Breed-related disease: Toyger cat

John K. Rosembert

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.

oygers are instantly recognisable by their beautiful coat patterns. Their coats are dense and luxuriously soft, with a modified mackerel tabby pattern with branching and interweaving stripes. Brown mackerel tabby is currently the only recognised colour, giving these cats a black and gold striped look, much like a miniature tiger. The Toyger has a sleek, muscular body with a long, thick tail, which is carried low as well as small, rounded ears, and small to medium eyes, which are normally yellow or green.

The friendly and playful Toyger likes people and other pets. He delights in playing fetch, batting around a feather or fishing-pole toy, 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.

The Toyger is generally a healthy cat and is no more predisposed to infectious diseases than any other breed. Some breeders claim that some cats show an adverse reaction to the feline leukaemia vaccine, but this has not been substantiated.

Responsible breeders screen their cats against diseases to which Bengals can be prone, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), pyruvate kinase deficiency (PKDef), and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). However, anecdotal reports indicate that the incidence of all these conditions is significantly lower than in the Bengal, due to the Toyger’s outcross to domestic shorthairs.

As they have dense, short hair, Toygers’ coats are very low maintenance, and only need to be brushed once a week.



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