Maine Coons are popular cats with coats in many colors. Some cats are a single solid color and some have shaded and multicolored patterns. Maine Coon patterns have three distinct types and there is a way to distinguish one from the other.
The tabby Maine Coon is the most common Maine Coon cat. That’s because all cats with coats of different shades or colors exhibit one of three patterns referred to as tabby patterns. These are known as:
- Mackerel tabby (striped)
- Classic tabby (blotched)
- Ticked tabby (agouti)
The Maine Coon tabby mix is also popular, and often difficult to tell apart from a purebred Maine Coon.
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Tabby cat confusion
The earliest Maine Coons were mostly brown tabbies and the brown tabby Maine Coon is still the most common pattern found today.
The 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 at all yet bear a striking resemblance to the breed because of their tabby pattern and other similar features.
Tabby is a word often used to describe cats but many people aren’t really sure what it means. Some even think the tabby cat is a breed in itself.
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
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
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
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” pattern 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?
People often say the tortoiseshell or tortie tabby is a fourth Maine Coon tabby pattern. Tortoiseshell is actually a cat coat pattern of which there are four different color variations.
All four of these colors can also have either a mackerel, classic or ticked tabby pattern and these are often referred to as the Torbie pattern which is short for tortoiseshell tabby. These are all described in more detail further down.
Tabby Maine Coon Colors
These are the Maine Coon coat colors that feature in either the mackerel, classic or ticked tabby patterns.
As there are at least 22 colors and combinations per pattern, there are over 66 Maine Coon tabby variations!
- Brown – 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 – 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 (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 (Brown and White Torbie) – The same as the brown patched tabby but with white fur on their bibs, bellies and all four paws. They may or may not have white fur on their faces.
- Red (orange/ginger) – A red tabby has a red background color with a deep, rich red tabby pattern.
- Red and White – 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 – A silver tabby 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 (Silver Torbie) – A silver torbie has a pale silver background color with the tabby pattern in black with patches of red and/or cream.
- Silver Patched and White (Silver and White Torbie) – The silver and white torbies 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) – The blue tabby has a pale blue-ivory background with tabby markings in deep blue (gray).
- Blue Patched (Blue Torbie) – The blue torbie is similar to the Blue tabby but with patches of cream in its tabby pattern.
- Blue-Silver – The blue-silver tabby has a background color of pale silver. The tabby pattern is deep blue (gray).
- Blue-Silver and White – 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 (Blue-Silver Torbie) – as for Blue-Silver tabby but the tabby marking also display patches of cream.
- Blue-Silver Patched and White (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 – A cream tabby has a pale cream background with the tabby pattern in a darker cream or buff color.
- Cream and White – 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 – 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 – 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 – The Cameo tabby has a cream color background and a tabby pattern in red.
- Cameo and White – 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.
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.
Simplified 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.
If the tabby Maine Coon is your favorite you are in luck as tabbies are the easiest to find. Traditionally, brown tabbies are the most common followed closely by the classic and the ticked tabby.
Maine Coon tabbies are available in many colors and the hardest decision is choosing your favorite!
Don’t forget Maine Coon tabby mixes and non-Maine Coon long haired tabby cats exist and are just as beautiful and worthy of loving homes.
If you’d like to know more about Maine Coons, try The Complete Maine Coon Guide which contains everything you need to know.
More Maine Coon information in one place!
As you love Maine Coons, we’ve created a book just for you. As you no-doubt love this breed, included within it is information you won’t get elsewhere – do check it out if you want to know the stuff that most people don’t!
This book is crammed full of answers to common Maine Coon questions – knowledge we’ve accumulated over 25 years of living with these beautiful cats. We’re 100% certain you’ll find it invaluable.
The contents of this book have been used to create articles that can be found at petskb.com
Which Other Cat Breeds Can Have Tabby Coats?
These are many other breeds which can have tabby coats:
- American Bobtail
- American Curl
- American Shorthair
- Devon Rex
- Domestic Shorthair
- Norwegian Forest Cat