Tonkinese Cat

The Tonkinese Cat is a medium-sized breed with stunning eyes and short silky coat. This is a lively and attention seeking cat that likes to be involved in all family activities. They are deeply devoted to their owners and will follow them around provided they aren’t too busy playing.
Tonkinese Cat

Tonkinese Cat Characteristics (Quick Facts)

Size: Medium. Average body.

Intelligence: Very high.

Exercise Needs: Needs no exercise.

Ability to Adapt: High. Adjusts quickly.

Shedding: Low shedding.

Average Lifespan: From 10-16 years.

Price: From $600 to $1200.

Weight: From 6-12 lbs.

Playfulness: Through the roof!

Social Skills: Good with children & other pets.

Need for Grooming: Once a week.

Health: Very good. Minor health issues.

Hypoallergenic?: No.

The Tonkinese Cat is a medium-sized breed with a solid body and short silky coat. The body is neither too sleek nor too chunky and is well-muscled.

These cats have slender legs that end in distinctive oval paws. The wedge-shaped head is slightly rounded and sports broad-based medium-size ears and almond-shaped eyes. The short silky coat comes in mink, solid, and pointed patterns.

This is a lively, clever, and people-oriented breed. The Tonk, as this breed is nicknamed, will follow your every move and hitch a ride on your shoulder whenever it gets a chance. This curious and chatty cat is addicted to its people and likes being involved in all family activities.

They are playful and active cats that will never miss a game of fetch, tug or hide and seek. The social Tonkinese thrives in homes where it has company and will entertain its owners with silly antics.

Where Did Tonkinese Cat Breed Originate?

It is believed that the Tonkinese looking cats existed in the West since the early 19th century. However, there wasn’t any real effort to establish this breed until the 1950s.

The modern-day Tonkinese is the result of crossbreeding between Siamese and Burmese breeds. 

Canadian breeder, Margaret Conroy wanted to create a breed with a somewhat fuller appearance than Siamese, but with the personality of both parenting breeds.

Her efforts paid off and she was able to produce kittens with attractive coats and aquamarine colored eyes. Independently, but during the same time, an American breeder Jane Barletta also started to cross Siamese and Burmese Cats. Hence, the two breeders combined their efforts and started a breeding program.

It was later discovered that Wong Mau, a small dark brown cat that was the matriarch of the Burmese breed was, in fact, a Tonkinese. Wong Mau was an offspring of free-roaming Siamese and Burmese Cats that lived in Burma. Thus, some of today’s Tonkinese can be traced back to Wong Mau.

The Canadian Cat Association began registering this breed in 1967, followed by other associations. However, the Cat Fanciers Association took almost 20 years to recognize the breed and finally did it in 1984. Nowadays, the Tonkinese is recognized by all major cat registries.

What Does the Tonkinese Cat Look Like?

The Tonkinese is a medium-sized cat with an intermediate body type. The body is well-muscled but not bulky and should be balanced and well-proportioned.

They are deceptively solid and aren’t heavy at all when picked up. The body is supported by slender legs that end in distinctive oval paws. Their tails are proportionate to the length of the body and taper towards the end. The head has a slightly rounded wedge shape and is a bit longer than it’s wide.

Broad-based medium-sized ears and almond-shaped eyes that slant along the cheekbones, complete the appearance. The eyes come in several shades and can be aqua, blue, green or yellow-green depending on the color of the coat.

Tonkinese Cat Colors

The Tonkinese’s plush coat comes in four base colors, natural (a medium brown), champagne, platinum and blue.

Depending on the association, they can also come in red, cream, caramel, apricot, cinnamon, and fawn. Additionally, all of these colors can come in pointed, mink, and solid patterns.

Tonkinese Cat Personality Traits

The people-oriented, funny, and vocal Tonkinese takes after its parenting cat breeds. These cats like to be close to their owners and will always demand attention.

This is a persistent cat that won’t tire until it gets things done her way. Thus, you will frequently find yourself leaving everything just to pet and cuddle your demanding cat. Your cat will follow you around and even jump on your shoulder just to keep you in sight.

These cats are excellent jumpers, and when they aren’t on their owners shoulders, they will carefully keep an eye on them from a tall cat tree. They like to jump and play and need a lot of toys and cat furniture to thrive.

On the other hand, if left to its own devices, the Tonkinese will soon become bored and destructive. Therefore, invest in a variety of cat toys, and then some more, to keep this curious cat occupied.

A chatty and friendly breed by nature, the Tonk will greet you and all your guests by the front door and throw a party. Expect to hear all about the Tonk’s day and things that your cat did while you weren’t around.

This brainy cat enjoys playing with puzzle toys and will happily learn tricks or how to walk on a leash. Naturally curious Tonkinese will be compelled to investigate every nook and cranny in your home. Hence, you should lock away all valuables, remove plants and pots or anything that you hold dear.

Otherwise, you might as well say goodbye to your belongings, since this cat will claim them as her own.


The Tonkinese has a somewhat dog-like temperament. This playful, smart, vocal, and active breed is interested in everything that goes around them.

Being a highly-people oriented cat, Tonkinese seeks and demands attention and won’t rest until it gets it. Although talkative the Tonks isn’t as loud as Siamese, but it will still have the need to chat with you about everything.

