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Toyger cat breed sitting on tree stump
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Breed Details

  • Average Weight: 7-15 pounds
  • Average Lifespan: 13 years
  • Key Personality Traits:
    Affectionate Affectionate
    Energetic Energetic
    Good with Kids Good with Kids
    Intelligent Intelligent
    Playful Playful

Breed Characteristics


Energy Level

Child Friendly

Social Needs

Shedding Level


Health Issues

Stranger Friendly


Dog Friendly


The medium-size Toyger was created by crossing a Bengal cat with a striped domestic shorthair. He is all domestic cat, with no wild blood, but he was developed to have branching stripes and orange and black or brown coloration reminiscent of a tiger’s pattern.

The lion may be the king of beasts, but the tiger is arguably the most majestic of the big cats. Sadly, tigers are highly endangered, and it seems as if little can be done to stop their slide toward extinction. But breeder Judy Sugden and other cat breeders who followed her lead hope that their creation—the Toyger—will help bring recognition to the tiger’s plight.

As the muscular Toyger slinks through your living room, it would be easy to imagine that he is truly a tiger cub. A tiger cub that won’t grow up to eat you. The Toyger has a sweet, calm personality and is generally friendly. He’s outgoing enough to walk on a leash, energetic enough to play fetch and other interactive games, and confident enough to get along with other cats and friendly dogs. He can also be a good choice for families with children as long as their interactions are supervised. Toygers usually weigh 7 to 15 pounds and live for 13 or more years.

Brush the Toyger weekly to keep his coat shiny and healthy. The only other grooming he needs is regular nail trimming, tooth brushing, and ear cleaning.

The Toyger is well suited to any home with people who will love him and care for him. Keep him indoors to protect him from cars, diseases spread by other cats and attacks from other animals.

Other Quick Facts

  • Among domestic cats, the Toyger’s randomly patterned broken, or branched, vertical stripes are unique.
  • The Toyger has dark markings on a vivid orange background with white on the belly and a scatter of gold “glitter” over the body. Facial markings have a circular pattern.

The History of Toygers

Toyger cat breed sitting in the grass

Lots of cats are named Tiger, but it wasn’t until Judy Sugden was struck by the two spots of tabby markings on the temple of her cat Millwood Sharp Shooter that it occurred to her that they could be the secret to developing a domestic cat that truly resembled the lord of the jungle. Starting with a striped domestic shorthair named Scrapmetal and a Bengal cat named Millwood Rumpled Spotskin, and later importing a street cat from Kashmir, India, who had spots instead of tabby lines between his ears, she went to work to create a tiger for the living room.

Other breeders who shared her vision and contributed to the breeding program were Anthony Hutcherson and Alice McKee. They came up with a domestic cat that had a large, long body, tabby patterns and rosettes that stretched and branched out, and circular head markings.

The International Cat Association began registering the Toyger in 1993, advanced it to new breed status in 2000, and granted the breed full championship recognition in 2007. Currently, TICA is the only association that recognizes the Toyger.

Toyger Temperament and Personality

The friendly and playful Toyger likes people and other pets. He delights in playing fetch, batting around cat toys, and just spending time with family members. He’s active enough to learn tricks, but not so energetic that he’ll run you ragged. He has an easygoing personality that makes him suited to most households or families.

Like most cats, the Toyger is highly intelligent. Challenge his brain and keep him interested in life by teaching him tricks and providing him with puzzle toys that will reward him with kibble or treats when he learns how to manipulate them.

Always choose a kitten from a breeder who raises litters in the home and handles them from an early age. Meet at least one and ideally both of the parents to ensure that they have nice temperaments.  

What You Need to Know About Toyger Health

Toyger cat lounging on the sofa

Like people, all cats can develop genetic health problems. This is why it is critical to choose a breeder who offers a health guarantee on all of her kittens. If the breeder does not offer that guarantee, or keeps her kittens isolated from the main part of the household for “health reasons,” find another breeder.

