Tabby is a common coat pattern among domestic cats which features darker spots, stripes or swirls on a lighter background as well as a prominent M on the forehead. The name “tabby” is believed to have derived from Atabi, which is a type of striped taffeta (known as tabbi) that was manufactured in the Attabiah district of Baghdad.
Genetically all cats are tabby, however, many possess modifier genes which inhibit this pattern from being expressed. The mackerel tabby (Mc) is the default (wild type) pattern, with the classic pattern being recessive (mc). Recessive genes require two copies (one from each parent) in order to be expressed. The spotted tabby is essentially a mackerel tabby with a modifier gene which breaks up the markings from stripes into spots. If cats were allowed to do their thing (so to speak), and no more selective breeding occurred, then they would eventually revert back to the default tabby pattern after a few generations. This is known as revert to type.
The gene for the tabby pattern is known as agouti and is dominant, the code for this gene is A/a (a capital letter symbolises that the gene is dominant, a lower case letter means the gene is recessive). So, if a cat inherits two recessive a genes, then it will be a non-tabby (solid) cat as the presence of the a/a masks the tabby pattern.
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