Is this ‘Toyger kitten’ photo genuine?

This is a cat photo that was used in an advert for Newman’s Own Organic pet food. Apparently it’s been online since 2013. There is a discussion as to whether the photo is genuine and whether is depicts a Toyger kitten. A Toyger is a fancy breed of cat selectively bred to look like a tiger. The objective of creating the breed: a miniature tiger in your home.

That’s the idea although it is proving damned hard to genetically engineer, through breeding, a domestic cat that has the same physical attributes as a genuine tiger. The best that they have produced is far from a tiger lookalike, which tells me that this is a photo-edited image in which a domestic cat photo has been digitally merged with a photo of a young tiger or tiger cub. It has been done well but it is not a Toyger.

Photo-edited image of a domestic cat and a tiger cub merged together
Photo-edited image of a domestic cat and a tiger cub merged together. Photo now in the public domain (assessed).
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The breeders are not that good. They’d give their right arm to create a Toyger that looked like this!

The photos has been on a social media website used by artists under the name of Silev.

If you’d like to read more about the Toyger, which has not been successful as a cat breed, you can click here. It takes you to a full page on the cat with many photos by Helmi Flick a professional cat photographer.

Here is a genuine Toyger:

Toyger. Photo: copyright Helmi Flick.

The photograph and this article is of interest in the context of the creation of the cat breeds. There was a time in the cat fancy history (middle-late 1900s) after the creation of the Bengal cat, a wildcat hybrid, when there was a focus on creating domestic cats that looked like wild cats and which behaved a bit like them. The breeders justified it by arguing that it would improve wild cat conservation in connecting urban-dwelling humans with remote wild places where the wild cats lived. I think that was a high ideal which failed to gain traction. The California Spangled is one example, although that cat breed, which failed, is not a wildcat hybrid but purely domestic.


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