Are tabby cats rare? Know about the stats and availability

Tabby cats are some of the most recognizable cats in the world today; they come in all types of breeds, colors, shapes, and sizes. While there are many types of tabby cats in the world, there is one looming question – are tabby cats rare?

Thankfully, the answer is no! Tabby cats are not uncommon because they are not exactly a breed. The patterns of a tabby cat can be seen on many different breeds of cats; however, finding them in colors like cream, chocolate, and smoke are quite rare.

Are black tabby cats rare? Before diving into the rarity of tabby cats, let us first understand some basic factors about tabby cats.


Where the name ‘tabby cat’ originated from?

The tabby cat is an English term that loosely translates to ‘striped silk taffeta’ in French. The root of the word is ‘tabis’ which means ‘rich watered silk. The name can be traced back to the Arabic word called Attabiya, which refers to Attabiy, in Baghdad; this is also where silk cloth was originally made.

The term, ‘tabby cat’, means ‘one with a striped coat’. This term can into use in the late 17th century.

What is the genetic makeup of tabby cats?

are tabby cats rare

Most cats get their markings if they have the agouti gene, or a part of it is dominant (A/a or A/A). If the feline has a recessive agouti gene (a/a), it is not a tabby cat; in short, it will not have any type of markings.

Such cats are also known as solid cats. Additionally, there are also many different types of cats with different sets of patterns, apart from a tabby. You can take care of the cat’s coat by using products like Hertzko Brush or the Pet Grooming Glove.

Some of these patterns include pointed, bicolor, tuxedo, torties or tortoiseshell, calico, and tri-color. Out of all these patterns, the tabbys are considered to be unique because they are the oldest to be found on cats.

The most notable characteristic of a typical tabby cat is the ‘M’ marking on its forehead. There are different legends and stories about this marking.

For instance, it has been said that the ‘M’ marking derives from the Egyptian word ‘Mau’, which means ‘cat’; the early human civilization believed that cats are holy and worshipped in many cultures.

In Islam, the ‘M’ marking came from the prophet Mohammad, who was fond of tabby cats. In Christianity, the ‘M’ marking came from Mother Mary who blessed the cat that provided warmth to baby Jesus.

Watch this video to get a better idea about this section.

Marking appearance and size

The marking, appearance, and size of a blonde tabby cat can vary from one feline to another. While there are a lot of markings, the most common ones include tan, brown, silver, blue, black, cream, and red. Some of the color markings are explained here:

  • Black: Black markings are very common in tabby cats. Mostly, they appear with an opposite coat color like silver; this way, the markings are highly visible.
  • Brown: The most common way to identify tabby cats is to look for brown markings. Any cat that has brown markings is considered the classic tabby cat and will have very familiar patterns.
  • Ginger: If the markings are dark-orange in color, then that cat will be known as a ginger tabby cat.
  • Grey: Grey-colored markings are yet another common pattern seen in tabby cats. Mostly, the grey marking is contrasted with a light coat color, thereby making the pattern look very prominent.
  • Orange: You will also find a lot of tabby felines that have the orange markings, especially the males. These markings come in different patterns like striped, ticked, classic, and mackerel.

Are tabby cats rare? What is the percentage of cats that are classified as tabby?

Of all the pets in the world, the domestic cat is known to be the most popular in the world. In fact, it has been estimated that the number of domesticated cats around the world can be anywhere between 500 million to 20 billion.

Out of these, tabby cats constitute about 60%-70% of the entire domestic cat population. Basically, this means that about two-thirds of all cats you see will have a ticked, spotted, blotched, and striped coat pattern. At times, the coat pattern can change as well.

This happens because the tabby gene has been linked in all domestic felines. Even if the cat does not show the typical tabby pattern, the chances of the gene being traced back to its history are very likely.

The origins of tabby cats date back to early human history; it is also known to be the descendant of the African Wildcat.

One of the reasons why the tabby cat has such a dominating status among the cat population is because they are prolific breeders and will give birth to a large number of kittens at once.

What is the female percentage of tabby cats?

Overall, the ratio of male and female tabby cats is based on genetics. For instance, for the orange tabby cat, 80% of these cats are male, while the remaining 20% are female.

It has been studied that the coat color of tabby cats and its gender are mostly determined by the genetic history and the breed. From the example above, female orange tabby cats are rare and therefore more expensive to buy.

This happens because the gene that is associated with the orange color of the coat is connected to the sex-linked gene. Because the X chromosome decides the orange color, the female kitten must have both orange genes for the orange color.

However, this is easier said than done; most females do have the tabby color, however have different patterns.

As for males, they only need a single X orange color-carrying chromosome. This gene can be carried either by the father or the mother.

The ratio keeps varying as you start exploring different tabby cats. For instance, there are more female Calico cats than males; in fact, the ratio of male and female Calico cats is 1:3000. This means that for every male, there are 2,999 female cats.

Which is the rarest tabby cat?

Out of all the available colors of tabby cats, the cream tabby cat is considered the rarest. As a matter of fact, this color is so rare that you need selective breeding to achieve a solid cream color. However, you will find tabby cats that have patches of cream color.

Cream-colored tabby cats or light brown tabby cat usually have a base color of off-white and the patterns are made up of a darker shade and tone of cream color.

As far as the color of the coat is concerned, some of the rarest colors found in domesticated tabby cats include:

  • Cinnamon
  • Lavender
  • Fawn
  • Smoke
  • Chocolate

Most of the colors mentioned are variations of black color. You need to remember that there are about 80 different types of patterns and coat colors for cats. However, some coat colors will only be available in pedigreed cats. Occasionally, you will find these colors in mixed breeds as well.


Are tabby cats rare? As mentioned above, tabby cats consist of about two-thirds of the entire cat population. Hence, these cats are not rare at all! In fact, the cats you meet each day at your friend or family’s home might be a tabby cat. The rarity is based only on the gender and the color/marking of the cats.

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Luna Tran

My name is Luna and I am a great cat lover and a cat owner of three lovely cats. I have owned many cats till now and have dedicated many years to nurturing and caring cats. Through this blog, I am here to share my knowledge and experience about cats.