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Tonkinese Cat Breed… Everything You Need to Know at a Glance!

Even though the Tonkinese cat breed has the “look” of a cat that might have roamed this planet for centuries, the truth is, as a breed, the Tonkinese has only been around for a few decades. You see, unlike many other “native” cat breed species, the Tonkinese was explicitly developed by both American and Canadian cat breeders right around the mid-1950s and early 1960s. Their goal was to try and combine the best characteristics of the Siamese and Burmese cat breeds.

And at the…

Risk of spoiling the ending of the story, what we can tell you is that she was pretty successful in her endeavor, which is why we now have the Tonkinese cat breed to enjoy. But just because we like the Tonkinese cat breed doesn’t mean this will be the right one for you. This is why we wanted to take a moment to discuss what it might be like to own one of these awesome little cats so that you’ll be better prepared to know if getting one would be a good “fit’ for you.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!

Tonkinese Cat Breed Fast Facts

Country of Origin:  United States and Canada

Size:  Medium

Weight:  7 to 9 pounds

Eyes: Almond-shaped (gold, green, or light blue)

Shape of Head:  Wedge-shaped

Lifespan:  15 to 18 years

Origin of the Tonkinese cat breed

The Tonkinese cat results from several cat breeders, all having the same idea around the same time, which began in the early 1950s when Milan Greer first began cross-breeding the Siamese cat with the Burmese cat breed. And while Milan started to tire of experimenting with these two breeds over time, his early work inspired other cat breeders, including Jane Barletta, an American Breeder, and Margaret Conroy, a Canadian cat breeder, to pick up where he left off.


These two ladies discovered what one another was doing and eventually started working together. It was then that the Tonkinese finally came to be. That said, however, some believe that this “breed” may have been in existence since the 19th century, which is evident by the famous cat called Wong Mau because the “breed” wasn’t officially recognized back then, credit for the breed generally isn’t given to those who owned Wong Mau back then. The Tonkinese cat wasn’t even “officially” recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) until 1984, nearly 20 years after its creation.

Physical Characteristics

The Tonkinese cat is medium-sized and generally only weighs about 7 to 9 pounds, which will feel very light when you first pick up one of these guys. You see, even though these guys weigh less than 10 pounds, their muscular bodies will give them the appearance they consider more. This is probably because most of their weight is in their torso. After all, their legs are slim.

And speaking of their…

Legs, if you get a chance to see one of these guys in person, be sure to check out their paws, which have a distinctive oval shape. As far as their head goes, Tonkinese cats have wedge-shaped heads and large, tall ears that are slightly rounded at the tips. This, combined with their almond-shaped eyes that can be either aqua, blue, green, or yellow-green, creates an attractive look.

And while you may be thinking that…

Because the Tonkinese is a mixture of a Siamese and a Burmese cat, your color options may be limited, but the truth is, these guys come in a wide variety of colors, including:

  • Champagne,
  • Blue,
  • Natural,
  • Platinum,
  • Red,
  • Cream,
  • Caramel,
  • Apricot,
  • Cinnamon,
  • And fawn.

They can also come in different patterns as well.

Personality and Temperament

The Tonkinese are active felines. They love to play fetch, hide and seek, and tag. Or you can catch them doing some spy moves because they’re smart, and they’ll remember where you keep the treats. You’ll also probably see them trying to sneak into the highest cabinet to get what they want. Considering they love to climb, we should also point out that they have a wicked sense of humor. They’ll knock down glass, vases, or anything fragile just because they can.

For this reason….

If you get a Tonkinese, eliminate anything fragile you have in high places. They’re also very assertive and affectionate. So, when you pair these two traits together, you get a cat that will want to make its way to your lap or shoulder whenever it pleases for as long as it wants.

Did we mention that they’re brilliant?

If not, we probably should. This means these little guys will love to play with toys that will challenge and make them think. They also love learning tricks because they’re such show-offs. Which makes them perfect pets for families with kids. Because kids will probably be the only ones with enough energy to keep up with these little guys!

Potential Health Concerns

All in all, the Tonkinese cat breed is pretty healthy. That said, however, over the life of your cat, it’s essential to understand that they may develop illnesses or injuries that could require the care of a veterinarian. Ask any experienced pet owner who will tell you that vet bills can be expensive, mainly if your loved one develops a severe medical condition.

This is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet always advise any new pet owner to take a moment and see what it might cost to purchase a pet insurance policy for their new loved one. If they ever become sick or injured in the future, you won’t be on the “hook” for 100% of the cost of treatment.

For more information on who we “feel” currently offers some of the “best” pet insurance policies on the market, check out our Best Pet Insurance Companies article.

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