• Tonkinese Cat
  • Tonkinese
  • Tonkineses in the UK
  • Tonkinese in the UK
  • Tonkineses in Great Britain
  • Tonkinese Cats
Exercise Level:
Good with Children:
Good with other pets:
Weight: 3 - 5kg M | 2 - 3kg F
Life Expectancy: 12 - 16 Years

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The Tonkinese cat is a comparably new breed, emerging in the United States in the 1960s. This feline is a cross between the Siamese and Burmese breeds and has the features of both parents.

The Tonkinese cat is amongst the friendliest and most affectionate of all cat breeds. She is a lap cat that demands and craves attention from her family.

The Tonkinese cat breed is known to follow her humans around and likes to meet new faces. Due to this, she does not like to be left alone for long.

Grooming the Tonkinese breed is not an issue as she has a low-shedding and low-maintenance coat. Intelligent and active, she likes to retrieve, jump to elevated places, and play with puzzle toys. The Tonkinese cat breed has a lifespan of 12–16 years.

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The Tonkinese cat breed is speculated to have existed for hundreds of years. However, it was only recently that she was deliberately developed through human intervention. This stunning feline was produced by Jane Barletta, an American Siamese cat breeder. She crossed Siamese and Burmese Cats which created the Tonkinese breed.

The aim was to develop a cat with the intelligence and affectionate nature of both parent breeds. A milder voice than the Siamese was also desired, as well as the aqua-eyed, mink-colored variety.

Accounts say that the Tonkinese cat breed was first brought to England from Siam (now Thailand) in the 1800s. However, instead of her present name, she was named “Chocolate Siamese.”

In the United States, the Tonkinese cat breed as well as the Burmese descended from a small cat named Wong Mau. This feline ancestor, imported in 1930 by Dr. Joseph Thompson, was thought to be a Chocolate Siamese.

The Tonkinese cat breed first emerged in the United States in 1930. This was right after Canadian breeder Margaret Conroy crossed the said Southeast Asian cat breeds.

The resulting kittens were called “Golden Siamese,” as they appeared to inherit the traits of both parent breeds.

After breeders managed to produce cats with consistent head and body proportions, they started to call the new variety Tonkinese. The name was inspired by Vietnam's Bay of Tonkin, although the breed has no links to the said country.

In the years that ensued, many of the international breed organisations accepted the newly developed cat breed. The Tonkinese cat was first acknowledged in Canada in 1971.

In 1984, the Tonkinese cat breed was given championship status by the Cat Fanciers’ Association. In 2001, she was officially recognised as an established breed.

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Appearance and Grooming

The Tonkinese is a medium-sized cat with a well proportioned body. She is heavier than she appears, like her Burmese parent. This cat breed is attractive and elegant, with glistening eyes and an athletic, muscular body.

Fully matured male Tonkinese cats weigh approximately 3–5 kilos (8–12 pounds). Adult female Tonkinese cats, on the other hand, weigh around 2–3 kilos (6–8 pounds).

The head of the Tonkinese cat breed is mildly wedge-shaped, slightly rounded, and a bit longer than it is wide. Her muzzle is blunt and is as long as it is wide.

When seen from the side, the Tonkinese cat’s chin aligns with the nose tip. Her facial features are inherited from her Siamese parent.

The Tonkinese cat's medium-sized ears have oval tips and hair that lies close to the body. Her eyes are slanted towards the outer edge of her ears. Her aqua blue eyes are striking and impressive.

The Tonkinese cat’s compact and sleek body is supported by long, slender legs. They are proportionate to the rest of her body.

The Tonkinese’s back legs are longer than the front. They end in oval-shaped paws that only have 4 toes on the back ones and 5 on the front pair. Her tail is of moderate length and also proportionate to the body.

The short coat of the Tonkinese cat breed is one of her most distinctive features. Silky, soft, and striking, her fur has a beautiful sheen.

The Tonkinese cat's coat comes in several colors and patterns. According to breed standards, the coat colors include platinum, champagne, blue, and natural (seal type). The coat patterns can be solid, pointed, or mink.

The point hues appear on the Tonkinese cat's face, ears, tail, and feet. The color takes about 16 months to fully manifest and may darken as the feline ages.

The shade of the Tonkinese cat breed’s coat depends on the availability of light as the feline grows. Cooler temperatures manage the enzyme that triggers the darkening of the fur color. This means that a colder climate results in darker-colored cats.

Do Tonkinese cats shed a lot?

No, Tonkinese cats do not shed much. They are a low-shedder and don't require too much time for grooming. They only need brushing once a week to keep their shedding manageable. Baths are rarely necessary because they frequently do self-grooming.

Are Tonkinese cats hypoallergenic?

No. Tonkinese cats may be low-shedders, but they are not hypoallergenic. For cat lovers with allergies who are in search of a feline friend, it may be a good idea to look for another cat breed.

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Temperament and Intelligence

The Tonkinese cat breed gets her intelligence and curiosity from her Siamese parent. Her cat personality is largely inherited from the Burmese side.

Energetic, sociable, and natural entertainers, Tonkinese cats are amusing pets. They are good companions for families who desire to own playful furry friends. They get along well with children. They are also great feline companions for cat-friendly dog breeds.

