The Brown Tabby Cat





The tabby cat is doubtless one of, if not the most common of colours,

and numbers many almost endless varieties of both tint and markings. Of

these those with very broad bands of black, or narrow bands of black, on

nearly a black ground, are usually called black tabby, and if the bands

are divided into spots instead of being in continuous lines, then it is

a spotted black tabby; but I purpose in this paper to deal mostly with

the brown tabby--that is to say, a tabby, whose ground colour is of a

very rich, orangey, dark brown ground, without any white, and that is

evenly, proportionably, and not too broadly but elegantly marked on the

face, head, breast, sides, back, belly, legs, and tail with bands of

solid, deep, shining black. The front part of the head or face and legs,

breast, and belly should have a more rich red orange tint than the back,

but which should be nearly if not equal in depth of colour, though

somewhat browner; the markings should be graceful in curve, sharply,

well, and clearly defined, with fine deep black edges, so that the brown

and black are clear and distinct the one from the other, not blurred in

any way. The banded tabby should not be spotted in any way, excepting

those few that nearly always occur on the face and sometimes on the

fore-legs. The clearer, redder, and brighter the brown the better. The

nose should be deep red, bordered with black; the eyes an orange colour,

slightly diffused with green; in form the head should not be large, nor

too wide, being rather longer than broad, so as not to give too round or

clumsy an appearance; ears not large nor small, but of moderate size,

and of good form; legs medium length, rather long than short, so as not

to lose grace of action; body long, narrow, and deep towards the fore

part. Tail long, and gradually tapering towards the point; feet round,

with black claws, and black pads; yellowish-white around the black lips

and brown whiskers are allowable, but orange-tinted are far preferable,

and pure white should disqualify. A cat of this description is now

somewhat rare. What are generally shown as brown tabbies are not

sufficiently orange-brown, but mostly of a dark, brownish-gray. This

is simply the ordinary tabby, and not the brown tabby proper.






As I stated in my notes on the Tortoiseshell cat, the best parents to

obtain a good brown tabby from is to have a strongly marked, not too

broad-banded tabby he-cat and a tortoiseshell she-cat with little black,

or red tabby she-cat, the produce being, when tabby, generally of a rich

brown, or sometimes what is termed black tabby, and also red tabby. The

picture illustrating these notes is from one so bred, and is a

particularly handsome specimen. There were two he-cats in the litter,

one the dark-brown tabby just mentioned, which I named Aaron, and the

other, a very fine red tabby, Moses. This last was even a finer animal

than Aaron, being very beautiful in colour and very large in size; but

he, alas! like many others, was caught in wires set by poachers, and was

found dead. His handsome brother still survives, though no longer my

property. The banded red tabby should be marked precisely the same as

the brown tabby, only the bands should be of deep red on an orange

ground, the deeper in colour the better; almost a chocolate on orange is

very fine. The nose deep pink, as also the pads of the feet. The

ordinary dark tabby the same way as the brown, and so also the blue or

silver, only the ground colour should be of a pale, soft, blue

colour--not the slightest tint of brown in it. The clearer, the

lighter, and brighter the blue the better, bearing in mind always that

the bands should be of a jet black, sharply and very clearly

defined.






The word tabby was derived from a kind of taffeta, or ribbed silk, which

when calendered or what is now termed "watered," is by that process

covered with wavy lines. This stuff, in bygone times, was often called

"tabby:" hence the cat with lines or markings on its fur was called a

"tabby" cat. But it might also, one would suppose, with as much justice,

be called a taffety cat, unless the calendering of "taffety" caused it

to become "tabby." Certain it is that the word tabby only referred to

the marking or stripes, not to the absolute colour, for in "Wit and

Drollery" (1682), p. 343, is the following:--



"Her petticoat of satin,

Her gown of crimson tabby."



Be that as it may, I think there is little doubt that the foregoing was

the origin of the term. Yet it was also called the brinded cat, or the

brindled cat, also tiger cat, with some the gray cat, graymalkin; but I

was rather unprepared to learn that in Norfolk and Suffolk it is called

a Cyprus cat. "Why Cyprus cat?" quoth I. "I do not know," said my

informant. "All I know is, that such is the case."



