Skip to Content

Tabby Maine Coon: Complete guide

There’s a lot of interest in Maine Coons, often generated by their sheer size. Their luscious coats are a talking point too with peo

Maine Coon patterns fall in to one of five categories: solid, bi-color, tri-color, tortoiseshell, and tabby.

In the Maine Coon world, tabby is a term used to describe a Maine Coon with a striped, swirly or ticked coat pattern. Early Maine Coons had striped brown tabby coats but today there is a much wider variety of tabby Maine Coon cats to choose from.

A tabby Maine Coon has one of three possible tabby patterns:

  • Mackerel Tabby with visible dark stripes on its body and legs,
  • Classic Tabby with swirls of darker patterns particlarly across its shoulders,
  • Ticked Tabby or agouti where each strand of fur has bands of light and dark colors.

A cat develops a tabby pattern if it has a dominant tabby gene. In Maine Coons, this tabby gene is frequently dominant which is why there are so many more tabby Maine Coons than any other pattern.

The Maine Coon tabby mix is a popular cat because Maine Coon tabbies are in abundance. The Maine Coon tabby mix is often indistinguishable from a purebred Maine Coon.

The original brown tabby Maine Coon is still the most common. It is often referred to as a black tabby Maine Coon because it sports a black pattern on a brown coat.

A Tabby Maine Coon seated.

Tabby Maine Coon

The first Maine Coons were mainly brown tabbies and the brown tabby Maine Coon is still the most common pattern seen today.

A Maine Coon tabby mix is often strikingly similar to a purebred Maine Coon tabby. Many people own one of these beautiful cats and no one can tell the difference.

There are also numerous longhaired tabby cats that are not Maine Coons or Maine Coon cross breeds at all yet bear a striking resemblance to the breed because of their tabby pattern and other similar features.

Incidently, Tabby is a word often used to describe cat patterns but many people aren’t really sure what it means. Some even believe a tabby cat is a breed in itself.

Examples of the three Tabby Maine Coon patterns

You have probably heard of mackerel tabby, classic tabby, and ticked tabby and wondered what the differences are between them. Here’s a full explanation:

The Mackerel Tabby Maine Coon

A Tabby Maine Coon licking his lips.

The Mackerel tabby is the most common Maine Coon tabby coat pattern. It has narrow stripes that begin at a dark stripe along the spine and run vertically down towards the belly.

The lines are parallel to each other and evenly spaced. They look a bit like a fish skeleton which is probably why this is referred to as the mackerel pattern.

Maine Coons with this pattern can look like little tigers while they are kittens but the effect is not so obvious as their fur grows longer.

The Classic Tabby Maine Coon

 A classic Tabby Maine Coon seated with her mouth slightly open.

The Maine Coon above is a perfect example of a classic tabby. This pattern is sometimes referred to as a blotched tabby and you can see why. There are well-defined swirls on the sides of the body and butterfly wing patterns covering the cat’s shoulders. 

The Ticked Tabby Maine Coon

A Ticked Tabby Maine Coon meowing.

The ticked tabby Maine Coon has several bands of different colors on every hair on its body and head, the usual tabby face, and the usual tabby rings on its legs and tail.

This pattern is often referred to as the Agouti tabby pattern and the section on genetics, later on, makes it clear why this is.

The tabby Maine Coon pattern consists of stripes, swirls, and ticks and can be a variety of colors.

Other Tabby Maine Coon features

Tabby facial markings

All tabby Maine Coons have the same facial markings: a dark line leading from the outside corner of each eye angling downwards to beneath each ear (often referred to as mascara markings), and a darker capital M on their foreheads.

Tabby leg and tail patterns

All have stripes of darker fur on their legs, buttons of darker colors on their bellies, a darker stripe of fur along their spines, and rings around their tails.

As the rings around their tails look similar to those on a raccoon’s tail many people believe this is where the Coon part of the name came from.

Some even believe a Maine Coon is a cat and raccoon cross but this is a genetic impossibility.

What About The Tortoiseshell Maine Coon?

A young Tabby Maine Coon with his front paws on a small stool.

People often think the tortoiseshell or tortie tabby is a fourth Maine Coon tabby pattern. Tortoiseshell is a cat coat of which there are four color variations.

All four of these colors can also have either a mackerel, classic or ticked tabby pattern and are often referred to as the Torbie or patched pattern. These are all described in more detail further down.

A tabby Maine Coon outside in the snow.

Tabby Maine Coon Pattern Colors

These Maine Coon colors can have mackerel, classic or ticked tabby patterns.

As there are at least 22 colors and combinations per pattern, over 66 Maine Coon tabby variations are possible!

