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Breed: Tonkinese
Curious, active
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Recommended for: All ages


A hybrid of the Siamese and Burmese, Tonkinese are slim, sleek, graceful cats, usually rounder-faced than Siamese, but with the darker markings, or ‘points’, on the face, paws, and tail and a richer body colour. Colours correspond with those seen in Siamese: seal-mink, chocolate-mink, blue-mink and lilac-mink. Breeders are working to develop a tabby-mink. The term ‘mink’ in the colour names describes the texture and feel of the coat. Eyes are usually aqua.


Like Siamese and Burmese, Tonkinese relate well to humans. They are a curious, active cat. While not as vocal as Siamese, the Tonkinese will ‘talk’ with owners and therefore are more demanding than other breeds. Owners say they can be very playful and make good companions.

Health & lifespan

Possesses hybrid vigour.
It appears to have few behavioural extremes of the two parent breeds, such as indoor spraying and temperamental habits.
A lifespan of 12-15 years.

Feeding & hunting

Like their parent breeds, many Tonkinese are intolerant of cow’s milk. Owners say they aren’t fussy eaters unless indulged. Many seem to have retained a strong hunting instinct and may be a threat to local wildlife if not constrained indoors.


Tonkinese do not breed true. Owners say a typical four-kitten litter from a Tonkinese-to-Tonkinese mating will usually result in two kittens which will look Tonkinese, one Siamese and one Burmese. Most seem to kitten easily, producing between three and six kittens a litter.

Housepet potential/Ideal owner

These cats are well-suited to most situations, as long as the owners realise they have a pet which needs attention and interaction. They are also very active cats and may not be suitable for people with lots of fragile ornaments, or those desiring a quieter pet. Some owners didn’t recommend them for households where they may be left alone for long periods of time. A degree of responsibility is also necessary to keep the cats inside at night when wildlife is active. Most are quite adaptable to changing family circumstances.


While there have been accidental matings between Siamese and Burmese for many years, as a pedigreed cat it originated in North America. The name is taken from the Gulf of Tonkin which is also in the South East Asian region. While there is still controversy over the legitimacy of Tonkinese as a breed it is now recognised by about 50% of cat control bodies in Australia.

Further information

New South Wales: Waratah National Cat Alliance Inc.
Phone: (02) 9527 3695

Queensland: Queensland Feline Association Inc.
phone: (04) 3395 1013

South Australia: Governing Council of the Cat Fancy of South Australia Inc.
Phone: (08) 8449 5880

Western Australia: Feline Control Council of Western Australia
Phone/Fax: (08) 9452 2885

Tasmania: Cat Association of Tasmania Inc.
Phone: (03) 6261 4432

Northern Territory: Cat Association of the Northern Territory
Phone: (08) 8932 5225