This week in our series on Getting to Know Your Cat Breed we are featuring the Tonkinese cat. These beautiful cats have the odd nickname of “Tonk” maybe due to their muscular bodies.
Life expectancy: 14-16 years
Size: Medium size weighing 6-12 but solid and muscular.
Color: There are four base colors for a Tonkinese: Platinum, Champagne, Natural, and Blue. There are three categories of markings for each color ranging from Point to Mink to Solid. Each color combination also carries a distinct eye color from blue (Point) to aqua (Mink) to green or yellow-green (Solid).
Origins: The Tonkinese are thought to be a cross between a Siamese and a Burmese, but there are also depictions of these cats found much earlier in the drawings and writings from the 14th and 15th centuries. The Tonkinese we know today in the United States is indeed a cross developed in California by Dr. Joseph Thompson from Siamese and Burmese.
Personality: Tonkinese are quite playful and sociable. They love visitors and will act as your door greeter. They are good with children and other animals and are loving lap or shoulder warmers if that’s what you want in a cat. They are quite clever and can be trained if you have the patience.
Health Issues: The Tonk is generally healthy with some predisposition to gingivitis disease. They may also develop some of the same genetic diseases of the Siamese and Burmese due to their shared ancestry.
Fitness/energy level: They are a playful and energetic cat who will invent their own games if no one plays with them. They love climbing so be sure and lock up the cat treats. Their intelligence also requires regular mental challenges, so hide and seek is a favorite game, as is tag, but you might invest in other treat related mental games to keep your Tonk happy and stimulated.
Native foods for the Tonkinese: Native proteins found in Thailand or Burma would include loach (fish), water buffalo, dolphin, deer, weasel, and ferret. Fruits and vegetables native to Thailand include mangos, pomegranates, bananas, rice, corn, peas, radishes.
Fun facts about the Tonkinese:
When first developed in the1930's, the cats were called "Golden Siamese". In the 1960's the name was changed to "Tonkanese" after the island in the musical South Pacific. The name eventually morphed into Tonkinese because it was misspelled so often.
They are known for their exceptional personalities carrying the best traits from the Siamese and Burmese.