Pet owners

Your Tabby Cat Personality Guide

    Ever seen a cat with stripes, dots, or swirls on its coat? These pretty kitties are called tabby cats. 

    This is actually not a specific breed of cat — it's all about looks. Tabbies come in a range of colors, and these coat patterns are common in both purebred and mixed-breed cats.

    Despite this, there are a few traits that tabbies can share. In this article, we'll talk about the tabby cat’s temperament and what you can expect if you adopt one.

    Before we go, we'll chat about renting a property with a tabby cat and give you tips on how to care for these felines.

    What is a tabby cat?

    As mentioned, tabby cats are recognizable by their distinctive patterns. Instead of being all one color, tabbies have stripes, spots, or dashes. These cats also have an "M” pattern on their foreheads.

    The "M" has a different symbolic meaning depending on where you're from. For example, in Egypt, it stands for mau, which means "cat." Others say it's related to the Virgin "Mary."

    Tabby cats aren't anything new. In fact, cats with this classic pattern can be found all over the world. Due to its prevalence, this feline’s origins can be hard to pin down. However, there were tabbies as far back as ancient Egypt.

    The word "tabby" is an interesting one. During the 14th century, a beautiful silk taffeta material was made in the Attabiy District, Baghdad, Iraq. The French called it tabis which translates to "tabby" in English. The tabby cat's coat resembles this silk, and this is how the pattern got its name.

    Depending on the health and lifestyle of your tabby cat, it may live between 15 and 20 years. They can get up to 40 inches long, and weigh up to 18 pounds. Males are typically bigger than females. 

    The initial cost to adopt can vary depending on the tabby cat breed. Each year, you can expect to pay around $634 in cat-related expenses.

    What does a tabby cat look like?

    Tabby coats can vary, but the classic tabby coat comes with the "M" facial symbol and a striped pattern. The stripes can be broken or swirled, and some tabbies have a dark stripe down their spine.


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    Besides the different tabby patterns, these furry friends come in a variety of colors. There's usually one dominant hue with contrasting stripes. For example, your tabby could be orange, gray, brown, black, or bronze.

    Some of the most common eye colors include green, blue, brown, yellow, and orange. Occasionally, tabbies can have a red tinge to their eyes.

    The tabby coat can be found across different breeds. In the mix are Maine Coons, Scottish Folds, American Bobtails, American Shorthairs, British Shorthairs, Bengals, and Persians. 

    Because the tabby markings aren't specific to one breed, the hair type can vary. You can get tabby cats with both short and long hair.

    If you want to rent a property with a tabby cat or any other pet, you'll need to get approval from the landlord. This process is much simpler when you have all of your cat’s information available digitally, including vaccination records, by using PetScreening.

    What are the most common tabby cat personality traits?

    Here's a rundown of some of the most common tabby cat personality traits. Remember, the way you raise your pet does make a difference. 

    For example, if your cat grows up around children, it’ll usually be more family-friendly. Genetics can also play a role, as can the breeder.

    So, what can you expect from the tabby cat’s temperament?

    1. Friendly

    Tabby cats are often described as social animals. They love their human families, and usually like to be the center of attention.

    The way your tabby cat is brought up will have an impact. But, if it's a domestic breed, you can expect it to be curious around visitors. Your tabby friend will follow you around and always be in the same room as you.

    Your cat can live happily with any children and other pets. If you're going to leave your cat home alone during the day, consider getting another feline companion to keep them company.

    2. Intelligent

    Tabby cats have a reputation for being smart. For pet owners, owning an intelligent cat can have its perks. Your little tiger will quickly learn to use the litter box, and they'll be running through the pet door in no time.

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    You may be able to train your cat to do a few tricks. For example, they can learn to push a treat ball or give you a fist bump.

    On the other hand, because they're clever cats, they tend to get their own way. Whether it's jumping over obstacles to get food from your counter or climbing the curtains during playtime, if your tabby wants to do it, they will.

    3. Vocal

    Tabby cats usually have good communication skills. They make a wide range of sounds, including these common types - 

    If they want your attention, you'll hear a standard "meow", which is a medium-pitched call.

    The hungry "meow" is a long cry, and you'll hear it consistently at dinner time. If your kitty wants food, it won't stop talking until it gets it.

    There's also a high-pitched, friendly "meow", that you'll hear when you haven't seen your cat for a while. 

    And, if a cat is sleeping or being petted, they can "purr." This sound usually means they're comfortable and happy.

    4. Affectionate

    Tabby cat owners often find their family pets are affectionate companions. These sweet, patterned cats aren't afraid to show you they care.

    What does an affectionate personality look like in a cat? Your tabby may jump on your lap for a cuddle or purr when you pat them. They may push their head against your leg when you walk or want to be close to you when you sleep.

    Sometimes, your cat may bring you an (unwanted) gift, such as a mouse that they've caught.

    Of course, there can be some exceptions. The way your cat has been raised can impact how comfortable they are around humans.

