Tabby, the “default” setting

If domestic cats were left to breed on their own, with zero interference from humans, there would be very few longhaired cats and very few solid-colored ones. Genetically, the “normal” cat would be a tabby, with a mostly grayish-brown coat and the familiar striping. That is also the typical coat of many of the world’s smaller wildcats.

Most of the larger cats, such as leopards and tigers, have spots or stripes to help conceal them when they stalk prey. Even solid colored cats—lions and cougars—have coats of muted colors that serve as camouflage. For a predator in the wild, a gray-brown coat with irregular stripes is the perfect camouflage, so the gray-brown tabby is, because of the coat, the perfect stalking machine.

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