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rec.pets.cats: Tonkinese Breed-FAQ

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Archive-name: cats-faq/breeds/tonkinese
Posting-frequency: 30 days
Last-modified: 12 Mar 1997

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                               The Tonkinese Cat
   The Tonkinese is a man-developed breed which is a cross between the
   Siamese and Burmese. It is a socially oriented cat which enjoys
   people, other cats, dogs, and children. It is medium in size and very
   muscular. They remind many people of the old apple-headed Siamese of
   twenty years ago.

   Author: Linda Martino,
   Copyright 1996 by Linda Martino.  All Rights Reserved.
     * Physical Description
     * Temperament
     * History
     * Care
     * Frequently Asked Questions
     * Recognition
     * Breed Clubs

Physical Description

   The ideal Tonkinese is intermediate in type, being neither cobby nor
   svelte. It should give the impression of an alert, active cat with
   good muscular development. The cat should be surprisingly heavy. While
   the breed is to be considered medium in size, balance and proportion
   are of greater importance. Females usually run 6-8 pounds and males
   8-12. They are very muscular so appear lighter than they are.
   The head is a modified wedge, the muzzle is blunt with a slight
   whisker break.
   Tonkinese are the only pedigree cats with aqua eyes. Eye color varies
   from blue to green/gold. The eyes are an open almond shape.
   The coat itself is short and lies very close to the body. It is very
   silky and has a wonderful feel.
   Coat pattern refers to the color of the coat in relationship to the
   color of the points (extremities). Both Siamese and Burmese are called
   pointed cats because their points are a different color than their
   body. In Siamese there is a lot of contrast between coat and points.
   In the Burmese this difference can be so small as to not be noticeable
   and most people do not consider them a pointed cat. It is most
   noticable in the dilute colors and as kittens, whereas the adult Sable
   color appears to be solid.
   Tonkinese have three coat patterns: pointed, mink, and solid. The
   three kittens in the illustration have the same color _Natural_ (look
   at the ears), but each have a different coat pattern. From left to
   right they are: natural point, natural mink, and natural solid.
   Natural is a color name described in the next section.
     * _Pointed_ - a Siamese coat pattern - It has a strong contrast
       between the points and body.
     * _Mink_ - unique to the Tonkinese - It is a medium contrast between
       the Siamese and Burmese. The contrast between body and legs is
       less abrupt than with Siamese.
     * _Solid_ - a Burmese coat pattern - This is not a true solid cat
       but one of weak contrast.
   Only the Mink can be shown as it is the most different from the two
   parent breeds, but all three coat patterns are registered cats.
   Because of genetics, all three coat patterns will continue to exist
   and cannot be eliminated from the breed.
   Tonkinese, Siamese, and Burmese share the same four colors although
   they call them different names. The colors refer to the point color
   (face, ears, legs, and tail). The difference between the three breeds
   is the color of their bodies not the color of their points.
   The Platinum is the same color as a Siamese Lilac. It has a body of
   pale, silvery grey with warm overtones with blue-grey noses & pads and
   frosty grey points.
   The Blue has the same color name in a three breeds. It has a body of
   soft grey-blue with warm overtones with blue-grey noses & pads and
   blue-grey points.
   The Natural is the same color as a Siamese Seal and a Burmese Sable.
   It has a body of medium brown with dark brown noses & pads and dark
   brown points.
   The Champagne is the same color as a Siamese Chocolate. It has a body
   of buff-cream with cinnamon-brown noses & pads and medium brown

   As pretty as Tonkinese are, their personality is even better. A whole
   book could be written on the Tonkinese personality. Tonks are
   sociable, fun loving, involved cats. They are dog cats in that they
   are people oriented like a dog with the convenience of a cat.
   They have the intelligence and curiosity of a Siamese with a more laid
   back personality of a Burmese. If you want a couch potato cat known
   for its independence this is_ not_ the cat for you. They do have a
   strong personality and can be stubborn, but they are so lovable it's
   hard to get angry with them. Although active and muscular they are not
   high strung and are very happy cats.
   They are very social. They like people, other cats, children, and
   dogs. They do not like living alone without attention. Frequently
   people have two so they can entertain each other if you work. They
   bond easily so they adjust well to new owners. They adjust well to
   living inside as they love people. If left to roam outside, they may
   be stolen or contact a health problem.
   They usually play fetch and will jump to your shoulder. The shoulder
   trick is fun early in the morning while you are getting dressed for
   work! A cat tree is a good way to help exercise them. They love being
   high and running up and down the tree helps use some of their excess
   energy. They hate closed doors and want to know everything that goes

