The Tonkinese are lively but gentle creatures that they fit very well into families with children!
Tonkinese Cats are a loving, friendly, active breed, known for possessing only the best features of its relatives. This is a hybrid cat breed developed from the Siamese and Burmese breeds. The Tonkinese was created as a new breed in the United States in the 1950’s. Tonkinese enthusiasts claim that this breed has the best features of these two breeds, but none of the unfavorable features.
The fur of the Tonkinese is wonderful, being both silky and shiny. The coat has a darker base color than the traditional Siamese, but with the dark points. Overall it is very similar to the original Burmese. The coat is also short and lies flat on the body, which means they require minimal grooming. In the United States the names of the color varieties with this lustrous coat are followed with the term “mink”, though in Britain they are just given the traditional color names.
The Tonkinese cats have a muscular body form, but medium in size and length. Its legs are long and muscular with the hind legs being slightly longer than the front. The head of this hybrid is longer than it is wide, which is not quite like either of its forebearers. It is wider than that of the Siamese, yet narrower than the Burmese. The head is a slightly rounded wedge-shape with slanted cheekbones, almond shaped eyes, and wide-set ears with rounded tips.
This breed is especially active and playful, and it is also curious and intelligent. The Tonkinese is a great family breed as it is quite affectionate and gentle. It enjoys socializing with adults, children, and other animals. It dislikes being alone and solitude, but does not become as attached to one person as the Siamese. Like the Burmese and Siamese, the Tonkinese has a loud, distinctive voice. Tonkinese Cats are popular in the U.S., but rare in Europe and Australia.
For information about keeping a pet cat, see:
Cat Care: How to Take Care of a Cat
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Carnivora
- Family: Felidae
- Genus: Felis
- Species: domesticus
The Tonkinese Cats are essentially a hybrid breed developed between the Siamese Cat, which is a natural cat breed, and the Burmese, which is another hybrid cat breed. This cat breed was first intentionally bred in the United States in the 1950’s by Milan Greer, an American feline expert. He crossed a male Burmese with a female Chocolate-point Siamese and called the resulting breed the Golden Siamese.
When Greer passed on the breeding project to Edith Lux, she changed the name to Tonkinese. The breed is named after the Gulf of Tonkin, which is close to Burmese and Siamese (Thai) territories, but does not belong to either, just like the Tonkinese breed. Common names for this cat breed include Tonkinese, Golden Siamese, and Tonk (a nickname).
In the 1960’s, Margaret Conroy, a Canadian breeder, registered the Tonkinese in its first cat club, the Canadian Cat Association. In 1978 it was recognized by the Cat Fancier’s Association (CFA), and by the 1990’s, it was recognized by all North American cat societies. By 1991 it was recognized by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) in Britain. However, it is still not recognized by all associations in Europe as a true breed.
The Tonkinese is a muscular, medium-sized cat. Its body is neither long, nor cobby, but of medium length. The head is wider than that of the Siamese, but narrower than the Burmese’. It is a slightly rounded wedge, which is longer than it is wide. The ears are medium-sized with rounded tips. The eyes are almond shaped and slanted along the cheekbones. The legs are muscular and the hind legs are slightly longer than the forelegs. The Tonkinese weighs approximately 6 to 12 pounds, and it has a long life expectancy of 15 or more years.
Their coat is short, silky and glossy. It has dark points, like the Siamese, but the base color is darker than the traditional Siamese. It is close to the original Burmese color. The color varieties are called “Mink” in the U.S., and correspond with the traditional Siamese colors. They are Natural Mink, Champagne Mink, Blue Mink, Platinum Mink, and Honey Mink. In Britain, traditional color names are given, such as Brown, Blue, Chocolate Tortie, and Lilac Tabby.
Care and Feeding
The Tonkinese requires no special diet. Like the Siamese, this cat breed is not prone to becoming overweight.
Housing Your Cat
The Tonikinese is an active breed that needs room to run and play. Indoors it should be allowed to run throughout the apartment or house, and be offered a variety of toys along with a scratching post. It enjoys being outside, but is known for running away, so care should be taken when letting it out of the house.
This breed needs minimal grooming. Weekly brushing is recommended.
The Tonkinese is a sociable breed that enjoys being around people, other cats, and even dogs. It is gentle and affectionate, but not too docile, which makes it a good breed for families with children. It craves attention and affection, but is less demanding than the Siamese. It is also less prone to attaching itself to one person than its Siamese counterpart.
This is an active cat that needs a place to exercise so provide ample room for it to romp around. It should be provided with a scratching post and toys inside to keep it occupied. It is generally not a destructive cat unless it is isolated away from other household companions for too long a time, or becomes bored.
The average sized litter contains 6 kittens. A Burmese crossed with a Siamese will produce a full litter of first generation Tonkinese kittens.
Though they exhibit a wide variety of coat colors and patterns there are three main patterns; mink, solid and pointed.with the mink pattern considered the most desirable for showing. When breeding two mink pattern Tonkinese together however, they will not usually produce only mink pattern kittens. Usually it will result in one solid pattern kitten, one pointed pattern kitten, and two mink pattern kittens. Conversely, mating a pointed pattern Tonkinese to a solid pattern Tonkinese will result in all mink pattern kittens. These facts are why some cat associations do not recognize the Tonkinese as a true breed.
Common Health Problems
This is a generally hardy breed, but Tonkinese kittens are susceptible to respiratory disease.
Tonkinese breeders are less prevalent than Siamese and Burmese breeders, but this breed is still readily accessible on the internet or from local breeders. As per a breeder note in the comments the price for Tonkinese cats ranges from at least $600 to $1200.
- See Animal-World References: Cat Breeds – Exotic Cats
- Bruce Fogle, CATolog, DK ADULT, 2002.
- Mordecai Siegal, Simon & Schuster’s Guide To Cats , Simon & Schuster, 1983
- Hybrid Law, Hybridlaw.com
- Kurt Schmitt, Hybrid Cat Breeds, Cat Lovers Only, Copyright 2004 – 2011
- The Hybrid Cat Breeds of the World, Cat Breeds, Copyright 2009 – 2011
Featured Image Credit: dezy, Shutterstock