Toyger Or Savannah, How Different Are The Two Breeds?

Anyone looking to share their homes with an exotic looking cat would not go far wrong in choosing to do so with either a Toyger or a Savannah. Both breeds were developed to look like big cats and boast having gorgeous markings reminiscent of them with differences being in size and personality. If you are finding it hard to make up your mind whether a Toyger or Savannah would best suit your lifestyle, this article compares both breeds which could help you make that final decision.

Toyger origins

Toygers are newcomers to the world of cats. The breed was developed during the eighties in the United States by a breeder whose mother first developed another wild looking cat, namely the Bengal. Toygers actually came about by accident because the breeder wanted to improve the Bengals markings and in doing so, she produced unique looking cats which were to become the Toygers we see today.

It was not long before the breed caught the attention of breeders not only in the United States, but elsewhere in the world too. Toygers were subsequently accepted and recognised by international breed clubs and the breed was awarded full recognition in 2016 by the GCCF. These charming, wild looking cats have now found a fan base in the UK thanks to the fact they are not only extremely unique and attractive felines, but Toygers also boast having lovely, laid-back and affectionate natures too.

Savannah origins

The Savannah was first introduced to the world in the eighties too when a breeder crossed an African Serval cat to a domestic cat. This produced an F1 female and she was to become the first ever Savannah cat to be registered having inherited the beautiful traits of both of her parent breeds. Breed enthusiasts called Patrick Kelly and Joyce Sroufe helped develop them and went on to establish a breed standard for the Savannah.

The breed was first recognised in 2001 by TICA, but only awarded full championship status 11 years later in 2012. For the moment, the Savannah is not recognised by the GCCF here in the UK, but with so much interest in the breed, many reputable breeders are now established in the country so it is possible to find well-bred Savannah cats although, they are among one of the more expensive to buy.

Toyger appearance

Toygers were bred to have a coat that resembled of a tiger and although they are related to the Bengal, they are two quite different cats. Toygers are large cats although some are a little smaller than others. They are well-muscled, yet lithe looking felines with their low-slung stance which adds to their sleek, athletic and wild appearance. Males tend to be that much larger and heavier than their female counterparts but both have thick fur on their temples and ears although Toygers do not have tufty ears.

Their coats are dense and luxurious with Toygers having modified mackerel tabby patterns in their coats that interweave with their stripes. There is only one recognised coat colour which is as follows:

  • Brown (black) mackerel tabby

Savannah appearance​

Savannahs are unique looking cats. They resemble African Servals being elegant and proud with large ears that stand very upright. They have hooded eyes which adds to their exotic, wild looks. They are large, athletic cats with nicely muscled, well-balanced bodies.

They have gorgeously patterned and spotted coats that sets them apart from many other exotic domestic cats. Their coats are short and close-lying that's a little harsh to the touch thanks to the coarser guard hairs, but the spots in a cat's coat are that much softer. Savannahs come in more colours than their Toyger counterparts with the accepted colours and patterns being as follows:

  • Black
  • Brown (Black)
  • Spotted Tabby
  • Black Silver Spotted Tabby
  • Black Smoke

Toyger personality

Intelligent, playful, outgoing and affectionate, Toygers form strong bonds with their owners and families which means they don't like to be left on their own for too long. In short, a Toyger is better suited to households where one person either works from home or stays at home when everyone else is out of the house. They are social by nature and like the company of another cat so they are never on their own for even shorter periods of time.

They love to be able to check out their surroundings, but Toygers are best kept as indoor pets because they are so valuable. The good news is they adapt extremely well to being kept as indoor pets providing they are given lots of things to occupy them. In short, anyone wanting to share a home with a Toyger would need to invest in lots of good quality interactive toys to help keep their pets occupied. Toygers like their wild counterparts like to climb up high so they can survey the world below from high vantage points. They are not known to be overly vocal, but Toygers love to share their opinions with their owners whenever they can and they love the one-to-one contact they are given when they are being taught to play interactive games like "fetch" thanks to their very dog-like traits.

They are known to be good around children of all ages because they are quick on their feet and know when it's time to get out of the reach of smaller children and toddlers. Being so social by nature, Toygers enjoy the company of other family pets which includes cats and dogs they have grown up with. Some Toygers also enjoy being around larger pet birds and even some smaller animals, although care should be taken when they first meet.

Savannah personality

Savannahs are renowned for being very dog-like, they are outgoing and confident cats that thrive on being around people and love being involved in everything that goes on around them. Like their Toyger counterparts, they are active, energetic cats by nature as such they like to be kept occupied. They also form strong ties with their families and hate it when they find themselves on their own for any length of time. As such, Savannahs can be quite demanding and are better suited to households where one person is always around.

Savannahs are fascinated by water and will play for hours with a dripping tap or dip their paws in the pond. Intelligent and confident, these attractive cats learn new things quickly and like to be taken out for walks on leads much like their canine counterparts. They love to be able to roam around in the great outdoors, but being so valuable, many owners choose to keep their Savannahs as indoor pets and providing they are given enough to do, they adapt well to being kept as indoor cats.

They too love to perch on high platforms so they can watch what's going on down below. They tend to be quite a bit more vocal than their Toyger counterparts and love nothing more than to hold a conversation with their owners. They also love to play interactive games like "fetch" and are quick at learning how to open cupboard doors so they can investigate what's inside.

Being so confident and outgoing, Savannahs make wonderful family pets because like Toygers, they can be quick on their feet when the need arises which means they can get out of a toddlers’ way when they feel it necessary. They are also social by nature and like the company of dogs and cats they have grown up with. They too have been known to get on well with other pets commonly found in the home which includes birds and smaller animals, but care should be taken when a Savannah is introduced to any small pets and animals they have never met before.

Toyger care and maintenance

The Toyger's coat is close-lying and short which means it does not take much to keep things looking good and in great condition. They only need a quick brush and wipe over with a soft cloth which keeps a nice sheen on their coats while at the same time, removing any loose hair. They shed throughout the year much like other domestic cats which tends to be the most in the spring and the autumn.

Savannah care and maintenance

Savannahs too, have close-lying, short coats which means they are also low maintenance when it comes to keeping things tidy. Wiping a cat's coat with a chamois leather will keep a cat’s coat nice and shiny while a quick weekly brush helps remove dead and shed hair. They shed steadily all year round only more so in the spring and the autumn when their summer and winter coats grow through.

Toyger health

Although Toygers are generally healthy cats they are prone to suffering from more health conditions than their Savannah counterparts because they have Bengal in their lineage. The health issues seen in Bengals which could affect the Toyger are as follows:

  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) - stud cats should be DNA tested
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) – stud cats should be DNA tested
  • Cow hocks - some lines occasionally have this condition, but through selective and careful breeding the condition is now rarely seen
  • Agalactia (reduced milk production - this condition has been reported in some lines

Savannah health

The Savannah suffers from one specific health concern which is as follows:

Toyger life expectancy

Toygers are known to have slightly shorter life spans than their Savannah counterparts, but it's important to remember that diet and care plays a crucial role in how long any cat lives for. The average life span of a Toyger is between 12 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate, good quality diet to suit their ages.

Savannah life expectancy

The average life span of a Savannah is between 17 and 20 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate, good quality diet to suit their ages so in general they tend to live longer than their Toyger counterparts, but as previously mentioned the life span of any cat depends on how well they have been cared for.


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