  • Brown tabby – The brown tabby coat has a warm brown or bronze background. The tabby markings are dense black and this is sometimes confused with the black tabby cat.
  • Brown and White tabby – Brown and white tabbies have the same colors as the brown but with white fur on their bibs, bellies and all four paws. They may or may not have white fur on their faces.
  • Brown Patched tabby (Brown Torbie) – The brown patched tabby has a coppery brown background color and the tabby pattern is black with patches of red.
  • Brown Patched and White tabby (Brown and White Torbie) – These are the same as the brown patched tabby except they have white fur on their bibs, bellies and all four paws. They may or may not have white fur on their faces.
  • Red tabby (orange/ginger) – A red tabby has a red (orange/ginger) background color with a deep, rich red tabby pattern.
  • Red and White tabby – As for red tabby but with white fur on their bibs, bellies and all four paws. They may or may not have white fur on their faces.
  • Silver tabby – A silver tabby Maine Coon has a pale silver background color with a black tabby pattern.
  • Silver and White – Silver and white tabbies have a silver and white background color with the tabby pattern in black.
  • Silver Patched tabby (Silver Torbie) – A silver patched tabbyhas a pale silver background color with the tabby pattern in black with patches of red and/or cream.
  • Silver Patched and White tabby (Silver and White Torbie) – The silver patched and white tabbies are similar to the silver patched but with white fur on their bibs, bellies and all four paws. They may or may not have white fur on their faces.
  • Blue (gray) tabby – The blue tabby has a pale blue-ivory background with tabby markings in deep blue (gray).
  • Blue Patched tabby (Blue Torbie) – The blue torbie is similar to the Blue tabby but with patches of cream in its tabby pattern.
  • Blue-Silver tabby – The blue-silver tabby has a background color of pale silver. The tabby pattern is deep blue (gray).
  • Blue-Silver and White tabby – as for Blue-Silver tabby but with white fur on their bibs, bellies and all four paws. They may or may not have white fur on their faces.
  • Blue-Silver Patched tabby (Blue-Silver Torbie) – as for Blue-Silver tabby but the tabby marking also display patches of cream.
  • Blue-Silver Patched and White tabby (Blue-Silver and White Torbie) – like the Blue Silver Patched but with white fur on their bibs, bellies and all four paws. They may or may not have white fur on their faces.
  • Cream tabby – A cream tabby has a pale cream background with the tabby pattern in a darker cream or buff color.
  • Cream and White tabby – As for the Cream tabby but with white fur on their bibs, bellies and all four paws. They may or may not have white fur on their faces.
  • Cream-Silver tabby – The background color of a cream-silver is off-white and the tabby pattern is cream. This cat has also has a white undercoat.
  • Cream-Silver and White tabby – As for the Cream-Silver tabby but with white fur on their bibs, bellies and all four paws. They may or may not have white fur on their faces.
  • Cameo tabby – The Cameo tabby has a cream color background and a tabby pattern in red.
  • Cameo and White tabby – As for Cameo tabby but with white fur on their bibs, bellies and all four paws. They may or may not have white fur on their faces.
A red Mackerel Tabby Maine Coon kitten.

Keeping the Maine Coon Tabby Looking Beautiful

The beautiful Maine Coon coat does require grooming on a regular basis to keep it free from matted fur.

Try to do this little and often to keep the stress for your cat at a minimum, unless of course it loves being brushed.

We’ve used many brushes over the years and this self-cleaning slicker brush (on Amazon) has been the best we’ve bought to date. I recommend you try it.

Tabby Maine Coon Pattern Genetics

Every Maine Coon cat carries the gene for the mackerel, classic or ticked tabby pattern. The pattern is not always visible because of genetic masking.

To help make this section make sense, you need to know that alleles are found in pairs in genes that determine characteristics. They can be dominant or recessive.

The agouti gene in a cat determines whether its coat will be a solid color or not. If the agouti gene contains two recessive alleles (aa) the cat will be non-agouti and its coat will be a solid color.

If the agouti gene has one or two dominant alleles (Aa or AA) the cat will be agouti, that is it will not have a solid color coat.

If a Maine Coon is agouti (aa or AA) it is the tabby gene that further determines which tabby pattern its coat will exhibit.

The dominant allele in the tabby gene causes the mackerel pattern and the recessive alleles cause either a classic or ticked coat.

Can Maine Coons be Tabby? Conclusion

Tabby Maine Coon cats can be found with mackerel, classic or ticked coats in a whole range of colors.

In fact, tabby is the most commonly occurring Maine Coon pattern because in this breed, the tabby gene tends to be dominant. It’s part of their heritage since early Maine Coons were invariably brown striped tabbies.

If you love Maine Coons and you love tabbies, you’ll have no trouble finding your ideal cat.

Five Maine Coon Tabby Kittens

Find everything you need to know about Maine Coon cats in our Complete Maine Coon Guide

Which Other Cat Breeds Can Have Tabby Coats?

Two Norwegian Forest kittens.

These are many other breeds which can have tabby coats including:

  • Abyssinian
  • American Bobtail
  • American Curl
  • American Shorthair
  • Bengal
  • Chausie
  • Devon Rex
  • Domestic Shorthair
  • Munchkin
  • Norwegian Forest Cat
  • Ocicat
  • Siberian
  • Singapura

Share this post with a pin!

Five Tabby Maine Coon kittens pin.