Being a stubborn and demanding cat your Tonk won’t appreciate being left alone. Hence, they are best suited for people who spend a lot of time at home. As an alternative, you can get another cat or a dog to keep the Tonk busy and entertained when you aren’t around.

Tonkinese Cat Behavior

A naturally curious and social cat, the Tonkinese tends to become bored and destructive in no time. Thus, you should invest in a lot of toys and cat furniture to keep your cat busy and entertained.

Furthermore, these cats can become depressed or develop separation anxiety if left alone a lot. So consider how much time you can dedicate to your Tonkinese before you bring her into your home. If you work a lot or travel often, consider getting another pet to keep your cat company.

Are Tonkinese Cats Adaptable to New Surroundings?

This is a highly adaptable breed that likes meeting new people and experiencing new things. These cats live life to the fullest and won’t mind changing homes as long as you are there with them.

As long as this cat is getting the same amount of affection as before, it will get used to a new home even before you do.

The Tonkinese is an active and playful cat that knows how to stay in shape if provided with several catnip toys. They like to jump, run, and climb and are generally always on the move. Still, play with your cat every day for 15 minutes and tease her with feather toys to fulfill her social needs.

Does It Get Along with Children and Other Pets?

The lively and friendly Tonkinese is a great choice for families with children. These cats get along with kids who can match their energy levels and know how to throw them soft toy balls to retrieve.

They also get along with other pets and prefer having someone to keep them company when their owners aren’t around.

These cats love to play and will never miss a chance to interact with their people. So get a teaser wand and engage your cat in a fun game.

Try spending at least 15 minutes a day playing with your cat to keep her exercised and content. Additionally, you can consider getting a cat activity center to keep your kitty busy when you aren’t around to play.

General Health and Potential Risks

Due to careful selective breeding, the Tonkinese has very good health. Furthermore, due to their high activity levels, they maintain good shape and robust health.

However, as a Siamese descendant, the Tonkinese is prone to conditions seen it that breed.

  • Gingivitis: Is the first stage of periodontal disease, but is reversible with proper care. Symptoms of this condition include inflamed gums, bad breath, and visible deposits of plaque on the surface of the teeth. Treatment is fairly simple and involves regular teeth brushing with an enzymatic toothpaste.
  • Amyloidosis: It is caused when protein amyloid is deposited in various organs and disrupts their normal function. In Tonkinese, the amyloid deposits are found in the liver and ultimately lead to liver failure. Affected cats are usually between 1 to 5 years old.
  • Nystagmus: This condition causes involuntary eye movements, meaning that the eye unintentionally moves back and forth. Problems start to happen when a cat’s vestibular system is damaged by infections, trauma, tumors or exposure to toxins. Treatment varies depending on the underlying issue and severity of a cat’s symptoms.

Tonkinese Cat Lifespan

The Tonkinese has an average life expectancy of 10-16 years. These cats have very good health and most of them reach old age in great shape.

However, they are prone to dental issues that can impact their quality of life. Thus, start brushing your cat’s teeth with a cat toothpaste from a young age to prevent any dental problems.

Grooming Needs

The Tonk’s soft and silky coat is very easy to maintain. Hence, brush your cat once a week with a grooming glove. This way you will remove loose hairs and dirt from the coat.

Additionally, regular brushing will distribute skin oils through the length of fur and make it glossy.

Tonkinese Cat Shedding

The Tonkinese is a low shedding breed that won’t leave tons of hairs on your furniture or carpets. Use a rubber brush twice a week if you notice that your cat is shedding more than usual.

In this section, we answer frequently asked questions about the Tonkinese breed. Continue reading to learn more about this smart and outgoing feline.

How Much is Tonkinese Cat Price?

The exact price of a Tonkinese kitten depends on a breeder and several other factors. On average, you can expect to pay from $600 to $1200 for a purebred Tonkinese.

Pet quality kittens are on the lower end of the price spectrum but show quality Tonkinese cat be quite expensive. The price can easily go up depending on gender, coat color, and bloodlines.

How Big Do Tonkinese Cats Get?

As with any other cat breed, males are slightly larger and weigh from 8-12 pounds. Females are smaller and weigh from 6-8 pounds.

This well-muscled cat needs a lot of proteins to fuel its body. Hence, feed your cat with high-protein cat food. This way you will give your cat all the nutrients she needs to stay in excellent shape.

To prevent obesity, feed your Tonk according to her age and activity level.

Are Tonkinese Cats Affectionate?

The goofy and social Tonkinese can be quite endearing and is very affectionate with her owners. They like to cuddle, jump in laps, and love to be close to their people.

Do Tonkinese Cats Get Along with Cats?

The outgoing and curious Tonkinese gets along with everyone including other cats, dogs, and children. These cats like to have company and become fast friends with everyone they meet. And being such a social cat, your Tonk will prefer having another cat as a friend to keep it company while you aren’t at home.

Are Tonkinese Cats Smart?

The Tonkinese is a highly intelligent cat that learns things easily and can even be trained. It’s not uncommon for these cats to learn how to walk on a leash, or basic obedience commands just to spend more time with you.

What do you think about the affectionate and cute Tonkinese? Will this breed make a great addition to your family? Or do you already own one or more of these curious and fun cats? Tell us and our readers in the comment section below!

Affiliate Disclosure:

As an affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases. We may receive a commission, or some sort of compensation, when you purchase using links on this page. Read disclosure.

      The Dutiful Cat