page title icon Uncover the Mystery of the Black Tabby Cat

by Nancy Cooper Last Updated December 1, 2023

Tabby cats, regardless of their tabby pattern, are alley cats that have a complex history, an original genetic makeup, and cheerful and affectionate personalities that match their stunning appearance (you will fall in love with black kittens that can boast dark tiger stripes on the body, legs, and tail, a signature “M” marking on their forehead, and a coat that shines in the light). These plentiful and peppy black tabby cats a.k.a tiger cats are a win-win option for many cat owners.

Let’s take a look at the appearance of the tabby cat black, the domestic cat genetics, and uncover cunning facts about this unique pet that you may not know.

What Is s Black Tabby Cat?

What Is s Black Tabby Cat?The black cat with stripes on a dark background (classic tabby or mackerel tabby) or a cream coat (ticked tabby) is found in various cat breeds, but this feline itself does not represent a separate breed. These domestic cats have patches with agouti hair and stripes (agouti fur is brownish with black stripes on the background) or spots like a spotted tabby cat. The color of their nose can vary from pale pink to dark brown.

On top of that, these house cats may also have odd eyes – one eye might be blue while another might be yellow or green. Tiger tabby cats, in general, are very popular; their jet-black coat is striking and elegant, and their furry paws are simply irresistibly cute! We can bet that they might be the cover cats on Cat Fancy.

Black felines with a striped coat pattern are quite common in moggies and purebred cats, but sometimes, people opt for cats of other colors and patterns. For instance:

  • Orange tabby cat
    This coat pattern is caused by the presence of both orange and black pigments in the hair. Usually, orange tabby cats have stripes on a cream background. The tabby pattern is altered by the modifier gene (agouti or ticked), so the length and texture of orange tabbies’ hair may also be affected.
  • Grey tabby cat
    The grey tabby is one of the most popular types among cats. The term “Grey” means that the grey area on the cat’s head, forehead, tail, and legs has no white or any other color.
  • Patched tabby cat
    According to the Cat Fanciers’ Association, if a cat has patches of red and/or cream or has two different colors on its nose leather and/or paw pads, the cat is probably a patched tabby (silver, blue or brown). Patched tabby cats have a blend of red, grey, and brown shades. This pattern is extremely common in female cats, as they have two X-chromosomes. The orange gene is found on the X chromosome, and male cats have only one X chromosome, so they can be either orange or non-orange.

Is the Black Tabby a Breed of Cat?

In fact, there are different breeds of black tabby cats (this group includes moggies and purebred felines). The Siberian cat, for example, has a short, thick, and dense coat that is black. The Abyssinian cat has a slender, muscular body, and a black tabby coat. By the way, Abyssinian cats have a beautiful ticked tabby pattern. The Bengal cat has a medium-length black coat that features brown stripes.

On top of that, there are black tabby British Shorthair cats and black tabby Maine Coon cats that look marvelous.

Black Tabby M

Black Tabby cats are tabbies that have a distinctive M shaped marking on the forehead. This type of tabby has pencil marks around its face. This is similar to what leopards and jaguars have.

Black Tabby Cat Personality

Black Tabby Cat Personality

The personality and behavior of black tabby cats differ significantly from that of other varieties. Black tabby cats are easy to fall in love with because they’re friendly, outgoing, and have a playful nature.

While most cats don’t need close human interaction to be happy, black tabby cats are those rare felines who thrive on attention and love from their owners. They will greet you with a meow – always asking for your attention, which is endearing and lovable. This special quality makes them wonderful pets for families or singles who want a furry companion that they can relate to on a more personal level.

Editor’s Note

Are black tabby cats cuddly?

While some black tabby cats could be more quiet or independent, others can be quite loving and affectionate. Remember that every cat is an individual and that their surroundings, early socialization experiences, genetics, and other factors may all have an impact on how they behave.

Black Tabby Coat Serves a Purpose

The black tabby coat is not just for show. It’s actually quite functional. The distinct tabby pattern helps to break up the cat’s outline, making it more difficult for predators to spot it in dark environments like jungles or forests. This camouflage can literally be a lifesaver for cats living in the wild.

Additionally, their coats also provide protection from the elements, like excessive heat and cold. The unique coat pattern is also a great identifier for owners of pet cats so they can quickly identify which one belongs to them.

Ghost Tabby Cat

What is a ghost tabby? The term ghost tabby (smoke tabby or shadow tabby) refers to black striped cats. Genetically, all cats are tabby, however, some cats carry the non-agouti (hypermelanistic) recessive mutation, normally, the base hairs consist of two bands of pigmentation, but in the non-agouti cat, the hair appears solid, or self-colored. Since tabby patterns aren’t solid, a ghost tabby kitten appears to be striped with white. The additional white markings can make it appear as if a solid cat has transparent ghosts around it. This underlying tabby pattern can give these black tiger cats an ethereal appearance, which may be why they’re sometimes referred to as black ghost tabby cats or spook tabbies.

Charcoal and Melanistic Black Tabby Cats

Charcoal and Melanistic Black Tabby Cats

This coat color is characteristic of Bengal cats. It looks eye-catching – the main shade is dark, almost black, and the pattern features black stripes, spots, or swirls. The charcoal tabby cat, due to the black pigment, has darker markings than non-coal Bengals, with a dark stripe on its back, and a dark-colored mask on its face. Bengals are thought to have gotten the gene responsible for the dark grey coat color from the Asian leopard cat.

