Tonkinese | Cat Breed Guide

Tonkinese | Cat Breed Guide

by Scritch

The Tonkinese is friendly and loving, great for families with children and/or other pets. The breed is known for suffering from inflammatory bowel disease.

Weight: 5-12 pounds 

Life Expectancy: 15-18 years

Temperament: friendly, smart, playful

Energy Level:

Ease of Training:

Grooming Requirements:

History and Personality

In 1930, a man named Dr. Joseph Thompson brought Wong Mau, a brown-colored feline, to California. This small act led to the birth of the Burmese and the Tonkinese. 

A result of crossbreeding between Siamese and Burmese cats, the Tonkinese is very social and enjoys spending time around people. They crave attention and make ideal lap cats, great for single people or those seeking an affectionate, reliable companion. Tonkinese can also thrive in family settings, getting along well with children and other pets. Because they can get lonely from lack of interaction or activities, many experts recommend adopting another cat.

This breed is also active, sure to be found running through the house or playing with toys. When they are not exploring, they are supervising their owner’s daily activities. Should they become bored, they might get into trouble and make a few messes. This problem can be solved by distracting them with puzzles or teaching them tricks. With some patience and determination, a Tonkinese can learn how to fetch or walk on a leash.

Because of their sweet, agreeable nature, some Tonkinese are used as therapy cats in hospitals, retirement homes, and schools. An owner should determine if their pet can handle these challenging environments beforehand, however.

Tonkinese kittens are known for having blue eyes. Once they grow into adults, many develop yellow-green, green, or aquamarine eyes.


Because these cats have a short coat, grooming is only necessary once or twice a week. Nails should be trimmed every 10 days. Tonkinese cats come in a variety of colors, including blue, chocolate, cream, and red.

Health Concerns

  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Gingivitis

Inflammatory bowel disease involves inflammation of the intestines. Symptoms include, but are not limited to vomiting, depression, flatulence, and diarrhea. IBD is believed to be connected to food allergies or sensitivities, parasites, stress, or poor eating habits. A vet can perform a variety of tests to determine if a cat has IBD, including x-rays.

Poor teeth care can eventually lead to gingivitis, a condition that results from tartar and plaque buildup.

Pet insurance can assist with treatment costs and provide peace of mind.