Toyger Cats: Breed History, Coat Colors & Tips for Raising

Posted by Erin McDade
Toyger Cat

Have you ever dreamed of owning an exotic cat as a pet? Well, now you can!

Exotic cats and big cats like leopards, lions, and tigers are often portrayed as pets owned by the rich, famous, and glamorous. However, big cats are not pets and should not live anywhere but in the wild. Fortunately for big cat fans, there is a solution for anyone interested in bringing a little bit of the exotic into their living room. Toyger cats (toy + tiger) are a breed of cat developed to look like wild tigers. These shorthair cats bred to look like toy tigers are often considered "designer cats." Tabby cats may be all the rage, but with a Toyger cat, you can have those tabby lines with a little bit of the wild mixed in.

What Is the History of the Toyger Cat?

In the early 1980s, Judy Sugden developed the breed after noticing two tabby markings on the temple of her cat, Millwood Sharp Shooter. She began with a striped domestic shorthair named Scrapmetal and a Bengal cat named Millwood Rumpled Spotskin. Two other breeders, Anthony Hutcherson and Alice McKee, assisted in Sugden's breeding program. The Bengal cat mixed with your garden variety mackerel tabby cat led to the creation of a domestic cat with tabby patterns, circular head markings, and a long body. The International Cat Association (TICA) began registering Toyger cats in 1993, established it as a new breed in 2000, and gave it championship rights in 2007. However, they are the only organization that recognized the Toyger as its own breed, with the exception of the Toyger Cat Society, of course.

What Do Toyger Cats Look Like?

The body of the Toyger cat breed is larger and longer than a typical cat. Their vertical stripes and rosettes are elongated and broken up to more closely represent their big cat inspiration. Their heads typically have circular patterns that are not found on any other domestic cats. A Toyger's nose is also broader at the base and wider at the jowl area than an average housecat. TICA describes approved breed markings as "dark markings on a vividly bright orange background on the outer to top portions of the cat with a whited ground color on the undersides and insides...enhanced by the scatter of gold glitter over the top."

Are Toyger Cats Good Pets?

Toygers are laid back, outgoing, and easygoing (unlike their wild cat cousins). They get along well with other cats, dogs, and babies. They are intelligent and straightforward to train on a leash, which is something that cat owners usually have to struggle with. As rare as Toygers are, there isn't enough data to draw firm conclusions on their particular health problems. Like most cats, they can be prone to obesity, particularly if pet owners don't spend enough time exercising them. They can also be at a higher risk of developing heart murmurs and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy than the general cat population. When introduced to households with other pets and children, Toygers usually adapt well. They enjoy being a lap cat and will lavish you with attention in exchange. They have a lifespan of approximately 13 years.

How Much Does This Cat Breed Cost?

Toyger cats are a recent and exotic domestic cat breed, and finding an ethical Toyger breeder might be difficult. Prices range from $3000 for a show-quality cat with a proven pedigree to $500 for a Toyger kitten from a backyard cat breeder. It is therefore essential to note that these are just the breeder's adoption fees. If you've decided on a Toyger to adopt, certain breeders will charge you a non-refundable keeping fee. If the Toyger is not bred locally, you might have to pay for shipment, which can cost up to $300. But still, that might be worth it to bring a little piece of the wild into your home.

Share your experiences with exotic cats on the Wide Open Pets Facebook page!

READ MORE: 10 Meanest Cat Breeds Who'd Rather You Didn't Pet Them

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Toyger Cats: Breed History, Coat Colors & Tips for Raising