Tonkinese Cat Breed

Developed from a cross between the Burmese and Siamese, the Tonkinese is a medium-sized cat with a sense of humour. They love nothing better than to be with their human companion and families overseeing everything. With their approachable, open attitude, they can be an excellent choice for families with children, other felines, and cat-friendly dogs.

Tonkinese is known to be an active, friendly, social and talkative breed. If you love chatting with your feline companion, this cat breed is perfect for you. They only speak when spoken to. They love the interaction, affection and attention of their family and enjoy cuddling in the lap of their human companion. Just watch out Tonkinese can be stubborn to get their own way, but their sweet, loving and clownish behaviour makes up for it.

The Tonk, as they are lovingly called, are intelligent and active. They are brainy and energetic but don’t get boisterous or engage in much trouble. Tonks enjoy jumping up to high places and master puzzle toys.

They adore people and be a lap cat companion. Tonk’s make excellent companions and adapt well in homes with other pets and children. However, they do not like to be left alone, so consider a second cat to keep these active cat company when their human companion is away. 

Tonkinese Cat Breed Information | The Pedigree Paws

Breed Information

20-25 cm
2.7-5.5 kg
Life Span:
15-18 years
Loyal, Sweet, Athletic, Friendly, Affectionate, Active, Sociable, Smart
Energy Level:
Country of Origin:
Tonkinese Cat Breed Information | The Pedigree Paws
  • Grooming: Once a Week 2/10
  • Shedding: Low 2/10
  • Hypoallergenic: Medium 6/10
  • Activity Level: High 10/10
  • Playfulness: High 10/10
  • Friendliness to other pets: High 10/10
  • Friendliness to children: High 10/10
  • Affection towards it’s owners: High 10/10
  • Vocality: High 10/10
  • Intelligence: High 10/10
  • Independence: Low 2/10


Tonkinese developed and produced from a cross between the Siamese cat and the Burmese. Frequently considered the first Burmese, we now recognize that Wong Mau was actually the first Tonkinese, and she came to the United States in 1930. Burmese cat breeders worked with Wong Mau to segregate the brown sepia colour we now see in the Burmese breed. Wong Mau herself was really a mink Tonkinese though the cat breed had yet to be defined.

By the 1960s, the Burmese type was well-established and very different to the Siamese cat breed. Jane Barletta decided she needed to create a cat that was in between the two extremes. She sets about developing such a cat breed that would recreate the Tonkinese cat from an earlier period. In Canada, at about the same time, Margaret Conroy also bred a Burmese to a Siamese. What happened to her case is that she had a shy Burmese female cat from England that she was hesitant to ship to a stud, and so the judge recommended that she breed the Burmese female cat to a Siamese.

The resulting litter of kittens with their tan coats and aqua eyes captivated Margaret, and she began working with the colour. Jane and Margaret began to work together to develop the modest cat breed that mixed the unique traits of two different cat breeds into a third exceptional confirmation that we know today as the Tonkinese.

Tonkinese cat breed was the first pedigreed cat to have aqua eye colour. The cat breed was first recognized in Canada and then accepted for championship status in Cat Fancy Association in 1984. At that time, further outcrossing to Siamese and Burmese stopped. 

Tonkinese Cat Breed Information | The Pedigree Paws


Tonkinese Cat Breed Information | The Pedigree Paws

Tonkinese comes in a wide array of colours with patterns of different intensity such as Cinnamon, Seal, Chocolate, Cream, Blue, Red, Lilac, Fawn, and the tortoiseshell counterparts of these colours. Their patterns strike the medium between the solid sepia Burmese and the pointed Siamese with changing intensity resulting in Pointed, Mink, and Solid. No matter what colour the Tonkinese is painted, their coat is short and close to their body with a very smooth feel reminding of a cat all wrapped up in an expensive mink coat.

While their twinkling aqua eye colour is frequently considered the Tonkinese’s primary characteristic, it is not the only eye colour that a Tonkinese can have, just as the mink pattern is midway between the Siamese and the Burmese. So, it is safe to say that the aqua eye colour is halfway between the deep gold of the Burmese and the sapphire blue of the Siamese. Mink-patterned Tonkinese cats have aqua coloured eyes, while the Pointed Tonkinese have more of the Siamese’s characteristics and brilliant blue eyes ranging from sky blue to violet, and the Solid pattern Tonkinese have a charteuse eye colour that is closer to the range of the Burmese eye colour.

The compact and muscular Tonkinese is a medium-sized cat that is neither cobby nor slender and is unexpectedly heavy. They appear attentive and active, and all about them is moderate. Their eyes are shaped like a peach pit with an almond top and rounded bottom. They are set into a nice modified wedge with a rounded muzzle. Their medium-sized ears are pricked a little forward, accenting the cat's alertness. 


The warm and affectionate Tonkinese likes nothing better than to be with their human companion, on their shoulder, on their lap, or to oversee everything their human companion does. They are bright cats with a strong memory and a solid will. That’s why persistence pays off when training them. They love to create and play games, from engaging in tag with other cats to playing fetch with a favourite toy. Tonkinese cats can greet and charm all your guests in the household. While playing games and chasing around the house is a favourite pastime, Tonkinese cats also love to cuddle and be a loving lap cat companion.

