Tigger aside, a pet tiger is a most impractical pet; space and feeding are definite challenges well beyond the abilities of even the most seasoned cat owner. If you're taken with the beautiful pattern and colors of a tiger, there are plenty of house cats who look like tigers -- and a few other big, wild cats.
If you're on the prowl for a miniature tiger, the toyger may be the cat for you. Compared to other breeds of domestic cats, the toyger is new on the scene, around since the early 1990s and accepted by The International Cat Association for registration in 1993. Though there's not a hint of tiger blood in the toyger, this medium-sized house cat may fool you into thinking otherwise. She has a long body marked with a random pattern of broken vertical stripes; the stripes are dark on a bright orange background on her top and sides. The toyger is an engaging cat who enjoys human companionship and can be trained to play fetch or walk on a leash. Males usually weigh between 10 and 15 pounds; females are smaller, between 7 and 10 pounds.
Long before there was a toyger, there was a tabby, not a breed, but a pattern on a variety of breeds. The tabby pattern comes in a variety of forms and colors, with the two most common patterns being the mackerel and the classic patterns. If you use your imagination, either one of these girls could summon up the image of a tiger stalking across your front lawn. A mackerel tabby has vertical stripes that may break into bars or spots. The classic tabby sports broad stripes, swirls and spirals of dark color on a pale background. Both of these tabbies sport stripes and bars on their legs and tail, as well as an "M" marking the forehead.
Messy Beast notes an effort to produce a more similar tiger pattern in tabbies has resulted in a pattern called candle-flame or braided tabbies. The goal is close, evenly spaced stripes that don't break into spots, but instead into lengthened stripes or braids.
Since tabby isn't a breed, but a pattern, you can find this tigerlike pattern among a host of different breeds. The Maine coon is popular in show circles and as a family pet because he's outgoing and loving. Weighing in around 17 pounds, this is a whole lot of lovin' cat. The American shorthair may be considered the classic tabby most everyone is familiar with. Though many may consider her to be just a regular girl, she's usually a laid-back, affectionate cat. The Manx and the munchkin also sport the tabby pattern, though they have some exceptions that don't mimic the real tiger; the Manx is tailless, while the munchkin gets around on short legs.
There are a variety of other breeds who resemble other big, wild cats. The Bengal is a high energy, muscular cat who, despite her name, does not sport tiger stripes but is dotted with leopardlike spots. The ocicat takes after -- what else? -- the ocelot; she's a large, athletic cat who's adaptable and outgoing. Unlike the Bengal and the ocicat, the Egyptian mau isn't a byproduct of crossbreeding, but is a naturally spotted cat. She's a lean girl, intelligent and loyal to her family.
- National Geographic: ''Toygers'' vs. Tigers
- The International Cat Association: Toyger
- Messy Beast: Striped, Spotted and Ticked Cats
- PetMD: Bengal Cat
- Animal Hospital of Dauphin County: Ask the Vet's Pets: What's the Difference Between a Tabby and a Tiger Cat?
- CatChannel.com: Breeds
- Live Science: Tigers: Facts and Information