Toyger cats are a relatively new breed of domestic cat that has been selectively bred to resemble a tiger.
They are the result of crossing a Bengal cat with a tabby domestic shorthair. Toygers share many physical features with tigers, such as stripes and markings, and they come in a variety of colors, including brown, black, orange, and white.
While Toygers are generally healthy cats due to their minimal breeding and hybrid vigor, there are a few health problems that may be more common in this breed than others, particularly due to their Bengal genetics.
Here are six of the most common Toyger cat health problems:
The 6 Health Issues of Toyger Cats
1. Heart Murmurs
Heart murmurs are abnormal heart sounds that are caused by turbulent blood flow. While some heart murmurs are benign and harmless, some can be indicative of more serious underlying cardiac conditions. Heart murmurs are relatively common in Toyger cats, and they should be checked out by a veterinarian to rule out any potential problems.
If a heart murmur is causing your Toyger discomfort or distress, your veterinarian may recommend treatment with medication. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the underlying condition.
Heart murmurs are usually not serious and can be easily managed with medication. However, in some cases, they may be indicative of a more serious underlying condition.
2. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a common heart condition for cats. It is a mild worry for Toyger cats due to their Bengal genetics. It causes the thickening of the heart muscle. This can lead to decreased blood flow and oxygenation, and, eventually, heart failure.
Treatment for HCM typically involves the use of medications to improve blood flow and heart function. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the thickened heart muscle.
The outlook for cats with HCM is generally good if the condition is caught early and treated appropriately. However, in some cases, HCM can be fatal.
3. Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Another gift from their Bengal ancestors, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a degenerative eye condition that leads to blindness. It is caused by the gradual deterioration of the retina, the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eye. PRA is relatively common in Toyger cats, and it can lead to complete blindness if left untreated.
There is no cure for PRA, and once the retina has degenerated, the damage is irreversible. However, treatment may be able to slow the progression of the disease and improve your cat’s quality of life.
The outlook for cats with PRA depends on the severity of the disease. In some cases, cats may only experience mild vision loss, while in others, PRA can lead to complete blindness.
4. Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a serious and often fatal viral disease that affects cats. It is caused by the feline coronavirus, and Toyger cats are particularly susceptible to it due to their Bengal genetics. FIP can cause a wide range of symptoms, including fever, weight loss, lethargy, and diarrhea.
There is no specific treatment for FIP, and the disease is almost always fatal. However, some cats may be able to receive supportive care to help them manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
The outlook for cats with FIP is generally poor and often fatal. However, some cats may be able to receive supportive care to help them manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
5. Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency
Pyruvate kinase (PK) deficiency is an inherited blood disorder that may affect Toyger cats. Testing for the deficiency is routine for Bengal breeders. It is caused by a mutation in the PK gene, which leads to the production of abnormal red blood cells. This leads to anemia and reduces the oxygen carrying capacity of the red blood cells.
There is no cure for PK deficiency, but treatment is typically not necessary unless your cat is showing symptoms of anemia. If your cat does require treatment, it will typically involve the use of blood transfusions and medications to improve the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
The outlook for cats with PK deficiency is generally good. With proper management, most cats with the condition can live normal, healthy lives.
Agalactia is a condition that occurs when a mother cat is unable to produce milk. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including stress, illness, and malnutrition. Agalactia can be dangerous for both the mother and her kittens, as it can lead to dehydration and starvation. The Governing of the Cat Fancy says some Toyger lines have reported this problem.
Treatment for agalactia typically involves the use of supplemental feeding and hydration. In some cases, medications may also be necessary.
The outlook for cats with agalactia depends on the underlying cause. If caught early and treated appropriately, most cats make a full recovery. However, in some cases, agalactia can be fatal.
Despite Toygers being a sought-after purebred, they tend to be a lot healthier than cat breeds that have been established for a long time.
The breeding of Toygers is still relatively new, so genetic issues have not had time to establish from selective breeding as it has in some other breeds.
The Toyger still benefits from hybrid vigor, which maintains health and vitality by diverse genes coming together.
While inbreeding can help to establish the desired look in a cat, it also increases the chances of genetic defects being passed on.
General Cat Health
This list may feel overwhelming, scary, or off-putting, but it’s merely a list of health issues that Toyger cats may be more prone to—not a prediction of the future!
Toygers are genetically close to domestic shorthairs and mixed breeds, which all can get sick due to genetics, exposure, or care.
Keep an eye out for things such as obesity, change in behavior, appetite, or water intake, as well as anything out of the ordinary in appearances such as lumps, bumps, sores, or discharge.
Catching problems early is always best and will give your Toyger the best chance for a long and happy life.
All cats have the potential to develop health problems. Toyger cats are generally healthy animals. However, a few health conditions may be more common in Toygers than in other breeds of cats.
If you think your cat may be ill, it is important to take them to the vet as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can often improve the outcome for your cat.