Despite their famous tribal parents, Burma and Siamese, the Tonkinese is a relatively rare breed of cats. The beautiful cat with the slim, muscular body and the velvety short coat combines many of the positive characteristics of its ancestors. Affectionate, sociable, and curious as she is, she is a great cat for families who want to spend a lot of time with their cats.
Cat connoisseurs will discover many characteristics in the beautiful Tonkanese that they know from Burma and Siamese cats. No wonder, because the Tonkinese was created by crossing these two cats from Thailand. Similar to the Burmese, they are very lively and talkative – although they usually moan less loudly than the Burma cat. At the same time, she is extremely affectionate and people-oriented and in this respect is very similar to the Siamese cat, which is also jokingly referred to as the “dog among cats”.
Attractive and Oriental
You can tell immediately from the Tonkanese that she is curious about her and her desire to be there everywhere. She observes her surroundings with her large, almond-shaped eyes, alert and curious as to if she is constantly looking for new adventures and the attention of her owners. The latter gets the Tonkanese not least because of its attractive appearance. Cat lovers melt away at the sight of their muscular, slim, and graceful body, their large, expressive eyes, and their silky, shimmering short-haired coat. Body size and weight are in a healthy relationship to one another and legs, body and head also form a harmonious unit.
The Tonkinese is medium-sized and weighs between three and five kilograms, although cats are usually a little lighter than tomcats. Her medium-length legs are slim and give an active and sporty impression. The hind legs are slightly longer than the front legs. The short fur is tight and has a silky soft shimmer. It comes in the basic colors natural, blue, chocolate and lilac, but the standard also allows red, cream, tabby, and tortie variants. These are assigned to the following three color types:
- Mink: The most common color (especially in the USA) is mink. Wong Mau, the great mother of all Tonkanese and Burma cats, was also colored brown-mink. In the Mink variant, the ears, mask, legs, and tail are of a darker shade than the rest of the body color. These so-called points merge smoothly into the lighter shade. The color of the eyes of the Mink cats is bluish-green or greenish-blue.
- Sepia: In the sepia cats, the body has only a slightly lighter shade of the color of the points. The color gradient from a darker to a light shade is, therefore, less pronounced than with the Mink and Point variants. The eye color of all sepia cats, such as Chocolate Sepia, Brown Sepia, or Lilac Sepia, is green-yellow to yellow.
Point: With the Point-Tonkinese the contrast between body color and points is strongest.
- In contrast to sepia and mink, the darker color of the ears, mask, legs, and tail contrasts strongly with the rest of the, much lighter body color. The eyes of the point cats should appear in a clear blue, whereby the nuances can range from light blue to intense ultramarine.
Lively and Affectionate at the Same Time
Like their ancestors, the Tonkinese feel most at home in company. Of course, she particularly appreciates the interaction with conspecifics, but she also loves to be with her people: playing and cuddling with them and getting their full attention is the greatest thing for social and people-related Tonkinese. In its behavior, it reminds – just like the Siamese – of a dog that wants to please its people and would like to follow them every step of the way. Even for practicing little tricks, the curious and playful Tonkanese is not a shame. The main thing is that she is right in the middle of the action and receives enough attention.
Being There is Everything
The sociable Tonkanese feels correspondingly comfortable with people who have time for them and who know how to occupy them both mentally and physically. She is not a cat that can be kept “somehow on the side” or left alone all day – for that she is far too happy to be the center of attention. Nevertheless, she can adapt well to her people and their everyday life and does not allow herself to be overwhelmed by turbulent family life. Instead of looking for the distance with loudly playing children – as many of their conspecifics do – the Tonkanese prefers to be there when they play and run around. With her friendly, loving, and playful nature, she is ideally suited for a family with children – provided that all family members pay her enough attention and make her feel “they belong completely”.
History of the Tonkinese
The history of the Tonkinese is very similar to that of the Burma cat, as both breeds can be traced back to the female Wong Mau. The American ship’s doctor Joseph C. Thompson discovered the cat with its unusual fur color (a warm brown that blends into darker points on the ears, mask, tail, and legs) in Rangoon (Burma, now Myanmar) and brought it back to his home town of San in 1930 Francisco. At first, he thought she was a Siamese cat and mated her to a Siamese tomcat. The result of this cross was – contrary to what was expected – not a pure Siamese litter, but a colorful mix of kittens that resembled today’s Burma, Siamese, and Tonkinese cats.
Wong Mau – the Tribal Mother of the Tonkinese
As it turned out, Wong Mau was not a Siamese cat, but rather a representative of a special breed of temple cats. In the USA, the offspring were specifically bred to embody today’s Burma type. The cats of the Tonkinese type were rather neglected. In Canada, on the other hand, the variant attracted increasing interest. Canadian breeders were the first to specifically breed the Tonkanese type, also known as the “Golden Siam”. In 1965, the breed was finally recognized by the Canadian Breeding Association. In the USA and Europe, it is not yet recognized as a separate breed by all cat associations. Associations such as the “World Cat Federation” (WCF) and “The International Cat Association” (TICA) run them as an independent breed, but the FIFé (Fédération Internationale Féline) has not yet followed this judgment.
Breeding of the Tonkinese
The breeding of Tonkanese is not easy, because when two Tonkanese are mated, there are always Siamese and Burma-like cats in the litter. This is not the case with the crossing of Burma and Siamese cats: Tonkanese is invariably found here. However, such a mating of Burma and Siam requires precise knowledge of the lineage and should only be done with great care. Furthermore, it is only allowed in the first generation. From the second generation onwards, breeders are only allowed to mate Tonkanese with one another.
