Tonkinese portraitPortrait of a Tonkinese Cat

The Tonkinese Cat is a little gem of an animal that was created when breeders in the U.S. crossed the Burmese cat with the Traditional Siamese cat.  

They were seeking a cat with the outgoing and active character of the Siamese, toned down and refined by the wonderful, mellow Burmese.

The experiment to combine two exceptional breeds ultimately paid off, because the Tonkinese turned out to be a superior housecat,  attuned to the family, affectionate and adaptable, and friendly with dogs, other cats and children.

When first developed in the1930's, the cats were called "Golden Siamese". It wasn't until the 1960's that the name was changed to "Tonkanese" after the island in the musical South Pacific.

Over the years the name was misspelled with the assumption that the cats were named after the Tonkin region of Indochina, and "Tonkinese" was the name used to register the breed in 1974.

Tonkinese cats are gaining in popularity as people realize this is not just a Siamese copy, but a very unique breed with a very specific attitude and point of view. An extraordinary pet.


Tonkinese cat descriptive wordsHow Do You Describe a Tonkinese Cat?
Tonkinese Cat-Stats

Tonkinese cat crouching



The Tonkinese is a small, sweet, and highly domestic cat created by mixing two beloved breeds. The result is a cat with the active, people-oriented, and vocal Siamese type drive, and the soft, sweet and fragile personality of the Burmese.

A very special breed that makes for truly lovely company, Tonkinese cats are extremely affectionate and like to be close to peoples faces. They will gently pat you with a soft paw while discussing the days events in a varied and expressive voice.

What to the untrained eye is simply a copy of the Traditional Siamese cat, is actually a completely unique breed known for its exceptional personality.

The Tonkinese Cat is recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA), the world's largest cat organization. It is a relatively uncommon pure-bred or "pedigreed" domestic cat breed. The Tonkinese comes in various shades of brown, cream, blue and red, either solid or with darker points.

Ideally, the points are more subtle and shaded than those of the Siamese. The coat is unusually soft and has the texture and look of mink.

Shedding is average and only occasional grooming is desired. 

Playful, sweet, talkative and loving, the Tonk is a fine companion, getting along with dogs, other cats and children equally.

These are graceful, smallish-sized cats that have few breed-related health issues.

Because it is active and loves interaction the Tonkinese is a superb family cat that does well with considerate children, is extremely affectionate, and likes to be included in all family activities. -Tonkinese Cat Facts

Tonkinese on greenTonkinese on green
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Group of Tonkinese KittensGroup of Tonkinese Kittens

Although athletic and strong for their size, Tonkinese kittens are very docile and domestic.

Activity level is high and there is great curiosity, but these kittens, even when tiny, are neat and well-behaved, and sensitive to what the humans around them want from them.

They are bright and usually extremely easy to train, rarely if ever having an accident.

Kitten-proofing is always recommended for anyone considering adopting or purchasing any kitten. 

High furniture should be off limits, and caution should be taken when holding youngsters, particularly when carrying them across hard wood or tile floors.

You will want to eliminate any low-lying entrances to spaces under counters and basement and closet doors should be kept closed as they may have a tendency to wander off to a quiet place for a nap.

Tonkinese kitten look very much like a miniature adult, although they may be a bit clumsy, and their fur lacks the silkiness of the adult coat.

They tend to grow at an average rate and reach mature height at about 6 months, filling out and attaining full size and weight at about one year old.  

Because this breed is gaining in popularity, breeders of pedigree Tonkinese kittens can be found fairly easily, and the price is usually affordable for a pure-bred kitten.

Tiny Tonkinese KittensTiny Tonkinese Kittens

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Tonkinese face

Head Shape: The head is longer than it is wide. It is a modified wedge which forms an equilateral triangle when seen from the front. Forehead and nose are slightly convex, giving a unique look to the face. Muzzle is medium length, neatly formed, full and with a firm chin and smooth cheeks. The ears are medium to large in size, taller than wide with medium width to the base and rounded tips. The eyes are almond shaped, wide and brilliant, slightly angled. Eye color may be any appropriate to coat color.

Body and Tail: Small, solid and well-rounded. Should look neither stocky, nor delicate. Some individuals can be quite lean and muscular. The legs are of medium length, slightly longer in the back, with medium size, oval shaped feet. The tail is slim and of medium length, with rounded tip and no taper. It must not be whippy.

Tonkinese turning

Coat: The fur is very short in length. Very soft, close to the body and very shiny.

Pattern: This cat comes in solid, mink or pointed pattern, and in four shades- blue, champagne, platinum, and a dark brown called mink. Tabby or tiger type markings are highly undesirable.

Overall Appearance: This should be a hard-bodied, lean and muscular cat with remarkable heft for the size. Graceful and exotic overall. The coat is short, soft and sleek with remarkable sheen. A neat little package of a cat with a charming and affectionate personality.


Sable Tonkinese
  • Tonkinese cats are not named for the Bay of Tonkin in Indochina. They were originally named "Tonkanese" with an "a", after the Island in the musical "South Pacific" where it was said that "mixed-breeds were always welcome"! The name was misspelled with an "i" so often that over time it just stuck!

Tonkinese cat mother and babiesTonkinese cat mother and babies

Next cat from A to Z is the Tortoiseshell  

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