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    Place of origin

    California, United States


    In the late 1980s, the daughter of the Bengal breed founder noticed that one of her Bengal cats had two spots of tabby markings on its temples, unusual in domestic tabbies and reminiscent of the circular pattern on a tiger's head. Instead of developing this as part of the Bengal breed, she envisaged a cat who would resemble a miniature baby tiger, both in color and type.

    The foundation cats were a mackerel tabby domestic shorthair, a Bengal, and a street cat from Kashmir, India, imported in 1993. This Indian cat had spots between his ears rather than the usual striped pattern. The goal was a large, long-bodied cat with bold, vertical "candle-flame" (braided) pattern and facial markings akin to those of a tiger and a laid-back temperament. Hybridization with the Asian leopard cat in the Bengal breed had resulted in a unique expression of the mackerel tabby pattern.

    During the early stages of its development, the Toyger was conceptualized using computer graphics to give a clear idea of the aims of the breeding program. This "toy tiger" received an overwhelmingly positive reaction from both the cat fancy and the pet-owning public. TICA recognized the Toyger in 1993 and awarded it championship status in 2007. They were imported into the United Kingdom in 2004.

    A newly noted recessive mutation causing unusually short, rounded ears (from a cat born in Italy named Faan) is in the initial stages of being incorporated into this breed to distinguish it even further from the Bengal. Breeders are also aiming for a more tigerlike body color and facial conformation.

    Scaled-down versions of big cats are currently very popular. The Cheetoh is another Bengal-derivative resembling a wild species. It derives from crossing Bengals and Ocicats to produce a large, long-legged, spotted breed with a low-shouldered, prowling gait reminiscent of a wild cheetah. The six recognized colors are the Black/Brown Spotted Sienna (tawny hues), the Black/Brown Spotted Tan (gray-brown hues), the Black Spotted Smoke, the Black Spotted Silver, and the Lynx Pointed Gold Spotted Snow (colorpointed with gray-brown or buff extremities). It is intelligent, trainable, curious, highly energetic, and loyal to its owner. The Cheetoh currently has experimental status with TICA.

    Physical description

    The Toyger is a medium-sized, muscular, and long-bodied cat with bold, vertical "candle-flame" (or "braided tabby") markings akin to those of a tiger. Its eyes are small to medium size, circular, and slightly hooded. Like a wild tiger, the tail should be long and blunt tipped, set and carried low. The overall impression is a low-slung, powerful look with big bones, high shoulders, and a tigerlike gait.

    Perhaps the first breed to be conceptualized on the computer as a graphic image in its earliest stages of development, the Toyger has only just begun to realize the vision of its founder. However, the overwhelmingly positive reaction of the cat fancy and the public to this new breed has led to its rapid advancement to championship status in a major US cat association, the International Cat Association.

    Colors and varieties

    This breed is only recognized in the black braided tabby pattern on a highly rufoused background. The horizontally distorted pattern, resembling the braided stripes of the tiger, are unique to this breed and resemble randomly placed vertically stretched rosettes, often broken or branched. It should have facial markings circularly Biblealigned around the face, pale or white "spectacles," and pale ocelli ("thumb prints") on the backs of the ears. The belly, chest, throat, cheeks, and inside of legs should be pale or white. Like the Bengal, a glittered pelt is desirable as long as it does not obscure the contrast of the markings.


    Even further removed from its wild cat roots than other hybrid breeds, these cats are sweet-natured and affectionate. Very playful and outgoing, but occasionally head-strong, these "baby tigers" need firm, loving guidance in their raising. They get on well with other pets. Their intelligence means they are easy to train, and they can be taught to walk on a leash or play "fetch."

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    From The Cat Bible, Copyright by Sandy Robins, licensed through ContentOro, Inc and used by arrangement with I-5 Press

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