Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Your Pet, Our Passion.


The Tonkinese is an Oriental type cat with a gently rounded head that has large, open eyes that range from green to light blue in colour. Ears are broad and set wide apart giving this cat an intelligent expression. The Tonkinese or ‘Tonk’ has a firm, muscular body that is long and lean, this is accentuated by the very short, fine coat that lies close to the body and has an incredibly silky texture. Overall, this is a very attractive and ‘neat’ cat, without the extremes of some of the Oriental types. 

The need-to-know
  • Benefits from an experienced owner
  • Needs high-level of enrichment including simulated hunting games and interactive play
  • Highly active and inquisitive cat
  • Sociable and dependent cat
  • Slightly talkative cat
  • Average build cat breed
  • Requires grooming once a week
  • Needs extensive outdoor space
  • Great family cat
  • Can be left alone all day
  • Needs a calm environment
Generally healthy breed

The Tonkinese breed can be prone to:
- Burmese head defect which is a condition where the face and skull do not form correctly. 
- Progressive retinal atrophy which is an inherited disorder where part of the eye degenerates and wastes away which can result in blindness.
- Pyruvate kinase deficiency which is a disease that causes anaemia (death or red blood cells).
Testing available:
- DNA testing for progressive retinal atrophy and pyruvate kinase deficiency which tests whether or not a cat has the potential to be affected by these conditions.

Key Facts

Lifespan: 10 - 16 years
Weight:  2.5 - 5.5kg
Colours:  Come in a variety of colours but are typically darker on the legs and tail, with a dark masked face that blends evenly into the lighter body colour. 


Family-friendly: 3/5
Playfulness: 5/5
Intelligence: 4/5
Tendency to Vocalise:  3/5
Likes Other Pets: 4/5
Grooming needs: 2/5
Shedding: 2/5
Tonkinese cat is sitting on bed


The Tonkinese has a lot of personality, and while they are not as high-drama and cat-chaos as the Siamese, this is still a forthright, demanding and intelligent cat who will not stand for being ignored. They are inclined to have chatty conversations with their people and while this is not as demanding as the Siamese can be, if you like your cats silent, the Tonkinese will be a bit of a shock to the system! Often described as more dog-like than cat-like, the Tonk wants to be involved in everything you are doing, loves to climb and jump, likes a lap-cuddle but equally likes to observe you from the top of the wardrobe or curtain rail and isn’t above ambushing unsuspecting visitors with a flying leap. 

Tonkinese cat is getting ready for jump

History and Origins

Country of Origin: United States

Other Names: Golden Siamese

The Tonkinese is a result of intentionally crossing a Siamese with a Burmese, resulting in characteristics from both types. Originally developed in the US in the 1950’s as the ‘Golden Siamese’ they took a while to gain popularity. They were effectively ‘rebranded’ as the Tonkinese in the 1960’s which helped put them on the map as a pet and show cat. 

Finding a cat

Two cats sitting on a sofa with a red cushion
Finding a pet
Is this the right breed for you?
All cats have their own unique personality! Try our Cat Breed Selector tool and find out which cat breeds better match your preferences and lifestyle.
Two cats lying on the sofa
Finding a pet
Thinking about getting a cat?
What breed would you like? Can you handle the challenges of a cheeky kitten, or would a calmer senior cat suit your lifestyle more?
Cat laying on the red pillow
Finding a pet
Finding a good breeder
If your heart is set on a pedigree kitten, then your best bet is to find a reputable breeder. Find out what to look for in a kitten breeder with this guide.
Cat laying in woman's arms
Finding a pet
Bringing your cat home
While you're waiting for the big day you may need to distract yourself, so luckily there are a few things you need to sort our before you welcome your new arrival.
Cat looking at the owner
It's incredibly fulfilling to adopt a cat from an animal shelter or rescue organisation. It often means offering them a second chance at life. There are many cats waiting for a loving family and their forever home, but what can you expect from the process?
Ginger kitten sitting on woman's shoulder
Kitten advice
Everything you need to know
Getting a new kitten is incredibly exciting for all the family, but it can be quite scary for your new arrival. Find out how to deal with everything from behaviour to health questions with our expert kitten advice.
Cat laying in bed
Finding a pet
Cat facts you need to know
18% of households in the UK own a cat, but there's still so much that we don't know about them. From the unusual way they walk, to how big the largest cat is, we bet you haven't heard some of these fun facts!