Login Register Transfer Cat Contact Go

The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy

The UK's Premier Registration body



Section 5 - Burmese - Group 2

The Tonkinese is a relatively new breed which is the result of crossing a Siamese with a Burmese and, therefore, it displays characteristics from both breeds.  They are very people-orientated and make ideal family pets.  Tonks, as they affectionately known, are very inquisitive and intelligent.  The Tonkinese is a medium sized cat of foreign build.  The head is gently rounded with a medium wedge that is neither pointed nor square.  The ears are set wide apart and are broad-based tapering to a rounded tip.  The preferred eye colour for show cats is greenish blue but they may range from green to light blue.  The body is well balanced, firm and muscular and the back rises slightly from shoulders to rump.  The legs are slim and well muscled, with the hind legs slightly longer than the front.  The paws are neat and oval.  The tail is slender and when brought along the side of the cat reaches to the shoulder. 


Originally they were developed in America in the 1950s and were called 'Golden Siamese' but the breed did not take off and became ignored.  It was not until the 1960s when they reappeared called Tonkinese that their popularity grew and they became popular pets and show cats. 

Appearance and Colours

The solid muscular Tonkinese is a medium sized cat that is neither cobby nor svelte and is surprisingly heavy.  They appear alert and active and everything about them is moderate.  Their sparkling eyes, shaped like a peach pit with an almond top and rounded bottom, are set into a pleasant modified wedge with a blunt muzzle.  The medium-sized ears are pricked slightly forward emphasising the cat's alertness. The Tonkinese coat is short and close-lying.  The texture is fine, soft and silky and has a lustrous sheen.  The coat pattern demands that the points (i.e. the mask, ears, legs and tail) are definitely darker than the body and merge gently with the body colour.   The Tonkinese comes in a wide variety of different colours.  In the UK the spectrum of Tonkinese colours is broad.  For every colour there are three 'expressions' (i.e. coat patterns) and all of these colours, including the torties, can be tabby.  When the three coat patterns are factored in, seventy-eight possible combinations emerge!


Gregarious in nature, the Tonkinese is a purring solid package of pure love who knows that your whole purpose for being is to give all your love and attention to him or her.  They are a medium-sized muscular cat with a sense of humour and will entertain you for hours with their antics. Tonkinese can be trained to do tricks and require toys and games for amusement.  They love company and if they are to be left alone for long periods of time then a companion is a necessity.  They are quiet vocal and will chatter happily to you and follow you around.  Their natural curiosity means they can often get into difficult situations and they are probably best kept in the house or a secure garden.  They do not mind being housecats as long as they have a companion and plenty to amuse them.  Tonkinese have personality plus.  They are sometimes described as more like dogs than cats and in many ways this is a very good description.  They are sensitive, intelligent cats who bond strongly with their human companions and will show their affection very clearly.  In general, they are less vocal and have less raucous voices than the Siamese.  On the downside, they are easily bored, have wills of their own and can be stubborn, although it is often possible to distract them with a game or a cuddle.   A properly-socialised Tonk is an outgoing, confident cat who will make his or her presence  felt.  They usually get on well with children (provided the children have been taught not to chase them, pull at them or otherwise tease them), other cats and cat-friendly dogs and most of them are happy to socialise with people, even strangers.  


The Tonkinese does not need special grooming as its short coat is self-maintaining but they do enjoy the attention that grooming brings.  Keeping the Tonkinese's coat sleek and soft is easy as the short thick coat does not need a lot of maintenance.  A rubber brush used once a week removes any loose, dead hair and an occasional bath keeps the mink-like coat at its very best. Males weigh from 8 to 12 lbs and females range from 6 to 8 lbs. Average life expectancy is 15 years.  Tonkinese, like their Burmese and Siamese cousins, are long lived and ages of nineteen and twenty are quite common. 


Tonkinese have no specific health problems and are capable of a long and active life.