Section 4 – FOREIGN – Group 3
The Toyger is a medium to large cat of foreign type with a long low slung muscular body and athletic appearance. It is characterised by its striking plush striped glittered coat and superbly amiable temperament.
Toygers have only recently been recognised by the GCCF and achieved Preliminary Status in June 2016. The Toyger has been bred to resemble a miniature tiger but with the temperament of a domestic pet. No new wild cat outcross has been used in the development of the Toyger, which is still ongoing.
The Toyger is a new breed in the UK. It was developed in the USA by Judy Sugden, whose mother Jean S Mill is the founder of the Bengal breed. People often refer to mackerel tabby cats as tigers or tiger stripes and yet their pattern is a far cry from the bold braided patterns of the real tiger. In the late 1980s, Judy was working to improve the clarity of the markings in mackerel tabbies descended from Bengals and a few other breeds including domestic shorthair. She noticed that her cat, Millwood Sharp Shooter, had two spots of tabby markings on the temple and realized that this could be a key to developing a cat with the true circular pattern on a tiger’s head. The temples of domestic tabbies do not usually have such markings. Two cats that formed the cornerstone for the young Toyger breed were a striped domestic shorthair named Scrapmetal and a big-boned Bengal named Millwood Rumpled Spotskin. In 1993, Judy also imported Jammu Blu, a street cat from Kashmir, India, who had all spots between his ears rather than the regular tabby lines.
Judy embarked on her program to develop these cats with a strong vision of the characteristics that would be needed to produce a cat resembling a small version of the Tiger ie a large, long body to display the bold vertical patterns; which showed stretching, branching and interweaving (braiding) of the original mackerel tabby pattern. The cats would also exhibit the circular head markings found in no other domestic cat; the vivid glittering colors; and most importantly a laid-back domestic temperament to make the Toyger a delight to live with. Others joined Judy early on in this pioneering work and in 1993, TICA accepted the Toyger for Registration and in 2000 advanced them to the new breed exhibition classes, finally granting them full recognition as a championship cat in February 2007. The GCCF recognised Toygers in October 2015 and they progressed to preliminary status in June 2016.
The Toyger is a striking cat of foreign type. Although descended from the Bengal the body and head shape is distinctly different.
The Toyger is a medium sized domestic shorthaired cat that is reminiscent of a big cat in pattern, type, confidence, stately movement and athletic ability. The impression is of a sleek, muscular long bodied, large boned cat with a long thick tail which is carried low. Females may be smaller and less muscular than males.
The head should be long, broad and deep i.e. a broad medium sized wedge and medium sized in proportion to the body. The muzzle should be strong resembling an inverted heart shape with prominent whisker pads. The ears should be small and rounded.
The eyes should small to medium in size, circular with gentle hooding of the inside and slanted towards the base of the ear. They should neither be bold nor deep set.
The coat is particularly dense and luxuriously soft. The contrast should be extreme and unmarred by ticking of the background fur. The pattern is a modified mackerel tabby and branching and interweaving of stripes (braiding) is particularly desirable. Brown (black) mackerel tabby is currently the only recognised colour.
The early breeders took particular care to select for a good temperament and they have succeed in producing a cat who is exceptionally sociable, confident and outgoing and loves human company. Toygers get on well with children, other cats and cat friendly dogs and make ideal family pets. They are highly intelligent and like company so may not be happy as single cats if left alone for long periods.
Toygers are active cats but will live happily as house cats given adequate space and mental stimulation. They enjoy going outdoors too but secure outdoor housing or garden enclosure systems are recommended to keep your Toyger safe.
Toygers are similar to any domestic short haired cat in their care requirements. They are not fussy eaters and require minimal grooming. A light brush and combing once a week will keep your Toyger’s coat in top condition and remove loose hair. They are very clean cats and kittens very quickly learn to use a litter tray as soon as they are weaned. A well brought up kitten will be perfectly litter trained by the time it is ready for rehoming at 13 weeks. Vaccination, worming and parasite prevention treatments are the same as for other breeds.
Females weigh less than males with a range of 8-12lbs (3.6-5.4kg) for females and 10-15lbs (4.5-6.8kg) for males and life expectancy is the same as any domestic short hair cat.
The Toyger is generally a healthy cat. There are no diseases specific to the breed and they have no health problems related to their conformation. Breeders should take care to select against cow hocks which crop up occasionally.
Their susceptibility to infectious diseases is comparable to other domestic breeds. Some breeders claim that some cats show an adverse reaction to feline leukaemia vaccine but this has not been substantiated. The Bengal is the main breed used to develop the Toyger and hence breeders should do the same health screening ie HCM echocardiography screening and DNA testing for PKDef and Bengal PRA is recommended. However anecdotal reports indicate that the incidence of all these conditions is significantly lower than in the Bengal due to the influence of domestic shorthair outcrosses. There are reports of reduced milk production (*Agalactia)in some lines.