Tonkinese Cats

Tonkinese are very vocal active cats that demand attention. They love to play, and get along great with kids and other pets. They are also very affectionate and intelligent. They can be strong willed and harder to train.


Tonkinese Pictures

  • Tonkinese cat named Spooky
  • Tonkinese cat named Princess
  • Tonkinese cat named Jasmine
  • Tonkinese cat named Tasha
  • Tonkinese cat named Portia
  • Tonkinese cat named Duke
see Tonkinese pictures »

Quick Facts

  • 5.5 - 12 pounds

Ideal Human Companions

    • Families with children
    • Families with other pets
    • Singles with other pets
    • Experienced cat owners

Tonkineses on Catster

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Trademark Traits

    • Dense and muscular body
    • Friendly and affectionate
    • Highly intelligent
    • Very active
    • Strong willed

Things You Should Know

Tonkinese don’t take to being ignored and need a lot of attention. They are active cats and are always on the go. Because they are so smart, they can get into mischief if not given plenty of toys and interaction.

Because Tonkinese are so active, they are best matched with cats of their own breed, or with a breed that is equally active, such as the Siamese.

Tonkinese History

The Tonkinese breed hails back to the Middle Ages, and was imported to England in the 1800s. Originally known as a Chocolate Siamese, the breed is actually a combination of Burmese and Siamese blood.

In 1930, Dr. Joseph Thompson brought a small walnut-colored cat to California. Named Wong Mau, this cat went on to become a foundation cat for the Burmese and Tonkinese breeds in America.

The Tonkinese was first recognized as a breed in Canada in 1971, by the Canadian Cat Association (CCA). In the United States, the breed was first accepted by The International Cat Association (TICA) in 1979. In 1984, the Cat Fanciers Association granted the breed championship status. The American Cat Fanciers Association (ACFA) also recognizes the breed.

The Look of a Tonkinese

The Tonkinese is a medium-sized cat with a sturdy, compact appearance similar to the Burmese and traditional Siamese cats. The breed comes in a variety of different colors and markings, including natural mink, champagne mink, blue mink, platinum mink, sable brown with points, champagne with points, blue with points, and platinum with points.

Talk About Tonkineses 

A friendly, talkative breed

I love Tonkinese cats. They are friendly and affectionate and talk a lot. They are very emotional and smart and mine is my best friend! I would definitely recommend this breed to anyone. I honestly wouldn't buy any other breed. Living with them is so interesting and every day is great. They talk to you and let you know how they are feeling and if you are depressed, they know just how to cheer you up!

~Jackie, owner of a Tonkinese

Playful, affectionate and intelligent

My two kitties are Tonkinese, and I have absolutely fallen in love with the breed. They are highly playful, extremely intelligent and very affectionate. They are curious about everything and have amazingly strong, individualistic personalities. So if you can't stand a strong-willed cat, you might want to take a pass (although I personally find a cat who knows her own mind delightful).

They do require more attention and play time than some other breeds. Although this has been a world changer for me, the time and attention I've dedicated to mine have brought me more joy and happiness than I thought possible from a relationship with a cat. One of mine is more laid back, the other highly intense, but what they do have in common is a strong idea of what they want to do, and if you facilitate fulfilling their desires you can create an incredible bond that brims over with affection. I also highly recommend getting two as their loneliness when their human's away is more highly acute, as their bond with you goes very deeply.

~Cindy W., owner of two Tonkinese cats

A true people cat

As a cat lover who shares her house with a Bengal, among two other mixed-breed kitties, I LOVE cats who crave attention, playtime, and affection.

Sophie, my blue mink Tonkinese kit, is just like that. She is so loving and yet so into games -- it's the best of both worlds. Her aqua eyes are absolutely beautiful and she makes every day a delight. She has immediately won over even Sasha (my Bengal), Starby the blue and white mix acts like her mommy, and even Azrael (a very sensitive and sweet black patent-leather-looking angel) is starting to come around!

If you get a Tonk, you MUST give them tons of affection and love. DO NOT leave this cat alone for long periods of time. Like the Siamese and Burmese breeds which created the Tonkinese, they are true people cats and need a human who will provide love and care all the time.

~Kit F. , owner of four kitties

Not for the faint of heart

I love my Tonkinese, but he is not for anyone who does not want to give a cat a lot of attention, or believes a "buddy" cat will replace them.

He is beyond intelligent and can lead me to what he wants -- like lead me to a door, look at me, and meow; I'll open it, and he goes through it.

He is almost 14 years old, and I am now at the point where I would prefer a less active breed due to my age. He still does not realize he is "elderly." He will be with me to the end. He prefers my attention and interaction to his buddy cat (a British shorthair) - really!!!

~Joyce, owner of a Tonkinese and a British shorthair