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About Tonkinese


The Tonkinese were originally referred to as the Chocolate Siamese when they were introduced and shown in Great Britain with the Royal Siamese (the Siamese as we know it today) from Bangkok in the 1880's. They were both Temple Cats in Thailand and the surrounding countries, the name Tonkinese is taken from the old Vietnam-Tonkin. Unfortunately they were not as popular as the Royal Siamese, but in 1930 a Chocolate Siamese (a Tonkinese named Wong Mau) was taken to California where the Burmese breed was developed. The Tonkinese regained popularity several times during the fifties and sixties, known as Golden Siamese, Chocolate Siamese, Si-Burms, Zibelines, Golden Chechongs and Tonkanese, which eventually became Tonkinese.

Contrary to general opinion, Tonkinese have been bred for a number of years (over 30 in the USA). The Tonkinese is NOT a hybrid (apart from the first cross) and the idea that breeding Tonkinese results in Burmese and Siamese progeny is quite wrong. The foundation dam of the Burmese breed, Wong Mau, was believed to be a Tonkinese, and this type and color of cat is quite common in some Asian countries. In Genetics of the Burmese Cat Journal of Heredity 1933 by JC Thompson, VC Cobb, CE Keeler and M Omytryk it is stated (Wong Mau) body confirmation and behavior were typical of native Malay cat stocks, best represented by the Siamese variety. This, however, is not true, since Siamese are relatively uncommon in such areas, and the native stocks are either Blue, Brown, Tabby or Tortie in appearance, although frequently they have blue eyes, foreign shorthair confirmation, and certainly Siamese type voices. This report was published in 1933 long before the Korat was recognized, although these colors were certainly present in the cat population. Thompson throughout his articles refers to progeny of Wong Mao as Burmese and Siamese, although we now know that in fact this progeny were the same as we now get in Tonkinese breeding, solids and points. At that time nothing was known of the specific genetics of this progeny although Leila Volk of Honolulu reported that what appeared to be a fifth allele was segregating out when she used these cats with her Siamese. Many Tonkinese breeders believe that this allele lies between c5 c4 and is an actual gene for Tonkinese. Tonkinese are extremely popular and are bred all over the world.

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Tonkinese are first and foremost people oriented cats. Tonkinese are like puppies, but with the convenience of a cat. Most of them will consider your lap to be their natural habitat, those that don't, will be found riding around on your shoulders! Bedtime with a Tonk consists of a quick game of "Bed Mice and Bed Hippos!" and then a dash for the covers. Here they become a fixture to some part of your body until breakfast time....They get along well with other cats and dogs, though curiously, preferring cats of their own color, and if you have several of them they can be found sleeping in Tonk Piles! Tonkinese are intelligent, playful, affectionate, healthy, long-lived and easy to look after....what more could you ask?

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Colors and Patterns

All Tonkinese are pointed cats, which means their ears, tail, nose and paws are darker than their body. What varies is the degree of contrast. Pointed have a strong contrast and Solid have a weak contrast. The Points are darker because the body temperature in those areas is lower than the body.

A Tonkinese has one pair of genes that control the coat pattern: one gene each from the mother and father. Each gene can be either a Pointed (Cs) or a Solid (Cb) coat pattern gene.

The Four Colors:

Champagne Mink - A champagne-cream coat with medium brown chocolate points. Nose leather is cinnamon-brown and the paw pads are cinnamon-pink to cinnamon-brown. Eye color is aquamarine.
Platinum Mink - The coat is pale silvery gray (not white or cream), pewter gray points. The nose leather is lavender pink to lavender gray, the paw pads are pink and the eye color is aquamarine.
Natural Mink - A medium to dark brown coat which shades to a lighter tone on the under parts of the body. The Points are a dark brown-seal. The Nose Leather is dark-brown, the paw pads are a medium to dark brown and the eye color is aquamarine.
Blue Mink - A soft gray coat, the points are a dark slate blue, the nose leather and paw pads are gray-blue and the eye color is aquamarine.

The Three Patterns:

Tonkinese with two Cs coat pattern genes. It has the strongest contrast. Pointed Tonkinese have blue eyes.
Mink: Tonkinese with one Cs and one Cb coat pattern genes. Since both are recessive genes, neither will be dominant. The result is a coat pattern with a medium contrast. Mink Tonkinese have aqua eyes.
Solid: Tonkinese with two Cb coat pattern genes. It has the weakest color contrast. Solid Tonkinese have green-gold eyes.
Note: All Tonkinese have some contrast, the true solid color cat is not found in the Tonkinese or Burmese breeds. The term solid used here is in comparison to the other two coat patterns.

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