to Pet Health Network or

Answers from vets about your cat:

The Tonkinese

Posted December 15, 2014 in Cat Breeds

Background 
The Tonkinese is a newer breed, the result of crossing Siamese and Burmese breeds in the 1960s. Some say that cats similar to the Tonkinese have been around since the 19th century, while others argue that the first Burmese imported to the United States, a female named Wong Mau, was actually a Tonkinese.

Whatever the case, the Tonkinese is a perfect blend of Siamese and Burmese, displaying traits of both breeds. The Tonkinese wasn’t recognized by the Cat Fancier’s Association in the United States until 1984, making him a very recent addition to the list of recognized breed types in the United States.  Today, the Tonkinese is one of the most popular breeds in America.

Cat Facts
The Tonkinese might be a new breed, but he’s an interesting one too:  

  • It is often mistakenly assumed that the name “Tonkinese” refers to the Tonkin region of Indochina or the Gulf of Tonkin incident that occurred during the Vietnam War. Actually, the name was originally spelled “Tonkanese” and referred to an island in the musical “South Pacific” where half-breeds were safe.  
  • It takes up to two years for the color of the Tonkinese’s mink-like coat to mature. The coat comes in many colors, including seal, chocolate, cinnamon, red, blue, lilac, cream, and fawn.
  • The lifespan of the Tonkinese ranges from 10-15 years
  • Average weight: 10-14 pounds

What are they like?
Call him a jokester, call him a trickster, but don’t call him boring!
Highly intelligent with an incredibly sharp memory, the Tonkinese will find his way out of the house or into cabinets and he’ll never cease to impress you with his intellect. Combine his athleticism with his wit and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more entertaining breed. He loves to play fetch and other games, move around the house with enthusiasm, and make his way up to his favorite perches in the clouds: cabinets, refrigerators, doors, and more. 

The Tonkinese is a playful and energetic cat with a crafty side. Full of life, the Tonkinese is outgoing and loves to spend time with his humans. He’ll even act as a door-greeter when you’re expecting company. Great with children, other cats, and cat-friendly dogs, the Tonkinese tops the list of happy-go-lucky cats. 

The Tonkinese is a very healthy, hardy cat with no specific health problems. 

Right for you?
Here are some things to think about if you’re

Share This Article

Tori has more than 2 years of experience in the pet health industry and is junior editor of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.