Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tabby Cat Picture

Laying on the grass by fofurasfelinas
Laying on the grass, a photo by fofurasfelinas on Flickr.
A beautiful, well produced photograph of a golden eyed tabby cat lying in lush grass in Brazil. The tabby cat is probably the most commonly seen domestic and feral cat. The next in line is probably the bicolor cat (white and another color, often black and sometimes tabby and white). There is an infinite range of patterns, tints and markings and all of them have that charm of the "M" mark on the forehead that is associated with a good number of myths and legends. This guy is called "Neko" as far as I am aware. His eyes have a glazed appearance, looking into another world.

At the beginning of the time when people started to breed cats (mid-late 1800s) this cat would have been described as a black tabby because the pattern is dark. I can't see the entire coat but he appears to be a mackerel tabby (pattern made up of stripes).  Also in the early days of the cat fancy tabby cats had their own category. Tabby cats are considered part of the normally wide range of coats of a particular cat breed nowadays. There were few cat breeds in the late 1800s. There are over 100 today (2012).

Did you know that the word "tabby" is derived from a kind of taffeta or ribbed silk. When it is "watered" wavy lines are created over the silk. Apparently this was referred to as "tabby" many years ago. You can see a fully description of the origins of the word and the cat in general on this page.

There is a reference to "tabby" in a book dated 1682 "Wit and Drollery" at page 343:

"Her petticoat of satin
Her gown of crimson tabby"

That is an interesting use of the word that you would not see today. Alternative names for the tabby cat have been: tiger cat or brindled cat. In Norfolk, England, in the 19th century the tabby cat was referred to as a "Cyprus cat". The name, now not used, comes from the wavy lined cloth produced in Cyprus made of silk and hair. References to the "Cyprus cat" may go back to the early 17th century. Certainly a tabby cat was referred to in a book of 1693; The Compleat English Physician page 326.

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