Toyger: Your Personal King of the Jungle

Toyger walking
Steve Corelli
Written by Steve Corelli

The human nature dictates that we are often attracted to things that we can’t have—more often than not, wild and powerful things, like tigers. While we sometimes see in the movies how Indian royalties keep tigers as pets, in real life, this is very dangerous—not to mention illegal. Luckily, we can now adopt a domesticated cat that looks exactly like the jungle lord—namely, the Toyger.

The Toyger is a new breed of cat that boasts dramatic stripes resembling that of a tiger. While they have wild looks, they also exhibit the sweet temperament of a domesticated feline. Not surprisingly, this cat breed is one of the most in-demand around the world.

toyger lying on the floor

Their looks can charm anyone—even those who have little interest in cats. But as you will learn in this article, the appeal of Toygers goes beyond their looks. Read on to discover all the fascinating facts about this new breed—ranging from Toyger temperament to their history and how to care for them properly.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: High; however, they are not meant to be kept as outdoor cats

  • Grooming: Low Maintenance

  • Health: Good; watch out for some common feline diseases

  • All Around Friendliness: Good; friendly but not lap cats

  • Exercise Needs: High; very active but doesn’t have much stamina

Cat Breed GroupShort-Haired, Crossbreed
SizeMedium; an average height of 9 to 11 inches
Weight10 to 15 pounds
Lifespan10 to 15 years

Toygers are like little tiger cubs who will slink through your living area and follow you around the house. They may look like tiger cubs, but they won’t grow up to devour you. Moreover, they have a sweet and calm personality that will appeal to most members of your household.

Toyger outside in the bush

Just like tigers, Toygers are very active and agile. You’ll have your hands full with them especially when you play fetch or walk outdoors with them. They are also very friendly and outgoing; children and toddlers will love playing with them. They are fairly active even when indoors. You’ll have to set aside time for playing with them because they need a lot of intellectual stimulation. Moreover, they also demand attention from their master.

Don’t worry about grooming because the Toyger is considered a low maintenance cat. Weekly brushing of their coat should be enough. Their nails should be trimmed every two weeks.

They can command a very hefty price. There is such a high demand for Toyger kittens that their prices can skyrocket up to $5,000. Yet, as many Toyger owners would tell you, they are very much worth it.

Main Highlights

  • Toygers have a thick and soft coat with dark tabby stripes and circular head markings. They are gifted with a long and muscular body, which, coupled with high shoulders, give them a gait that is very similar to that of tigers.

  • They are very easygoing felines who get along well with anybody, including dogs. They love to play and won’t say no to a game of fetch.

  • Toygers are very smart cats who can be trained to walk on a leash. You can also teach them tricks or let them play with puzzles to satisfy their need for intellectual stimulation.

  • Toygers are considered one of the most expensive cat breeds in the world with kittens costing from $1,000. Aside from the hefty price that these felines command, you may also have difficulties finding a reliable breeder.

  • They are not hard to groom. You only have to brush their coat weekly to keep it healthy and shiny. On the other hand, regular nail trimming is necessary. You’ll have to do it weekly.

Breed History

Mackerel tabby cats are often referred to as tigers although the truth is, their patterns are far from those of the lord of the jungle. Judy Sugden, daughter of the same breeder who established the Bengal cat, was intrigued by a couple of tabby markings on their cats. She thought that those markings could unlock the secret to breeding a domesticated cat that can be truly mistaken for a tiger.

So, in the late ‘80s, she started with a striped domestic shorthair and a Bengal cat. Later on, she imported a street feline from India that featured spots between the ears. Other breeders like Alice McKee and Anthony Hutcherson soon shared her vision and went to work in creating a domesticated tiger for the living room.

Toyger's green eyes

The result of their collaboration was a domestic cat with tabby patterns and rosettes which were divided across their long and large body. Moreover, the cat had circular head markings which were unique and not found in other cats.

The cat also had those glittering colors that made them stand out. Perhaps more importantly, the cat had that laid-back temperament.

In 1993, The International Cat Association (TICA) accepted the breed for registration. Seven years later, the cat was advanced for new breed exhibition. Finally, Toygers were fully recognized in 2007. So far, TICA is the only group to recognize the breed.


Toyger cats are blessed with strong front paws and long fingers. Their tail is muscular and long with a rounded tip that is usually lowered down. Male Toygers are medium-sized felines who can weigh from 10 to 15 pounds. Female Toygers, though, usually weigh in at 7 to 10 pounds.

The coat pattern of Toygers is unique among domestic cats. Unlike mackerel tabby cats who are known for their vertical stripes, Toygers have split vertical stripes that randomly appear across their long and muscular bodies. Some stripes also look like rosettes stretched vertically. Like tigers, Toygers have dark markings on a bright orange background.

small toyger in hands

The beautiful patterns on their bodies not only make them stand out. In fact, each Toyger has unique patterns just like fingerprints in humans. A scatter of gold glitter further enhances those patterns.

There are other attributes that make Toygers look like little tigers. They have long and rectangular bodies that give them the rolling gait of those wild cats. They also have big bones and high shoulders. And just like tigers, they have that familiar inverted heart shape on their faces.

Personality and Character

The Toyger personality is another reason why you might be tempted to adopt one in spite of their sky-high price. This cat makes a friendly and playful pet who likes to be around people. They also do well in the company of other pets like dogs.

They are quite active. They can run around the house and climb high places with relative ease. Although they can be active, they won’t be able to sustain their energy the entire day. This means they will eventually lay down on the floor and rest, allowing you to attend to other tasks in your household. They also crave attention, so be sure not to ignore them.

You should also watch out for Toygers hiding in places like the closets and cloth baskets. They love to do this as a part of their play. You would know that they’re happy when they roll over to their back with their feet kneading in the air.

