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Tonkinese Cat: Info, Pictures, Care, Traits & Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Tonkinese cat

Height: 7 – 10 inches
Weight: 6 – 12 pounds
Lifespan: 10 – 16 years
Colors: Blue, natural, champagne, and platinum points with low, medium, or solid coloring
Suitable for: Singles, families with kids, and other pets
Temperament: Affectionate, sociable, vocal

The loving and playful Tonkinese is a blend of the affectionate, loyal Siamese and the vocal, sociable Burmese cat. The friendly Tonkinese will often greet its owners and guests at the door in a welcoming manner. Tonkinese, also known as Tonks, love to play fetch, ride on your shoulder, and sit in your lap to tell you about its day. Tonks have a deep reliance on their humans to dispel boredom and hate being lonely, which often leads to them being labeled as dog-like due to their need for human interaction.

The Tonkinese comes in a variety of color and patterns. There are four base colors for the “points” (ears, face, and tail) of these beautiful cats: blue, natural, champagne, and platinum. One coat pattern is the Pointed, which has a high degree of contrast between the points and the body with blue eyes. The Mink has a medium degree of contrast with the points and has aqua-colored eyes. Finally, there is the Solid coat pattern, which has a low degree of contrast between the points and the body, and they have yellow-green to green eyes.

There is more to learn about Tonkinese, so read on to learn what to expect from this playful feline.

Tonkinese Kitten

Little tonkinese kitten
Image Credit: Lifesummerlin, Shutterstock

Some breeders offer vaccines, socialization, and a purebred pedigree which will increase the cost of your kitten. Reputable breeders will also offer you a certificate of general health and/or a congenital defect guarantee.

Tonkinese kittens have high energy levels and are extremely curious. Tonks kittens are also very calm, docile, and open to being handled by humans. As kittens, they may be a bit clumsy as they grow into their bodies, but they reach their adult full height by around six months and will reach their mature weight and size by one year old. The color of their coat takes about two years to fully develop and become the final color as an adult cat.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Tonkinese

1. Tonkinese are descended from one cat.

A cat named Wong Mau was brought to America around 1930 and is thought to be the first Tonkinese in the country. She is now referred to as the mom of the Burmese breed, but she was actually a Tonkinese, not a chocolate Siamese as many of the time thought.

2. A medium hair Tonkinese exists.

The medium hair Tonkinese, sometimes called Tibetan, is popular in several European countries, including Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Germany.

3. They can walk on a leash.

Tonkinese are very intelligent and can be trained to walk in a harness on a leash.

Parent breeds of the Tonkinese Cat
The parent breeds of Tonkinese Cat: Left – Siamese (Miguel F., Unsplash) | Right – Burmese (Dyadya_Lyosha, Pixabay)

Temperament & Intelligence of the Tonkinese

The Tonkinese is a friendly, affectionate cat that craves human interaction. Tonks are well-known for being “dog-like” as they will play hide-and-seek, tag, and fetch if trained to do so. They are intelligent and will need to have mental stimulation every day to keep from becoming bored. Games, puzzles, and lots of loving attention from its owner will keep a Tonkinese happy.

Tonkinese cats have quite the personality, usually insisting on supervising their owners in every activity so they know it’s done right. They tend to talk often and expect that you respond to their comments appropriately. They want to spend their time with you, and they will hop right up in your lap for a cuddle session. These active cats are known for being jumping masters and for being silly clowns around their families.

Are These Cats Good for Families? 👪

Tonkinese are known for being very amenable to all human interaction. They do well with children that understand cats need to be treated with respect. They will enjoy loving pets and affection from children and may even play games with them. Always make sure that children understand they need to treat the cat gently and you won’t have any problems with this friendly feline.  They do tend to develop separation anxiety if they are left alone for long periods so be sure to hire a pet sitter who is willing to spend some time with them while you are out of town.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

Tonks also get along well with other pets. From other cats to dogs, the Tonkinese will enjoy having animal companionship, so it doesn’t become lonely when you’re away. Tonkinese also enjoy having another Tonk as a companion and you will enjoy double the hi-kinks if you decide to have two fun-loving Tonks in your home. Always take the time to properly introduce any new pets to the home slowly to prevent conflict and allow the animals to become accustomed to changes in their environment.

Things to Know When Owning a Tonkinese:

Food & Diet Requirements 🐡

Tonkinese cats need a high-quality dry or wet cat food. You may have to try a few brands to see what food your Tonk likes best. You will also want to watch for signs of gastrointestinal upset, such as diarrhea or constipation. If your Tonk likes its food and there are no stomach upsets, you’ve found the right food for your cat. If your cat seems to be having digestion issues, reach out to your vet to see if they can recommend a quality food for your cat.

Exercise 🐈

Tonkinese cats tend toward being energetic playmates and will want to have exercise every day. They do like to play fetch and hide-and-seek, two games that are sure to get their hearts pumping. They also like to make high jumps and may do a few laps around the house if they’re full of pent-up energy. A cat wand with a feather or mouse on the end will be a game that stimulates both your Tonks’ mind and gets his heart pumping as he chases it around. Spending time each day with your Tonk playing energetic games will help it stay in shape and not gain weight.

Training 🧶

These intelligent cats are trainable and enjoy learning new tricks and activities. They will quickly learn how to use the litter box, as well as teach you just how often they expect their commode to be cleaned. They are very playful and can be taught to play fetch, jump through a hoop, or walk on a leash. Praise and rewards will go a long way toward positive reinforcement of any training behaviors you are working on with your Tonk.

Grooming ✂️

Tonkinese have short, silky coats in a medium thickness. They tend to take care of their own grooming, but a weekly brushing session with a brush will be appreciated to help them look their best. They will also need their teeth brushed to help prevent periodontal disease. Trim their nails as needed and clean their ears regularly to prevent infections. They do not need to be bathed unless they have really gotten themselves filthy through some misadventure.

Health and Conditions 🏥

If you purchase a kitten from a breeder, ask about the health of your kitten’s parents to help prepare you for any future potential health issues. Reputable breeders will be breeding for health, as well as temperament, and will often provide you with a document stating the overall good health of the parent breeds. Overall, Tonks tend to have generally good health, but there are always health issues to watch out for among these cats.

Minor Conditions
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Eyes issues
  • Respiratory infections
Serious Conditions
  • Obesity
  • Amyloidosis
  • Lymphoma
  • Heart disease
  • Dental disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Diabetes Mellitus

Male vs Female

The male Tonkinese will be larger than the female Tonk. Overall, there is no noticeable difference between the genders in terms of personality or sociability. Choosing a male or a female will be based on your personal preference as a pet owner.

Final Thoughts

Tonkinese are a sociable, personable cat breed that will be happy to be your constant companion. Known for being “dog-like,” they will want to supervise your daily activities and greet you at the front door upon your return from the day’s adventures. These playful felines enjoy human affection, often sitting in your lap and they enjoy being carried around on your shoulder. Families looking to add another pet to their home can’t go wrong with a Tonkinese as they do well with children and other pets. Tonkinese are happy wherever you are and will appreciate a home with lots of human attention.

Featured Image Credit: dezy, Shutterstock

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