The Tonkinese Cat: A Loyal & Fun Companion Suitable for All

The Tonkinese cat is a friendly, people-oriented, and playful breed. Quite frankly, we are obsessed.

At first glance, you might think it's a Siamese cat or even a Burmese cat, but the Tonkinese cat (lovingly nicknamed Tonk!) is a whole separate cat breed that's indeed worthy of praise.

Born from the crossbreeding of the Siamese and the Burmese cat, the Tonkinese cat was first developed in Canada during the 1960s - but unbeknownst to them, the Tonk first arrived in the United States in the 1930s. Many of today's Tonks can be traced back to the Wong Mau, the cat breed that originated the Burmese cat. It was said that the Wong Mau was, in fact, a Tonkinese. (However, they were called a chocolate Siamese back then.)

The Story Behind the Tonk

The history of the Tonkinese breed is quite an interesting one: the birth of the Tonkinese cat came about when a breeder, named Jane Barletta, wanted to create a cat breed that shared both the affectionate qualities and intelligence of the Siamese and the Burmese breeds but at a smaller size and less vocal. Together with Canadian breeder Margaret Conroy, the two ladies bred the first Tonkinese kittens: donning tan coat colors and beautiful aqua blue eyes. These were then described as the golden Siamese.

The Tonkinese breed was recognized in 1971 by the Canadian Cat Association and was recognized in 1974 by The Cat Fancier's Association (CFA). The Tonkinese breed was granted championship status by the CFA in 1984, and the International Cat Association recognized the cat breed in 1979.

Personality and Breed Standard

This Siamese-Burmese cat lookalike has one of the best personalities around, especially for a cat. Sweet and friendly, this loving cat breed goes against the stereotype of cats being independent and like to be alone (which is certainly true in most cases!). Tonks are lap cats hands down; they love being close to their humans and will follow you around the house. The Tonkinese breed is also a very smart cat breed - Be sure to challenge their brains with puzzle toys and interactive toys. Because of their intelligence, this is also a cat breed you can train. Just make sure to cat-proof your home: keep breakables and toxic things, like certain plants, out of reach, so your easily-bored Tonkinese won't be able to get in trouble. Not a cat to be left alone, be sure to get a buddy to keep your Tonkinese company - it could be another cat or even a cat-friendly dog. Tonks get along with everyone!

Today's Tonkinese is a muscular, medium-sized cat breed, with a short and oh-so-soft coat that comes in three coat patterns: mink, solid, and pointed - and these patterns come in base shades of natural, champagne, blue, and platinum. They weigh between six to twelve pounds, and usually feel surprisingly heavy. They have a life span of 12 to 16 years, and let's not forget their stunning aqua eyes!

Do you live with a Tonkinese? Please tell us about your Tonk in the comments below!

READ MORE: 11 Affectionate Cat Breeds That Just Want to Cuddle