Toyger Cat Facts for Kids

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.

Toyger Cat Facts For Kids
Toyger Cats Facts For Kids. Photos copyright Helmi Flick
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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:

  1. A big Bengal cat with a good pattern
  2. A cat from Kashmir called Jammu Blu who had good markings on the face and
  3. 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.

12 thoughts on “Toyger Cat Facts for Kids”

  1. The Breeder of my Bengal, Kiva wanted to create a Toyger. She wanted to use my Kiva because she has very dark defined stripes that go entirely around her body. I was willing to breed Kiva but unfortunately Kiva went into an early heat at 5 month. My breeder would not breed her Bengal’s until the 12th month. Kiva kept going into heat, out, in, out, in. She was spraying & pestering my neutered boy cat. Both the Breeder & my Vet said she must be fixed now. What a shame I really wanted to see Kiva with her kittens.

  2. The only thing I don’t like is the name ‘Toyger’ because, and forgive me if I sound like a boring old codger, Tigers are not toys no matter which way you cut it or what the context for the name is.

    • Hi Marc,

      Good point – I bet that would sometimes attract the wrong kind of cat parent.

      I wonder if “Toy Poodle” sometimes has the same effect for dog parents?

      =^..^= Hairless Cat =^..^=

      • Definitely true which leads me to say that ultimately cat breeding is a business although there is not much money in it. The main objective of business is to sell and not to be overly concerned about who to.

    • Don’t apologise for that. The name is sadly (for me) a reflection of the world of cat breeding. There can be a slight disrespect (no offence intended) for the cat. The name is sort of cute and human orientated. It is a selling point, a piece of marketing. I don’t like that. But I respect other people’s ideas etc.

  3. I read about her and her journey from a geneticist point-of-view a year or so ago. You covered it really well. I think any kid maybe seven and up would understand it without any trouble. Good for you. I really respect your writing style, your eye for details and your tenacity on subjects dearest to your heart. Do we know the name of that Toyger. He doesn’t look familiar. Just curious.
    Happy Holidays.

    • Thanks Dan. You ask a tough question.. 😉 Having checked, I believe the cat’s name is ISHAH. And thank you for asking because I should have put the name under the picture. Sometimes I forget to give the cat a bit of credit too. A human failing. Ishah is a very handsome cat. He (or she) is like a souped up tabby or a customized tabby. Maybe that should have been the title to the post.

      Happy Christmas to you Dan. Enjoy. Have a bit of fun. I think we all need a bit of fun.

  4. Hi Michael,

    Beautiful cat, beautiful collage. Gotta love the perfect wide stripes.

    Glad to hear that one of the reasons the original breeder created the toyger was to remind us that real tigers are dying out in the wild in Asia. Interesting that she bred for shape and style of movement.

    Speaking of real tigers – One of the animal charities I donate to is the Big Cat Rescue charity. It’s a good charity.

    =^-^= Hairless Cat Girl =^-^=

    • I think the Toyger is a classic example of selective breeding, turning tabby stripes into a feature, something special. And the golden/orange look is impressive. I like Big Cat Rescue too and I have given to them:

      Although the founder, Carole Baskin, fights a tough fight. She has enemies, plenty of enemies. I defended her once, years ago. She is not Mrs Perfect you know. But I believe she does good.

      And thanks for liking the collage. I wanted luxury and simplicity. I think Judy was aiming at the luxury market. By the way I am not sure the Toyger is necessarily a great idea. Breeders sometimes tend to justify selective breeding by creating some highly moral reason for the breed’s existence. I have doubts about that but applaud the idea.

  5. Hello Michael, thanks, along with the kids i am also learning about beautiful breed of new cats. You are never ever too old to learn and thanks to your excellent website “P.O.C” have managed to understand different cat breeds.Strangely, a few of the popular exotic cats bred in the West have an Indian origin name like the “BENGAL and “BOMBAY CAT”, while the “Toyger Cat” has an Indian origin sire.Yet, India doesn’t have a single Internationally recognized cat club, very strange.The Toyger cat is a real exotic beauty, small and normal in size compared to other hybrid cats.

    • Hi Rudolph. India has fabulous wildlife; leopards and tigers and other small wildcats. The Abyssinian cat is said to have its origins in a wildcat hybrid in West India. The Bengal cat has a bit of India in him and as you say the Bombay cat is named after your city. And yet, no cat associations are in huge India. I wish there was at least one. The Toyger really is a creation of humankind but it is a very glamorous looking tabby cat. Imagine one of those on a leash in Mumbai 😉 You get people talking.


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