The Toyger is a rare breed of cat that has been deliberately created to look like a miniature tiger. The name brings together “toy” and “tiger” which means a miniature, domestic tiger look-a-like, designed for the home. It was created in America.
Domestic tabby cats with stripes are called “mackerel tabbies”. An American lady, Judy Sugden wanted to improve the look of the stripes on the mackerel tabby cat. During the 1980s she did this through “selective breeding”. This means choosing cats with great looking stripes and getting them to mate to produce kittens which have even better stripes. She then decided to create a miniature tiger out of the domestic cat. One reason was to remind people of the fact that real tigers are dying out in the wild in Asia.
To do this she had to try and create, as near as possible, the markings, pattern and color of the tiger’s coat. This meant high contrast stripes on an orange background and a special pattern on the head. The underside of the tiger is white with spots, which had to be created as well. Finally, she had to create the general shape of the tiger and the way the tiger moved. A big challenge.
This required more selective breeding. Three cats helped Judy to begin the work of achieving her goal:
- A big Bengal cat with a good pattern
- A cat from Kashmir called Jammu Blu who had good markings on the face and
- A domestic short haired cat called Scrapmetal who had nice stripes.
Other breeders joined her in the work of creating a toy tiger. The process is not complete. However, the Toyger is full accepted by a major cat association The International Cat Association (TICA). By 2007 the Toyger was made a championship cat by TICA, which is the highest level.
The Toyger is a friendly, intelligent cat that likes to be around people.
How the Toyger Looks
You can see from the pictures by Helmi Flick that Judy and her friends have achieved a lot. There is a distinct tigerish, orange glow about this cat. The stripes are strong. They form a random and clear pattern, while the underside of the cat is lighter. The coat glitters. This is deliberate as it makes the cat look more glamorous. Bengal cat breeders like this effect as well.
The Toyger is a special and rare cat. It is the only domestic cat that is meant to look like a tiger. If you get a Toyger, enjoy his company but never forget that the majestic, real tiger is in trouble and needs help.