Learn About Tonkinese Cats

Below is a description of the Tonkinese breed, history, conformation, colors and personality of Tonkinese cats.

Tonkines Cat PhotoTonkinese: Started in the mid-60s and a fully accepted stablished breed since 1984.

Tonkinese are beautiful, medium-sized, surprisingly heavy and muscular cats. They have short soft silky fur that is easy to care for and wonderful to pet. People-oriented, social, active and playful, they are also loving lap cats. Tonks were developed in the 60s and 70s from Siamese and Burmese. Tonkinese breeders wanted a more moderate breed than the extremes of the two parent breeds and they wanted the new mink pattern colors with aqua eyes. The first breed to have the mink pattern was Tonkinese. Its has also been bred to emphasize its social personality.

Since 1984 we have been restricted to only allowing Tonkinese to Tonkinese breedings in the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA). Therefore its status changed to Established breed from the orginal Hybrid breed of decades ago.

Tonkinese Kitten PhotoTonkinese Conformation: Medium sized athletic short-haired pedigree cat

The Tonkinese is a moderate cat in conformation with a well built muscular body. They should feel surprising heavy. They develope that body by lots of play activity. Many like to jump onto your shoulder. A shoulder is their favorite place as they like to be close to humans. Tonkinese faces have a rounder softer look than typical oriental breeds, yet they are not short or cobby either. Many find them very beautiful with their wide open pleasing expression. Although they are active, they are not usually hyper. They alternate between active and cuddly lap cat, so they are like two cats in one package. This is a photo of Vivatonk Taro playing fetch. He is also a lovebug. See lots of photos of active tonks at play.

Tonkinese Kitten PhotoTonkinese Personality: Loving, Social, People-oriented, Gregarious, Active, Playful, Cuddly

Loving:  Tonkinese are firmly convinced that humans were put on earth to love them. The colorful personality of the Tonkinese make them ideal companions. They will take possession of your lap and shoulder, and they will supervise your activities. They are warm and loving, highly intelligent, and generous in loving everyone. Many Tonkinese are used as therapy cats.

Active and Playful:  Tonkinese are naturals at inventing and playing games, using favorite toys to play fetch, and delighting in games of tag with each other. Of course hide ‘n seek is a favorite game, which they play with humans as well as other Tonks.  Although Tonkinese kittens are great fun, Tonkinese tend to remain kittens throughout their life. Scratching posts and toys are much appreciated by these playful guys. Frequently people get two Tonkinese as its fun to watch them interact, yet they still have plenty of love and attention to give their owners in addition to their playmate.

Social:  Tonkinese quickly take over and run your house and your life!  Their affectionate ways are impossible to ignore, and they quickly endear themselves to family and visitors.  They become your “door greeter” and will happily entertain your guests.  Tonkinese  get along well with children, other breeds of cats, and dogs.  They just don’t like being ignored or left alone.

Do they talk a lot?  Tonkinese talk in sentences and paragraphs when they have something to say, not just to hear their own voices.


Tonkinese Colors: 12 varieties

Tonkinese come in 4 base colors and 3 coat patterns for 12 varieties.  Each color name has two words: the base color name followed by the pattern name. Tonks with the same base color name have the same color at their points (face, ears, tail). Patterns define the contrast between body and points. Each pattern has a different defined eye color, But no matter how they are painted, they come with the same wonderful Tonk personality.

Tonkinese Kitten PhotoBase Colors:  Platinum, Champagne, Natural, Blue

Coat Patterns: Point, Mink, and Solid

Point high contrast between points to body with blue eyes
Mink medium contrast between points to body with aqua eyes ,
Solid low contrast between points to body with green to yellow-green eyes

Examples of color names:  Platinum Mink, Champagne Point, Natural Solid, and Blue Mink
The kittens on the left are all Champagnes - each in a different pattern. A Champagne Solid, Champagne Point, and Champagne Mink. All have the same point color but their body color and eye color varies.

Although the eye color for each pattern is defined in the Tonkinese standard, the eye color is a range such there is overlap in reality. So some minks can have blue eyes for example. They may even be prettier than a mink with the defined standard eye color of aqua.

Additional information about color is on our Color Development page and on the Tonkinese Breed Association website color and coat patterns.


Additional sites with a lot of information on Tonkinese.