The tabby patterns is the ideal camouflage technique for the cat : in this way she disappears in her environment. The tabby markings are found in many wild cats, including the ancestors of our domestic cat. This pattern consists of two parts: the black stripes and the
"ticking", or agouti , parts between them.
The striped tabby in fact is the real , original type and not the marbled (classic) cat. Both the African (Felis libyca) and the European (Felis silvestris) wildcat has stripes. This striped pattern probably passed over to our domestic tabby cat.
The basic type of the tabby is genetically black. Through selective breeding cat breeders have obtained a basic color that is a deep warm brown instead of gray amber.
The same selection process is applied to the red tabby, creating the deep rich orange-over yellow drawing.
Although the "brown" and the red tabby are the best known varieties tabbies can be bred in all basic colors that occur in the solid colored cat: blue, chocolate, cinnamon, lilac and
cream. These colors are common in the spotted tabby markings of the Oriental Shorthair. This entire color scale can be found in the British Oriental Spotted Tabby
(formerly called Egyptian Mau). This name change was implemented to avoid confusion with the American Egyptian Mau. This is also a spotted tabby bred in chocolate and silver varieties.
There is also a smoke version.
The Silver Mau and other purebred Silver tabbies have a raven black drawing on a shiny silver-white background. The Silver version can also occur in combination with other colors;
for example there is a silver-with-red version known as the cameo tabby.
In theory, tabbies can be bred in the Burmese colors as well.
All color variations we find in the classic, mackerel and spotted tabby we find in the Abyssinian (ticked) as well. Their deviated appearance may cause confusion in the terminology.
The basic color of the Abyssinian is naturally reddish; this basic color is called "ruddy" in the US. Also the "red" Abyssinian
is well known. Since the red color of the Abyssinian is caused by another gene new color names have been devised such as "sorrel" for the red Abyssinian (similar to cinnamon)
and "fawn" for
the diluted version (cream).
The figure below shows a representation of the most common tabby colors. Silver tabbies can occur in different color combinations (silver tabby, blue silver tabby, chocolate or
chestnut silver tabby, lilac silver tabby, cameo tabby and cream cameo tabby).
1. "Browntabby" (genetically black)
2. Blue tabby
3. Chocolate tabby (chestnut)
4. Cinnamon tabby
5. Lilac (lavander) tabby
6. Red tabby
7. Cream tabby
8. Silver tabby
9. Cameo tabby