Cat Breeds


Isabel Hartley

The Tonkinese cat is a graceful blend of its Siamese and Burmese ancestors. Known for their sociable and affectionate nature, these cats often develop strong bonds with their human families.

Sporting a distinctive pointed coat pattern featuring a range of colors, their appearance is as charming as their personality. They possess a sturdy yet elegant build, a feature that adds to their athletic abilities.

These cats love to explore high places, such as the tops of refrigerators and cabinets, where they can survey their domain and keep an eye on household activities.

They are intelligent and playful, and they may often seek interaction through their moderate, chirp-like vocalizations, making them less loud than their Siamese relatives but still communicative.

Tonkinese cats are healthy and active, requiring regular playtime to satisfy their energetic spirits. They maintain their kitten-like curiosity and playfulness well into adulthood.

Their coat is short and easy to care for, making them a suitable companion for a variety of homes, including those with children. Overall, the Tonkinese cat is a happy medium for those looking for a pet that is both lively and loving.

Origins and History

The Tonkinese breed is like a bridge connecting two notable feline pedigrees: the Siamese and the Burmese.

These cats emerged as distinct in Britain and the United States in the early 20th century. Initially lacking an official designation, they shared characteristics with both ancestral lines.

In 1930, a significant event that led to the Tonkinese’s development occurred when a cat named Wong Mau was imported to the United States. She was the progenitor of the American Burmese and was actually a crossbreed, carrying the genes that would become known as Tonkinese.

This detail was not acknowledged at the time due to the absence of formal breed recognition.

The breed’s intentional development picked up momentum after the Second World War. In the mid-1950s, Milan Greer, a pet shop owner in New York, crossed Siamese with Burmese, which contributed to the breed’s distinct intermediate coat pattern.

The first registered crossbreed in the United Kingdom, a foundation for the eventual Tonkinese breed, was Chira Tan Tockseng, imported in 1958.

Milestone YearEvent
1930Import of Wong Mau to the U.S., a foundational cat with Tonkinese characteristics.
1950sCrossbreeding between Siamese and Burmese begins in earnest in the U.S.
1958Chira Tan Tockseng, a Burmese/Siamese cross, is registered in the UK.

As a celebration of its heritage, the Tonkinese inherits the best traits of both ancestors: the striking look of the Siamese and the solid temperament of the Burmese. They officially mark a spot in the feline world as charming, intelligent companions.

Physical Characteristics

The Tonkinese cat is a blend of its Siamese and Burmese heritage, resulting in a distinct set of physical features.


The Tonkinese cat boasts a striking look with a blend of muscular and slender attributes. They feature almond-shaped eyes that are often a captivating aqua-to-blue color.

This breed’s physique is elegantly sturdy, with a marked, pointed face that echoes that of their Siamese ancestors.


HeightAdult Weight
8 – 10 inches6 – 12 pounds

The Tonkinese generally falls into the small to medium-sized category when it comes to cats. They are not overly large but maintain a solid body structure.

Coat and Colors

The coat of a Tonkinese cat is short, sleek, and fine. This makes them relatively low-maintenance compared to longer-haired breeds. Their fur can be characterized by three specific patterns: solid, mink, and pointed.

The colors of their coat come in various soft, muted shades that lend to their sophisticated appearance.

Personality and Temperament

The Tonkinese cat is known for its engaging personality, combining intelligence and playfulness with a warm, social nature.


Tonkinese cats are curious and active. They enjoy exploring their environment and engaging in play. Despite their energetic demeanor, they also have moments of calm where they are quite content to relax with their human companions.

Affection Level

These cats are notably affectionate and thrive on interaction with humans. They are known for forming strong bonds with their owners and often seek out physical contact such as cuddling or sitting on a lap.

Compatibility with Other Pets

Tonkinese cats generally get along well with other pets. They are social creatures who can make fast friends with cats and dogs alike, provided proper introductions are made. They are likely to fit into a household with other pets, often becoming playmates.

Health and Care

When it comes to Tonkinese cats, they have a healthy lifespan and some specific health issues to watch for. Their care requirements are straightforward, encompassing diet, exercise, and regular veterinary check-ups.


Tonkinese cats typically enjoy a long lifespan ranging from about 15 to 20 years. As with any breed, genetics and environment play significant roles in how long they thrive.

Common Health Issues

Although generally healthy, Tonkinese cats are prone to certain conditions:

  • Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD): A group of conditions affecting the bladder and urethra.
  • Gingivitis: A dental issue that can lead to more significant health concerns if not treated.
  • Respiratory Issues: They may inherit a predisposition for respiratory problems from their Siamese ancestors.

Care Requirements

Proper care can help prevent some common health issues and support a long, healthy life for a Tonkinese cat.

  • Diet: Feed them high-quality cat food suitable for their life stage.
  • Exercise: Regular playtime to keep them active and mentally engaged.
  • Vet Visits: Annual check-ups and vaccinations, with more frequent visits for seniors or cats with health issues.

Routine dental care and monitoring for signs of urinary tract issues are also important parts of a Tonkinese cat’s care.

Frequently Asked Questions

When it comes to Tonkinese cats, prospective owners often have a range of questions about the breed’s personality, lifespan, compatibility with families, costs, and behavioral tendencies.

What’s the typical personality of a Tonkinese cat?

Tonkinese cats are known for being affectionate and lively. They tend to be playful and inquisitive, and they enjoy interactive play with their human companions.

How long do Tonkinese cats usually live?

A Tonkinese cat typically lives for about 14 to 16 years. With proper care, these cats can enjoy a long, healthy life.

Are Tonkinese cats considered a good choice for a family pet?

Yes, Tonkinese cats generally make excellent family pets. They are sociable and have a friendly temperament that makes them well-suited to family life.

What’s the average cost to adopt a Tonkinese kitten?

The cost to adopt a Tonkinese kitten usually ranges from $600 to $1000. Prices can vary based on breeder, location, pedigree, and other factors.

Do Tonkinese cats enjoy being cuddled and held?

Many Tonkinese cats enjoy affection and may welcome being cuddled and held by their trusted humans. Their social nature often means they seek out physical contact.

Are Tonkinese cats rare?

Tonkinese cats are neither extremely common nor extremely rare. They are well-established in the pet market, but one might need to search for a reputable breeder to find one.