page title icon White Tabby Cat: Does It Really Exist?

by Linda Mathews Last Updated May 3, 2022

Cats come in various colors, coat patterns, and they can boast different personalities. The most familiar tabby coats are black, but there are many variations in the pigment, resulting in black, orange, and gray tabbies. Interestingly, orange tabby cats are usually male (about 20-25% of orange tabby cats are female).
All tabby variations are striking and unique, but a white tabby cat is extremely cute and marvelous. If you want to learn more about a pale tabby cat (Felis catus), its personality, and its characteristics, then read on. We will share some surprising tidbits that will definitely make you fall in love with this amazing creature.

Understanding the Tabby Cat

Understanding the Tabby Cat

Domestic cats are now found on all continents, except Antarctica, and in the most remote regions of the world. They are descended from the Near Eastern wild cat, Felis silvestris lybica, (also called the African wild cat), but a lack of cat remains in the archaeological record has made it difficult to confirm how these cats conquered the world. However, the invariable fact is that today, it is difficult to imagine our life without these cute creatures with fluffy or striped silk hair. Before sharing some information about a white cat with tabby spots and other tabby markings, let’s explain what a tabby cat is, and what sets this beautiful feline apart from its relatives. Usually, a cat with horizontal stripes all over the body, including its legs and tail, pencil lines on its face, and a distinct “M” mark on its forehead, is called a tabby cat. Some people assume that the letter “M” signifies Mau (the word Mau meant “cat” in Ancient Egypt). Muslims support one story about the Prophet Muhammad. People from the Middle East believe that this mark stands for Mohammed, who loved tabbies. Other people tie the meaning of this sign with the Virgin Mary. According to Christian legends, a tabby cat comforted baby Jesus, and Virgin Mary put this mark on the cat’s head to express her gratitude.

Types of Tabby Cats

There are three main types of tabbies. Every particular cat has a distinctive appearance and features various tabby coat patterns: the classic tabby pattern, the mackerel tabby cat, and the blotched tabby. The classic tabby or blotched tabby has vertical solid or broken stripes on its back and resembles the popular pedigreed tabby cat most people know. Classic tabbies have a solid-colored stomach and the back. Mackerel tabbies, a.k.a tiger cats, have the same coat pattern as the classic tabby, but they have vertical striping on their stomachs too. The third type that is worth mentioning is a spotted tabby cat. Male and female cats with a spotted tabby pattern feature oval, round, or rosette spots on their sides. These spots can be large, small, or broken. Besides, many people know cute kitties with orange spots, stripes of brown solid color, and white patches. The cat with this coat pattern is called a patched tabby or torbie. Last but not least is a ticked tabby cat. All we know about the Abyssinian cat breed, which is one of the representatives of ticked tabby cats. These tabby babies don’t have traditional stripes or spots, but they still feature tabby markings on the face and individual hairs (agouti hairs) on the body.

The Silver Tabby

The Silver Tabby

Cats with gray or silver hair have an “M” pattern on the forehead and black horizontal stripes. Sometimes these cats are mistaken for white tabbies because the gray or silver hairs appear almost white. Thus, visually this domestic cat looks like a tabby and white cat, but in fact, it is a silver tabby.

Getting to the Bottom of Things

White cats are among the rarest creatures because of their unique coloring. The reason for the beautiful white coat color is the presence of a “masking” or epistatic gene, which “masks” or, better to say, suppresses all other colors. This includes the well-known pigment melanin, which is no longer “responsible” for the white color of the animal. Besides, the albinism gene causes the complete absence of coloring substances, i.e., pigments. Therefore, you won’t meet an albino tabby cat with stripes or spots.
Thus, if the gene completely suppresses other colors and different patterns in the coat, it is impossible to meet a white cat with gray stripes.

The Question of Color

Visually, to the average person, a very light gray tabby cat will look white, but it will actually be gray. A classic example of a truly white feline is a cat with pink skin all over its body, including around its eyes and its nose. So if you encounter a white kitty with distinctive tabby stripes or other tabby cat patterns, that striped cat is actually a gray or silver white tabby cat.

Age Matters Too

When it comes to our four-legged friends, age matters because as a cat ages, its coat color can change. A cat’s fur grays with age, and light gray cats can become lighter, and they will visually appear white. However, these felines will not be white tabby cats, but just cats with a lighter coat that is a product of aging.

Why Is the Term “White Tabby” So Popular?

Unlike other common terms that refer to cats by breed and type, the term “White Tabby” isn’t used so often. Instead, it refers to a certain genetic mutation when it comes to the color of a cat’s fur. Technically, the color of a coat is gray or silver, but people see this cat as white. The term “white tabby” is one that has been trending highly in this decade, but why is it so popular? White tabbies (in fact, gray or silver tabbies) are very beautiful. A large number of them are not present in the United States, but there are still plenty of white kittens available in other areas of the world. The price of a white cat is still quite high, but it is a trend that seems to be dropping shortly.

White Tabby Cat Personality

White Tabby Cat Personality

White tabbies, like other representatives of many breeds, have distinct personalities. We bet, almost every pet parent has at least once heard about their so-called “tortitude”. This is one of the well-known tabby cat facts. While these kittens are often quite playful and affectionate, they can also be a bit of a handful. Tabbies tend to be curious and playful, but they tend to have less patience with children and other pets. They have been known to steal food and touch the face of someone who is giving them too much attention. This is not to say that white tabbies are mean or untrustworthy, but they do need attention. In most cases, this happens when they are not getting enough attention. This is why it’s important to make sure that your white tabbies are getting not only food and water but plenty of love and care. At the same time, if a tabby cat has given its heart to you, you can be 100% sure that this kitty will be the most loyal lifetime friend.

Characteristics of the Abyssinian Cat

The Abyssinian cat does not have the traditional tabby pattern, but it is a special tabby cat. Abyssinian cats have a unique and gorgeous appearance. They have a dark color around their eyes, and very subtle spotted tabby patterns, alternating between dark and light shades. However, the alternation of dark and light hair is possible to see only in daylight. Often, an Abyssinian cat can be light gray or light silver, but at the first glance, it will seem that the cat is white. However, it is not white because the white gene neutralizes any other color. If you see a cat with a barely noticeable pattern, it will not be considered white.

FAQ

Are white tabby cats rare?

While many people are familiar with the appearance of a tabby cat, the coloration of a white tabby can sometimes be confusing. While it’s certainly true that not all cats are the same, white (a grey and white tabby cat) tabby cats are an extremely common coloration. White cats are not a rare breed and are no more valuable than any other. You can meet various felines that resemble a white and tabby cat. These breeds include white American Shorthair babies with tabby patterns, white Domestic Shorthair with amazing color patterns, beautiful Siamese tabby cats with blue eyes and their distinctive color pattern, or white and grey Maine Coon cats with unique coloration that resembles a fish skeleton. Depending on the breed of domestic cats, you can become an owner of a grey tabby cat with a unique personality.

What is a tabby and white cat called?

A tabby and white cat is called a tuxedo cat, also known as bicolor or piebald. Cats come in common and rare tabby cat colors and patterns that depend on the coat they were born with. Various coat colors appear due to pigmentation, and they are determined by polygenes. Multiple alleles interact to produce this color in cats. This specific color is determined by an incomplete dominant allele. The only color they are predisposed to be is the tabby pattern.

Bottom Line

Thus, a white and gray tabby cat doesn’t exist, but all gray and silver tabbies or senior cats can appear to be white. However, regardless of its color, a tabby cat is a cute miracle that will make your life and the life of your family happier.