Toyger playing in the busket

They are not loud cats even when they are happy. They may make a sound, but it is usually very gentle and unobtrusive.

While they are fun to be around, you must remember that they’re not exactly a lap cat. They would follow you around most of the time, but they won’t like it when you put them in your lap. They are usually indoor cats by choice. They like to curl up in warmer areas of the house.

They are always game for walks on a leash. You can bring them out of the house occasionally but always make sure that you keep them company at all times because their inquisitive nature could become the death of them if you let your guard down.

Toyger cats are very intelligent. They can easily learn new tricks like opening doors, drawers, and cabinets. Their intelligence makes them easy to train and handle for most people. You can teach them which part of the house they are not allowed to go to. They can also easily find the litter box and understand your house rules.

Health and Potential Problems

Toyger lifespan ranges from 10 to 15 years. You might have to pay close attention to their health because Toygers aren’t exactly the healthiest breed. They are prone to certain disorders such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), feline lower urinary tract disease, and feline leukemia virus.

toyger standing on the table

  • FIV attacks the immune system of Toygers, leaving them vulnerable to other infections. Toygers with FIV may appear normal for a long time, but they would eventually show signs of the condition. Toygers who are infected with FIV would suffer from persistent fever and loss of appetite. Other symptoms of the infection are poor coat condition, inflammation of the gums, and upper respiratory tract infections. In some extreme cases, Toygers could experience seizures and exhibit behavioral changes.

  • Feline lower urinary tract disease is another condition that could hound Toygers. This condition leads to inappropriate urination—wherein Toygers would spend a long time inside the litter box, urinating outside of their litter box, or maybe even produce blood. It can be due to various causes like a bladder infection, bladder stones, and urethral obstruction.

  • Feline leukemia virus, meanwhile, is a condition that doesn’t only afflict Toygers but other breeds as well. In fact, it is estimated that up to 2 percent of the feline population worldwide is afflicted with this disease. The virus is transmitted through close contact between infected and susceptible cats.

  • Toyger cats are also quite prone to worm infections. Tapeworms, roundworms, and hookworms can be cured easily with medication, but heartworm infection can be fatal if left untreated.

Care Features

As mentioned earlier, Toyger cats prefer to be indoors most of the time, which is a good thing because indoor cats tend to live much longer than outdoor cats. Keeping them indoors will also do wonders for their health because they can be prone to highly contagious diseases like the feline leukemia virus.

toyger catching something

While you can bring them outside from time to time, it can be quite risky because Toyger cats are generally not good with directions. They may not be able to find their way back home so make sure you don’t lose your cat.

Toyger cats will keep their playfulness well into adulthood. They can be mischievous at times, so you might not want to leave them alone for long hours. They can also be very destructive when they want to get the attention of their masters.

They are also very inquisitive; they are always up for some puzzle games. Make sure to keep them engaged by rewarding them with treats or kibbles, but do so in moderation to keep their weight steady.  

Feeding Schedule

It is generally recommended that Toyger cats eat a high protein diet. You can include high-quality kibble and the occasional meaty treats in their diet. Just make sure that the meat is boneless, plain, and fully cooked.

Toygers should not be fed foods rich in carbohydrates because they cannot process them well, so check that the kibble you give them isn’t loaded with carb fillers. Toyger cats are prone to weight problems when they are consistently given a high-carb diet.

Moreover, you must also ensure that there is minimal salt in the Toyger diet because salt can be dangerous for cats.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

grey toyger kittens

Their unique stripes can come in different colors like black, brown, and yellow-brown. Toyger cats are low maintenance felines. Grooming them is simpler and safer than grooming tigers. You can brush or comb their hair weekly to keep the coat healthy and shiny. Toygers have minimal issues with shedding, especially when they are brushed periodically. This further makes them a great household pet for busy people.

Aside from brushing their coat, the only other grooming task you’ll have to do regularly is to trim their nails. Those nails can get long quickly, so it is best to trim them once a week. Of course, you’ll have to clean their ears, too, once in a while. You can do so by wiping out the dirt with a cotton ball.

Just like the Bengal, Toygers love to play with water, so bathing them isn’t a difficult task; take care not to do it too often, or you’ll strip their coat of its beneficial natural oils.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

Toyger cats are excellent household pets because they get along well with children and other animals like dogs. They’re not easily intimidated by canines, perhaps because of their muscular bodies.

In fact, Toyger cats are so sociable and friendly that they will gladly approach any guest who drops by your house. They will also show off to your guests. That’s how confident these cats can be!

Wrap Up

There’s no denying that the appeal of having a cat that looks like a tiger cub is hard for many cat lovers to ignore. Sure, Toygers are quite expensive, but some cat enthusiasts are more than willing to part with their hard-earned money for the chance to take care of this feline.

Aside from their looks, Toygers are very amiable and outgoing. They are smart enough to learn a lot of tricks. They are also intelligent enough to follow your house rules.

Toyger rolling on the floor

Toygers are moderately active cats. They can climb high places in your home, but they can’t sustain their energy levels all day, so you don’t need to spend a lot of time playing with them. They are also low-maintenance cats. Their hair doesn’t shed a lot. Thus you only need to comb their coat once a week.

Are you ready to take care of the king of the jungle? If, instead of one that looks like a tiger, you prefer one that looks like an owl, check this breed out. Let us know your thoughts by writing in the comments section below!

About the author
Steve Corelli
Steve Corelli

Steve Corelli is a Pet Nutrition Expert from Allentown, Pennsylvania. He is the author of many nutritional strategies for different breeds and a member of some Pet Food development teams. His Maine Coon Stephan, as you might guess, is always well-fed.