About the Tonkinese
The Tonkinese personality makes this breed popular as
a companion cat. Loving, social, active, playful...yet
content to be a lap cat. Tonkinese are firmly convinced that
humans were put on Earth to love them. Intelligent and
generous with their affection, a Tonkinese will supervise all
activities with curiosity.
The Tonkinese is a natural at inventing and playing games,
using favorite toys to play fetch or delighting in games of
tag and hide-and-seek with other pets – or even humans.
Tonkinese kittens are great fun, but even the adults tend to
remain playful throughout their lives. Scratching/climbing
posts and a variety of toys are much appreciated by these funloving
cats. A Tonkinese will quickly take over, running your
home and your life! They quickly endear themselves to family
and visitors, becoming your “door greeter” and entertaining
guests. Tonkinese get along with children, other breeds of
cats, and dogs. They prefer not to be ignored or left alone.
Two Tonkinese will keep each other company and also lessen
the amount of mischief that just one bored Tonk can get into.
It’s also very entertaining to watch two play together.
Do they talk a lot? That will depend on your perspective—
when they have something to say, they talk in sentences and
paragraphs (not just to hear their own voice). Their vocalizing
has a purpose and expects a response. A wise owner will listen
to a Tonkinese...or the cat may find an alternative way to
Tonkinese are beautiful, medium-sized cats, surprising heavy
and muscular. Their fur is short, soft, and silky; it’s easy to
care for and wonderful to pet!
Tonkinese come in 12 color and pattern varieties. The four
base colors are the color of the extremes (face, ears, and tail),
which are called the “points.” The coat patterns refer to the
amount of contrast between the body color and the points.
The four base colors are Platinum, Champagne, Natural, and
Blue. The three coat patterns are Pointed – which has a high
amount of contrast between the extremes and the body, and
typically have blue eyes; Mink – which has medium contrast
and aqua eyes; and Solid – which has a low contrast between
the body and the extremities and green to yellow-green
eyes. Examples of the color patterns are Platinum Mink,
Champagne Point, and Blue Solid.
Although new to modern competition in the 1980s, this is the
same breed depicted in The Cat-Book Poems of Siam during
the Ayudha Period (1358-1767) and imported to England
in the early 1800s as “Chocolate Siamese.” In the United
States, Tonkinese and Burmese can trace their beginnings
back to Wong Mau, a small walnut-colored cat imported to
California by Dr. Joseph Thompson in 1930. The Tonkinese
we know today was developed in the 1960s and 1970s from
the Siamese and Burmese breeds. Breeders wanted a more
moderate breed than the extremes of the two parent breeds,
and they wanted the new “mink” colors with aqua eyes. The
Tonkinese breed was the first pedigreed cat to have aqua eye
color. The breed was first recognized in Canada and then
accepted for championship status in CFA in 1984. At that
time, further outcrossing to Siamese and Burmese stopped.
Choosing a new kitten is an important decision for the entire
family. It is a commitment for the life of the cat. Usually breeders
make kittens available between the ages of three and four
months. Kittens need the time before 12 weeks of age to learn
good habits from their mother and siblings; this gives them the
necessary socialization and confidence to go to their new home.
This is also the time when basic inoculations are given.
Caring for a Tonkinese kitten is relatively easy. A rubber brush
can be used to remove shedding coat; they can also be bathed
occasionally. Tonkinese think everyone is their friend and
have no defensive skills, so they are an indoor cat only. Many
breeders will already have neutered or spayed kittens before
they leave for their new homes. If this is not the case, you will
want to have yours altered promptly. With a new kitten, it’s
smart to “cat proof” your home, much as you would for a twoyear-
old child. Be sure to discuss food and litter choices with
the breeder of your Tonkinese to ensure an easy transition.
For more information, please contact the Breed Council Secretary for this breed.