One look at this cat and it is clear how it got its name; it looks like a toy tiger, thus the name Toyger. The name as well as the appearance of this cat has grabbed some serious attention, which led it to claim the privilege of gracing the cover of the LIFE magazine. This exotic breed is also expensive, but the cost might have less to do with demand than with the cause; many breeders donate a portion of the proceeds from kitten sales to tiger conservation.
Conserving the tiger was the goal of Judy Sugden when she first decided to develop the Toyger in the late 1980s. To generate the tiger-like appearance of the Toyger, Sugden crossed a big-boned Bengal with a striped domestic Shorthair. Being a descendent of the Bengal breed is definitely a fit for the Toyger since Judy’s mother, Jean, was the one who created the Bengal cat breed. Being a true designer breed, the characteristics of the Toyger were to reflect as many tiger features as possible.
The distinctiveness of the Toyger meant that it got accepted easily for registration by The International Cat Association (TICA) in 1993. Through advancement, the Toyger was granted full recognition, which finally led it to attain the Championship status in February 2007.
Physical appearance and attributes
This is a medium sized cat that weighs between 7 – 15 pounds. The Toyger is a muscular cat that boasts of a strong and robust body, which is long but not blocky. It has a broad chest, thick strong neck and muscular shoulder blades. In keeping with the shape of the body, the Toyger has short legs, which keep the body slung lower to the ground than most domestic cats. The Toyger even shares long gaited toes with the tiger. This results in a distinct and almost sure-footed gait that is very tiger-like. Balancing the body is a long tail that is set low and that tapers gradually to a fine rounded tip.
The Toyger has a relatively small head that appears more oval-like than wedge-like. Contours are thus rounded and the muzzle is of a slightly cylindrical shape. The ears are small – medium with a slight taper to a rounded tip. The nose is high and long and when viewed in profile, it appears strong with a gentle concave curve from between the eyes to the tip of the nose. The tip of the nose should be in a vertical alignment with its firm chin. Brow bone of the Toyger also appears prominent from the side, giving the Toyger a serious and alert look. The Toyger has a pair of large rounded eyes that are able to reflect light with incredible intensity, allowing the cat to have good night vision. Eye color is of bright light amber.
This cat wears a coat of uniformly short hair that is dense and luxurious. The hair is resilient, but soft and plush to the touch. Hair may be longer around the temple and jowl, giving a slight ruff-like feature around the face. The ideal coat color is of an orange/tan background with distinct dark stripes like that of the tiger. Markings should be bold, braided and non-uniform. However, Rosette stripes are also acceptable. The paw pads and tail tips must be black.
Personality and temperaments
While the Toyger has been developed to reflect a wild look, it has also been bred to be a domestic cat. Thus, its personality is certainly tamer than its look. In fact, the Toyger really loves to be around people. It has also been described to be a rather laid back cat. Even though it is not considered a lap cat, it is still capable of displaying strong affections. This is also a highly playful and astute cat. This means that it is can be trained easily to walk on leash and is able to learn tricks and games fast. Being an easy-going breed allows it to get along naturally well with children. While it has no issue living with other cats, the Toyger is said to prefer cat-friendly dogs instead. The family will need to however ensure a proper introduction among the pets.
Care and health issues
The Toyger is generally a healthy breed that can live up to an average of 12 years. However, it can also inherit some of its Bengal ancestors’ health problems. These health issues include cardiomyopathy, heart problem as well as cataracts, which can lead to blindness. Regular exercise, yearly visit to the vet and vaccination would help to maintain the good health of the cat.
The Toyger’s dense plush coat would need to be brushed often. Do look into its oral care by brushing its teeth regularly with vet-approved toothpaste. Trim its nail weekly and check the ears for odors or redness that might be an indication of infection.
The ideal home
This breed can do well in both indoor and outdoor. If it is kept as an indoor cat, do ensure that sufficient space is allocated for it to run about and play. It will also need to be provided with cat toys, cat gym sets and cat scratches to prevent boredom and for it to expend its energy constructively. Otherwise, it may resort to destructive behaviors. If it is kept as an outdoor cat, it may be exposed to unnecessary dangers. Thus, a safe and stimulating environment would be a large outdoor, escape-proof garden that also has a direct access to the home.
The Toyger is not just an exotic pet; but with its friendliness, high affections, and easy-going personality, it makes an excellent companion for most types of household. The family will however need to be responsible to shower it with the care and attention it needs.