Facts about Black Tabby Cats

Black-striped cats are extraordinary creatures that can boast a rich history and a striking appearance. Here are interesting tidbits about black tabby cats.

Tabby Cats Are Thought to be Furry Friends of Witches

Just as it was with witches, cats have long been surrounded by magic, and black cats were a common theme in many mystical stories. Classic tabby, spotted tabby, mackerel tabby, or black ticked tabby with orange specks and a hint of blue – these are not just regular cat breeds. They were thought to be the familiars (spirit servants) of the witches.

Black Tabby Cats Have Different Distinct Patterns

While it is a common misconception that a black cat with tabby stripes always has stripes, there are many patterns. Tabby cat patterns range from a mackerel pattern (the most common tabby pattern) to a classic tabby pattern, a spotted tabby (the mackerel pattern is broken into spots), and a blotched tabby.

However, even in those categories, you can see subtle differences. It all depends on how dark or light a cat’s hair color is compared to its skin tone and how much white there is. For example, if your black tabby has a darker tabby coat than its skin tone and doesn’t have white markings, it’ll likely be a mackerel tabby kitty. But if it has darker fur than its skin tone with some white markings, it might be more of a classic tabby kitten.

Black Tabbies Were Named After Baghdad Silk

Due to their unique pattern and deep tone, these cats were named after silk from Baghdad.

Black Tabbies Are Outgoing

Outgoing and highly active, black tabbies are known for their amiable nature. Known as a symbol of fortune and being lucky charms, black tabbies are also incredibly friendly companions.

Black Tabbies Have Wild Roots

The pattern of these dope felines resembles the coat design of their wild relatives (tigers, cheetahs, etc.) This distinctive pattern helps them remain undetected by prey.


Can there be a black tabby cat?

Young felines that have an overlying pattern (when the agouti hairs aren’t bandied) can be considered black tabby kittens because they have a solid color.

Where did black cats with tabby stripes originate?

Africa is where black cats with tabby stripes first appeared. The color of these cats is frequently associated with fertility and magic. They were revered and treated as sacred beings in Egypt. Bastet, an ancient god, was symbolized by their color. She stood guard over domesticated animals, women, and kids.

Since ancient times, black cats with tabby stripes have been seen as a sign of luck, wealth, and overall success.

Why does my black cat have tiger stripes?

A black tiger striped cat may inherit tiger stripes from their parents or from their ancestors. Other cats could have a distinctive coat pattern at the same time.

How rare are black tabby cats?

Though some people consider black tabby cats rare, they are quite common in various cat breeds, including fluffy Persians or marvelous Maine Coon kitties.

How much is a black tabby cat?

Like any cat, a black cat of any breed can vary in price depending on where you buy it. Besides, a tabby cat of a certain breed with a white or light-colored coat may also cost more than other tabbies.

If you want to buy a kitten from a breeder, expect to pay around $500-$1,000 (though some breeders will charge upwards of $2,000). Adopting a cat is much cheaper – most shelters charge between $50 and $100 for black tabbies with different patterns, and adoption fees at no-kill shelters are even lower.

How big do black tabby cats get?

Black tabby cats can grow to a variety of sizes depending on their breed. Some breeds are of a smaller size, such as the Siamese, while others are larger, like the Maine Coon. Generally speaking, black tabbies range in size from 5 to 20 pounds.

What is the average lifespan range for tabby cats?

The average lifespan of a black cat with tiger stripes is between 12 and 18 years. The exact age depends on the breed, its diet, and the care it receives. Generally, the healthier a cat’s lifestyle, the longer it will live.

Exercise, proper nutrition, and regular vet visits are all essential for prolonging a tabby’s life. Additionally, cats that are kept indoors tend to live longer than their outdoor counterparts due to reduced exposure to infectious diseases and other risks from the environment.

Do black tabby cats shed a lot?

Black tabby cats shed differently depending on the breed. In comparison to shorthaired varieties, longhaired black tabby breeds, such as Persians and Norwegian Forest Cats, tend to shed more and require more frequent brushing and upkeep.

The time of year might also have an impact on a cat’s shedding rate. Many felines shed more in the spring and autumn to keep cool or to create place for a new, thicker winter coat to develop.

What should I feed my black tabby cat?

For the general health of your black and white cat, a balanced diet is crucial. It is often advised to feed your cat high-quality commercial cat food that is high in protein and complies with the AAFCO’s nutritional standards.

Can black tabbies live with other cats or pets?

Black tabby cats, like the majority of felines, may get along with other pets if the right precautions are taken and the introductions are made gradually. Always make sure each pet has a private area where it may relax.

How to keep a black tabby cat’s coat healthy and shiny?

A balanced diet, routine grooming, and occasional bathing are everything you need to maintain a black tabby cat’s glossy, healthy coat.

Black Tabby Cats: Final Thoughts

Black tabby cats are one of the first domesticated cats with a long history. They have a great personality because they have a strong bond with their owners and a beautiful tabby coat pattern. If you are looking for a faithful pet companion, this furry friend is a perfect choice.