The Toyger cat looks just like how their breed name is pronounced: With a play off of the two words “toy” and “tiger,” this breed closely resembles that of a miniature tiger. From their personality to the way that they stalk across the room, the Toyger is very similar to a wild cat—but without the threat of imminent danger.
If you’ve ever thought about raising exotic animals, reconsider the ethics of it and instead find yourself a Toyger! It will be worth it to adopt a safe and exotic-looking cat. Even though having a real-life tiger would be cool, it is simply irresponsible and dangerous (not to mention illegal) to do so.
The Toyger cat is so much more than a pun. Keep reading to learn more about this relatively new, man-made cat breed.
|Toyger||...at a glance|
|Personality||Energetic, friendly, easygoing|
|Life expectancy||10-15 years|
|Coat & colors||Short; striped tabby, orange & various colors|
Overview of the Toyger cat
The Toyger cat is medium in size with tiger stripes all across their short coat. The hope when creating this breed was to mimic the markings and appearance of a wild tiger, which was successful. Like their namesake, Toygers are athletic, strong, and agile.
The Toyger is not a direct descendant of a tiger or any wild cat, so you don’t need to worry about this cat going rogue on you. They might stalk you in a playful manner, but they are very loving, friendly, and easygoing.
Toyger cats are remarkably active and athletic cats. They can weigh up to 15 pounds, with males being larger than females, but they do a great job at maintaining their weight by themselves.
You won’t have to goad your Toyger to get up and move. Quite the opposite, actually! Toygers have energy to spare, and it takes a lot to tire one out.
Toygers are proportionate in size, with lean, long bodies. They can reach up to 18 inches in length when you measure from their noses to the tips of their tails. Their bodies slink as they walk, accentuating their length and making them appear longer than they are.
The Toyger stands out with circular markings around their chest and shoulders (which aren’t typically found on any other domestic breed). These necklace-like markings frame the Toyger’s face beautifully and, along with the branching stripes on their body, give the effect of a tiger.
While typically orange and black, their color patterns can also include brown and gold. Their tabby markings are typically thicker and more broken up than other wild-looking domestic cats. Every Toyger’s markings will be slightly different from the next Toyger.
Toygers have an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years. They can live long and happy lives if they are being properly taken care of. That means keeping them indoors even though they might want to venture outside (although the occasional walk on a leash is fine), getting regular veterinary check-ups, and receiving lots of love.
History of the Toyger
The Toyger cat is a relatively new breed that originated in the United States in the 1980s. Judy Sugden, daughter of the original Bengal breeder, Jean Mill, took an interest in mackerel tabbies, noting the “M”-shaped marking on their foreheads. She then looked at her own Bengal, observing round spots on her forehead rather than an “M” shape.
She thought: What about a domestic cat that combined these two cats’ markings to create a cat that resembled a tiger? Though it may have seemed ambitious, it was within her reach, and she started testing it out.
Judy began a breeding program that used two cats: a Domestic Shorthair tabby and a large Bengal cat. In 1993 she imported a street cat from Kashmir, India, named Jammie Blu, that had very interesting and unique spotting between his ears. This helped to accelerate the breeding program, and the first Toyger cat was created.
Breeders Anthony Hutcherson and Alice McKee joined Judy to help bring forth her idea. The Toyger that we know and love today is a direct result of the efforts of these few cat enthusiasts.
Toyger cat characteristics
The Toyger cat stands out from other wild-looking cats due to the circular markings that frame their face. It’s easy to look at a Toyger without knowing their name and reflect on how much they resemble an actual tiger. The markings on their back also solidify this assumption, as they are thicker and more broken up compared to exotic cat breeds similar to the Toyger.
So while you might not guess Toyger when you first see this cat—and opt for something a bit more popular in the cat world, like the Bengal or the Savannah—it’s undoubtedly true that this cat was bred to resemble a tiger.
Plus, the markings on a Toyger will be unique to that particular kitty. No two Toygers have the same patterning.
A rolling gait
You will see a Toyger walking towards you and think that you’re looking straight into the eyes of a wild cat. Like with big cats, the Toyger has a very specific rolling gait when they move. They slink around effortlessly, with strong, high-set shoulders that move opposite of their hips.
Toygers are muscular and powerful but not bulky. They appear to be very lean and long, with low-slung torsos. Add all of these traits together, and you get a domestic cat that looks like they should be patrolling through the jungle at dusk.
Personality and behavior
Despite their wild looks, the Toyger breed is playful, loving, and energetic. These cats have a lot of energy and need to expel it before settling down. If you’re looking for a playful cat that will keep you entertained, the Toyger will do their absolute best. Be prepared to reciprocate the entertainment, though!
The Toyger cat is known for their personability and accommodating temperament. They do well in families with other dogs and cats as long as they are introduced correctly. Toygers also make great family pets; they get along well with children who can understand boundaries.
Toyger cats are highly intelligent and need to be occupied, or else they will become bored. Interactive toys around the house can be a clever way to keep your Toyger busy. If not properly exercised and entertained, these lovable cats get into trouble.
Due to their intelligence, the Toyger is also easy to train. They will learn basic commands, how to walk on a leash (if you're into that), and even how to play a game of fetch with you.
How to care for a Toyger cat
Your Toyger cat will be a reliable and loving pet as long as you can keep up with their needs.
Toyger cats are famously adventurous, but that doesn't mean they'll want to use just any litter box. To ensure that their space is clean, consider trying a self-cleaning litter box like Litter-Robot. You won’t have to worry about scooping after your Toyger uses the bathroom. A self-cleaning litter box helps keep even the messiest cats clean.
Although Toygers have short coats, they do tend to shed. Brush them a couple times a week to get rid of loose fur. You’ll also want to ensure that their nails are clipped at least monthly so that they don't experience discomfort as they stalk their favorite toy.
Toyger cats are a relatively new breed, so we don't have much information on breed-specific health issues. Because of their close relation to the Bengal, it’s thought that Toygers might have similar health-related issues, which include a higher prevalence of kidney disease, heart disease, and eye disease. Additionally, it’s thought that Toygers might be more susceptible to heart murmurs. You will also need to keep up with their dental hygiene so that you lower their risk of periodontal diseases.
Loving a Toyger
This miniature tiger cat is a rare breed that you would be lucky to come across. If you are so lucky as to adopt a Toyger, you will find that you’ve made a new best friend. This cat is extremely loving, overwhelmingly adorable, and a charming companion.
To prepare for your Toyger, make sure that you have interactive toys as well as cat furniture made for climbing, scratching, and jumping to help explore their space.
- Developmental Genetics Of Color Pattern Establishment In Cats | Nature Communications
- Periodontal Disease In Cats: Back To Basics--With An Eye On The Future | NCBI
- Assessment Of The Prevalence Of Heart Murmurs In Overtly Healthy Cats | AVMA
Photo credit: © Heikki Siltala / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0