So I referred to my Bailey's Dictionary of 1730, and there, "sure

enough," was the elucidation; for I found that Cyprus was a kind of

cloth made of silk and hair, showing wavy lines on it, and coming from

Cyprus; therefore this somewhat strengthens the argument in favour of

"taffeta," or "tabby," but it is still curious that the Norfolk and

Suffolk people should have adopted a kind of cloth as that representing

the markings and colour of the cat, and that of a different name from

that in use for the cat--one or more counties calling it a "tabby cat,"

as regards colour, and the other naming the same as "Cyprus." I take

this to be exceedingly interesting. How or when such naming took place

I am at present unable to get the least clue, though I think from what I

gather from one of the Crystal Palace Cat Show catalogues, that it must

have been after 1597, as the excerpt shows that at that time the shape

and colour was like a leopard's, which, of course, is spotted, and is

always called the spotted leopard. (Since this I have learned that the

domestic cat is said to have been brought from Cyprus by merchants, as

also was the tortoiseshell. Cyprus is a colour, a sort of

reddish-yellow, something like citron; so a Cyprus cat may mean a red or

yellow tabby.)



However, I find Holloway, in his "Dictionary of Provincialisms" (1839),

gives the following:--



"Calimanco Cat, s. (calimanco, a glossy stuff), a tortoiseshell cat,

Norfolk."



Salmon, in "The Compleat English Physician," 1693, p. 326, writing of

the cat, says: "It is a neat and cleanly creature, often licking itself

to keep it fair and clean, and washing its face with its fore feet; the

best are such as of a fair and large kind and of an exquisite tabby

color called Cyprus cats."









I have thought it best to give two illustrations of the peculiar

markings of the spotted tabby, or leopard cat of some, as showing its

distinctness from the ordinary and banded Tabby, one of my reasons

being that I have, when judging at cat shows, often found excellent

specimens of both entered in the "wrong class," thereby losing all

chance of a prize, though, if rightly entered, either might very

possibly have taken honours. I therefore wish to direct particular

attention to the spotted character of the markings of the variety

called the "spotted tabby." It will be observed that there are no lines,

but what are lines in other tabbies are broken up into a number of

spots, and the more these spots prevail, to the exclusion of lines or

bands, the better the specimen is considered to be. The varieties of

the ground colour or tint on which these markings or spots are placed

constitutes the name, such as black-spotted tabby, brown-spotted tabby,

and so on, the red-spotted tabby or yellow-spotted tabby in she-cats

being by far the most scarce. These should be marked with spots

instead of bands, on the same ground colour as the red or

yellow-banded tabby cat. In the former the ground colour should be a

rich red, with spots of a deep, almost chocolate colour, while that of

the yellow tabby may be a deep yellow cream, with yellowish-brown spots.

Both are very scarce, and are extremely pretty. Any admixture of white

is not allowable in the class for yellow or red tabbies; such exhibit

must be put into the class (should there be one, which is usually the

case at large shows) for red or yellow and white tabbies. This

exhibitors will do well to make a note of.



There is a rich-coloured brown tabby hybrid to be seen at the Zoological

Society Gardens in Regent's Park, between the wild cat of Bengal and a

tabby she-cat. It is handsome, but very wild. These hybrids, I am told,

will breed again with tame variety, or with others.






In the brown-spotted tabby, the dark gray-spotted tabby, the

black-spotted tabby, the gray or the blue-spotted tabby, the eyes are

best yellow or orange tinted, with the less of the green the better. The

nose should be of a dark red, edged with black or dark brown, in the

dark colours, or somewhat lighter colour in the gray or blue tabbies.

The pads of the feet in all instances must be black. In the yellow and

the red tabby the nose and the pads of the feet are to be pink. As

regards the tail, that should have large spots on the upper and lower

sides instead of being annulated, but this is difficult to obtain. It

has always occurred to me that the spotted tabby is a much nearer

approach to the wild English cat and some other wild cats in the way of

colour than the ordinary broad-banded tabby. Those specimens of the

crosses, said to be between the wild and domestic cat, that I have seen,

have had a tendency to be spotted tabbies. And these crosses were not

infrequent in bygone times when the wild cats were more numerous than

at present, as is stated to be the case by that reliable authority,

Thomas Bewick. In the year 1873, there was a specimen shown at the

Crystal Palace Cat Show, and also the last year or two there has been

exhibited at the same place a most beautiful hybrid between the East

Indian wild cat and the domestic cat. It was shown in the spotted tabby

class, and won the first prize. The ground colour was a deep

blackish-brown, with well-defined black spots, black pads to the feet,

rich in colour, and very strong and powerfully made, and not by any

means a sweet temper. It was a he-cat, and though I have made inquiry, I

have not been able to ascertain that any progeny has been reared from

it, yet I have been informed that such hybrids between the Indian wild

cat and the domestic cat breed freely.





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