The Tonkinese Cat is a domestic cat breed produced by crossbreeding between Siamese and Burmese. Members of the breed have characteristic lively, playful personality traits of their parents and are similarly distinguished by pointed coat patterns in various colors.
In addition to the modified coat colors of the “mink” pattern, which is a dilution of the paint color, the breed is now being shown in Siamese and Burmese colors like the foundation: white and solid overall pointed.
The best-known variety is the short-haired Tonkinese, but there is a medium-haired that is more popular in Europe, mainly in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and France.
- Origin: United States
- Lifespan:10 – 16 years
- Length: Up to 28 inches
- Height: 7–10 inches
- Weight: 2.5 – 5.5kg
- Colors: Come in a variety of colors but are typically darker on the legs and tail, with a dark masked face that blends evenly into the lighter body color.
The Tonkinese cat is a medium-sized breed. Males weigh 8 pounds to 12 pounds, while females weigh 6 pounds to 8 pounds. They have glossy eyes with a rounded bottom and a peach-pit shape.
If you provide them with proper care, Tonkinese cats have a life expectancy of 12 to 16 years.
Tonkinese cats have round, wedge-shaped heads and high cheekbones. Their blunt muzzles are squarish, with equal length and width.
A notable characteristic of Tonkinese cats is their alert ears. The ears have a broad base and oval tips with short hairs.
Tonkinese cats have almond-shaped eyes that are proportional to the face. The cat has a medium-sized body with a medium-short coat and a silky sheen.
You will find Tonkinese cats in 12 patterns and color varieties. The four base colors, called points, make up the tail, ear, and face colors. These colors include blue, natural, champagne, and platinum.
As for the coat, Tonkinese cats come in many colors, such as chocolate, cinnamon, red, blue, fawn, cream, lilac, and seal. Regardless of color, the coat is short and close to the body.
Aqua eye color is a distinctive characteristic of Tonkinese. However, that is not the only color of the breed’s eyes. Pointed Tonkinese have Siamese traits, such as their bright blue eyes. Their eyes can range from sky blue to bright blue to violet.
Solid pattern Tonkinese has a green-gold to yellow-gold eye color, close to the Burmese.
|PLAYFULNESS: 4Point||NEED FOR ATTENTION: 4Point|
|ACTIVITY LEVEL: 5Point||AFFECTION TOWARD ITS OWNERS: 4Point|
|FRIENDLINESS TO OTHER PETS: 4Point||DOCILITY: 3Point|
|FRIENDLINESS TO CHILDREN: 4Point||INTELLIGENCE: 4Point|
|GROOMING REQUIREMENTS: 1Point||INDEPENDENCE: 2Point|
|VOCALITY: 4Point||HARDINESS: 3Point|
While systematic breeding of Tonkinese did not begin until the 1960s, early versions of the breed have in all likelihood been around for hundreds of years. Burmese cats, originally known as “copper cats” in their homeland of Southeast Asia, have existed in the same regions as Siamese for centuries, likely through planned or unintentional crossbreeding.
Solid brown (self-brown) cats and chocolate Siamese were among the first cats to arrive in England from Siam in the late 1800s, along with blue-eyed seal-point Siamese.
Early records describe brown cats as “Siamese, with burnt chestnut and green-blue eyes”. Researchers believe that these imports were not all of the same genetic types but instead represented what are today called Burmese, Chocolate Point Siamese, Tonkinese, and Havana Browns. At this point, it is difficult to tell one from the other among the available descriptions.
Ironically, the Wong Mau, a Burmese base cat brought to the United States in the 1930s, was found to be a Siamese/Burmese hybrid and would today be considered a Tonkinese. These Siamese and solid-colored cats were exhibited in Europe in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Soon, however, such cats fell from grace. In 1930, the Siamese Cat Club announced, “The Club deeply regrets that it is unable to encourage the breeding of blue-eyed Siamese.” Solid color cats without blue eyes were accordingly banned from competition and the cat disappeared from the fancy.
The early 1960s
In the early 1960s, Tonkinese got a fresh start as a recognized breed when Canadian breeder Margaret Conroy crossed Sable Burmese with Seal point Siamese. The product of the cross was a cat of intermediate temperament and type, which Conroy originally called “Golden Siamese”. When the Tonkinese originated, both Burmese and Siamese had not yet been transformed into their present form by selective breeding.