The Toyger is generally healthy, but heart murmurs, possibly indicative of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, have occurred in the breed. It is always wise to buy from a breeder who provides a written health guarantee.

Beyond that, one of the most common health problems in household pets that you can help avoid is obesity. To give your cat the healthiest life possible, make sure to keep him at an appropriate weight by feeding him a balanced diet and ensuring he gets plenty of both mental and physical stimulation.

The Basics of Toyger Grooming

Toyger wrapped in towel after being groomed

Grooming the Toyger is simple, and much safer than grooming a tiger. Brush or comb him weekly to keep his coat shiny and healthy.

The only other grooming the Toyger needs is regular nail trimming, usually weekly, and ear cleaning only if the ears look dirty. Wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with a gentle ear cleanser recommended by your veterinarian. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath. Start brushing, nail trimming and teeth brushing early so your kitten becomes accepting of this activity.

Choosing a Breeder for Your Toyger

When it comes to choosing a breeder, do your homework. You want your Toyger to be happy and healthy so you can enjoy your time with him. Visit websites like the Fanciers Breeder Referral List and The International Cat Association to find more information on the history, personality and looks of the Toyger, or to find breeders.

Reputable breeders abide by a code of ethics. For example, you will never find a good breeder selling to pet stores and wholesalers. But you will see reputable breeders outlining their responsibilities to their cats and to buyers, as well as performing the health certifications necessary to screen out as many genetic health problems as possible.

Many breeders have websites to showcase their business, but that doesn’t automatically make them a legitimate and reputable operation. Look out for red flags like seeing kittens always available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any kitten, and being able to pay online with your credit card. Reputable breeders will care first and foremost about connecting the right kittens with the right people, not making a quick and convenient buck.

When in doubt, consult your veterinarian! Your vet can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy kittens.  In the long run, putting in the effort up front into researching your kitten will save you money and potential headache down the road.

Be patient. Depending on what you are looking for, you may have to wait six months or more for the right kitten to be available. Many breeders won’t release kittens to new homes until they are between 12 and 16 weeks of age.

Before you buy a kitten, have you considered bringing home an adult Toyger instead? It may be a better choice for your lifestyle. Kittens are loads of fun, but they’re also a lot of work and can be destructive until they reach a somewhat more sedate adulthood. Adults tend to be more predictable in terms of personality and health. If you are interested in acquiring an adult cat instead of a kitten, ask breeders about purchasing a retired show or breeding cat or if they know of an adult cat who needs a new home.

Adopting a Toyger from a Rescue or a Shelter

Toyger cat standing near a small plant

The Toyger is an unusual and uncommon breed. It is unlikely that you will find one in a shelter or through a rescue group, but it doesn’t hurt to look. Sometimes pedigreed cats end up at the shelter after losing their home to an owner’s death, divorce or change in economic situation. Check the listings on Petfinder or the Fanciers Breeder Referral List, and ask breeders if they know of a Toyger who is in need of a new home.

Whether you get your Toyger from a seller, shelter, or rescue group, make sure you have a good contract that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Some people live in states that have “pet lemon laws” as well. If that includes you, be sure you and the person you get your cat from both understand your rights and recourses.

Kitten or adult, take your Toyger to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.

Toyger FAQs

How much is a Toyger cat?

Toyger cats are a rare breed of cat, and with that distinction comes a hefty pricetag. While the cost for a Toyger cat will depend on where you live and the quality of the line, the low end for a Toyger kitten is around $1,500 while the high end is around $3,500.

You should always vet the breeder before bringing any cat or kitten home. Make sure the breeder has performed all necessary health certifications and has raised the kitten in a clean environment.

Are Toyger cats good pets?

Yes! Toyger cats are known to be playful, loving, and good with both kids and other pets. However, as with any animal, every Toyger is unique with its own special personality. Always assess bringing your Toyger around your family on an individual basis. If you are searching for a Toyger, it’s also a good idea to ask your breeder about what kind of kitten you are looking for. She will often be able to make uncanny recommendations on her litter’s personality that will fit your needs.

Toyger Pictures