A Short History of the Toyger Breed

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Domestic shorthairs and Bengals start the breed.

from this in the 1980's.....

"Scrapmetal," early best striped DSH, had the traditional uniform domestic tabby stripes with a dorsal stripe down the back.

Millwood Rumpled Spotskin, a big boned early SBT Bengal was the cornerstone of the Toyger breed.

to this in 1997....

EEYAA'S Tres Vez had the stripes and the body but lacked good temperament and exciting head structure.

to this in 2002....

EEYAA'S WarWhoop, SBT Toyger


"Wow! This could actually be done well enough to be worth doing!"

Already working on trying to improve the clarity of mackerel markings in domestic "tiger cats", the idea for a domestic tiger look-alike became a real possibility to Bengal cat breeder Judy Sugden in the late 1980s, when she noticed two small spots of tabby markings on the temple of one of her cats, Millwood Sharp Shooter. Since this area is always devoid of markings in domestics, Judy recognized the implications for someday developing a circular tiger face pattern.

Checkmate showing light colored but prized early Toyger temple markings (mostly just spotting then) between eye and ear


The problem of the usual linear tabby lines running back over the top of the head was answered in a street cat that she imported from Kashmir, India in 1993. Jammu Blu had all spots between his ears. The trick then would be to glue those spots back together in a never before tiger type pattern. Thus began the hair by hair construction of a tiger-like pattern that is still in progress. See the "oh, goodie" cats of our history below.

Early morfs inspired the thinking...

For full effect , a tiger-lookalike needs a big cat body for such a pattern to go on. Judy had sketched and thought about the differences between the big and small wild cats. She had written several articles urging that the Bengal cat breed reach for the big cat type of the leopard but many felt that that domestic should pay homage to its Asian leopard cat ancestery an develop into a wild small cat type. This new little "toy tiger" domestic would be the opportunity to create the embodiment of big cat! This commitment to more "never before in small cats" characteristics meant a long term breeding program, patience, and lots of friends to home the less perfect kittens and breeders with the grit for the long haul. Anthony Hutcherson of Jungletrax and Alice McKee of Windridge were such early and steady folks with dedication and encouragement.

Great temperaments and intellegence make the cats a joy to live with. ...and some even seem to move differently with their big bones and long toes.--- more like big cats.

The International Cat Association agreed to accept the Toyger (named California Toyger then) for Registration Only in 1993 and voted to accept them as an Evaluation New Breed in 2000. This status allows the cats to be evaluated by the judges at a TICA cat show and awarded first, second and third of breed but they are not yet accepted for Championship judging. TICA changed showing category names in 2003 and shown as a Preliminary New Breed. May 1st 2006 Toygers will befgin showing in their new status of Advanced New Breed in TICA.

California Toyger projection as drawn and presented by Judy Sugden to TICA in 1993 for recognision as a Registration Only Breed.

Toyger projection ---as Phase II --- as composed and presented by Judy Sugden to TICA for advancment to Evaluation New Breed in 2000.

Such hints about what the future cats could and would be, make the project exciting, the people involved as breeders and as pet owners enjoy their charges, and the cats seem to like their human companions and activities. So far so good. Only the future will tell as to the success of the breed and the added comfort and companionship these cats will bring to their humans.



Raja 2005

More "Oh, Goody!" cats of Toyger history coming one of these days...


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