What are the Arguments in Favor of a Tonkinese From the Breeder?
If you don’t live in Canada, you may have to go a long way to get a Tonkinese, because the number of breeders in Europe is still quite manageable. You should definitely refrain from dubious internet shops that offer cute kittens at bargain prices. Behind this are mostly dubious breeders who mate the animals without exact line knowledge and health check-ups. The result is often sick or weak animals that have little in common with a real Tonkanese, which is robust, healthy, and social.
If you want to be on the safe side, you should therefore contact a reputable Tonkanese breeder who has several years of experience in breeding the breed. Serious breeders make sure that the cats have a healthy start in life, that they can grow up in the midst of the pack of cats and their breeding family for the first few weeks, and that they are socialized accordingly. The breeder gives the kittens away at the earliest in the 10th to 12th week of life and ensures that they have been dewormed several times by then and have received the necessary vaccinations. In addition, cats from reputable breeding have a pedigree and a perfect health certificate from the veterinarian.
If you don’t want to wait so long for a young Tonkinese from a breeder, you can of course also have a look around at a nearby animal shelter, where many cats are waiting for a new home. And with a bit of luck, you might even find a rare Tonkinese among them.
Tonkinese Health and Care
Real Tonkanese is very robust cats with no known diseases typical of the breed. The average life expectancy of 15 to 18 years is correspondingly high. Of course, the responsibility for a healthy cat life doesn’t end with the breeder. As a cat owner, your cat’s health is in your hands. Regular routine examinations at the veterinarian’s as well as regular grooming and checking of ears and teeth are compulsory and ensure that inflammation or other illnesses can be discovered early and are therefore easily curable. But don’t worry: the Tonkanese’s short fur is very easy to care for. Comb it several times a week with a soft brush or rub it briefly with a damp cloth – this will keep the beautiful shine for the life of the cat.
The Right Food for Tonkinese
Diet also has a decisive influence on the fitness, health, and longevity of the cat. You are probably already aware of this fact. But the uncertainty is great – because which food from the numerous suppliers is the right one for my cat? Should I use dry or wet food? And what actually speaks in favor of BARFing? First of all, don’t let other cat owners and supposed food experts drive you crazy. The decision as to which food is best for your cat is entirely up to you and your cat. After all, every house tiger – just like its owner – is very individual and its needs and possibilities are accordingly different. One cat is very active as an outdoor cat, the other sleeps a lot, one is chronically ill, the other tends to be overweight, one is young, the other old – this list goes on and on. It is not much different with cat owners: some have a lot of time to prepare fresh food, others prefer to order the food ready-made online, some have more money, others less.
The Nutritional Requirement is Very Individual
Basically: The best cat food for your velvet paw is not necessarily the most expensive. Much more important than price, brand, or shape (whether dry, wet or raw) is whether the cat food meets your cat’s needs. Before committing to food, you should ask yourself what your Tonkanese really needs. Is she very active and often out on forays outside? Then they probably need more energetic food than conspecifics that are kept as pure indoor cats. Is it still growing or is it already in an older semester? In this case, too, the nutritional requirements are very different. Nutrition and nutrient tables can be helpful in making an accurate determination. A detailed consultation with the breeder or a trustworthy veterinarian is also advisable in order to get an overview of the individual nutritional requirements of your own cat.
That sounds more complicated at first than it is: Fortunately, there are now numerous suppliers who produce very high-quality feed for a special age, for special breeds or special intolerances (e.g. grain-free, low-allergen) and with whom a Tonkanese is easy, but can still be nourished healthily. As a guideline for a balanced feed mixture, the meat content for an adult, healthy cat should be around 60 to 70 percent. The proportion of fruit and vegetables that provide the necessary vitamins, fiber, and carbohydrates in addition to animal proteins should be 20 to 30 percent. Cats, on the other hand, hardly need cereals in the form of wheat, oats, rye, barley, maize, or millet, as the carbohydrates they contain are difficult to digest and use.
Is the Tonkinese the Right Cat for Me?
One thing is certain, the Tonkinese, with its unique coat color and its large, expressive eyes, is an eye-catcher and is guaranteed to make the hearts of cat lovers beat faster. Their many positive qualities, their sociable and people-related nature, their self-confidence, and their ability to adapt make them interesting for future cat owners. Before you start looking for a breeder, however, you should consider whether you can find the time you need to keep your cat appropriately.
Outdoor Activity and Cat Company are Recommended
Tonkinese is not pets that run “alongside”. They want to be noticed by their people and are only happy when they are allowed to be “right in the middle”. You would like to receive attention – be it in the form of games or pats. At the same time, you really appreciate the opportunity to go outside. Life in the country that offers space for excursions and where there are no multi-lane, dangerous motorways in the immediate vicinity, suits this pedigree cat. People who live in the city but still want a Tonkanese can keep them purely as an indoor cat, but should ensure that the cat gets enough exercise and variety in their own four walls. Cat toys, a climbing and scratching post, and, ideally, a playmate in the form of a second cat should be available to you. In general, you should make sure that your Tonkanese is little alone. Tonkinese is extremely sociable and feels comfortable in the company of their own kind and love people.
If you live in a quiet area, you have several hours a day for your pet and you are also open to buying a second cat, the Tonkinese is certainly a perfect companion for you and will bring a lot of joy into your everyday life with its charming nature.