Other names: Tibetan


Tonkinese are a domestic cat breed produced by crossbreeding a Siamese and a Burmese cat. As a result, they have the characteristics of both breeds. Tonkinese are elegant, muscular and energetic, which makes them excellent playmates. Their dense and lustrous coats exist in a diverse range of patterns and colors.


Key facts about the Tonkinese

  • Life expectancy : Between 13 and 15 years
  • Temperament : Affectionate, Playful, Intelligent
  • Type of coat : Short, Long
  • Price : Between £300 and £700

Physical characteristics of the Tonkinese

Adult size

Female cat Between 10 and 12 in
Male cat Between 12 and 14 in

Reaches adult size around 12 months, however they can continue to grow beyond this point.


Female cat Between 4 and 9 lb
Male cat Between 11 and 13 lb

Coat colour

Black / seal, blue / grey-slate, chocolate, lilac / lilac, cinnamon / cinnamon, fawn / fawn, red, white.

Coat patterns

Solid / plain, tabby / striped, colourpoint, mink /sepia.

Multiple different patterns are possible, but the colourpoint, mink and sepia patterns are the most common.

Type of coat

Long, short.

Eye colour

Blue / aquamarine, gold / yellow, green


Tonkinese have slender, muscular and athletic bodies. Their heads are triangular, they have medium length muzzles and broad, rounded ears. Their legs and tail are long, but powerful.
Their coat is renowned for their silky and shiny appearance. There are both short haired and long haired varieties of Tonkinese. Long-haired Tonkinese are known as a Tibetan cats.



yellow-paw yellow-paw yellow-paw

These cats are always on the hunt for human company and attention. They are generally considered an affectionate breed.


yellow-paw yellow-paw yellow-paw

Energetic, even athletic, these cats are in great need of both exercise and entertainment. Daily interaction and autonomous games are essential to their well-being.


yellow-paw yellow-paw grey-paw

Once they’ve had their daily dose of exercise, Tonkinese will relax with their owners, peers or sometimes even alone.


yellow-paw yellow-paw yellow-paw

Due to their active nature, Tonkinese shows great interest in their environments. They are intelligent cats and therefore are good candidates for training which stimulates their intellectual abilities.

Fearful / wary of strangers

yellow-paw yellow-paw yellow-paw

Depending on how they were socialised at a young age, these cats are generally quite curious.


yellow-paw yellow-paw grey-paw

Tonkinese can adapt to most living conditions and constraints, but they do prefer the presence of humans or other animals.

Behaviour of the Tonkinese


yellow-paw yellow-paw grey-paw

Although usually less chatty than Siamese cats, they are still considered a rather vocal breed.

Need for exercise / Sporty

yellow-paw yellow-paw yellow-paw

Tonkinese need regular exercise so regular play sessions are integral.

Tendency to run away

yellow-paw yellow-paw grey-paw

Due to their curious and energetic nature, some members of this breed want to explore their living environment in detail.

Greedy / Gluttony

yellow-paw yellow-paw yellow-paw

Their high energy levels go hand in hand with their appetites. Feeding them in interactive bowls makes it possible to meet their nutritional needs while offering them autonomous activity.


Tonkinese and cats

yellow-paw yellow-paw grey-paw

Generally, Tonkinese get on well with other cats. Sufficient socialisation as a kitten, gradual introduction in a controlled environment, and plenty of high points for the cats to escape, are all factors that will facilitate cohabitation between cats in the household.

Tonkinese and dogs

yellow-paw yellow-paw yellow-paw

Tonkinese can acclimatise to living with a dog as they generally love any social interactions. However, they must be gradually introduced in a controlled environment with high points for the cat to escape to. N.B. The way the cat has been socialised as a kitten will greatly influence their long term sociability with dogs.

Tonkinese and children

yellow-paw yellow-paw yellow-paw

The energetic nature of this cat and the creativity of children promises many surprises! However, it is important to educate children from an early age to fully understand the cat’s body language, in order to develop a healthy relationship between the cat and child.

Tonkinese and the elderly

yellow-paw grey-paw grey-paw

It goes without saying that there are many individual behavioural differences in cats of the same breed. However, it must be kept in mind that this breed is very energetic, and it may be difficult for elderly people to meet the needs of a Tonkinese.


Their price ranges from £300 to £700. This price varies according to the individual’s lineage, breeding, age and sex. It will cost on average £25/month to provide for a Tonkinese, in order to offer them a good quality diet and to keep them in good health.


Weekly brushing is usually sufficient due to their light undercoat.


Insignificant hair loss.

Nutrition of the Tonkinese

Due to their high energy levels, Tonkinese need high quality diets, that are appropriate to their age and medical requirements.

Health of the Tonkinese

Life expectancy

Average life expectancy of 13 to 15 years, however on occasion Tonkinese have been know to reach 20 years of age.

Strong / robust

yellow-paw yellow-paw grey-paw

Due to their light undercoats, they are not very well prepared for cold weather conditions.

Tendency to put on weight

yellow-paw grey-paw grey-paw

There are many risk factors for feline obesity, including age, environment, diet and activity. However, as the Tonkinese is an energetic cat, their likelihood of obesity is significantly reduced.

Common illnesses

Although this breed is generally considered healthy, annual medical checkups are recommended. Tonkinese can still develop the same illnesses as other domestic cats, such as oral diseases. 

Also, Tonkinese cats are more likely to be diagnosed with progressive retinal atrophy, which results in blindness (however a genetic screening test is possible).


Cross-breeding is permitted with other Tonkinese or with English Burmese cats. Additionally, cross-breeding with Asian Longhairs is also provisionally permitted (until 2020).

Average litters consist of 4 kittens.

Good to know

Kittens are generally born with paler coats than their adult counterparts. Their fur darkens around the age of 2.

Origins and history

This breed originates from cross-breeding between a Siamese and a Burmese cat. They first appeared in North America in the thirties and were known as Golden Siamese. However, some people believe that cross-breeding would have unofficially occurred in the 19th century in Thailand. Unpopular during the first half of the 20th century, it was only during the sixties that the Tonkinese gained popularity and were given their current name! Tonkin is a region of Vietnam, which interestingly, is not directly related to the history of the breed.


Good names for a Tonkinese: Darla, Jim, Quiz, Wella

Find out name ideas for your cat here