These outgoing cats also enjoy the company of children, dogs and other pets. While they are not as talkative as the Siamese, Tonkinese cats will hold friendly conversations with their companion, expecting full attention while talking. These active and playful cats can quickly take over your house. Being friends with your visitors is an easy task for this cat breed. Tonkinese can be your “door greeter” and entertain your guests.

Because of their sociable and amicable nature, leaving your Tonkinese alone for long periods as they can become mischievous when they are bored. If you need to leave them at home, it is best that you keep two Tonkinese to keep each other company.

Moreover, due to their natural inquisitiveness, it is recommended to keep them indoors or have a secured garden as this can frequently get them into difficult situations. Tonkinese cats don’t mind being an indoor cat as long as they have plenty of interactive toys to entertain them or another cat to be their companion.

Tonkinese cats are sometimes characterized as more like dogs than cats. These intelligent cats are sensitive, and they develop a strong bond with their human companion and display their affection clearly. 

Tonkinese Cat Breed Information | The Pedigree Paws


Tonkinese Cat Breed Information | The Pedigree Paws

They are active, playful, curious and intelligent. A great combination to quickly train your cat. Because of their natural ability to learn, start them young by showing them easy-to-do and recurring tasks like where to eat, where to find their litter boxes and how to use the scratching post. As they grow and develop more personalities and abilities, you can advance on more complex learnings such as doing tricks, following commands and playing games. Tonkinese cats love interactive games like chase the ball and a game of fetch. Watch out as they can also quickly learn to open doors, cupboards and cabinets whenever they please.

Don’t forget to reward your cat for good behaviour and by following your commands and completing their training session. By doing this, you will encourage them every good work is rewarded by their favourite kibble or treats.

While they love exploring the outdoors, it is still best to keep your cat an indoor cat. Only allow them to wander and explore if it is safe for them to do so. So, to keep them busy and occupied, provide them with plenty of interactive toys and puzzles to keep their mind stimulated.

When a Tonkinese cat is appropriately trained and socialized with different people, animals and immersed in different environments at an early age, they will thrive on being a well-balanced, well-rounded and well-mannered feline companion. 

Coat & Care

Keeping a Tonkinese cat's coat shiny and soft is easy as their short thick coat does not require a lot of maintenance. Using a rubber brush once a week eliminates any loose dead hair and an occasional bath keeps the mink-like coat at its tiptop condition.

Make grooming part of your Tonkinese’s training. Start them young by using a very soft brush so it won’t pull their kitten hairs or hurt their skin. Make it an enjoyable experience for your cat so that they’d submit themselves without any effort when you need to brush them. Giving them treats and kibbles will also help in encouraging them to have their coat groomed.

Check your Tonkinese’s ears weekly. Wipe away any dirt or wax buildup using clean cotton balls and an ear cleaner to keep it clean and healthy. Cotton swabs should never be used as these can harm their delicate inner ear

Inspect their eyes regularly as well for any dirt or discharge. If these are left unclean, it can lead to eye infections that can be uncomfortable and painful for your cat. To avoid this, keep the area clean by using a clean and soft cloth to wipe the corners of their eyes.

Brushing their teeth weekly is sufficient to keep them from tartar buildup and tooth and gum diseases. Tonkinese cats are prone to gingivitis, so make sure to be consistent with their dental hygiene. Use a pet toothbrush and toothpaste approved by your vet. For their nails, trim them as often as needed. Examine their paws as well if it is in good physical shape, injury and dirt-free.

Lastly, it is best to keep your Tonkinese as an indoor cat because of their curious nature. If you will permit them to explore the outdoors, make sure you oversee it, so they won’t get into any trouble if they wander alone. Moreover, once you let them go outside unaccompanied, they may acquire diseases from other animals or encounter unfortunate encounters such as animal attacks or getting taken by a stranger. 

Tonkinese Cat Breed Information | The Pedigree Paws


Tonkinese Cat Breed Information | The Pedigree Paws

Tonkinese cats are generally a healthy cat breed. However, they are more prone to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), and amyloidosis, an excess protein deposit in their organs, and dental disease. Regular vet visits and a proper, high-quality diet are vital to maintaining their health. So, make sure your Tonkinese gets yearly medical exams and stays up to date on their vaccinations.

Similar to a lot of cat breeds today, Tonkinese cats are also at risk for obesity. With this, they should be fed a high-quality and age-appropriate balanced diet together with fresh, clean water that is accessible at all times. 

Children & Other Pets

Tonkinese’s active, affectionate and playful nature makes them a great feline companion for families with children and other pets. Their energy can match with the children, and they would love and enjoy interacting with them. Just make sure to supervise every interaction between a child and a Tonkinese to prevent any mishaps or unfortunate events due to mistreating or mishandling.

Due to their friendly and welcoming disposition, Tonkinese can live harmoniously with other pets such as other cats – especially their own kind and cat-friendly dogs. But remember, not all cats are the same, so make sure to gradually introduced them in a safe and controlled area to make sure that they learn to get along well together. 

Tonkinese Cat Breed Information | The Pedigree Paws

Available Tonkinese Kittens