Are you interested in a silver tabby cat? Perhaps you have seen pictures of amazing black and grey striped tabby cats and think that is the cat for you? Well if that is you we have news for you. Silver tabbies are not necessarily grey tabby cats! In fact, silver tabby cats are a coat effect rather than a color!
Read on to learn what a silver tabby is and which cat breeds are most likely to offer a silver tabby cat option.
Smoke Vs Silver Tabbies
Have you heard of smoke cats? Smoke cats are actually closely related to silver tabby cats!
A smoke cat is a full single-colored cat that has fur that is white at the skin end of the hair and colored toward the tips of the hairs. This creates an odd effect on their coat where they appear to have a smoky colored coat. When you part the fur you notice that the hair nearest the skin is white and colors towards the tips of the hairs! This is due to a specific gene, inhibitor gene I, that creates this effect in their coat. But what does this have to do with silver tabby cats?
Silver tabby cats have exactly the same gene! Whereas, in a solid-colored cat the gene affects all hairs, in tabby cats the gene only interferes with the agouti hairs. This means the black or darker hairs that form a tabby cat’s markings are unaffected but the underlying base coat agouti hairs lose some of their color.
Normally the agouti hairs would have bands of several colors along their lengths. With this gene, the colors are reduced and the hairs at the skin are white – creating not a smoked tabby but a silver tabby cat!
Silver Tabby Cat Color Options
So a silver tabby cat is one where the agouti hairs, the base coat hairs under the black or darker stripes, have lost some of the individual color stripes that make up the agouti pattern – it does not follow that a silver tabby is a grey and black tabby (although some of the most popular silver tabby cats do actually appear this way). Silver tabby cats is a phrase to describe a coat effect rather than a color. You can actually get a brown silver, blue silver, red silver, and silver cream tabby cats!
A blue silver tabby will have full black stripes and a grey body coat that has white fur at the base when the grey body hairs are parted. A red silver tabby cat will have dark orange stripes on a light red base coat which when parted will be white at the skin. A cream silver tabby will have dark brown stripes and a fawn body coat that will………..well you get it!
To further complicate matters tabby cats come in a variety of patterns, mackerel, classic, ticked, and spotted, which refers to the patterns of the darker markings on their coat. A silver tabby could be a mackerel silver tabby or a spotted silver tabby cat etc. So you see – a silver tabby cat is not quite as simple as being a grey and black striped cat!
Which breeds feature these extraordinary cats? Well not all! Here we present the most common cat breeds that offer a silver tabby cat coat pattern
Silver Tabby British Shorthair
The British Shorthair cat comes in classic, mackerel and spotted tabby coat patterns. They are a cat with a distinctive look – they have copper, orange or gold eyes unless they are black spotted tabby cats that may have green eyes. The eyes are round in a round face with big cheeks and a smiling mouth!
Their bodies are stout with a muscular appearance and short thick legs. The fur is short and dense giving a very plush appearance. The overall appearance is one that people have come to describe as the teddy bear of the cat world!
They have a calm, warm temperament, and like to be around their wider family but are not necessarily lap cats – they are loyal but slightly aloof.
In terms of silver tabby variations, the breed has a standard that recognizes the following variations of silver tabby: Black with silver ground coat, Blue with silver grey ground coat, Chocolate with chocolate silver ground coat, lilac with pale silvery lilac ground coat, red with cream silver ground coat, cream with a near white silver coat.
You can find out more about this incredible cat breed here.
Maine Coon Silver Tabby
The Maine coon is a giant of the cat world – quite literally! These cats are huge and sport large ruffs of fur around the neck area, ear tufts, and a fluffy semi-long hair coat.
They come in solid coat, tortie, calico, tabby, bi-color, and parti-color patterns with the tabby variants recognized with and without silvering.
The silvered tabby variants have classic or mackerel marking patterns and are available in blue, red, and cream silver options so slightly fewer color options than the BSH but still an interesting variety.
These cats make great family members. They are very affectionate and love to play, get on well with other animals, and are generally calm cats. Read more about these giants here.
Silver Egyptian Mau
The Egyptian Mau is a small cat with a long history. Thought to have been around since the time of the Pharaohs, this cat often seems to have a worried expression on its face! If you have one of these cats they are sure to get the blame for mishaps because their expression makes them look like they think they are in trouble for something!
They have a spotted tabby coat that is usually either silver and darker spots or fawn and darker brown spots or comes in a smoke variation, all variants featuring gooseberry green eyes giving quite a characteristic appearance.
These cats make good family members who are quite willing to interact with very young children so long as the children are not overly boisterous and are quite happy to live with other cats and dogs.
If you are looking for a cat that has a wild look but doesn’t want something as hyper as a Bengal or as wild as some of the common hybrid cats then the Ocicat could be the breed for you! Available only in a spotted tabby pattern, they are a cat that is larger than most house cats but not as large as a Maine coon!
They have a muscular appearance and long tail which when framed with their spotted coat, large ears, powerful head, and large eyes gives them that wilder, jungle look. But – although they are active and intelligent they are also incredibly friendly and make fine companions.
They have a short, dense coat that should show defined and strong spotting. They may be silver, the common silver variations being black spots on a silvery white ground coat, chocolate on a creamy silver ground coat, cinnamon spots on a cinnamon silver ground, blue, lilac, or fawn all on silver variations of their spot color.
The ragamuffin is a large cat with a medium to medium long coat and is available in all colors and patterns. They have large heads with big, soulful eyes and are known to be extremely good-natured, they enjoy being handled and spending time with people. This makes them one of these most popular breeds of the moment!
Coming in all patterns except color points, the silver tabby variants are known to have slightly more textured fur than non-silver tabbies. Basically, there is no breed color standard for these cats relating to silvering so it should be possible to find black and silver, chocolate and silver chocolate, etc.
So, silver tabbies and not necessarily grey tabby cats – although they could be – because the “silver” is the colorless hair pigmentation near the skin on the ground coat giving a silvery sheen effect.
In fact, silver tabby cats can be chocolate colored with the lighter brown ground, red with cream silver ground coat, or, as many imagine, a black striped cat with a silver grey ground coat. Good luck with your search!