What Is A Tonkinese Cat?

If you’re wondering what is a Tonkinese cat you’ve come to the right place. In this post I’ll be sharing interesting facts about this beautiful breed including origin, personality, coat colors, and lots more.

Whether you’re just curious or thinking about adopting a Tonkinese cat I hope to answer your questions. There are many breeds of cat to choose from, as well as non-pedigree. Some are more demanding than others, and you should always consider your lifestyle first.

How the Tonkinese cat originated

chocolate brown tonkinese cat

As the name suggests, Tonkinese cats are close relatives of the Siamese and in fact are the result of breeding Siamese with Burmese. In appearance, Tonkinese cats are more like the Burmese but with a slightly wedge shaped head.

It’s believed that a chocolate brown cat named Wong Mau is the forebearer of the modern Tonkinese. This cat was brought to California all the way from Burma by a doctor in 1930. However, Tonkinese have been around in the west for over a century, it’s just that cross breeding has changed their shape a little bit.

It was in the 1950s that Milan Greer began breeding Burmese cats with Siamese and named them Golden Siamese. Rather than continuing with this new breed, he decided to focus on other breeding projects instead.

Then, in the 1960s two women in different parts of Canada started breeding Burmese and Siamese together. The resulting kittens were brown with darker points and aquamarine color eyes.

It was in 1965 that the Tonkinese breed was officially registered with the Canadian Cat Association, and by the 1970s had become accepted in the USA and other parts of the world. Interestingly, Tonkinese are named after the Bay Of Tonkin in Vietnam even though they have no connection to it!

What does a Tonkinese cat look like?

The Tonkinese is a medium build cat with a muscular body and slightly wedge shaped head. The muzzle is blunt with ears that are broad at the base, and oval at the tips.

The eyes are almond in shape, and colors vary from aqua, blue, to green and yellow. This is dependent on the base color of the coat, and all kittens are born with blue eyes.

How much do Tonkinese cats weigh?

Even though Tonkinese cats have a small to medium size body they can be quite heavy. This is because they carry a lot of muscle. You can expect an average size Tonkinese to weigh around 9lbs, with males being larger in size. However, this can vary from 6lbs to 12lbs.

Any breed of cat that gains excessive weight is in danger of developing health problems, so it’s vital to monitor your cat’s weight. An annual health check will soon reveal a podgy Tonk!

Coat colors

Tonkinese cat coat colors

The Tonkinese cat comes in 4 base colors. These are champagne, platinum, natural, and blue. The natural color is a chocolate brown similar to Wong Mau as mentioned earlier. There are also 3 different coat patterns which are mink, point, and solid.

You have to bear in mind though that this description can be a bit confusing. This is because all Tonkinese cats have points, and none have a truly solid coat color.

By this I mean all have varying degrees of contrast between the base color and points. For example, a platinum Tonkinese with high contrast coloring may appear to have an almost white body with darker points.

Whereas a Tonkinese with low contrast coloring will show very little difference between base color and points. All kittens are born with a uniform color and points don’t start showing until after the first few weeks.

What is a Tonkinese cat personality?

Tonkinese cats are very affectionate

If you’re looking for a cat that’s affectionate but not as vocal as the Siamese then this is the breed for you. Tonkinese love people and don’t tend to have favorites. Basically, anyone in the family can enjoy cuddles with their Tonkinese which is in contrast to many other breeds.

If you want a cat to chat with you’ll love this breed. Like their Siamese heritage they’re vocal but their voice is much softer. Siamese on the other hand have very loud voices and can’t be ignored!

Just like their cousins, they’re highly intelligent and love puzzle toys that challenge their intellect. They’re also very easy to train and you’ll have great fun teaching your Tonk tricks.

Tonkinese cats hate being alone so if you’re out a lot during the day my advice would be get two. You’ll be glad you did as a bored Tonk will soon find mischief!

These cats are fun loving and great entertainers. They’re also perfect door greeters, welcoming guests into your home. Since they love children and other pets, the Tonkinese would easily fit into a family home. As long as your Tonk isn’t ignored you’ll have a happy kitty:)

Make sure you provide your Tonkinese with plenty of toys as well as places to climb and explore. Cat trees are the perfect choice giving your feline friend perches to jump on and poles to scratch.

Grooming your Tonkinese cat

grooming a tonkinese cat

As Tonkinese cats are short haired they don’t require as much grooming as their long haired friends. Brushing your Tonk once a week is usually enough. Invest in a soft bristled brush and use grooming sessions as a chance to check for fleas or any lumps and bumps on your cat’s body.

