The Mysterious Tales of Tabby Cats with the Letter M on Their Foreheads

1. Affectionate and Intelligent

If you ever have the chance to interact with one of these unique creatures, you’ll quickly realize that tabby cats are extremely affectionate and intelligent. They are easy to approach and love to be pampered. These little furballs might get upset if they can’t get what they want, but with their intelligence, they seem to be able to fulfill any request when needed.

2. The Name “Tabby” Comes from Baghdad

The sleek, soft, and smooth appearance of these cats is often compared to stripes of silk. This is why they are called “Tabby.” The silk fabric originated from the Attabiy region in Baghdad, dating back to the 14th century. In French, “atabis” was written as “tabis” and translated into English as “tabby.”

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3. Tabby Cats Are Not a Specific Breed

The term “tabby” is used to refer to a coat pattern, not a specific breed of cat. Therefore, any cat with unique color and markings can be called a tabby cat. For example, an Abyssinian tabby cat, where Abyssinian is the breed and “tabby” is the coat pattern. Similarly, we have tabby cats from various breeds, such as the British Shorthair tabby, American Shorthair tabby, or the Manx tabby.

4. What Color Are Tabby Cats?

Black is the most common color for tabby cats. There are also variations in pigmentation that result in special colors, such as yellow, gray, white, and orange. Interestingly, 80% of orange tabby cats are male, which can be explained by gender-based color inheritance.

You can also come across tortoiseshell tabbies, also known as Torbie Tabbies. You can easily recognize them because they often have red and brown Tabby patches on their face, head, and legs. Female cats are usually Torbies as male tortoiseshell cats are very rare.

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5. The Most Outgoing among All Cat Breeds

According to some biologists, this is related to their coat color, making it one of the most unique characteristics of this cat breed. Orange tabby cats most prominently exhibit friendliness in their genes, while all other tabby cats are known for their cuteness and sociability.

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These sociable cats love to participate in family activities. And even when they don’t participate, they will find a comfortable spot to observe. Tabby cats enjoy being around family members. They like giving and receiving attention. Although not all tabby cats are talkative, occasionally you will encounter one that will have a conversation with you.

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They also enjoy the company of other cats in the house and sometimes even the family dog. This is especially true if the dog and cat have been raised together since they were young. If you love cats with big personalities, who are friendly, affectionate, and outgoing, then a tabby cat is a perfect choice.

6. Complex Personalities

Although each cat is an individual, tabby cats are known for having complex personalities. They have a range of emotions, making them fascinating companions. Tabby cats will let you know when they are sad, angry, frustrated, happy, or content.

Their mood changes can entertain you, but their expressions are also great at letting you know when they need some pampering and extra attention in their own unique way. You won’t need to wonder about how a tabby cat feels because they are excellent at grabbing your attention and letting you know what they want.

Tabby cats are famous for being friendly, affectionate, and cheerful, making them one of the top choices for a family pet due to their lovable nature.

7. The Symbolic Meaning of the Distinctive Letter M on their Foreheads

There are three legends surrounding the letter M on the foreheads of tabby cats.

a. The Mark of Mother Mary

According to the legend, when Jesus was born, he was placed in a manger filled with dry grass. Unfortunately, the dry grass wasn’t warm enough, and he began to shiver from the cold. Mother Mary wrapped him in blankets and asked all the animals in the stable to come closer to the manger to help keep the baby warm. But it still wasn’t warm enough, so Mary cradled the crying and shivering baby in her arms.

A tabby cat observed from a distance and started climbing into the manger, curling up next to Baby Jesus to warm him. And the cat began to purr with a soothing sound. The cat’s purring lulled the baby, Jesus stopped crying, and fell fast asleep. Mary was grateful and petted the cat, leaving her mark on the cat’s forehead as a reminder that a tabby cat had comforted Baby Jesus.

b. Muhammad and His Cat Muezza

This is an Islamic story about Muhammad and his tabby cat named Muezza. One day, Muezza fell asleep on Muhammad’s sleeve. When prayer time came, he didn’t want to disturb the cat, so Muhammad cut off the sleeve to avoid waking his beloved pet.

Once, Muhammad didn’t realize that a snake had crawled into his sleeve. Muezza saw it and killed the snake before it could harm Muhammad. Grateful for saving his life, the prophet stroked the cat’s back, granting cats the ability to land softly on their feet, and placed his hand on its head, leaving an M-shaped mark.

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c. The Lunar Connection

In ancient Egypt, cats were called “Mau,” possibly due to their meowing sound. The meaning of “Mau” is to see or light. The cats’ eyes reflect light, and at night, their eyes shine brightly. The people of ancient Egypt associated cats’ eyes with the moon, and the letter M on their foreheads is a mark of that relationship. The first Egyptian cats discovered were tabby cats, and they are direct descendants of the ancient Egyptian cats.

