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Tonkinese Breed Description

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Breed Organization

TICA Executive Office

The Cat Fanciers' Association

Native Country
United States Of America, Canada

Other Names

Coat Length

Life Expectancy
Approximately 15 Years

General Description

Tonkinese is a domestic cat breed produced by crossbreeding between the Siamese and Burmese. Members of the breed share many of their parents' distinctively lively, playful personality traits and are similarly distinguished by a pointed coat pattern in a variety of colors. In addition to the modified coat colors of the "mink" pattern, which is a dilution of the point color (as in watercolors), the breed is now being shown in the foundation-like Siamese and Burmese colors: pointed with white and solid overall (sepia).

The best known variety is the short-haired Tonkinese, but there is a medium-haired (sometimes called Tibetan) which tends to be more popular in Europe, mainly in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and France.

Breed Standard

Head: Seen from the front, resembles an equilateral triangle with rounded contours. Medium-sized, slightly longer than it is wide. High cheekbones. Muzzle of medium length, angular with a slight break. Nose with a very slight stop. Slight whisker pinch. Chin neither prominent nor weak.
Eyes: Shaped like a peach pit, well-spaced, and set at a slant. Blue-green or aqua in color.
Neck: Moderately long, muscular.
Body: Neither light nor compact. Semi-foreign type. The croup is slightly higher than the shoulders. Medium-boned. Well-developed muscles.
Paw: Hind legs slightly longer than forelegs. Well-muscled. Oval paws.
Tail: Moderately long, broad at the base but not thick, tapering slightly to the tip.
Coat: Short, fine, silky, lustrous, luxuriant, lying very flat against the body like that of the mink. Colors: characteristic Siamese markings on a darker background close to the original color of the Burmese. These markings blend gradually into the coat with no clear contrast as in the Siamese. The Tonkinese does not attain final coloring before 16 months and tends to darken throughout life, like the Burmese and Siamese. Colors are the same as for the Burmese but slightly more subtle:
- natural mink (sable in the Burmese; seal in the Siamese): medium warm brown body and dark chocolate extremities
- champagne mink: cream chamois body, light brown extremities
- blue mink: soft blue-gray body, medium blue to slate-gray extremities
- platinum mink: very pale silver-gray body, darker silver extremities
- honey mink: apricot gold to amber body, reddish-brown extremities The C.F.A. does not recognize the honey mink variety.
Fault: Round head, round eyes, short muzzle. Cobby or Oriental type body. Bars on the body. Bone deformities in the tail. Yellow eyes.


A Siamese-Burmese hybrid in a mink coat This new breed initially called the Golden Siamese was created in North America and Canada in the 1930s by crossing the Siamese and the Burmese. At first, it was not popular at all. Note that at the time, the Siamese was larger and stockier, and the Burmese was less round than today. Not until 1960 was this cat, renamed the Tonkinese, finally appreciated. It was recognized in 1974 by the Canadian Cat Association and in 1978 by the C.F.A. Popular in the United States, the Tonkinese remains rare in Europe.


Always on the alert, the Tonkinese is active and playful. As an athlete, he needs space, but he tends to run away. Very sociable with other cats, gentle and affectionate toward his owner, the Tonkinese is less exclusive than the Siamese. Still, he requires lots of attention and despises solitude. In terms of grooming, he requires weekly brushing. While a Siamese-Burmese cross produces only Tonkinese kittens, it must be noted that mating two Tonkinese statistically produces 50% Tonkinese, 25% Burmese, and 25% Siamese kittens, which explains why European cat associations do not consider the Tonkinese to be a true breed.


This breed is pretty healthy. But they are susceptible to get disease of the gums and gingivitis due to their Siamese ancestry.

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