What Are Toygers? Domestic Tiger-Cats as House Pets
Have you heard of the "Toyger?" One of the latest in designer cat breeds, this domestic cat, bred to resemble a tiger in body, coat and movement, is still somewhat in development. Yet people around the world are clamoring for the unique breed that is both physically striking and has a bold personality.
Could a Toyger Be the Cat for You?
There are approximately 400 Toygers in existence, being bred from descendants of a domestic Bengal Cat (which itself originates from a wild Asian Leopard Cat), crossed with other domestic cats.
The original breeder of the Toyger (and Bengal Cats), Judy Sugden of EEYAAS Cattery in the United States, hopes to raise awareness of fur trade and wildlife conservation by creating these gorgeous mini versions of wild cats. In fact, at the time when Toygers are hoped to be perfected as a breed, the last of the wild tigers likely will be living in zoos around the world.
Are These Cats Actually Related to Tigers?
It is important to note that, while there is a small amount of wild blood in these animals resulting from their Bengal heritage, they are not related to tigers. Nor is the breed considered to be "wild" such that ownership may be prohibited by local governments within certain municipalities. (Note that most cities ban ownership of wild animals in residential areas for public safety reasons.)
The Toyger breed is recognized by the TICA (The International Cat Association) for registration and evaluation. They are eligible for championship judging in cat shows as of Spring 2008.
Informational Video About the Toyger Breed
Breed Characteristics of the Toyger
The Toyger breed is a medium-sized domestic cat with an uncanny resemblance to a wild tiger. But don't let you scare you off from owning one! They are loyal, active domestic pets that might make a perfect addition to your home.
The primary physical characteristics include:
- long tail and body
- rounded ear tips
- broad nose
- strong chin
- shiny, shimmery coat with "broken" stripes
- high contrast between stripes and under color (black markings preferred, but some are brown or tan)
- white tummy
- white patterns above eyes, in lower face, and whited ears (bright "head lights," like a tiger)
- circular tiger-like cheek markings
- brown/gold color coat (no other colors allowed)
- some coats are "glittered," appearing as if they are dusted with gold - especially beautiful
How Much Does a Toyger Cost?
Depending on how many characteristics your Toyger may have, and whether or not he or she will breed, the price tag for a kitten can range from $500 to $2000 as pets, and $1500-$5000 for breeding/show quality. Exotic breeds of cats are certainly not cheap! If you find a person selling a Toyger for less than these price ranges, you should be concerned about a flaw in its breeding, whether cosmetic or physiological.
Toyger Breeder Explains Characteristics
Similarities Between Toygers and the Domestic Bengal Cat
Like the domestic Bengal Cat, the Toyger is highly trainable, loyal, loves water and can be somewhat dog-like. It can be a "talkative" cat. An excellent pet, they get along well with other animals and children. Toygers also can be trained to walk on leashes and do other "tricks."
Breeders attempt to create resemblances between the domestic cat breeds and their wild muses not only with respect to body and markings, but also with the pets' movement! Toygers are said to move with purpose, grace and elegance, much like their wild tiger "cousins."
Whether you decide to adopt a Toyger, or the slightly less exotic Domestic Bengal Cat, know that your pet will be unlike other domestic cats with which you are probably familiar. This can be both a benefit and a drawback. Choose carefully and be prepared for unique antics and a bold personality.
Toygers Are Like "Ordinary Cats" in Most Respects
When you adopt a Toyger, you will find that its needs are very similar to those of a regular domestic cat. It will eat the same cat food and generally require the same veterinary care, unless it ends up with special health care needs. Toygers, like most domestic cats, will enjoy both active and quiet time. Remember that cats are nocturnal creatures, most active at night.
They're Smart and Active
Toygers may need additional stimulation, through play, toys and/or another pet, so that they are not bored. As an owner of a closely-related Domestic Bengal Cat, I should caution you against letting your Toyger outside unsupervised and/or not on a leash. They often have "wild" roving tendencies that may take them too far away from your home to be safe or advisable.
Toygers, like Bengals, enjoy water and are very active cats. You may need additional toys, and should be prepared for a somewhat more active pet than usual. They can be litter-box trained, and some owners even report success with actual toilet training!
Spaying, Neutering, and Life Span
If you are not going to show or breed your cat, be sure to spay or neuter your pet. Life spans are generally the same as other pet cats, anywhere from 10–15 years, or longer!
Toyger Cat at Play
What Else Should You Know About Toygers?
While the Toyger breed is an exciting exotic pet, be sure to be aware of other cats that need to be adopted! Rescue organizations exist from which you can bring home a much less expensive pet.
Finding a Toyger
For those that really want to own a Toyger or Bengal domestic cat, you may be able to find a breeder or owner that has a cat that does not meet the highest show qualities. These pets will still possess the fun aspects of the breed—including water play, trainability, "talking" and more—even if it doesn't have the perfect coat or head structure to meet exotic breed standards. But beware a deal that seems "too good to be true," as noted above. Such animals may have traits that make them a less than desirable pet. In these circumstances, spend some time with your prospective pet before signing any papers or bringing it home.
What Your New Pet Will Need
Cats are generally easy pets and adaptable to many environments. Before you bring one home to your place, however, make sure there are no allergies. So many pets are surrendered on this basis, and it's a very easy thing to screen for in advance!
A sunny, warm spot in which to lie, litter box and scoop, a few catnip toys, a bowl for food and water, and a collar and leash—there is not much more you need for proper ownership of a Toyger, other than the dedication to take your cat for regular checkups and vaccinations.
Stimulating toys and lots of attention will also be enjoyed by your pet cat. Some owners may wish to keep a pet Toyger or Bengal indoors for safety because the breed tends to wander. If your pet wants to go outdoors, consider a leash and harness.
Above all else, just be prepared with a warm lap and a readiness to spend some time rubbing ears and talking to your inquisitive cat!
Adorable Toyger Cats
© 2008 Stephanie Marshall