A mackerel is just one of the four types of tabby coat patterns. The other three are classic, spotted, and ticked(you can find a full description of the mackerel tabby and their personalities here, from our friends over at Miauland). Yet, among the four, mackerel is the most common tabby pattern.
The coat pattern of mackerels, in particular, is vertical stripes that are parallel to the felines’ body. These vertical stripes resemble fish bones, which is where the term mackerel came from. Their patterns are also noticeably dark and solid. You may also find some spots opposing the stripes.
Other Physical Characteristics
More so, similar with other tabbies, mackerels are marked with prominent “M” on the forehead. Their chin, on the other hand, is covered with light-colored fur. From the outer corner of the eyes to the cheek, there’s usually a dark line. The eyelid is also dark yet surrounded by light-colored fur.
There are also banded stripes on their tails and legs. The darkest color, however, will be found at the bottom of their feet and between toes.
Remember, however, that mackerel coat is not always black. They can also be blue, brown, cream, red (orange), and silver.
Tabby Pattern Origin
It is believed that the first tabby pattern seen in domestic cats was the mackerel tabby.
Specifically, mackerel tabbies are said to trace their roots to the European Wildcat and the African Wildcat. Both Wildcats are characterized by faint, striped tabby pattern. When these breeds mixed, the mackerel tabby coat pattern became darker and more distinct.
Later on, with the selective breeding and gene mutations, the other tabby patterns appeared.
Mackerel tabby kittens are excessively curious
Even at their younger days, mackerels already show how active their brains are. This exhibits in their extremely adventurous personality. They go on trying everything to learn their limitations.
If you’re planning on getting a mackerel tabby kitten, you might want to kitten-proof your house first.
Mackerel tabby cats are playful and highly intelligent
In a sense, mackerel tabby cats are very similar with puppies. They love to explore and play around. You can even play fetch with them.
More so, they are outstandingly more intelligent than other types, and easily found to be amusing. As such, they make wonderful companions.
Beliefs on Mackerel Tabby Cats
Associated with witchcraft
Back in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, “tabby” usually refer to a female cat belonging to a witch. They were also called as “familiars”.
These familiars were believed to be possessed by human souls or demons. Others even think that they are reincarnated human beings, held under a witch’s spell.
It was also believed that the tabby pattern was the witches’ favorite. Specifically, mackerel cats were believed to have magical powers and nine lives.
Associated with some legends
From the old history, mackerel cats were said to be in some popular stories.
In one story, it was said that the manger became too cold that the baby won’t be able to survive. So Mary pulled the animals to gather around Jesus but they were too big for him. Then, a tabby cat lie next to the baby and provided some warmth. In gratitude, Mary gave the cat the M mark on the forehead.
Cats were called “Mau” back in the ancient Egyptian era, probably based on the sound they make. As such, people thought that the M on their forehead stands for Mau.
It was also believed that the Prophet Mohammed has particular soft spot for felines. In one story, it was said that when the Prophet woke up for his prayers, he found his cat “Muezza”. Muezza was sleeping on the sleeve of his robe so the Prophet decided to cut off the sleeve to not disturb the feline. As such, people believe that the M marking refers to Mohammed as the protector of cats.
Evidently, mackerel tabby cats are not only common, they are also pretty interesting. They are related to witchcraft on one hand, and to religious figures on the other. Regardless of these beliefs, mackerel cats of the present age are active, clever, and amusing, making them great companions.