Imagine a miniature tiger in your home—a playful russet and striped cat pouncing around your living room, his small paws padding across the floor. But rather than being a wild animal, he’s domesticated. In fact, this wild-looking cat is perfectly suited for a cuddly life in an apartment or with kids.
Meet the Toyger, a cross between a Bengal and a tabby cat. They’re a relatively new breed, recognized by the International Cat Association (TICA) in 1993 and founded by Judy Sugden, daughter of Bengal breed founder Jean Mill.
Bengal cats are descended from crossing Asian leopard cats and domestic cats, so Toygers are distantly related to those wild roots. But the Toyger doesn't have any tiger, leopard, or other wild cat genes in their DNA.
Caring for a Toyger
These tiger look-alikes are medium-size cats, standing 9–13 inches at shoulder height and weighing 7–15 pounds. Beyond their signature stripes, Toygers boast big-boned, athletic builds similar to their wild muses. Their tail is typically held low as they walk, adding an extra wild touch to their stately gait.
While Toygers don’t typically inherit the Bengal cat's knack for leaping to great heights, mischievous antics, or even their chattiness, they did inherit a gene responsible for a striking coat known as Glitter. The shimmering striped cat is people-oriented, Baloun says, either happily playing within sight of their humans or curling up in a lap to cuddle.
Toyger Health Issues
Toyger cats typically enjoy a lifespan of 9–13 years. While they inherit some Bengal genes, a Toyger’s risk of developing the same congenital conditions as Bengal cats is significantly lower due to crossbreeding with domestic shorthairs, according to The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy.
While they’re generally healthy cats, always choose a Toyger kitten from a reputable breeder who conducts DNA testing for potential congenital diseases. Additionally, purchasing pet insurance for your kitten can provide financial protection in case of unexpected illness or injury.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Toygers may inherit the gene for progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) from their Bengal side. This inherited condition causes gradual deterioration of vision, eventually leading to blindness.
While there is no cure for PRA, early detection is key for accommodating your cat’s needs. The first sign of PRA in cats is night blindness. If you notice changes in your cat’s vision, including bumping into walls or furniture, see your veterinarian for an exam.
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common heart disease in cats. It causes thickening of the heart muscle which, in turn, restricts the heart from pumping effectively. Unfortunately, the disease often leads to congestive heart failure.
Responsible Toyger breeders should always test both parents for HCM before breeding. However, genetic testing can’t detect all forms of HCM. Regular checkups with your veterinarian are crucial for early detection and effective management of this serious condition.
Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PKD)
Pyruvate kinase deficiency (PKD) is a genetic condition where red blood cells break down faster than normal. It’s caused by a shortage of the enzyme pyruvate kinase (PK) and, if left untreated, PKD leads to anemia. Similar to HCM, cats should be tested for PKD before being bred.
What To Feed a Toyger
Just like any healthy cat, Toygers thrive when fed high-quality commercial cat food. To ensure they receive all the essential nutrients they need, opt for food that meets the nutritional recommendations set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) for your cat's specific life stage.
How To Feed a Toyger
Free-feeding, or leaving food out for your Toyger to graze on all day, can lead to weight gain and obesity. A better approach is sticking to a routine and feeding your cat two or more small meals each day.
Knowing when to expect their next meal reduces the likelihood that your Toyger will meow for food between meals. And while Toygers tend to be laid back, creating routines also helps reduce stress or anxiety in cats.
How Much Should You Feed a Toyger?
Toygers may resemble wild cats, but their dietary needs are far less demanding. Following the feeding guidelines on the back of your cat food bag or can is a great place to start when determining how much your cat should eat. This provides a general recommendation based on the cat's age and weight.
But for the most accurate advice, talk to your veterinarian. They’ll recommend appropriate portion sizes and caloric needs for your cat based on their ideal weight, current weight, health, age, and lifestyle.
Nutritional Tips for Toygers
As long as you’re feeding your Toyger a complete and balanced commercial diet that is formulated for their life stage, they shouldn't need supplements. If your Toyger has specific health concerns or if they’re entering their senior years, your veterinarian may recommend a special diet or supplements to address their needs.
