While the number of cat breeds in the world depends on who you ask, (TICA recognizes 73 while CFA says there are only 45), no one can deny that cats come in dozens of colors with different markings and characteristics.
Even between solid-colored cats, you’ll be hard-pressed to find two felines that are exactly alike.
That diversity is part of why we love cats, and striped cats can be especially alluring. Thanks to the dominant tabby gene, cats with stripes aren’t hard to find. But while stripes are common, not all cats with stripes are the same breed. There are dozens of cat breeds known for striped coats.
Striped Cats are Tabby Cats
It’s a common misconception that all breeds of cats with stripes are the same breed. This confusion comes from the fact that stripes are one of the common characteristics of tabby cats. The term “tabby,” however, refers to a cat’s coat pattern, not their breed. Tabby cats have a distinctive “M” marking on their forehead and can have swirls, spots, ticked fur, and/or stripes.
Thanks to genetics, the tabby coat pattern is the most common of all the feline coat patterns. This means there are several cat breeds that include a striped coat within the breed standards. Here are a few of the most striking.
The Bengal cat is an exotic cross-breed that is a mix between a domestic cat and an Asian Leopard Cat.
Most reputable Bengal breeders only sell kittens that are at least four generations separated from their wild cat ancestor. This helps ensure the kitten grows to be a suitable pet. Early generation Bengal cats (when the cat’s parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent is an Asian Leopard Cat), are closer to being wild animals than pets. These cats are sometimes prohibited by housing agents, landlords, airlines, etc, and some states have strict regulations against them.
As long as a Bengal comes from a responsible breeder, these wild-looking cats are affectionate and friendly. They love to play with humans and often make great companions for children.
They are muscular, agile, spunky, and many of them come with stripes. While the spotted tabby is most popular, the breed standard for Bengal cats includes three standard colors and two different patterns. The classic tabby, or marble coat pattern, often presents as elongated swirls that resemble exotic stripes.
Most people recognize Persian cats by their thick fur and smushed faces. But if you look past those cute faces, you’ll notice that many Persians have stripes. Mackerel Persians are like any other tabby cat in that they have thin stripes that start at the spine and run down toward the belly. The pattern might be harder to notice within all the fluff, but striped Persian cats are not uncommon.
These cats require regular grooming to prevent their fluffy stripes from matting and causing health problems. Persians are often called the princes and princesses of the cat world because of their noble personalities. They enjoy lording over their territories from either lofty heights or warm laps. Persians pick which people they like and prefer homes that are quiet and peaceful. Relaxing is usually their favorite activity.
The most notable characteristic about the Manx cat is its tail. More accurately, they’re famous for their lack of tails. Thanks to a genetic mutation, most Manx cats are born without tails.
Humans decided this was a characteristic worth preserving, and specific breeding led to the birth of this interesting-looking cat breed. Not every Manx kitten, however, is born tail-less. There are “longies,” kittens born with normal tails, as well as “stumpies,” kittens with short nubs for tails.
As for their coats, Manx cats come in several different colors with several different coat patterns. The tabby coat pattern is popular and often presents as stripes layered vertically down the cat’s side. The tiger cat stripes combined with not having a tail makes this cat breed one of the most interesting to look at.
The American Bobtail is another cat often recognized by its tail. These striped cats have short tails that are especially muscular and flexible. Their back ends and coat patterns give them a wild appearance, and this is exactly what breeders aim for. All American Bobtail cats are descended from ferals with naturally short tails. These ferals were all mixed breeds, and breeders worked together to develop a new breed with no recognized purebred cats in its breeding stock.
People love American Bobtails for several reasons, and most notable is their wild appearance. They’re not actually related to the wild bobcat, but their physical similarities are undeniable. Many American Bobtails are tabby cats, and the wild-looking stripes add to their exotic appeal. They are strong cats that can make great family members for the right people.
As the gentle giants of the cat world, the Maine Coon is another example of a cat breed with stripes. They are some of the biggest domestic cats you’ll ever see, and their striped coats can make them look like wild animals. They might look intimidating, but the Maine Coon is known for being friendly and affectionate. Earlier generations were strictly barn cats, but humans soon realized that these fluffy felines enjoy being pampered pets.
The Cat Fanciers Association lists 75 different color combinations and two acceptable tabby patterns in the breed standard. Those tabby patterns are the classic swirls and mackerel tabby pattern that is sometimes better known as tiger stripes. Even with all that hair, the stripes on these cats stand out.
The American Curl’s ears make it one of the most unique-looking cats out there. This striped cat breed’s ears curl back toward the top of the head. Add in a striped coat, and you have a cat that can’t be compared to any other on your block. The American Curl is relatively rare compared to other breeds, but they’re people-oriented pets that make great family members.
All coat colors and patterns are possible in this breed, and tabby stripes are common. This is due both to natural genetics and the fact that the tabby gene is prevalent among the entire cat population. There’s also the fact that breeders and cat owners alike are naturally attracted to those tiger stripes. The stripes on an American Curl make them stand out even more.
Like all Americans, the American Shorthair is originally from across the pond. There are no indigenous cat breeds in the Americas, and researchers generally agree the continent’s first cats made their way across the ocean with European settlers. They were used as pest control on ships, and they continued their mouse-catching duties on dry land.
The American Shorthair developed through natural selection and is a true working cat. Cats that could hunt their own food and serve a purpose to farmers were the ones that survived to pass on their genes.
This ensured that the tabby gene passed from generation to generation. This cat breed has solid, bicolor, and tortoiseshell members, but stripes are often the desired coat pattern among breeders. There are even cats with stripes over the top of the patches associated with calicos and tortoiseshells.
A combination of the words “toy” and “tiger,” the Toyger cat is a new cat breed that is already turning heads. These striped cats are what’s called a designer breed. Their distinctive markings and characteristics are the results of careful breeding and human intervention. This is unlike other breeds that developed through natural selection.
Judy Sugden, originally a Bengal breeder, is responsible for this new striped cat breed. She started her program with a domestic shorthair tabby and a Bengal. Today’s Toygers are large cats with bold vertical stripes down their orange bodies. They have the look of a miniature tiger, but they are domesticated cats that many people say make great pets.
This is only a small sample of cat breeds with stripes. Several other pedigreed breeds are often common among mixed breed cats, and stripes are often common.