Active: Tonkinese cats are highly active, but not overly so. They certainly desire your attention and will often demand it, but they know how to relax as well.
Size: The Tonkinese is medium in size, weighing 6 to 12 pounds.
Characteristics: The Tonkinese cat is medium-sized and quite muscular. They are known for their striking aqua eyes, but their eyes can come in other colors as well. The ideal Tonkinese is "medium" in every way. A medium blend of Burmese and Siamese, medium in length, and medium in build (neither bulky nor sinewy). They have medium sized, perky ears with slightly rounded almond eyes, giving them the appearance of alertness and intelligence. Their robust body is perched atop slender legs and they feel shockingly heavy when picked up.
Temperament: The Tonkinese has many similar personality qualities to those of its ancestors, both the Burmese and the Siamese. They want to be right where you are, wherever you are, at any time of the day. Highly intelligent and quite playful, the Tonkinese breed loves skillful, challenging and creative games. They will demand you, and anyone in your home, pay attention to them. They will entertain with antics and games and enjoy adoration from all. They are very chatty, enjoying a good long talk with their companions and after all of their playing and chatting, they love to snuggle up close to the ones they love. They will perch themselves on your lap for some relaxation. Because they are both sweet, and highly active, they make great companions for families with children.
Care: The Tonkinese are easy to love and just as easy to care for. Weekly brushing will keep their silky coats gorgeous. Nail trimming and ear cleaning as needed should keep them looking like the King or Queen that they are. Bathe occasionally, but only as needed. Brush their teeth daily to keep periodontal disease far away and their breath smelling fresh while they chat your ear off.
Coat: The coat of the Tonkinese is luscious and soft. It is short and thick and feels very silky. The coat comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns such as Seal, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Red, Blue, Lilac, Fawn, Cream and the tortoiseshell counterparts of these colors. The most common patterns are solid, pointed and mink.
Origin: There are many accounts of Tonkinese cats over the years, some dating back centuries. While it was not known at the time, Wong Mau was a Tonkinese cat. Wong Mau was brought to California in 1930 by Dr. Joseph Thompson. He was believed to be a Burmese cat and was used to generate the Burmese cat breed. It was later discovered that Wong Mau was actually probably a cross between a Siamese and Burmese and was what we now know as Tonkinese. While the Tonkinese has most likely existed for a very long time, the modern account of the Tonkinese cat breed starts in 1960 in Canada.
Margaret Conroy crossed a seal point Siamese with a sable Burmese. The kittens produced had tan coats and aqua blue eyes. Initially, the breed was referred to as Golden Siamese. In an attempt to separate the breed from the Siamese breed, the name was changed to Tonkanese. Later, in 1971, the spelling was changed to Tonkinese after the Bay of Tonkin in Vietnam. During the 1960s, around the same time as Margaret Conroy, a breeder named Jane Barletta of New Jersey was also working to breed a cross between a Burmese and Siamese.
Margaret Conroy, along with other breeders including Jane Barletta, set forth to write the breed standard and in 1971 the breed was first recognized by the Canadian Cat Association. In 1979, the breed was recognized by TICA in the United States. In 1984, the CFA granted the breed championship status. And soon after, the breed was recognized by all major organizations for championship status.