In addition, check the ears for any dirt and wipe gently with a soft cloth. If for any reason your cat hates being brushed, a grooming glove is a good alternative.

Like all felines, Tonkinese are excellent at grooming themselves, and would rarely need a bath if ever. Apart from a weekly brush and quick check for any problems that’s all you need to do.

If you have a mild allergy to cats you may find the Tonkinese easier to live with as it has a short coat. Just make sure you remember to brush your cat weekly, and use a pet vacuum with a hepa filter.

You’ll be pleased to hear the Tonkinese is a low shedding cat so you won’t find mounds of cat hair embedded in your furniture and flooring!


The Tonkinese is a very healthy breed with few common health issues. Though gingivitis is something you need to be aware of. This can be prevented by brushing your cat’s teeth regularly, and getting her used to it from kittenhood. Dental hygiene is just as important for your cat as it is for you.

Tonkinese cats have a lifespan between 13-15 years. Of course this depends on good care as well as luck. Keeping your cat’s vaccinations up to date and providing her with a nutritious diet will go a long way in keeping her healthy.

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t allow your Tonkinese outside unless you live on a busy main road. Be warned though, they have a high prey drive, so expect a few presents!

If you intend to give your cat the freedom to go outside when she wants without being resident doorkeeper, consider installing a cat door. Your Tonk will be far less likely to get bored and may even make a few friends!

How much does a Tonkinese cat cost?

Before you consider adopting a Tonkinese or any other pedigree breed you need to find a reputable breeder. Ideally this will be fairly local to you but you may need to travel further.

Ask plenty of questions about the kittens and parents. You should be given free access to see where the cats are kept, and if not, don’t listen to any excuses.

Depending on whether you want a Tonk as a pet or you’re looking for a kitten that’s show quality, prices will vary. A kitten that’s been microchipped and vaccinated can fetch around $400, whereas a kitten that’s show quality can be sold for approx $600 upwards.

There are no set rules when it comes to pricing so you’ll need to use your own judgement. However, if you’ve fallen in love with a Tonkinese kitten I’m sure you’ll be prepared to pay the asking price!! Don’t be afraid to ask for a reduction though:)

Is a Tonkinese cat the right breed for you?

If you’ve set your heart on a Tonkinese cat you need to think about your lifestyle. As I’ve previously mentioned, these cats hate being left alone and crave company. If you’re out at work all day, you either need to consider working from home or getting two of them. Of course if you are at home all day this is a perfect choice.

In addition, if you have children you should be fine as long as they know how to handle and care for a cat. Tonkinese usually get on well with all animals so if there are other pets in your home you should be ok.

If you’ve enjoyed this post please share. Also, if you have any questions or would like to share your experiences, please leave your comment below.

Wishing you a purrfect day:)

10 thoughts on “What Is A Tonkinese Cat?”

  1. Theses are absolutely beautiful and I do see the resemblance to siamese. I know you said they like company, do they prefer to be with other Tonks or would one get on ok with my sphinx cat.

    • Hi Amy, I’m sure a Tonkinese would get on with your Sphinx, as long as it’s fairly friendly with other cats. Some are better on their own and like people, each has an individual personality:) Thanks for stopping by:)

  2. Nice to read about the Tonkinese Cat Kathy. I am sure you are going to be the leader in this segment because you write so well. Thank u for the great information. I wish we had many varieties of cats in my country, but unfortunately, we have just a few.
    My ShihTzu is on heat and I hope to be able to get some doggie babies real soon.
    Good to connect with u.

  3. I’ve never heard of Tonkinese cats before and I have to say immediately, they look mystical. I’ve seen a lot of cat varieties over time but this one is indeed one of the most interesting I’ve seen so far. It’s good to know all this information about them before deciding to get one. I like the fact that they could live up to 13-15 with proper care, of course. Thanks a lot for sharing and keep up the good work!

  4. I have to say those cats are absolutely beautiful. I have a cat myself it’s an orange tabby. I think cats are the most sweetest animals on earth and very affectionate. I would love to get one of these cats as well. Great article

  5. We had a little Tonk we called Lucky. She was about 6 lbs and lived to 17. We also had a silver tabby Tom that weighed about 17 or 18 lbs. Lucky was the SWEETEST little thing – they got along pretty well. If I was to have another cat, a Tonk would be top of the list.

    • Hi Clare, thank you for your comment and lovely to hear about your little Tonkinese cat, she sounds so sweet:) Yes, it’s great when cats get along! The most I’ve had at one time is three. All became good friends and the oldest reached the amazing age of 25!! I hope you decide to get another Tonkinese as they’re such beautiful cats. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story:)


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