The Siamese had not yet acquired its highly attractive appearance, and the Burmese were not yet compact and bushy, nor broad and round in head shape. However, combining the two and achieving a uniform and consistent head and body type have been a challenge for Tonkinese breeders.
The name was changed to “Tonkinese” in 1967, to distinguish the breed from the Siamese. In 1971 breeders voted to change the name to “Tonkinese” after the Gulf of Tonkin in southern China and northern Vietnam. The name was catchy and had a nice exotic ring to it, even though the breed did not come from the Gulf of Tonkin area.
In collaboration with other notable breeders such as Jane Barletta of New Jersey, Conroy wrote the first breed standard, which was presented to the Canadian Cat Association (CCA). The Tonkinese was the first breed developed in Canada.
In 1971, the CCA became the first cat registry to grant championship status to the Tonkinese. The CFF recognized the Tonkinese in 1974; TICA followed in 1979, the year they formed an association.
In October 1979, the CFA passed the “Five Year Rule”, requiring new races to remain in newly established non-competitive classes for five years. The CFA granted Tonkinese Breed Championship status in 1984. By 1990, all major associations had accepted the breed for championships.
The Tonkinese is a medium-sized cat, considered an intermediate type between the slender, long-bodied modern Siamese and British Burmese and the more “cabbage” or significantly built American Burmese. Like their Burmese ancestors, they are deceptively muscular and usually feel heavier than expected when picked up.
The tail and legs are slender but in proportion to the body, with distinctive oval claws. They have a gently rounded, slightly wedge-shaped head and almond-shaped eyes and ears set towards the outside of their head.
The American style is a rounded but sculptural head with a short body and robust appearance reflecting the old-fashioned Siamese and rounded Burmese from which it was originally bred in the United States.
While many American breeders eschewed the use of extreme “contemporary” Burmese in favor of more moderate “traditional” Burmese, the original Tonkinese breed standard was based on the highly rounded style of Burmese descended from Wong Mau.
The new Tonkinese breeders wanted to avoid the defective genes in the original Burmese line, so they avoided using cats they believed carried the so-called lethal genes. A few older breeders worked around the problem simply by selective breeding, which eliminated problematic births.
It is possible to trace some descendants by the perusal of Tonkinese genealogies, which are available in Tonkinese databases.
Tonks’ personality is perfect for friendship. Cold and distant? These are not cats! These sweet cats love their role as lap cats and always have affection to share with their family. Tonkinese shares their curiosity and intelligence with their Siamese side and loving energy with their Burmese ancestors.
“They’re definitely outgoing and they’re definitely people’s cats,” says Marilyn Krieger, a certified cat behavior consultant in San Francisco. “They’re such people cats, and they shouldn’t be left alone without company for hours and hours.”
Tonkinese cats, known as “tonks” to owners and cat fans, are known to be very loving, friendly, intelligent, and curious.
The ancestors of the Tonkinese breed, the Burmese and Siamese, are also known for their lovable personalities and easy-going natures.
This breed enjoys the companionship of both people and other cats. Tonkinese is fond of playing fetch, love to climb and perch, and are known to “talk” with a distinct meow that sounds like a duck-like quack.
Due to their high intelligence, the breed can become notoriously mischievous if left alone for long periods of time. In other words, boredom can lead to bad behavior, so make sure your Tonkinese gets plenty of interaction and exercise.
Although Tonkinese is generally healthy, the breed is prone to some problems, including:
Dental disease, which can be controlled with regular dental care
Feline lower urinary tract disease, which causes pain when urinating and can be life-threatening
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which causes gastrointestinal discomfort, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting
Amyloidosis is an abnormal accumulation of protein deposits in organs (usually the kidneys or liver).\
Regular vet visits and a proper diet are essential to maintaining any cat’s health, so make sure your Tonkinese gets annual exams and stays up-to-date on vaccinations.
“Tonkinese cats are known to be very keen on grooming themselves and require little attention in that department from their owners,” says Kurt Venator, DVM, Ph.D. and Purina’s Chief Veterinary Officer.
