The toyger house cat is one of the new, fashionable breeds of cats appearing on the pet scene. It is a designed or engineered breed, not naturally occurring, and developed by cross breeding cats that contain unusual traits breeders desire, such as coat patterns, personality factors, or physical characteristics, such as eye color, or ear shapes .
The toyger is said to appeal to city dwellers in particular, looking to connect with nature and distinguish themselves with an extraordinary pet.
The primary desirable traits for the toyger are the tiger stripe coat patterns and amenable personality. The cat is a result of breeding domestic shorthaired tabbies (beginning in the 1980s) to make them resemble a “toy tiger,” as its striped coat is reminiscent of the tiger’s. The breed’s creator, Judy Sudgen, has stated that the breed was developed in order to inspire people to care about the conservation of tigers in the wild.
In 1980, Sudgen, was breeding cats to clarify the mackerel markings in tabbies. She noticed distinctive markings in two of her cats. These markings, occurring on the head, an area normally devoid of distinct pattern, first inspired the idea of a tiger-like tabby. After importing a tom from the streets of India with noticeable head markings, the quest to develop tiger-like, circular face markings in the cats began. The introduction of the Bengal breed into the gene pool was a move on Sudgen’s part to produce a “big cat body”. As the Bengal is domestic–wild hybrid, the Toyger is consequently a hybrid cat also.
The toyger was recognized for “Registration only” by The International Cat Association in the early 1990s, and in 2007 its status was upgraded to allow the breed full Championship status. Oeners may now compete in competitions.
Pat Killmaier, owner/ breeder of Bengals by Aluren in Elmer, New Jersey (http://www.aluren.com/toygers.html) says, “The toygers have a wonderful temperament. They are very human friendly and are great with kids. They love to play, and they are moderately talkative.”
The majority of toygers carry the tiger like color patterns of orange and brown. A second type is silver with black stripes. Killmaier said they are technically called a “white toyger”, to emulate the white tiger. Commercially, one of Sudgen’s toygers recently appeared in a Friskies Cat Food commercial.
Killmaier said the kittens cost between $600 – $1500 and there is usually a two to four month waiting period to purchase one. She urges interested cat enthusiasts to contact Bengals by Aluren for more information.
There are only about 30 recognized toyger breeders in the world, the majority of them in North America, primarily in the United States. Additional breeders are in Europe with a few in Australia and Russia.