Grey Tabby Cat 101: Colors, Lifespan, Personality, and Fun Facts 

At a Glance

Contrary to popular belief, grey tabby cats aren’t exactly a breed but it’s more of a common coat pattern that you can see in various cat breeds. 

Whether you have a purebred or a mixed breed (such as moggies of the UK or puspins of the Philippines, also known as the Domestic Shorthair), gray tabby cats are only identifiable due to their unique coat pattern. Think of it as being similar to calico cats – you will see this coat pattern in nearly any cat breed around the world. 

So, do you want to know more about the grey tabby cat? Read on our feline guide to find out about the different colors (or pattern variations, for that matter), their lifespan, personality, and other fun facts.

Grey Tabby Cat Colors (Coat Patterns)

Did you know that grey tabby cats don’t come in a single pattern alone? Although the shade of gray is almost the same throughout the tabby cat family, you’ll find that there are a plethora of combinations for their coats. 

Although they are called grey tabby cats, for sure, they aren’t simply colored gray – they are a combination of gray and white, which makes the different patterns. With that said, here are the most prominent ones, which may change based on their genes:

Grey classic tabby

This tabby cat coloring will give you the impression of a marble cake. That’s because you’ll find distinctive swirls on the sides of the cat that are completely separate and easy to spot from the cat’s lighter color (e.g. white). 

In most areas of the world, the gray classic tabby cat is also known as the “blotched tabby”. Sometimes, their blotched patterns may look like a bulls-eye target or even that of a zebra due to the vividness of the coat pattern.

Mackerel tabby 

This is perhaps the most common pattern found in both moggies and puspins as mentioned above. It is characterized by much narrower and finer stripes in a vertical pattern. Unlike the classic type, they are mostly straight and not swirling at all. 

In some cases, they are also called “tiger tabbies” due to their resemblance to tigers. The lines on their body have equal amounts of spacing. The reason why they are called mackerel tabbies is that the pattern resembles that of a fish skeleton as one stripe forms smaller stripes from the spine.

Mackerel tabbies are more common in Asian countries, especially in mixed breeds. 

Spotted tabby

This gray tabby cat pattern will resemble a cheetah or any spotted jungle cat out there. However, the spots are a bit subtler, especially since it is a grey tabby cat. The spots can be easily spotted (pun intended) on the sides of the cat.

These spots may take different shapes, such as rosettes or ovals, depending on the genetics of the cat. In some cases, the arms and legs may also have broken lines similar to that of the mackerel tabby. That’s also part of the reason why cat experts theorize that spotted tabbies might have originated from the mackerel tabby.

Ticked tabby

The grey ticked tabby doesn’t have any pattern on it so it looks more like a wolf. Usually, ticked tabbies are known as the Abyssinian due to the excess hair. It might not look like the cat is part of the tabby family but it is due to the markings on the face.

However, if you look closer, you’ll see slight striping that’s kind of blurred out so it doesn’t look as distinct as the other grey tabby cat colors or patterns.

The lifespan of a Grey Tabby Cat

As with all tabby cats, the grey tabby will live up to 15 years when you give them proper TLC and everything else that they need. Consider yourself lucky if your tiger survived past that mark! With that said, tabby cats are commonly at risk for the following health problems:

  • weight issues
  • urinary problems
  • vomiting
  • digestive upsets
  • hyperthyroidism

Grey Tabby Cat Personality

Do you want to know the temperament and personality of the grey tabby cat? Here are some of their key traits to deal with:

They’re affectionate

Grey tabby cats are known to be quite affectionate with their owners. Your pet could easily snuggle on your side or simply rub on your legs, even if they don’t know you that much. That’s just how grey tabbies are, in general.

When they’re asking for something, they usually vocal out in a sweet way to their pet owner, which is one way of showing how affectionate they are. You’ll easily see just how they linger around you when they need a bowl of cat food or something else.

They like to lie down…a lot

While it’s natural for most cat breeds to be extra lazy due to their natural sleeping schedule of two-thirds of the day, it’s just a little more extra with the grey tabby cat. 

Don’t be surprised when tiger likes to lie down on the couch or the rug for a few extra hours! They might also not respond easily to commands as they prefer to nap a lot and are shown to be quite timid at times. With that said, when they do get their energy back, make no mistake – they’re still prey-chasing felines!

If you are looking for a cat that’s not too hyperactive, you might just work well with a grey tabby cat due to its typical lazy nature.

They’re quite sociable

Even though we mentioned that grey tabby cats aren’t so physically active at times, that doesn’t mean they’re generally anti-social. Most of these cats tend to adapt easily to their surroundings, especially if they have a lot of buddies in the neighborhood. 

As mentioned above, since they are affectionate, this also translates to being sociable towards other cats and even other humans. Even if you’ve met them for the first time, they’ll usually welcome you with open paws. 

They’re friendly

We’ve mentioned earlier that a grey tabby cat is both sociable and affectionate. Aside from that, they are also quite friendly and are less likely to cause trouble around the house – when properly disciplined and trained. 

Fun Facts about the Grey Tabby Cat

So now that we know about the basics of the grey tabby cat, let’s have a look at some fun facts about them:

Their name origin comes from silk fabric

Yes, you’ve heard that right – grey tabby cats have their name history from Baghdad, in which Attabi is a kind of silk that has been associated with them. That’s because Attabi silk is similar to that of the then-called tiger cats.

Other sources might also tell you that the origin of the name is a French phrase that’s also related to silk fabrics. Whichever the origin, for sure, their patterns may sometimes remind us of silk weavings.

The M-shaped forehead markings span a lot of theories

In Egypt, “Mau” means “cat”, which is why Egyptians are commonly associated as the origin of such tabby cats. With that said, Egyptians have always been worshiping cats as part of their rich culture.

Religion-wise, two theories come into play: Islamic and Christian.

  • In Islam, Muhammad was believed to own “Muezza”, a tabby cat. People theorize that Muhammad placed such a marking on the cat’s forehead.
  • In Christianity, Jesus Christ’s birth was believed to have a tabby cat beside the manger, by which Mary allegedly marked her initial onto the cat.

Perhaps the funniest theory is that the M-shaped pattern is simply the cat’s frown lines due to the frustration of waiting on their prey.

You’ll find grey tabbies in both genders easily and equally

Unlike the calico cat, which is mostly female, and the orange tabby, which is mostly male, the gray tabby has a typically equal gender distribution. If you spot a group of shorthairs on the streets, you’ll likely find both male and female from the clowder.

They have a wide range of eye colors

A grey tabby cat could have yellow, blue, green, hazel, or copper depending on their breed (or genes if they are a mixed breed). With that said, green is still the most common color for the grey tabby cat, followed by yellow.

They might have descended from wildcats

Although it’s a little obvious due to being part of the same feline ancestry, grey tabby cats have a distinctive pattern that’s often seen in various wildcats (Asiatic, African, and European).

A grey tabby cat became a huggable toy pioneer

Caesar Grimalkin, a grey tabby cat, was the inspiration for creating the Ithaca Kitty, which was one of the earliest stuffed toys made in the United States. This led to the stuffed toy revolution as we know of today.

Pusheen, the famous chubby cat, is a grey tabby

Many of you have probably first seen Pusheen on Facebook stickers, which eventually spawned a ton of merchandise around the world. Created by Claire Belton, Pusheen is, perhaps, one of the most celebrated grey tabby cats today!


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