A relatively young breed, the Toyger cat is a cross between a Bengal cat and other domestic cats. It was first developed in the 1980s by Judy Sugden, by crossing in particular a Domestic Shorthair and a Bengal cat. In the few generations since this cross-breed, the breeding has produced a creature that resembles a toy tiger (hence its name). However, breeders are working to ensure that Toyger cats do look more like their counterparts in the wild, bred for a specific audience. One breeder, on another website, touts the Toyger as a “cat for the computer age,” meant for city-bred people who want a taste of the wild jungle with Toyger pets.
Such grandiose claims aside, the Toyger was only registered in the early 1990s and is still working up the ranks of cat registry associations. A few breeders in the United States and one in the UK have been working hard to develop them. They are hoping in some cases, for example, to get some of the unique markings commonly connected with tigers. Toyger cats obviously possess some features in common with real tigers, most notably the round marks on their faces and the tigers’ typical stripes.
They have long, thin, and striped tails and pointy to rounded ears. (One goal is of course to make them more like tigers’ ears, which are quite rounded in themselves.) Most of their stripes, though, are considered in cat breeding jargon to be mackarel tabby stripes, but the breeders would prefer a more random striped pattern quite unlike those of tabby cats. The ideal coloring for Toyger cats would be something very close to the tiger’s orange and black stripes, with no spotting on their coat. They would also have the tigers’ white bellies and most of the rounded marks on their faces.
Toyger kittens do not manifest most of the features of the breed until much later, that is, their orange stripes are not quite as orange. Toyger cats are active yet laid back. They are easily trained to do tricks and are wonderful with children. As this is a breed in progress, their relations with other cats are said to be a mixed bag, with some lines being more tolerant of other cats, and others not quite so tolerant. Generally, Toygers, being domesticated cats, are friendly toward humans.
Breeders involved in the process of creating Toygers promise that their goal would be to create a real toy tiger on a leash, as active as the real thing but perhaps not quite as aggressive. Their claim of creating a cat for the computer age is bolstered by the possibilities offered by digital imaging, where one Toyger breeding group even makes very confident projections three years into the future as to how Toygers should look.
At the moment, however, Toygers are not real toy tigers by any account. Black stripes often appear tan in some Toyger cats, for example. And there has been one recorded case where a Toyger actually appeared blue! (Of course, it is not a real Toyger, but that is genetics for you.)