    5. Active

    Another common tabby cat trait is that they like to be active. They can be curious and will explore the neighborhood if you let them.

    The amount of exercise they need can depend on the tabby cat’s breed, age, and size.

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    There are a wide variety of activities that’ll keep your cat entertained. For example, tabbies with playful personalities will enjoy climbing and scratching a cat tree. 

    Most cats also like to play in boxes, chase strings, and jump on lasers. These inexpensive games will keep your pet fit and healthy. They’ll also tire them out and reduce destructive behaviors.

    6. Quiet

    Like most pets, this type of cat needs some downtime. Once your tabby cat has burnt off its excess energy during playtime, it'll be time for a nap.

    It's not uncommon for cats to sleep between 12 and 16 hours per day. They like to sleep somewhere cozy that's far away from their kitty litter tray. 

    Depending on your lifestyle, your cat may sleep on your bed, on the sofa, or on its own cat bed. Some cats like to sleep under a blanket, especially if it’s a cold evening.

    How to look after a tabby cat?

    Thinking of getting a tabby cat? Here are our top tips to help you look after your furry friend.


    The pet food industry is a big business in the US. In one year, the total amount of money spent on pet food was around $50 billion dollars.

    With so many options, it can be difficult to know what to feed your tabby cat.

    All felines need a diet packed with protein. They're carnivores (meat-eaters), and you can include different options such as beef, lamb, chicken, and turkey. Most adult cats eat once or twice a day.

    Your cat will need fresh water and can also enjoy treats and high-quality kibble. 

    Cow’s milk isn't recommended for cats as it can cause health issues.

    Exercise and space

    Tabby cats can be indoor pets as long as they get enough exercise. If your cat can't venture outdoors, aim for at least thirty minutes of playtime each day. They can thrive in a small home or apartment as long as their needs are met.

    You'll need activities to keep them entertained. Make sure there's somewhere to scratch and climb. Otherwise, they'll gravitate toward your furniture. 

    A cat scratching post with hanging toys, rope, and cubby holes will keep your tabby occupied and active.


    Keeping your tabby cat safe will be a priority. If it's a kitten, it'll need regular veterinary appointments and vaccinations. Once your cat is an adult, you should aim for a vet check once a year. 

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    The best way to keep your tabby safe is by keeping it indoors. Cats can be adventurous, so make sure there are no open windows or doors where your pet can escape. 

    Your cat should have a collar with your contact details in case they do go missing.

    If you live somewhere with a balcony, these can be dangerous spaces for cats. They like to jump, and there's the risk your cat could fall. If you can, restrict access or supervise your cat while on the balcony.


    Cats like to be clean, and your tabby feline will spend time each day grooming themselves. However, they'll need a little helping hand.

    You should gently brush your cat once or twice a week to remove any dirt. The occasional bath can also make these striped coats shine.

    Your cat's nails will usually need a trim every two weeks. You should use dedicated claw-trimming scissors, which you can buy from your local pet store. Never cut the pink section at the base of the nail. This is called the "quick," and any damage can cause bleeding.

    Regularly check your pet's eyes, and if you notice any discharge, you can gently wipe the area with a clean cloth. You can also look in its ears to make sure there are no signs of irritation or infection.

    Is a tabby cat suitable for a rental property?

    Tabby cats suit a wide variety of lifestyles. They're perfect for families with kids, individuals, and couples. Cats with a tabby coat pattern will be content in an apartment, house, or rural property.

    If you’re looking for a rental, your cat may be able to come with you. When you use the PetScreening service, you can introduce your pet (virtually) to your landlord.

    You may need to pay extra rent or take out pet insurance to secure a property, depending on your landlord’s rules. If your tabby is an ESA, though, nearly all fees except for insurance can be waived.

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    In the US, there are more than 89 million cat owners. Felines can breed quickly, and there are said to be tens of millions of community cats living on the streets. When cats run wild, it can cause damage to native wildlife. You can play your part by getting your cat spayed or neutered and making sure they don't roam at night.

    Cats are low-maintenance pets but can be destructive. For example, a bored kitty can rip curtains, damage furniture, and scratch paint. As mentioned, you'll need to set up different activities to prevent these types of behaviors. Also, try not to leave your cat home alone for too long.

    Understanding your tabby cat personality

    Regardless of the breed or coat color, if you have a cat with tabby markings — it's called a tabby cat. 

    What are some of the most common tabby personality traits? They're usually friendly, intelligent, affectionate, vocal, active, and quiet.

    Tabby owners can live happily with their kitties in homes of all sizes. 

    Cats are carnivores, so you'll need to feed them a diet that's packed with meat.

    To keep them out of mischief, tabby cats need daily exercise and toys to play with. You can keep your pet safe by keeping them indoors and taking them for regular vet checks. 

    Tabbies are low maintenance, but some grooming is required.

    Want to rent with a tabby cat? Learn more about how PetScreening works. Visit our Bark Library for more pet information.