Monday, October 17, 2016

Cat Breeds: Toyger

Some breeds come about simply as an experimental accident. Such is the case with the Toyger. In the late 1980s a tabby breeder named Judy Sugden was busy using selective breeding to improve the distinct markings of her mackerel tabby cats. During this process, she took note of one of her cats. He was unusual in that he had two spots of tabby markings on his temple. Sugden realized that she might be able to use this cat to develop a breed that resembled a wild tiger, but only if she crossed him with a big-boned Bengal. It certainly had possibilities. And so her experiment began.

She was joined in her efforts by Anthony Hutcherson and Alice McKee. Together they established a proper breeding program for their fledgling breed, and in 1993 TICA accepted the Toyger as a Preliminary New Breed. In 2000 it was advanced to New Breed Status, but it wasn't until 2007 that the Toyger was finally granted Championship Status. Today it is considered a rare breed and is one of the more expensive breeds in the market.

The Appearance of the Toyger

This energetic little guy really does look like a miniature tiger, only not quite so orange. His body is long and powerful, his shoulders high, his bones thick and heavy. Weighing no more than 15 pounds, the Toyger really is grace in motion.

Colors for the Toyger do range a bit. The base color can be a striking orange, but may also have a more yellowed appearance. The stripes must stand out, but that's not all that's distinctive about the coat. If you look closely, you'll see what looks like gold glitter scattered across the fur. This isn't a camera trick, and it isn't unique to one cat. Toygers really do look like they've been sprinkled with glitter.

When Sugden was creating her new breed, she had something specific in mind. She wanted tiger markings that were distinctly not tabby, and the pattern had to be vivid against the base color. She even decided the cats must have circular head markings. Because she was so specific, and only used cats that would give her the markings she desired, she managed to get exactly what she was after in a relatively short amount of time. Her experiment was more than successful.

The Personality of the Toyger

Sugden did more than breed for coat color. She wanted her tiny tigers to be sweet and affectionate, and this she accomplished. The typical Toyger is intelligent and good natured. He'll play a game of fetch, or nap on your lap, or even romp with the kids. He's adaptable, so kids and other pets are not a problem. He does fairly well on his own, but he loves his family and wants to be the center of attention.

If you're looking for a cat who is a natural acrobat, a sweetheart, and resembles a toy tiger, the Toyger might be for you.

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