Toyger Cat: Cat Breed Profile, Characteristics & Care

Appearance, Personality, History, Care, & Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Shalva Epkhoshvili / 500px / Getty Images

Toyger cats are medium-sized, tiger-spotted, exceptionally rare short-haired cats. The toyger was developed in the United States in the 1980s and remains one of the newest, most unique-looking cat breeds. Much of the toyger's appeal lies in its wild tiger-like appearance while being a domesticated cat. Unlike the ocicat, which has naturally developed markings, the toyger is a designer breed, similar to the Bengal, the Savannah, and the nearly extinct California spangle. The toyger (a portmanteau of "toy" and "tiger") is a playful, intelligent cat and an optimal choice for big-cat lovers, without the unethical ownership of a wild animal. With time, toyger breeders are hopeful the cats' resemblance to tigers will only grow closer with time. The cat is recognized by The International Cat Association but not the Cat Fancier's Association.

Breed Overview

Other Names: Toy Tiger

Personality: Friendly

Weight: 7 to 15 pounds

Length: About 18 inches

Coat Length: Short hair

Coat Colors: Orange, black, and white

Coat Patterns: Tabby

Eye Color: Usually ranging from dark brown to hazel

Lifespan: 10 to 15 years

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: United States

Toyger Cat Characteristics

The toyger cat is a friendly, easygoing cat with an ideal temperament and personality. Toygers make great additions to families with children or pets and are ready to play and offer affection. If you're looking for a below-average amount of commitment to exercising your cat, the toyger's energy level may not be for you. Their intelligence makes them susceptible to boredom, so playtime is essential. Toygers are trainable and can be taught to do tricks.

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly Medium
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Vocalize High
Amount of Shedding High

History of the Toyger Cat

In the 1980s, breeder Judy Sugden (daughter of the original Bengal cat breeder, Jean Mill) worked with mackerel tabbies — cats characterized by their wild stripes and an "M" shaped marking on their foreheads. Sugden noticed that her Bengal cat, Millwood Sharp Shooter, bore round spots on its head instead of the typical "M" shape. The spots sparked the realization that designing a domestic cat closely resembling a tiger was within Sugden's reach. 

Sugden then started a breeding program using two cats: Scrapmetal, a domestic shorthair tabby, and Millwood Rumpled Spotskin, a big-boned Bengal. In 1993, Sugden proceeded to import Jammie Blu, a street cat from Kashmir, India, with the characteristic, unusual spotting between his ears, added him to the breeding pool, and accelerated the program. Pioneering breeders Anthony Hutcherson and Alice McKee joined Sugden's project later that year. The International Cat Association accepted the toyger for registration, and, in 2007, listed it as a championship breed, cementing its eligibility for cat shows.

Toyger Cat Care

The care routine for a toyger is standard for most domestic cats. Due to their friendly demeanor, playtime and grooming should be straightforward for both owner and cat.

Toyger cats are naturally active and require regular exercise. Because of their high trainability, you can train your toyger to walk on a leash and fetch. However, leash-walking isn't a necessity. Toygers are usually active indoors on their own, so independent playtime can be adequate exercise. Even though toygers are shorthaired cats, they still shed plentifully and should be brushed weekly. Tooth brushing, ear cleaning, and regular nail-trimming are essential as well.

Common Health Problems

Toygers are still a relatively rare breed, so understanding of their health problems is limited. However, it's thought that toygers may be at an increased risk for heart murmurs. Be sure to follow a regular check-up schedule, preventative care measures, and immunizations for your toyger.


Toygers have a distinctly tiger-like appearance, marked by its broken, vertical orange and black or brown-bordered stripes. The International Cat Association describes the markings as "dark markings on a vividly bright orange background on the outer to top portions of the cat with a whited ground color on the undersides and insides...enhanced by the scatter of gold glitter over the top." Each cat's markings are distinct. Unlike the mackerel stripes or round rosettes of a tabby, a toyger's fur pattern is random. The ideal toyger head bears circular markings, which cannot be found on any other domestic cat breed. Its short, uniquely patterned fur is non-hypoallergenic.

The shape of a toyger's head in profile is described as a "half-hexagon." Toyger cats are long, lean, and muscular but not bulky, with a long, thin tail with a rounded tip. It has round small ears and bright green or blue eyes. Its nose is broad at the base, with the jowl area correspondingly wider. 

Diet and Nutrition

The diet requirements for Toygers are those of any domestic short-haired cat. Obesity can reduce your cat's lifespan, so work with your vet to determine the best diet plan. Provide your toyger with high-quality wet and dry food and access to fresh, clean water. If you want to give your toyger a treat, a small piece of meat is always a good option.

  • As a relatively new breed, it does not have any known major breed-specific diseases.

  • The cat should get along with other cats or dogs and older children.

  • They are active, energetic, and highly trainable.

  • Toygers look wild and exotic yet have sweet disposition of a domestic cat.

  • They are difficult to find through breeders or adoption and expensive.

  • Although no major health conditions are associated with this breed, it may be prone to a heart murmur, a minor condition.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Toyger Cat

You may be able to find a purebred toyger cat through a breeder in your region, but there are under 30 toyger breeders in the world. The average price of buying a toyger cat is $2,000-$3,500. If you would prefer to adopt, you may be able to find a toyger cat at a purebred rescue. Certain states require owners to have a permit for toyger cats because of their relation to Bengal cats, which possess more genetic overlap with wild cats. This may be a consideration in adding a toyger cat to your family.

Types of Toyger Cats

There is only one type of toyger cat. Unlike other cats, there aren't variations in the appearance of toygers, and guaranteeing the tiger-like coat of the cats is of the utmost importance in maintaining the breed's pedigree.

Toyger Cat Overview

Toygers are a rare, beautiful, and well-mannered breed. While you may have difficulty finding a toyger of your own, they make great companions and require a standard level of care.

More Cat Breeds and Further Research

If you are interested in similar breeds, consider learning about these cats:

Otherwise, check out all of our other cat breeds.

  • What is the difference between a Bengal cat and a toyger cat?

    Bengal cats make up one genetic half of a toyger cat, creating many shared features. They both resemble miniature versions of wild cats, but Bengals have primarily round spots while toygers are more striped. Toygers and Bengals have slightly different head shapes, differently angled eyes, and different tail lengths, among other minor distinctions. Both breeds are well-mannered and make great pets.

  • Can I find a toyger cat at a shelter?

    The odds of finding a toyger cat at a shelter are very low. Due to its highly held pedigree standard, price, and rareness, a toyger breeder is the only reliable way to come upon the cat. If a toyger appears at a shelter, it would likely be at a purebred shelter.

  • Are toygers related to tigers?

    Toygers are only related to tigers in name. The breed contains no tiger blood. However, toygers share some genetic material with the Asian leopard cat.

Article Sources
The Spruce Pets uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Côté, E., Manning, AM., Emerson, D., Laste, NJ., Malakoff, RL., Harpster, NK. Assessment of the Prevalence of Heart Murmurs in Overtly Healthy Cats. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 225,3,384-8, 2004, doi:10.2460/javma.2004.225.384

  2. Toyger Breed. TICA.