During the late 1980s, breeder Judy Sugden set about developing a breed that closely resembled the tiger. Unlike usual tabbies with their mackerel or rosette markings, one of Sugden’s cats boasted two unique details on its forehead that bore a likeness to those of the big cat. Wanting to retain this characteristic, Sugden began a careful breeding program that involved pairing striped Domestic Shorthairs with Bengals, although various cats are believed to have contributed to its development. The original forebears are believed to be a striped Shorthair named Scrapmetal, and a large Bengal named Millwood Rumpled Spotskin. Another cat with unique spotting imported from Kashmir, India named Jammu Blu was also key to establishing the new breed. The Toyger was officially recognised by the International Cat Association in 1993 and was granted full championship status in February 2007.
The Toyger possesses a muscular and slightly elongated body structure, with long legs, a small head with rounded ears and wide-set eyes, a well defined muzzle and a short, close-fitting coat. The coat is unique in that the mackerel tabby markings align vertically, with circular patterns found on the head, legs and tail. Longer hair might be observed on the Toyger’s jowl/ruff. The cat is both handsome and distinctive, displaying a wild look that is unmatched in any other feline breed and that has been achieved naturally. The dramatic appearance of the Toyger’s coat is highly desirable but not easy to produce, meaning the breed is rare and difficult to come by. A keen and able hunter, Toygers are best kept as indoor-only cats where they are less likely to be stolen or play havoc with wildlife.
Generally speaking, Toygers are a very friendly and animated breed of cat best suited to an active and affectionate household. Compatible with children and other house pets, the Toyger makes a delightful addition to any home setting, providing its needs for companionship and mental stimulation are met. Highly trainable, intelligent and willing, the Toyger is often described as more canine in temperament and can be trained to a good degree. With a natural love of people, the Toyger is generally laid-back and welcomes new faces with open arms. On average, a healthy Toyger weighs in the region of 10 pounds, with a typical life expectancy of 12-15 years.
The Toyger is not susceptible to many breed-specific or genetic health conditions, although cases of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are well documented. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is perhaps the most common type of heart murmur/disease in cats and can be managed with medication.