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13 November 2014

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You are in: Birmingham > BBC WM > WM Features > 'Toyger Cats' in Birmingham

A golden Toyger

A golden Toyger

'Toyger Cats' in Birmingham

American designer cats – bred to look like miniature tigers – are finding their way into family homes.

Toyger and silver Toyger baby

Toyger and silver Toyger baby

Known as 'Toygers', the felines bear an uncanny resemblance to their ferocious cousins and are being sold for up to £4,000.

Said to be more 'dog like' in terms of personality (they'll happily play 'fetch the ball'), Toygers are the result of a special Californian breeding programme that began in the mid 1990s.

Proud owner Colette Cope, 36 from Sutton Coldfield, has had her 'toy tiger'– Hazel – for two months.

"She's absolutely adorable," said Colette. "She loves cuddles and is so sweet. She has a feisty personality but has really taken to my youngest child. I would recommend a Toyger a hundred and fifty percent!"

A golden Toyger

A golden Toyger

Dave Penson and his family bought their striped moggie – Orson - in October 2008.

"My wife was looking for a cat on the internet and saw a Toyger and liked it," he said. "He's lovely and quite big! But he has a lovely personality. Unlike a lot of cats, he doesn't just skulk off when people visit – he comes over for fuss."

Toyger origins

It was 39 year old Gaynor Jean-Louis from Aston Fields who first imported a pair of Toygers to the UK five years ago.

"A Californian lady called Judy Sugden had spotted some street cats near her home," explains Gaynor. "Their markings reminded her of tigers. It gave her the idea to start a programme to breed a family of cats that had distinctive tiger-like characteristics. I heard about them and desperately wanted one.

Gaynor with a baby Toyger

Gaynor with a baby Toyger

"I spent two years talking to Judy and she eventually agreed to let me have a pair and get involved in the programme. I am currently one of only three Toyger breeders in the UK."

The Toygers come in two colours, golden orange with black stripes and a silver-lined variety, reminiscent of the famed white tiger.

Aside from their patterned fur, they have distinct physical characteristics that are recognised by TICA (The International Cat Association), including rounded noses, defined muzzles, long toes and muscular, powerful physiques.

Four weeks old

Four weeks old

'Dog like'

"In terms of temperament, Toygers are more 'dog like' in nature," explains Gaynor. "They're highly intelligent, very attentive, full of character and get on very well with other dogs and cats and especially children. To be honest, I was always more of a 'dog person' but because of the nature of Toygers I fell in love with them."

Gaynor says she's bred between 40 and 50 golden and silver Toygers. As well as having local customers like Colette and Dave, she says many have been bought by cat lovers as far afield as Australia and Canada.

"I sell Toygers as pets from between £600 and £1,200. Breeders go from between £2,500 and £4,000. All the cats are neutered before they leave me. The programme to breed them has been so carefully done that we can't risk someone who's not right getting involved. People fall in love them upon seeing them though so don't mind paying this much money."

A cuddle from mummy!

A cuddle from mummy!

Toygers have been bred to be apartment cats and will eat cat food like any other domestic feline. There's no reason why they can't venture outside but owners seem reluctant to let them roam the streets due to the high risk of theft.

'Perfect pets'

"It's amazing how many people say: 'Don't they look like a tiger?!' says Gaynor. "I get a lot of attention in places like the vets when people see them. They always come up and ask about them.

"Toygers are an absolute pleasure to live with. Because they get on so well with other animals and children they're perfect household pets. For anyone who's ever dreamed of owning a real tiger, this is a great alternative!"

'Dog-like' in personality

'Dog-like' in personality

For more information on Toygers and to contact Gaynor Jean-Louis, visit her website by clicking the link below:

Do you own a Toyger? What do you think of designer cats? Tell us in the box below:

last updated: 10/08/2009 at 16:22
created: 07/08/2009

Have Your Say

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

lesley ferris
I think that they are very good and would love one but I have four feline cats at present so it would not benefit me to have a toyger. If I didn't have them I know that my husband would love one he is jealous of the cat man on the tv.

vicky overthrow
i am lucky enough to have two toygers,they keep the whole family entertained,they have wonderful a temprement and great personalities.they are part of the family. vicky (castle bromwich)

Lovely as they are, is it necessary to charge so much when, there are many lovely cats who really need homes and are being left to fend for themselves, following their owners being hit by the credit-crunch?

Gaynor Jean-Louis
These Toygers have been developed over 18 years, some of the money for these pets goes to wildlife conservation. I am a member of the wildlife conservation Federation. We breed nice healthy cats we are breeding in problems in fact we spend a lot of time breeding out any health issues. Its taken many years to develop the Toygers braided markings like a tiger, its longer face and longer toes, circular facial markings etc, so show me a moggie with these and I will eat my hat! Gaynor

Looks just like a tabby to me?My daughter has a resude cat who eats with its paws and pees in the loo!!This ia all about money there are plenty of lovely cats wanting homes.

No breeder makes a profit they care about the cats and put a lot of work into health and testing.Its people who own the moggies back yard breed and think they can make money and dont test for the better of the breed.Breeder are very caring peopl who also do a lot for fun raising and giving food for rescues so before you say we are the pits, we do a lot more than you ignorant people who will have a cat and get feed up with it and change it like your knickers. Also you people carnt be bothered to neuter your pets as its cost money so more kitten on the street. Who the pits now

There are enough cats in the world without breeding more for profit. Go to the RSPCA and adopt one there that really needs a home or spend the £1000 on donating to a charity such as the cats protection league. Breeders are the pits.

how nice to see a lovely catbuta bit out of my price range

Hello, i dont personally own a toyger but i know someone who does and they are actually large cats, which i love about them

I own a toyger (first picture is my cat) and allow him outside (am willing to take the risk) because I believe he is far happier for it. He is intelligent/communicative and behaves much like a dog so needs the stumulation

Thinks that people should chill out with genetics to modify the perfect pet. What's wrong with rescuing a normal tabby these days? not letting cats out of the house is a little cruel, they are out door creatures, so if your going to spend silly money on a cat atleast let it have a good life.

they look exactly like your average tabby moggy to me..

Cat lover
I love cats but am happy with healthy 'Heinz 57' cats. Have owned about 14 over the years (67) and loved every one. Having a cat that is too valuable to let outside and be free would seem to be cruel in my book.

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