Colour: Many Colours
A recent short-haired American hybrid created by crossing Siamese and Burmese. In its early days it was sometimes referred to as the Golden Siamese, and this name was used in print as recently as 1961.
Domestic Breed. A recent short-haired American hybrid created by crossing Siamese and Burmese. In its early days it was sometimes referred to as the Golden Siamese, and this name was used in print as recently as 1961.
Its present name has sometimes been incorrectly spelled Tonkanese. It was christened the Tonkinese after the Gulf of Tonkin which, like the cat itself, is close to Burmese and Siamese territories, but does not belong to either of them. Among owners they have the nickname of 'Tonks'. In France it is called the Tonkinois; in Germany the Tonkinesen; and in Holland the Tonkanees.
Appearance: Intermediate between Siamese and Burmese, with dark Siamese points, but a body colour that has a richer hue than that of the typical Siamese. The body shape is also intermediate, lacking the exaggerated elongation of the Siamese.
History: In the 1950s the American feline expert Milan Greer began a breeding programme to create what he called the Golden Siamese. He did this initially by crossing a male Burmese with a female Chocolate-point Siamese. At his specialist cat centre called Fabulous Felines he continued to develop the breed through five generations. Then, when he was satisfied that the breed was secure, he passed the baton on to other breeders. Edith Lux was one of these and it was she who decided to change the name to Tonkinese.
Summing up the breed, Milan Greer commented: It has the better traits of both the Siamese and the Burmese, It is a perfect combination of brains and beauty....After developing this breed I discovered that I had created a prodigy in fur.'
Later, in the 1960s, Canadian breeders, especially Margaret Conroy, took a special interest in the breed and helped to gain recognition for it. In 1965 she was the first to register a Tonkinese with a cat club - the Canadian Cat Association. So great was her contribution that some authors incorrectly refer to the Tonkinese as a 'Canadian Breed'.
Most of the American societies soon accepted the breed. Before long there was a Tonkinese Breed Club of USA, Canada and Australia to promote this appealing cat, based in the United States at Gilette, New Jersey. By the 1990s it was accepted by all of the North America cat societies. In 1991 it was recognized by the GCCF in Britain.
As regards the breeding of this cat: if a Burmese is crossed with a Siamese, all the kittens are Tonkinese. If a Tonkinese is mated to another Tonkinese, then half the kittens are Tonkinese, a quarter are Burmese and a quarter are Siamese. It was for this reason that some feline authorities refused to accept it as a true breed.
Historically, it is interesting that the first Burmese Cat to arrive in America was not, in fact, a pure-bred animal, being part Siamese. This means that, in 1930, the Burmese Cat called Wong Mau (See Burmese Cat), who founded the modern Burmese breed was, in reality, what we would today call a Tonkinese, the very first one ever seen in North America.
Personality: Terms used to describe this breed include: inquisitive, exceptionally intelligent, condescending, witty, wilful, clever, loyal, loving, mischievous, clownish, active, sociable , gregarious, outgoing, lively and affectionate. Supporters of the breed claim that it has the good qualities of both parent breeds, but none of their bad qualities.
Colour forms: It appears in a variety of colours. In America these colours have been given exotic names (see below).
GCCF: Brown; Blue; Chocolate; Lilac; Red; Cream; Brown Tortie; Blue Tortie; Chocolate Tortie; Lilac Tortie; Brown Tabby; Blue Tabby; Chocolate Tabby; Lilac Tabby; Red Tabby; Cream Tabby; Brown Tortie Tabby; Blue Tortie Tabby; Chocolate Tortie Tabby; Lilac Tortie Tabby.
CFA: Natural Mink (Warm brown with dark brown points); Champagne Mink (Beige or buff-cream with medium brown points); Blue Mink (Soft, blue-grey with darker, slate-blue points ); Platinum Mink (Pale silvery-grey with darker grey points).
(An additional colour is sometimes recognized: Honey Mink (Ruddy brown with darker brown points).)
1961. Greer, M. Fabulous Feline. The Dial Press, New York. (see p.23-25 for Golden Siamese.)
1988. Maggitti, P. The Tonkinese. In: Cats Magazine. September 1988.
1989. Burns, B.S. The Tonkinese. In: Cat Companion. Sept./Oct. 1989. p. 10-12.
Tonkinese Breed Association. Address: 2462, Primrose Ave., Vista, CA 92083, USA.
Tonkinese Breed Association UK. Address: 2 Rose Walk, Seaford, East Sussex, BN25 3DH, England.
Tonkinese Breed Club. This club issues a magazine : Tonkinfo. Address: Lansdale, 12 Robin Hood Lane, Winnersh, Wokingham, Berks, RG41 5LX.
Tonkinese Cat Club. This club issues a Tonkinews Journal. Address: 2 Rose Walk, Seaford, East Sussex, BN25 3DH, England.
Note: There is also a breed publication called Aqua Eye. Address: P.O. BOX 115, Sunland, CA 01041, USA.
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