Behavior and Training Tips for Toygers
Toyger Personality and Temperament
“Toygers want to be with people all the time,” Baloun says. They’re lap cats, but when they’re not nestled in a lap, Toygers can often be found playing. They adore playtime with their human companions, but will happily spend afternoons batting around toy mice and climbing to their favorite perches. That said, if you plan to be away for more than a day, the social Toyger benefits from the company of a pet sitter.
They’re lap cats, but when they’re not nestled in a lap, Toygers can often be found playing.
The endearing combination of playfulness and affection makes Toygers ideal companions for families with children, and those wanting an interactive and loving feline friend. In fact, these cats thrive in all kinds of homes, from bustling multipet houses to quiet condos. Just be sure to properly introduce your Toyger to new companions (whether cat, dog, or person); teach kids how to respectfully interact with them; and shower your Toyger with plenty of love and attention.
Toygers like to say hello and good morning, but they’re not exceptionally chatty cats, Baloun says. And while any cat can find trouble when boredom sets in, it’s not like a Toyger to seek out mischief such as exploring cupboards or climbing where you’d least expect.
To ward off boredom and the destructive behaviors that follow, provide your cat with plenty of appropriate scratching surfaces and places to climb. Aim to play with your Toyger for at least 30 minutes a day, too.
Baloun says Toygers are happy to follow their humans just about anywhere—even outdoors when safely fitted with a harness and leash. Indoors, Toygers are eager to bond over learning tricks and cues, even learning how to fetch as young as 6 months old, says Tonya Logsdon, owner of Glittered Up Toygers in Centerville, Iowa.
Fun Activities for Toygers
- Bird watching in a catio
- Playing fetch
- Foraging for treats
- Solving food puzzles
- Walking on a harness and leash
- Learning new tricks
- Playing with their humans and other pets
- Being petted
- Being groomed
Toyger Grooming Guide
Toygers have short, silky fur that’s relatively easy to care for. Their glittery coat boasts bold stripes, which are more stretched and branched than typical tabby cat patterns.
Their rounded faces—with small, rounded eyes and a well-defined muzzle—have a stunning circular pattern unique to Toygers and tigers. And like a real jungle cat, no two Toyger’s stripes are exactly alike.
Toyger cats don’t require special bathing or skin care, but many enjoy playing or bathing in water. If you notice your cat is overgrooming, itching, or otherwise has skin irritation, schedule a checkup with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
Brushing your Toyger weekly helps control shedding and keeps their coat healthy and shiny. However, don't be surprised if your people-loving cat requests more frequent groom sessions.
While Toygers are generally healthy cats with no routine eye concerns, watch for changes in their vision. If you notice your cat bumping into objects or otherwise acting confused, schedule a visit with your veterinarian to rule out PRA.
Additionally, if you notice redness, discharge, or irritation of the eyes, take your cat to the vet to have their eyes assessed.
To help prevent ear infections in your Toyger, thoroughly dry their ears if they join you for a bath or go for a swim.
Considerations for Pet Parents
Toygers are charming, playful, and surprisingly calm cats despite their fierce-looking tiger stripes. They're fairly low maintenance when it comes to grooming, but they crave human interaction. Their knack for bonding and playing with others makes them ideal companions for families, individuals, and even multipet homes or apartments. Interactive play and training further enhances the bond between human and these tigerlike cats.
Although there’s a risk of all cats inheriting medical conditions, Toygers are generally healthy cats with lifespans reaching into their teens. Regular veterinary checkups will keep your cat looking and feeling their best, and pet insurance for Toyger kittens can provide peace of mind in case of unexpected medical expenses.
Is a Toyger cat a good pet?
Toygers are specially bred for the stunning looks of a tiger and the desirable traits in popular feline companions. But like all pets, Toygers require proper introductions and supervised interactions when joining multipet households. Children should be taught to respectfully interact with cats of any breed.
Are Toyger cats high-maintenance?
Toygers don’t have elaborate grooming needs, but they are undeniably playful and crave human attention. Their kittenlike personalities persist through adulthood, requiring at least 30 minutes of daily playtime. They may be considered high maintenance for pet parents used to more independent kitties.
How much does a Toyger cat cost?
The Toyger price averages $1,500, as these cats are relatively rare.
Featured Image: Nataliia Pyzhova/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images
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