Country of origin:
USA, Canada
Weight (kg):
Life span (years):
Hair length:
Recognized by:
all colours and patterns
Affectionate with family:
Good with kids:
Good with pets:


The Tonkinese is a sweet-natured, sociable and easy-going feline variety with striking aquamarine eyes and a compact body. This strong and vigorous cat came to existence as the result of crossing the Burmese with the Siamese and it took only best traits from both of its forefathers. Today it gained moderate popularity among cat lovers although its repute can’t match with the one of the Siamese.

Photo: © cattery Loeloeraai (


The Tonkinese is a man-made breed, which was developed by mating the Burmese with the Siamese. Most experts are agreed that the first specimen of this breed was brought to the United States as early as in 1930. This cat named Wong Mau was mistakenly taken for a chocolate-coloured Siamese and was used for creation of a new breed, the Burmese. In fact Wong Mau was a mink Tonkinese but at that point it hadn’t been classified under its current name.

By the 60s of the XX century the Burmese completely diverged from its cousin Siamese and became an internationally recognized feline variety. Jane Barletta got an idea of inventing a breed, which would have more moderate physique and less annoying voice than the Siamese, but would share quick-wittedness and affectionate disposition of both above-mentioned breeds.

Approximately at the same time Margaret Conroy in Canada also crossed her domestic Burmese to the Siamese. Actually this decision was forced by circumstances since the suitable fiancé for her female cat resided in England and she didn’t want to put her pet under the stress of a long voyage. Kittens from this litter were so stunningly beautiful that she decided to reproduce these cats with a similarly gorgeous tan coat and deep aqua eyes.

Jane and Margaret united their efforts and eventually achieved their mutual goal of developing the unique breed, which combined the characteristics of the Siamese and the Burmese in the most balanced way.

The Tonkinese was granted recognition of the Canadian Cat Association in 1967 and other cat registries gradually followed its lead. Nonetheless the Cat Fanciers Association recognized this breed only in 1984.


The Tonkinese is an outgoing and affectionate cat, which loves nothing more than to be in the center of your attention. Expect this cat to perch on the highest point in your dwelling and keep an eye on your every move. With its Siamese ancestry this clever and confident cat prefers to keep everything under control and can become quite bossy in this intention. Actually it’s not only a bold and inquisitive but also smart and resourceful pet. That’s why this breed is well-suited for families with children, which are usually delighted by its limitless energy and permanent willingness to play.

As a rule the Tonkinese is perfectly fine with guests in your house and perceives them as potential play mates. This good-natured cat will be on friendly terms with other domestic animals (including a kind dog) although if possible it would certainly choose the company of its master or another feline. It’s important to emphasis that without sufficient mental stimulation this cat will quickly get bored and act out its boredom in destructive behavior. Make sure to buy your Tonkinese lots of interactive toys and one or several tall cat trees and then your carpets, furniture and clothes will be safe from its claws in your absence.

The Tonkinese is a chatty buddy but its soft voice doesn’t tend to be as irksome as the one of the Siamese. It will inquire about your day when you come home or will keep persistently talking to you until it finally grabs your undivided attention. That said one should adopt this breed only if it likes its social and talkative nature and can satisfy its pressing need for a companionship.

Health Problems

The most common problems for the breed include:

· amyloidosis;

· asthma/bronchial disease;

· congenital heart defects such as aortic stenosis;

· crossed eyes;

· gastrointestinal conditions such as megaesophagus;

· hyperesthesia syndrome;

· lymphoma;

· nystagmus;

· progressive retinal atrophy.


The Tonkinese is an easy-to-groom feline variety. Its master should comb its fine, short coat only once a week and it’s usually more than sufficient to keep it naturally shiny and free of dead hair. Bathe your cat only occasionally otherwise you risk washing off the protective oils, which cover its skin and fur.

Weekly nail trimming will help to minimize thedamage to your wallpapers and furniture from the cat’s sharp claws. In order toprevent early periodontal disease brush its teeth at least every other day. It’salso essential to check the cats’ ears regularly and remove from them wax anddirt if necessary.