The Breed History
The breed foundation female is Wong Mau, a Siamese cross originally from Burma (now Myanmar). She is also the progenitor female of the Burmese breed of cats. The foundation offspring from the 1930s litter was split into Burmese for brown coated kittens, and those with Wong Mau's pointed pattern were assigned to the Tonkinese breed. Crosses between Siamese and Burmese cats continued, which led to the formation of the Tonkinese breed. Then the books were closed to prevent too much Siamese type influence. The Tonkinese name may have derived from the word Tonkin, possibly an ancient name for Viet Nam, and the name is used for Gulf of Tonkin in that region. First recognized by CCA in the year 1971, and CFA in 1978, with championship status granted in 1984. The European standard is somewhat different than the North American one. No outcrossing is allowed in the CFA.
Weight: Female 6-8 lb (2.5-3.5 kg), male 8-12 lb (3.5-5.5 kg)
Coat: They possess a short thick coat of fine silky glossy hairs that lay close to the body. A small cowlick is usually present on the chest. A small number of colors are accepted: Platinum (termed Lilac in Siamese), Blue, Natural (termed Brown outside North America), and Champagne (Chocolate in Siamese). The Natural or Brown color is the same as the Sable Burmese or Seal Point Siamese. Other colors are accepted in some registries.
Three Patterns can be Registered:
1. Mink: Ideal show type. Delineation between points and body color should be visible but not be sharp. (cb cs). Note that cb and cs are co-dominant which results in this intermediate phenotype.
2. Pointed: Sharp transition of points; as in Siamese cats (cs cs).
3. Solid: Very weak transition to points; only slight lightening on the body, as in Burmese cats (cb cb). Latter two types are pet quality (AOV registered), and occasional honeys or fawns are also AOV. Tonkinese points are autosomal recessive inheritance. These patterns reflect three types of partial temperature sensitive (ts) oculocutaneous albinism, there is a spectrum of mutation effects at one locus. In the Natural mink the body is a light brown. This is intermediate between the light body of Siamese, and the dark body of the Burmese. Coat tends to darken further with age. Allow up to 16 months for dilute coats to fully develop.
Eyes: Aqua in the Minks (this is an intense aquamarine green-blue), blue in other pointed cats but not the Siamese blue. Should not be Burmese chartreuse green. Eyes are almond shaped, moderate in size.
Points of Conformation: Medium build and size, with moderate to heavy stature. Modified softened wedge shaped head, like Siamese traditional "apple head" conformation. High cheeks, slight break. The medium-large ears have rounded tips. Leather of the ear may show due to minimal hair covering. Paws are oval and small. Tail is moderate in length and tapers at the tip.
Grooming: Minimal grooming-just a weekly or twice weekly pass through with a rubber brush will suffice.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Reported breed characteristics include: Active, playful, moderately vocal, very social, get along well with other pets and children, intelligent, curious, like to jump, adaptable, need close human contact, strong willed and strong personality; have some of the Siamese and Burmese traits. Can be leash trained and love to play fetch. Suited for indoor lifestyle and will happily ride shoulders and head butt for attention. Have been featured in the past as therapy cats in a National Geographic special-Tonkinese are well suited to AAA because of their gentle, gregarious nature.
Normal Breed Variations
Watch calorie intake due to tendency to obesity A prevalence of 100% blood type A was reported.
None reported in the literature
See Siamese and Burmese chapters-share many of their conditions but generally quite hardy and healthy; likely due to hybrid vigor.
Medial Patellar Luxation: A study in 1990 noted that of 22 Tonkinese cats assessed as part of a larger study, 4 had increased patella mobility/less secure seating. Minimum age in the overall mixed breed study group was 6 months; average age of the cats was 3.6 years. Compared with non pedigreed cats in this study group with a rate of 2:31 cats affected, this breed had a greater laxity rate.
No tests available commercially but now that the mutations of the tyrosinase gene leading to the ts-albinism (pointing) have been identified, checking for carriers of pointing alleles will follow, reducing the number of test crosses needed by breeders.
- Breed name synonyms: Tonk, Tonkanese, Golden Siamese (historical), Old-fashioned Siamese, Pointed Burmese
- Registries: CCA, TICA, CFA, ACFA, CFF, GCCF, ACF, NZCF, CCA
- Breed resources: Tonkinese Breed Association:
Tonkinese Cat Club (GCCF): http://www.tonkinesecatclub.co.uk/
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