The first thing to know about a tabby cat is that it is not a breed but a coat pattern amongst cats through which they are recognized as Tabby. Tabby cats have a peculiar M shaped on their forehead. Though the origin of this is unknown, there are fantastic legends associated with it. The authenticity of any of it is highly questionable.
The word tabby comes from ‘Atabi’ which is striped silk made in Attabiah in the Middle East. Further when this silk was brought to Britain then the cat was named ‘tabi cat’ due to similarity in coat pattern with ‘tiger cat’ which was further refined as a tabby cat
Let’s briefly have a glance at the type of tabby cats according to fur pattern known:-
MACKEREL TABBY CAT:- It has narrow stripes all over its body, rings around the tail and legs resembling ‘mackerel fish’.
CLASSIC/BLOTCHED/MARBLED TABBY CAT:- The stripes they have are similar to that of mackerel tabby cat, it is just that the stripes on them are wider.
THE SPOTTY TABBY CAT:- These instead of strong lines have a series of spots of different sizes over their body which may resemble the above two types. The fur is mostly of light colour.
Ticked Tabby cat:- These cats barely have any marking over their body except over their face, legs and tail. When closely observed the fur is light and dark coloured. One of the examples of ticked tabbies is Abyssinian cats.
The Mark by Mary
The legend says that when Jesus was born he was placed in a manger stuffed with hay. The conditions were cold and Jesus began crying because of the intense cold. In spite of all the blankets which covered the baby, he still cried due to cold. Mother Mary asked the animals of the farm to huddle around the baby Jesus thinking it will warm him up. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. Mary started rocking the baby but still, it wasn’t enough. ( Read about Can cats cry tears like humans? )
A small tabby cat was watching everything from a distance; she knew what to do exactly. She climbed the manger and wrapped herself around the baby Jesus. The baby stopped crying as he felt the warmth and comfort of the kitty. Mother Mary stroked the cat’s head in love and it let the initial of her name on it.
Muhammad and his cat Muezza
The legend says that Muhammad had a cat called Muezza whom he loved dearly. One day Muezza asleep on his sleeve. Soon the time or prayer started and Muhammad did not want to wake her up. To avoid this he cut his sleeve and prayed while slept on his severed arm. One fine day, a snake slithered into the sleeve o Muhammad and the cat saw it. She killed it and saved his lie. In compassion and love, Muhammad placed his hand on her head and granted her the ability to land on its feet and marked her forehead with the letter M. ( Read about How Viking cats of yesterday’s differed from today’s cats?)
Mau the moon cat
In ancient Egypt, the cats were called Mau. It means light. Since cat’s eyes reflect light at night, they were associated to have a direct relationship with the moon. The mark M is the symbol of that relationship. The Egyptian Mau is the original spotted tabby cat. ( Read about Why do cats knead? )