This weirds me out on a lot of levels. The idea of breeding a house cat to look like a tiger seems a bit odd to me, but I understand the motivation. Tigers are majestic and beautiful, but they do not make practical house pets: why not create a safe and humane alternative in the form of an actual domesticated cat…that looks like a tiger?

After all, it is said that God created the cat so that man might caress the tiger, right?

As you can see from the images in the article, these Toygers do not look like tigers. The upright, triangular ears of a housecat destroy the image, even if the coat looks right. It makes me curious to know if the breeder is going to attempt to breed kittens with the classic rounded ears of a tiger…or just perform bilateral pinnectomies on them all to get the right shape. Physically modifying animals through surgery to meet our ideals is a practice with a long history, after all.

The hair of the Toyger is too long and silky…tigers have dense, short hair over muscular bodies which have stocky legs to allow them to run quickly and smoothly through their natural environments. Of course, tigers also have giant teeth and claws, the better to eat you with, my dear, along with a ruff of hair around the face which the Toygers lack.

And, uh, what happens to the cats that do not meet breed standard? Lots of times, these animals are abandoned or euthanized because they do not meet expectations. Sometimes they are sold to collectors, as long as the collectors agree not to breed them, because that might “taint” the breed, which is an artificial construct in and of itself.

What troubles me about the Toyger is not whether or not it resembles a miniature tiger. What bothers me is the idea of creating yet another specialized breed in a country that kills four million dogs and cats every year in animal shelters because they do not have homes.

Four. Million.

There are 70 million stray dogs and cats in the United States who lack medical care and shelter, and live short, miserable lives.

30 million dogs and cats in the United States every year die from cruelty, neglect, and exploitation. (Not including lab animals.)

So yeah, let’s breed yet another fad animal, while ignoring the plight of millions of homeless ones. That sounds like a really good fucking call.

“There are so many cats out there that are being put to sleep because of overpopulation. Don’t create more designer species—go to the pound and save a life!”

So says New York City vet Arnold Plotnick, and he’s absolutely right. Toygers do not “preserve the essence of wildness,” captive breeding programs trying to save tigers do. Wild cats have a right to exist, and breeding miniaturized versions of them should not be condoned: why not invest the money spent breeding fad animals on contributing to programs that are trying to save our wild heritage?

Spay and neuter your pets. Don’t breed them. Don’t encourage your friends to breed, either. Reject breeding as a heinous and disgusting them, and invest the money you were going to spend on a Persian in your local animal shelter, or a wildlife fund. Please.

In the time that it took you to read this, 35 unwanted animals were murdered in animal shelters.