These outgoing felines like to be involved in the activities in the home. They will not do well being constantly left on their own.

Being a smart kitty, the Tonkinese cat breed likes mentally challenging toys and seeks to master them. She can be taught tricks and even engage in a game of fetch. This cat breed also likes to investigate and leap to high points to observe.

Are Tonkinese cats affectionate?

Yes, Tonkinese cats are very affectionate pets. They love human company and will follow their owners around.

Being lap cats that love cuddles, Tonkinese cats will demand attention and are known to be vocal. They will talk back to their owners in lengthy conversations as they are not content with brief responses.

What is the difference between Siamese and Tonkinese cats?

Both Siamese and Tonkinese cats are highly intelligent and sociable felines. However, unlike the lively Siamese cat, the Tonkinese cat has a more subdued and laid-back temperament. She also has a softer voice compared to the loud meows of the Siamese cat.

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Nutrition and Feeding

When feeding the Tonkinese cat, choose a high-quality cat food that is high in animal fats and proteins. These ingredients are responsible for replenishing the energy she has burned out throughout the day.

Check to see if the cat food is low in carbohydrates. The Tonkinese cat breed usually suffers from food sensitivities and digestive issues caused by carbohydrate fillers such as corn and wheat. A high carb diet also places her at risk of obesity and diabetes mellitus.

The Tonkinese cat is an energetic breed. Thus, she should have 80 Kcals of food per kg of body weight per day. Consistently give her the same food to avoid malnutrition or obesity.

If there are changes to your Tonkinese cat’s diet, those must be done gradually to prevent digestive issues.

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Health and Exercise

The Tonkinese cat has strong genes, thus she is not prone to many diseases. But the cat breed is susceptible to certain health problems like periodontal disease. Other health issues include:


It occurs when there is abnormal transportation of proteins called "amyloid" in the body. This disrupts the function of the body and its tissues.

Tonkinese cats are predisposed to this health condition as it is also a common issue in both of their parent breeds.


Clinically known as feline idiopathic cystitis, it is a kidney problem characterised by the inflammation of the bladder. This is a recurring condition that cannot be cured.

The vet may change a Tonkinese cat’s diet or give her medications to combat this disease.

Feline Asthma

Tonkinese cats with feline asthma will experience breathing difficulties, wheezing, and coughing. The real cause of this health issue is yet to be discovered. However, experts believed that it is brought on by an allergic reaction due to inhaling allergens.

Tonkinese cats are very active and do not seem to ever run out of energy.  As indoor cats, they will tirelessly explore and re-explore the entire house. This cat breed also enjoys interacting with her owners and loves observing their every move.

Being highly energetic and brainy, Tonkinese cats must be allowed to roam and engage in stimulating physical activities. These active kitties can be trained to carry out tricks.

If left alone for long periods, the Tonkinese cat breed can easily get bored and cause trouble. Thus, it is ideal to provide her with mentally challenging toys to stimulate her mind.

You can also install ceiling-high multilevel cat towers in the house to keep your Tonkinese cat entertained.

How long does a Tonkinese cat live?

The Tonkinese cat breed is generally healthy with a life expectancy that ranges from 12–16 years. As with all cats, weight management and regular veterinary checks can help prevent potential health problems.

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Cost of Ownership

Your Tonkinese kitten should be provided with premium-quality cat food for proper nutrition. Each month, her food cost will total around £10–£15.

Turning your home into a cat haven for your new Tonkinese kitten means buying her necessities. These include a cat bed, scratching post, food and water bowls, and interactive toys. Generally, you may need to shell out £50–£400 for your kitty's daily essentials.

The Tonkinese cat may be healthier than other breeds, but she is still vulnerable to diseases. As such, she needs regular trips to the vet for health check-ups. For every session, you are required to pay about £30–£60.

Another part of your Tonkinese kitten’s vet care is vaccinations, which lower her risk of contracting fatal infectious diseases. Expenses for her vaccine shots can range from £40–100.

Young cats typically face problems of parasite infestations. Buying flea and tick treatments can amount to £50–£60, whilst heartworm treatments cost £60–£120 each year.

Veterinary care for your Tonkinese kitten doesn't come at a cheap price. However, acquiring pet insurance will make it more affordable.

Getting a time-limited coverage offers a monthly fee of approximately £6–£15. On the other hand, a lifetime pet insurance policy costs over £10 a month.

Are Tonkinese cats expensive?

Yes, the Tonkinese cat is one of the most expensive felines because of her rarity. The Tonkinese cat price from a reputable breeder usually costs around £400–£600.

Tonkinese Breed Highlights

  • The Tonkinese cat breed is affectionate, curious, and social. She is good with children and other animals, making her a wonderful family pet.
  • The attractive short coat of Tonkinese cats is easy to maintain and sheds minimally. Weekly brushing is sufficient.
  • As an intelligent and inquisitive feline, the Tonkinese cat likes mentally stimulating tasks and toys. She can be trained to perform tricks.
  • This cat breed’s athleticism and mischievous and crafty ways necessitate cat-proofing the home.
  • This cat craves human company and loves cuddles. She cannot bear to be left alone.
  • Tonkinese cats do not much have health issues due to their strong genetic heritage.

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