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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Breeds > Tonkinese


Origin: Canada

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Short and silky.
The colors are natural, champagne, blue and platinum; varieties of those colors are solid, mink and pointed.
Special considerations: 
This is a medium-sized cat with a lithe and muscular body, heavier than the Siamese. The breed has a long tail, wedge-shaped head and eyes that are various shades of blue-green.

Both the Tonkinese and Burmese breeds in the United States trace their pedigrees back to Wong Mau, a small, walnut-colored "poor-quality" Siamese cat brought to California by Dr. Joseph Thompson in 1930. Wong Mau was mated with a Siamese, and half the kittens produced from this breeding were Siamese-colored "pointed" kittens, and half were walnut colored. When one of these walnut-colored kittens was mated back to Wong Mau, three distinct types of kittens were produced: pointed kittens with blue eyes, kittens who looked like Wong Mau with aqua-colored eyes and darker brown kittens with golden eyes. The darker kittens became the foundation of the Burmese breed, and developers of the Tonkinese trace their cats back to those in-between colored, aqua-eyed cats.

In the mid-1960s, Jane Barletta in New Jersey and Margaret Conroy in Canada independently began to produce Siamese/Burmese hybrids, and the color of these brown cats with darker points was called "natural mink." The Canadian cats, originally called "Tonkanese" were recognized by the Canadian Cat Association (CCA) in 1971.

Eventually, crosses to blue and chocolate point Siamese and to champagne Burmese expanded the Tonkinese color spectrum. Until 1984, Tonkinese were allowed to be bred to both Siamese and Burmese to establish a wide gene pool. When the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) accepted the breed in 1984, the outcrossings were stopped; from then on, Tonkinese were only allowed to be bred to other Tonkinese.

Tonkinese (Tonks) combine the grace, intelligence, curiosity and elegance of the Siamese with the powerful body, laid-back personality and rounded features of the Burmese. This is a lively, intelligent and affectionate breed. Tonks are active and muscular but not high-strung. They are gregarious and happy, with a sense of humor.
At home: 
Tonks make friendly companions and are apt to follow their owners around the house - they "talk" but with slightly less insistence than their Siamese ancestors. They love playing games like fetch and hide-and-seek.
Tonks need a premium diet that includes a high-quality source of protein, which will help promote the good muscle tone for which the breed is famous.
Friendly and tolerant, a Tonkinese can be a wonderful choice for households with children or other pets.
Tonkinese can live up to 15 years. Health issues associated with the breed include colds and dental problems.
Fun fact: 

In warmer climates or homes, Tonks may become lighter in color because the enzyme that creates the color in their skin and hair is heat sensitive.

Grooming blurb: 
Tonkinese are one of the easiest breeds of cat to groom. A weekly going-over with a rubber brush to remove dead hair is all the Tonk needs to keep his coat in shape.
This document has been published with the intent to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter within. While every reasonable precaution has been taken in preparation of this document, the author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any errors, omissions, or adverse effects arising from the use or application of the information contained herein. The techniques and suggestions are used at the reader's discretion.