These cute cats only need weekly brushing to keep their coats smooth and shiny, and a rare bath if they make themselves particularly messy. You will also need to trim their nails, clean their ears regularly and keep their litter box tidy.
These intelligent, athletic cats love to be mentally and physically stimulated. Interactive toys, cat trees, and other opportunities to jump and play are great ways to get exercise for your toon.
“You want to make sure they have plenty of breeding,” Krieger says. “They love games. You can roll treats for them to chase; if you have high places [like a cat tree] you can hide treats and food for them in these places so they can run around to get it.”
Training your Tonkinese to a clicker should be fairly easy, Krieger says. This breed is highly intelligent and loves to learn but can be a little independent-minded. Treats and praise can help motivate your toon to learn.
Tonks should be fed a diet of high-quality cat food recommended by your vet. This breed can become overweight, so it’s important to make sure you don’t overfeed them.
Best Food For
- MUSE BY PURINA NATURAL GRAIN-FREE DRY CAT FOOD
- JAMES WELLBELOVED DRY SENIOR CAT FOOD
- PURINA BEYOND DRY CAT FOOD
Every cat is unique and each has its own unique likes, dislikes, and needs when it comes to food. However, cats are carnivores and every cat must obtain 41 different and specific nutrients from their food.
The amount of these nutrients vary based on age, lifestyle, and overall health, so it’s no surprise that a growing, energetic kitten needs a different balance of nutrients in its diet than a less active senior cat.
Other things to keep in mind include feeding the right amount of food to maintain an ‘ideal body condition’ according to dietary guidelines and catering to individual preferences regarding wet or dry food recipes.
Tonkinese is easy to keep neat and clean, grooming once weekly with a bristle brush and wiping with a damp cloth will give you a chance to check the health of the skin and coat. They will do the rest.
A greasy coat is a sign that your cat is not self-grooming and can indicate poor health.
As with all cats, regular vaccinations and parasite control are recommended.
These intelligent cats are trainable and enjoy learning new tricks and activities. They will quickly learn how to use the litter box, as well as teach you how often they expect to clean their commode. They are very playful and can be taught to fetch, jump through hoops or walk on a leash.
Praise and rewards will go a long way toward positive reinforcement of any training behaviors you’re working on with your tonk.
Tonkinese cats tend to be enthusiastic playmates and want daily exercise. They love to play fetch and hide-and-seek, two games that get their hearts racing. They also love to jump high and can do a few laps around the house if they are full of energy.
A cat stick with a feather or mouse on the end will be a toy that will stimulate your tonk’s brain and get his heart racing as he chases it. Spending time with your tonk every day and playing energetic games will help him stay in shape and gain weight.
Both the Tonkinese Breed Association (TBA) and the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) maintain lists of breeders. If you’re not particularly familiar with your cat’s papers, you may be able to find a cat like a Tonkinese at your local shelter.
See More Cat Breeds For Further Research
price of Tonkinese cats
Image result for Tonkinese cat
Purebred Tonkinese is relatively uncommon and usually costs $600–$1,200 from a reputable breeder.
Are Tonkinese cats good pets?
The temperament of the Tonkinese cat, moreover, can be easygoing. These cats are known to be social butterflies who are very patient with people, especially when those people give them attention. Because of their even temperament, Tonkinese is usually a great choice for families with children.
What are Tonkinese cats known for?
Active, intelligent, and athletic. Likely to be naughty, especially if bored. Able to open doors. The Siamese is said to be smart and inquisitive, along with the calm personality of the Burmese.
What is the difference between Siamese and Tonkinese cats?
The Tonkinese cat is slightly smaller, shorter, and lighter than the average Siamese cat. Both of these cats are up to 15 inches long and weigh up to 14 pounds. However, the Tonkinese cat is more likely to be a bit smaller, usually weighing only about 12 pounds.
Are Tonkinese cats high maintenance?
Cats are generally very low maintenance as far as pets go. Tonkinese cats are also easier to care for than the average cat, as their hair is short and does not require frequent brushing. But low maintenance doesn’t mean any maintenance. In some ways, Tonkinese cats require more supervision.