However, the scientific reason for the letter “M” on the foreheads of tabby cats is due to genetic inheritance. Like cheetahs, leopards, and tigers have distinct stripe or spot patterns. The “M” on a tabby cat’s forehead is a result of DNA, and it is a standard part of the tabby cat pattern.

8. The World’s Heaviest Tabby Cat, Weighing 20.87kg

The heaviest tabby cat on record was a chunky cat named Himmy, owned by Thomas Vyse. When Himmy passed away in 1986 at the age of 10, he had a waist circumference of 83.82cm. Although he was registered in the Guinness World Records as the heaviest cat, the category was discontinued after Himmy’s passing, as there were concerns that owners might intentionally overfeed their cats to beat his record.

Obese cats are not healthy or as cute as some may think. They are less active and at a higher risk of dangerous health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or liver problems. It’s important for cats to maintain a healthy weight. You can learn more about the dangers of feline obesity and how to help them lose weight on our website.

9. There Are Five Coat Patterns in Tabby Cats

  • Mackerel Pattern: A mackerel tabby cat will have a vertical stripe running from the cat’s neck down its back. This stripe will branch out into narrow stripes running parallel on both sides of the cat’s body. The stripes are regular, without any breaks, and the cat’s chest and legs have circular stripes. This pattern is called “mackerel” because it resembles the bone structure of a fish.

  • Classic Pattern: This pattern has bold, swirling patterns along both sides of the cat’s body. The circular swirls on its coat resemble cow’s eyes.

  • Spotted Pattern: A spotted tabby cat will have spots all over its body. These spots can be large or small and sometimes appear as broken mackerel stripes. They can be round, oval, or floral-shaped. Typically, a mackerel tabby cat will have a broken or disrupted pattern, similar to a spotted tabby cat.

  • Ticked Pattern: Cats with this pattern do not have stripes or distinct spots on their bodies. However, they still have unique patterns and the letter M on their faces, as well as agouti hair on their bodies.

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Agouti hair refers to the alternating light and dark sections seen on the lighter parts of the tabby cat’s coat. It is commonly found in Abyssinian cats.

  • Patched Pattern: This pattern is often used to describe a tortoiseshell cat. In its typical form, these cats have separate patches of brown and red. They can have any of the four distinct patterns mentioned before. These patterns are usually more pronounced on their legs and head.

10. The Most Common Coat Pattern in Cats

Tabby cats with their coat patterns make up the majority of cat coat variations worldwide. This may be because they were the first cats successfully domesticated. Their coat pattern also provides better camouflage when hunting. Additionally, the orange coat color is entirely natural due to the presence of pheomelanin pigmentation.

11. The First Cat to be Domesticated

History tells us that initially, only one of the five genetic breeds of wildcats was successfully domesticated, and that was the tabby cat. Mediterranean farmers recognized the benefits of cats in guarding crops against rodents! From there, the tradition of keeping tabby cats as pets spread throughout Europe, and these cats were transported by ships to other countries.

Nowadays, tabby cats have evolved to separate them from the wild characteristics of their ancestors. This includes their love for daytime napping, eating, and lounging. It may also be why they can quickly gain weight. Although not all tabby cats are prone to weight gain, their lovable, affectionate, and less active nature may lead family members to overfeed them.

12. Bossy Behavior

Naturally, all cats love being in charge, but tabby cats are particularly fond of this. They are self-assured and thrive on being the boss, especially of you. They will ensure that you fulfill their every demand. If food or water is running low, they might complain by meowing. If the litter box is too full, they will knock things off or find a clean area to do their business. When they want to go outside, they will let you know it’s time to open the door. Ultimately, they will let you know when they want to play or when they desire some pampering.

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13. They Don’t Like Being Ignored

Tabby cats don’t appreciate being ignored; they are adamant about getting your attention. They will find ways to grab your attention when they believe it’s time. Tabby cats are known attention seekers, so don’t be surprised if they squeeze between you and your significant other, sit on the book you’re reading, or climb up on your laptop. They excel at gaining attention in any situation and can be jealous when you pay attention to someone else instead of them.


Tabby cats are not a specific breed; rather, they are the most common coat pattern. With their unique personalities, tabby cats quickly win the hearts of many. They are friendly, sociable, cute, and yet very playful. Tabby cats were the first cats to be domesticated. There are many legends surrounding the letter M on their foreheads, from Mother Mary to the prophet Muhammad. All of these tales showcase tabby cats as reliable, affectionate, and loyal companions.

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