Perhaps the most common color or pattern of the tabby cat is the Mackerel Tabby. Their name is based on their pattern, which comes from the mackerel fish.
Commonly found in domestic cats and mixed breeds, the Mackerel Tabby’s patterns resemble that of a fishbone, which gave them their name. With that said, the Mackerel Tabby Cat has a lot of variations with their color and you’ll also spot a letter M or W on their head.
Knowing how to tell apart Mackerel Tabby Cats is usually easy, but here’s a guide to help you out. We also included a couple of other information about this tabby cat pattern, which might not exactly be a breed, but it’s still a lovable cat form, nonetheless.
How to tell apart a Mackerel Tabby Cat
So, what makes the Mackerel Tabby Cat different from other tabby cat patterns? For a refresher and a reference, here’s a list of the other tabby cat color patterns:
1. Classic tabby
The classic tabby has a brighter pattern that looks like a marbled cake. The difference between a classic tabby and a mackerel tabby is the vividness of the dark color. If the dark color is too strong and is easier to tell apart from the light color, it’s probably a classic tabby.
On top of that, a classic tabby also has mostly swirls and circles rather than straight lines, which can be found on a mackerel tabby. That’s why classic tabbies have earned the nickname “blotched” tabby cats. Mackerel tabbies, on the other hand, have fainter lines and patterns compared to that of a classic tabby.
You may also find a combination of the classic and the mackerel tabby if you have a mixed breed, such as domestic shorthairs or moggies.
2. Spotted tabby
Compared to the mackerel tabby, a spotted tabby is exactly what its name says it is – a spotted cat pattern. Mackerel tabbies could also have slight spotting but you will find them in crossbred or domesticated mixed breeds, especially those cats out on the streets with no definitive pedigree or history.
If you find oval-shaped spots on the cat, it’s probably not a mackerel cat. However, it can get confusing as you may also find mackerel pattern lines on the legs and the arms of your tabby cat. Some cat experts say that because the mackerel pattern was the earliest tabby pattern, the spotted tabby could’ve evolved from it.
3. Ticked tabby
It’s easy to differentiate a mackerel tabby cat from a ticked tabby because ticked cat patterns don’t have stripes at all! Instead, they have abstract patterns of different patches of colors, much like that of a calico cat.
Different Colors of a Mackerel Tabby
Now that we know how to differentiate mackerel tabby cats from other patterns, it’s time to check out the different colors of such a cat that you’ll find out there:
1. Silver mackerel tabby
If you spot a mackerel tabby with a white-gray base and a gray to a dark gray pattern, it’s probably a silver mackerel tabby. It’s close to the blue mackerel tabby (discussed below) yet it has a more prominent set of pattern stripes, making it more similar to classic tabbies.
The silver mackerel tabby typically has green eyes and a more zebra-like appearance due to the vividness of their stripe patterns. They can be found in not just mixed breeds but also various purebreds like the British Shorthair.
2. Red mackerel tabby
A red mackerel tabby is also known as the orange tabby due to the color mixing of the dark, reddish shade and the yellow-orange to cream lighter coat. An example of a red mackerel tabby is Garfield.
Red mackerel tabbies typically have green or brown eyes and in some cases, their coat combination is less prominent than that of the silver mackerel tabby. Many domestic shorthair cats have a red mackerel tabby color.
3. Brown mackerel tabby
Yet another common color amongst tabbies is the brown mackerel, which is a combination of a bronze-like shade against a black set of stripes. They may remind you of cats in the wild due to their natural appearance, making them easy to hide in camouflage.
A lot of stray cats in the streets, most of which are crossbred or mixed breeds, are often brown mackerel tabby cats. Their eyes range from yellow to green.
4. Cream mackerel tabby
A slightly rarer cat color in the tabby family is the cream mackerel. Its stripes are cream and the body is almost white, making it lighter in color than the red mackerel tabby. Cream mackerel tabbies have either brown or green eyes, and sometimes in between those two colors.
5. Blue mackerel tabby
Although not exactly the “blue” you were expecting, cat enthusiasts call them blue mackerel tabbies due to the slightly cooler shade, even though they are visually gray. Blue mackerel tabbies have a darker shade than silver tabbies.
A blue mackerel tabby has either green or yellow eyes, although some of them are also prone to heterochromia, much like pure white cats.
How long does a mackerel tabby live?
The typical tabby cat, including the mackerel tabby, will live up to 15 years of age. If your cat is lucky, it may even live up to 20 years old. However, their lifespan can be lengthened with proper care, such as with the following:
1. Feeding them right
Feeding the right food for your mackerel tabby cat will help them to live longer since they are eating fewer fillers and preservatives that aren’t healthy to them. Many cat owners suggest going on a grain-free and organic diet for your cat because they’re usually more nutritious.
If you’ve recently adopted a stray cat, make sure that they get cat food and not human scraps to avoid compromising on their overall health (and ruining their behavior). Aside from that, you can also ask your breeder and/or vet for more information depending on your cat’s breed or health condition with regards to diet plans.
2. Addressing medical problems
When you take your cat to a vet when something is very wrong with them, you’re doing your part to save their lives and prolong their years with you. That’s also part of the reason why indoor cats tend to have a longer lifespan than those that live outside most of the time.
Cats are prone to various diseases, just like humans, even when you feed them right. Sometimes, it’s also hidden in the genetic history of your cat, so it’s best to ask your breeder about it. If the cat is a stray and has no medical information, talk to your vet and/or make observations of your own.
3. Get your cat active
Proper exercise, early socialization, and sufficient time for exploration will be enough to make your cat physically active and also emotionally well. Kittens that were trained early will become more sociable when they grow up, and thus, they’ll become less lazy.
One piece of advice that we can give is to try a puzzle feeder as cats are prone to weight issues. To avoid your cat going overweight, puzzle feeders and slow feeders will help your cat to lessen their food intake while also allowing them to literally “play” with their food just for fun.
Mackerel Tabby Cat Personality
As with most cats, the mackerel tabby is great with most families and kids when trained properly. Here are the key traits of a mackerel tabby cat:
1. They like to play around
Mackerel tabbies are usually active so they’ll likely chase after anything that’s moving, especially during their kitten stage. Keep stimulating them so that they’ll have an active lifestyle through their growth stages to avoid onsets of obesity and behavior problems.
2. Mackerel tabby cats are naturally curious
This is a double-edged sword as curiosity could also harm your cats if they don’t know what they’re snooping into. Therefore, if your cats are too curious, keep away all small parts, choking hazards, and other breakables around the house when you let them roam around.
3. They have a bit of stubbornness
A mackerel tabby cat may also become either lazy or just stubborn. They might not listen to you no matter how much you reprimand them to not do this. Many pet owners swear that their mackerel tabby cat could be a handful sometimes when it comes to disciplining them to not make accidents around the house. However, it may have to do with their early socialization as a kitten.
4. They’re good at puzzles
Regardless of their stubborn behavior, mackerel cats may also possess a certain level of intelligence. If they can’t find their way out of a situation, they easily know how to think outside of the box. They’ll try to enter through your window if they find the doors locked. They may even try to knock on the door to let them inside.
If you want a cat that’s quite smart when it comes to unexpected tricks and behavior, get a mackerel tabby cat – you’ll be surprised (sometimes).