The Same Temperament 

There is no correlation between grey tabbies’ patterns and their personality. Each tabby is different, and their temperament may vary according to their breeds. However, a grey tabby can be the opposite of their parents, despite being the same breed. 

As a cat-owner, you may try to determine the breed to figure out some of its temperament. But you would need to study and learn your cat’s habits by yourself to learn about the rest. 

Your newest kitten may have a mix of its parents’ moods. It might be that they like human contact one day and hate it the next day. But almost all grey tabby cats are popular as domestic cats and are known to be quite affectionate. 

close up of a tabby cat aggressively gnawing at owners hand

They Are Descended From Wildcats

It is assumed that before cats were domesticated in the 17th century, they were wildcats. According to history, they were initially bred in Europe and were later migrated into the United States. 

Although not all tabby cats share the same coat pattern or color, some of them share a very close resemblance to African Wildcats. They look completely identical and can be difficult for non-cat owners to distinguish. 

A study of Nature Ecology and Evolution has also established concrete evidence establishing relational ties between both the animals. 

Their Coats Protect Them In The Wild

The unique grey tabby hair is not just there for the looks, but it can also provide an upper hand in the wild. It is the perfect built-in camouflage system, blending them with surrounding trees to protect against hunters and predators. It can be hard to detect them if they stand behind a tree bark. 

It also makes it perfect for them to sneak up on their prey. Their furry coats also keep them warm in cold weather. 

They Can Be Found In Both Sexes Equally

Most tabby cats have an unequal distribution when it comes to sexes. Such as, more orange tabby cats are found to be male than female. 

But grey tabby cats have a 50:50 ratio; they have equal chances of being a male or female. You need to take your cat to the vet if you want to determine its sex surely. 

a pair of silver grey tabby kittens sleeping together in a wicker cat bed

A Grey Tabby Cat Once Held Two Guinness World Records

Known by its nickname Stewie, this grey tabby cat got two Guinness world record titles for having the longest feline body and longest tail ever. Its tail was just as long as a standard household feline!

Stewie was a Maine Coon cat, who are known for their large bodies and heavyweights. Unfortunately, this feline record holder passed away nearly a decade ago. 

Final Words

Did you know April 30th is National Tabby Day, and Tabby lovers from all over the world celebrate it with extra belly rubs and treats? After all, how can you not love them when they are so unique and adorable. And if you are interested in adopting a cute grey tabby cat along the way, you can always contact your nearest shelter to see if they have one.