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Traditional Tonkinese Breeders

The Tibetan is also known as our Trditional Longhair Tonkinese. 

Copyright , June 14, 2000
Diana Fineran

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Q: What is the history of the Traditional Tonkinese?

A: The earliest mention of the breed of cat we have come to know as the "Tonkinese" came in "The Cat Book Poems" written in Siam (now Thailand) in the Ayudha Period (1300-1767). Called the Thong Daeng, Suphalak or Coppers, they were grouped together with the Burmese. Simply stated they came in light and dark colors. The Traditional Burmese, Classic Burmese (dark colored) and the Tonkinese (light colored) are found in Thailand today. (Please see the TCA, Inc. presentation of the Thai Cat Breeds). The next historical presentation came in Francis Simpson's 1902 book, "The Book of the Cat", where the Tonkinese is mentioned in the "Siamese" section, but with no breed name. Why this blurry connection with the Burmese and Siamese breeds, where both existed for centuries in Thailand? The history of the Tonkinese bares the truth of it.

The Tonkinese is a blend of both the Siamese and Burmese breeds. By the ancient texts and in testimonials in books over 100 years old, this type of cat was created by Mother Nature in its native Thailand. Scientifically speaking the Burmese and Siamese each have a variation of a gene that changes coat color from black to dark brown, then lightens the color on the cats torso. The Burmese gene produces a pattern called solid (or sepia), while the Siamese gene produces a pointed pattern.

The combination of the two genes, creates the "Mink" pattern for which the Tonkinese breed is best known. In this coloration the body displays a medium to pale shade of the corresponding darker point color found on the facial mask, ears, legs, paws and tail. The term "Mink" came about as a description of the lustrous, silky texture of the close lying fur. This term also defines the coat pattern as well.

In the mid-1950"s a New York City pet show owner named, Milan Greer, crossed a Colorpoint Siamese and Burmese cats to form a new variety he named "Golden Siamese". He discontinued the project before he had bred enough "Golden Siamese" to carry on the name.

A deliberate cross breeding between Siamese and Burmese was done by Margaret Conroy in Canada in the 1960's. She too used the name "Golden Siamese". Then the name was changed to "Tonkanese", and finally to "Tonkinese". It was Conroy and other dedicated breeders who presented the Tonkinese to the cat world for acceptance into their show rings.

The Tonkinese is a pleasing blend of the best of both breeds, with intermediate body type and good musculature.

Q: What is the Personality of the Tonkinese ?

A: Energetic, and active, Tonkinese thrive on attention from people, and adjust well to children, dogs or other cats. Their love of riding on people's shoulders is legendary. The gift of gab was inherited from its Siamese forbear, because the Tonkinese talks in sentences and paragraphs. You are expected to listen. However, their voice is more moderate in tone than the Siamese. Boundless reserves of energy, that need limitless outlets, they show joyful curiosity for the world around them. Their easy to groom short coat is silky and elegant. They're playful, and inventive, but not excessively mischievous or noisy, and adapt to almost any home. They have the intelligence and curiosity of the Siamese with a more laid-back personality of a Burmese. Tending to be very healthy cats, they live into their upper teens. Their appearance and low maintenance lifestyle draw cat lovers to them.

Copyright , June 14, 2000
Diana Fineran


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