   Documents exist which indicate the Chocolate Siamese of the 1800s were
   actual Tonkinese, but the first known Tonkinese was Wong Mau in the
   1930's who was the ancestress of the Burmese. She was bred with a
   Siamese and was the only known cat of her kind. Over the years the
   Burmese and Siamese breeders carefully bred out the Tonkinese
   characteristics which resulted in the two breeds of today. From the
   1950's to 1970's some breeders started to cross breed Siamese and
   Burmese forming the Tonkinese of today. There was a lot of controversy
   though as Burmese and Siamese breeders were trying to eliminate the
   characteristics that made up the Tonkinese. They were first accepted
   as a recognized cat breed by the Canadian Cat Association(CCA) and
   then by the Cat Fanciers Association(CFA) in 1984. Some people still
   feel there is no need for this breed but try telling that to a
   Tonkinese owner.

   The short thick coat does not require much maintenance. Their coat is
   sleek and soft and you may want to occasionally give it a bath. They
   should brushed and usually enjoy it as part of their human
    Special Medical Concerns
   In general Tonkinese are healthy cats with no known common genetic
   problems. As a Siamese derivative they share in common health issues.
   They are prone to gingivitis and brushing with a child's toothbrush is
   useful. Care should also be taken by your vet when anesthesia is used.
   As kittens they sometimes get upper respritory infections (colds), but
   these are not usually serious.
Frequently Asked Questions

   _"Do they talk a lot?"_
   This depends on your point of reference. If you have known a Siamese -
   not as much. If you are used to a sedate quiet long hair - a lot.
   Tonkinese talk in sentences and paragraphs. They tend to carry on
   conversations as opposed to talking to themselves. They expect you to
   _"How much do they cost?"_
   Tonkinese sold as pets usually cost $350-500. Sometimes breeders will
   have older cats available to a good home for much less; these can be
   excellent pets. Most breeders will not let them go until they are 12
   weeks old, although this varies with the breeder.
   _"Do they change color as they get older?"_
   Like Siamese and Burmese, they get darker as they get older. The
   facial mask starts on the nose when the kitten is a few days old. It
   then spreads over the face and darkens with age. The kitten on the
   left in the above kitten photo is Casper Ghost also shown in the head,
   eye color section. You can see how the color has spread and his body
   has also gotten darker.
   _"Where did the breed's name come from?"_
   I have been told it come from the Gulf of Tonkin which is a location
   near Siam (Thailand) and Burma. But it's not in between so who knows.
   _"Do you comb their fur to get the little curly-cue on their chest?"_
   No. The cow-lick on the chest occurs naturally and I've never seen a
   Tonk without one.
   _"Where do I find a breeder?"_
   Either contact one of the breed clubs below for a reference in your
   area, check with your veterinarian, or attend a cat show in your area
   to see if there are any local breeders.

     * American Cat Association (ACA)
     * American Cat Fanciers Association (ACFA)
     * Canadian Cat Association (CCA)
     * Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA)
     * Cat Fanciers' Federation (CFF)
     * The International Cat Association (TICA)
Breed Clubs

   _Tonkinese Breed Association (USA)_ CFA affiliated Tonkinese breed
   club. The national club publishes a newsletter, "Aqua Eye", and awards
   to CFA's highest scoring Tonkinese kitten, adult, and premier.
   Secretary: Sheryl Zink, 6427 Singing Creek Lan, Spring TX 77379
   _Tonk's West_ A regional west coast club of Tonkinese lovers who are
   organized to help the breed. Secretary: Barbara Sickler 29392 Timothy
   Dr. Dana Point, CA 92629 e-mail:
    Tonkinese FAQ
    Linda Martino,
    Updated April 24 1996

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