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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.
Background 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.
Description 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.
Maintenance This breed needs minimal grooming. Weekly brushing is recommended.
Social Behaviors 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.
Activities 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.
Breeding/Reproduction 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.
Availability Tonkinese breeders are less prevalent than Siamese and Burmese breeders, but this breed is still readily accessible on the internet or from local breeders. The price for Tonkinese cats ranges from $400 to $700.
gaeila - 2013-05-20 Pretty good story, but the price information is somewhat out of date. As in way low. I have been breeding Tonks for many years, and last year (2012)we lost too much money selling them for $600 each. We only want to break even--we are a tiny, closed, non-show but still pedigree cattery, and I'm not posting our web site, 'cause this isn't about advertising. Plus, our wait list is already getting too long. :) We get a lot of people from both coasts, and oddly enough, Chicago too, where the price for a pedigree Tonk runs $1K - $2K, and the sky can be the limit. BTW, my very first Tonkinese lived to be 23 years old! In my experience, the more sturdily, stockier built cats tend to be healthier and live longer. If anyone knows of an actual pedigree Tonkinese kitten for only $400 I would definitely like to hear about it. (at least 6 generations Tonk only; mating a Burmese & Siamese does not meet the current definition) Thanks and good wishes to all!
Clarice Brough - 2013-05-20 Thanks so much for the updated info on the price of these little beauties. And awesome that you devote yourself to this wonderful breed!
Wendy Luba - 2015-09-04 I got my first Tonk in 1971, which was the product of a Siamese/Burmese breeding. I had grown up with Siamese and loved the color of the Burmese and had always hoped to get one; so, when I saw an ad in the paper for the Siamese/Burmese kitten for $15.00, I jumped on it and brought home my first Tonk (not knowing it at the time). He lived to be 14 and I have always had one ever since. My second one cost me $300, and 15 years later I paid $1,000 (in 2005) and I live in NH. So, I agree that the price is way off and in the northeast, it is difficult to even find a breeder as they are few and far between; but for me, there is no other breed, so I go to cat shows semi regular to try to keep up on who is breeding in my area, so when the time comes, I can find another one. In my opinion, the Tonk got the best of both worlds from their Siamese and Burmese ancestry and are the most loving cat with personality plus. I hope to never be without one.
jules - 2012-10-17 we had a gorgeous blue tortie tonkinese called Martha. We got her when she was twelve weeks old, i remember her ears were far to big for head, and she hissed at our then one year old cat Jem when we first brought her home. They soon became the best of friends. She had a very naughty side to her, chewing electrical cables,(she chewed through a hairdryer and my husbands play station) we had to put cable tidies on everything in the house but she also had the most loving personality i have ever known in a cat, she was my baby. she followed me everywhere, talking as she went. Very sadly, five weeks ago we had her put to sleep, she lost a lot of weight through a thyroid condition and developed a kidney infection, she was fifteen and a half, we are devestated, the house feels so empty without her, my heart feels like it has broken into a million pieces.We miss her every day.
Juliet - 2012-10-29 I know how you feel. I had a cat named Minnie I loved very much. But she died recently because she had a disease.
jules - 2012-11-07 Oh dear, really sorry to hear that. What colour was Minnie and how old was she?
karen - 2015-05-27 I just read this post. So sorry. Did you get another.
Thai Dye Cattery - 2012-07-24 Tonks are mystical, adventurous, goofy, thoughtful, loving, interactive and just plain wonderful! I love reading all these people's comments about how their Tonks have affected their lives. I can't see being without one!
Charlie Roche - 2012-07-25 They must be. More people write in about a Tonkinese than any other cat. I guess it takes them awhile to train their human but when the human finally understands what they are supposed to do - all works out wonderfully.
Susan Moore - 2007-10-08 We love ours. He is so playful and very smart. He is like a person. He does sound like an elephant running through the house and swings like a monkey! I would have a 100 of them if I could. Love this breed. He likes to pretend he's a dog by copying our dog. Lays down right beside our dog and tries to lay in the same positions. When the dog hears someone at the door, she barks and they both go running to the door to greet whom ever is there. Our Tonk tries to play with our dog but the dog is too old to get into it. He will play with our friends dogs. He loves to run around and make his cute little noise when he is playing. Other than that, he is very quiet. He is very lovingly. He is our baby!
Miranda Haley - 2012-02-17 I wish I could have a cat like that... :( but my sister is allergic to animal hair, and my mom is only allergic to some animal hair but they won't get a cat, not even a kitten and I love cats and especially cats that love dogs. Well, I hope your cat will have fun with the dog. And I might even become a vet assistance if I study harder. But I got a long ways to go because I'm only a sophomore.