Tonkinese vs Siamese Cat: Which Breed is Right for You?

Written by

Amy Sawy

Veterinarian. DVM


Joseph M. Plummer

Veterinarian, DVM, MVZ

tonkinese vs siamese cat

When it comes to cat similar breeds abound. Among these breeds are Tonkinese and Siamese cats.

You may mistake one for another if you don’t have keen eyes. However, learning the differences between a Tonkinese vs Siamese cat is crucial to providing them with the care they need.

So, let us talk about the attributes of Tonkinese and Siamese cats, along with their history and origin.

The History and Origin

1. Tonkinese Cats


The origin of Tonkinese cats can be traced back to the 1930s when Wong Mau, the first known Tonkinese feline, was brought to the US. Wong Mau was imported from Burma by Joseph Thompson, a retired Navy doctor.

At first, US feline breeders thought Wong Mau was a poor-quality Siamese cat. Today, however, she is known as the mother of the Burmese and Tonkinese breeds.

Tonkinese cats were made by crossbreeding Siamese and Burmese cats. They were created because feline enthusiasts wanted cats similar to Siamese and Burmese in both appearance and personality.

2. Siamese Cats


Siamese cats originated from Thailand, a place where they held significant esteem among royal households. It was between the 14th and 18th centuries when these felines were developed by breeders.

These cats gained popularity in the US when a diplomat gifted a Siamese kitten to Lucy Hayes, the wife of 19th US President Rutherford Hayes.

It is believed that Siamese cats first came to the West in the late 1870s to early 1880s. Since then, they have been exhibited at cat shows in London, England.

This paved the way for the global popularity of Siamese cats.

Siamese vs Tonkinese Comparison

Tonkinese Siamese
Size Comparison
  • 12-15 inches long
  • Weighs 12 pounds
  • 15-20 inches long
  • Weighs 6-14 pounds
  • Similar appearance to the seal point Siamese – or Siamese cats with deep brown extremities – although their color point pattern is less pronounced
  • Has a round face and small ears

  • Features very distinctive color points on their extremities
  • Possess a long head and large ears
Ancestry A mix of Siamese and Burmese cats A mix of several Thailand native felines
Lifespan 10-16 years 8-15 years
  • More open to strangers
  • Intelligent
  • Quieter
  • Chatty
  • Friendly (but not so much towards strangers)
  • Demanding of attention

Tonkinese cats are a Burmese and Siamese mix. But while Tonks bear similar genes to Siamese cats, they also have notable differences.

1. Size


Tonkinese cats can grow up to 15 inches long. Adult Tonks can reach an average weight of 12 pounds, thanks to their muscular bodies inherited from their Siamese feline ancestors.

However, Siamese cats have longer bodies that usually reach 20 inches. An adult Siamese has an average weight of 6 to 14 pounds.

2. Appearance


While the coat of Siamese and Tonkinese kittens looks similar, the latter comes in a broader range of colors and patterns. You may see pictures of Tonkinese cats with solid coat colors, such as champagne, platinum, or brown, cream, and even blue.

Siamese are typically only white in comparison, but with more distinct color points that turn dark as their body temperatures lower.

The two breeds also have differences in their coat texture. Siamese cats’ fur is fine and sleek, while Tonks have denser and silkier coats.

It’s also important to note that long haired Tonkinese cats are called Tibetan instead, and their ancestor is the Balinese rather than Siamese feline. The Tonk we’re talking about here is the short-haired one.

3. Ancestry


As mentioned, the ancestors of Tonks are Siamese and Burmese cats. Through selective breeding, they share some similar characteristics.

For instance, Tonks got the intelligence of Siamese cats, while their physique and attitude came from their Burmese feline genes.

Siamese cats are a cross-breed between several native cats found in Thailand. Over time, breeders selectively bred Siamese cats with the best features, such as sleek fur, rich color patterns, and great health, ultimately resulting in the feline we know today.

Before its popularity in the US, this breed has lived in Thailand for hundreds of years.

4. Lifespan


Tonkinese cat lifespan can reach 10 to 16 years when put in a suitable environment that meets their needs. Siamese cats live a little shorter, only reaching a life expectancy of 8 to 15 years.

5. Personality


Another reason feline enthusiasts created the Siamese and Burmese mix is to have a calmer cat than Siamese felines. Tonks are friendly and active, yet a bit lower in energy and not as vocal as its ancestor.

Siamese cats, on the other hand, are chatty. While they act unsociable towards strangers, they tend to love their caretakers very much. However, they can also demand much attention, so you cannot leave them alone for extended periods.

6. Pros and Cons

1. Tonkinese

  • Only have a few hereditary illnesses
  • Can learn tricks
  • Easier to train than Siamese cats
  • Affectionate
  • Gets along well with other pets, especially dogs
  • Only requires minimal grooming
  • Doesn’t do well with prolonged solitariness
  • Expensive

2. Siamese

  • Friendly
  • Requires minimal grooming
  • Affectionate and loyal
  • Lives a long life
  • Can be trained to do tricks
  • Does not shed fur as much as Tonkinese cats do
  • Does not like to be left alone
  • Noisy
  • Destructive when bored

7. Price


Tonkinese kittens are relatively rare. Only a number of breeders breed this cat, so they are on the pricey side.

So, how much is a Tonkinese cat? Well, they can cost anywhere between $600 to $1,200 if they are purebred.

Similarly, Siamese kittens are pretty rare. But compared to Tonks, more breeders offer this feline.

This fact makes Siamese cats less expensive. They typically cost $250 to $1,000 from a reputable breeder.

Which Feline is a Better Pet?


The question of which is better between Tonks and Siamese is subjective. Therefore, the answer depends from person to person.

A Siamese cat will be better if you want a clingy, chatty, and extremely active companion. However, it is worth noting that this breed should not be left alone for long periods, as they can be destructive when bored.

These cats are also gentle, playful, and friendly, making them suitable for homes with children and other pets.

Some people don’t like Siamese kittens due to their high-pitched meows. If you want a quiet feline, a Tonkinese makes a better pet.

Tonkinese cats are docile, although they are still active and affectionate. They are incredibly patient with people, especially those who provide them with their needs and attention.

Unlike Siamese cats, which are reserved in front of strangers, Tonks are extroverts. They are also intelligent and easy-going.

How to Tell if My Cat is Tonkinese or Siamese?


Tonks are cats that look like Siamese but aren’t. While these breeds almost resemble twins, some characteristics can help you distinguish them:

1. Body Shape

As mentioned, Tonkinese cats have a more muscular build than Siamese cats. Siamese felines are slender and sleek, while Tonks are stocky.

2. Face Shape

Tonks will often have squarer faces compared to Siamese cats, whose faces resemble an apple in shape.

How to Choose the Right Cat for Your Need


Consider the differences we discussed above (such as the personality, cost, and appearance of the two breeds) and decide which one suits you better.

You should also visit the cats often—especially if you’re looking for one at an adoption center, and see which of the felines there react positively to your presence. It’s always good to establish a connection with your furry companion before bringing them home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Tonkinese and Siamese cats live together?

As mentioned, Tonkinese and Siamese cats can live with other pets. For this reason, they can also get along if you bring them to the same home.

Tips for maintaining good health for your cat

  • Regular Vet Visits. Regularly bringing your pet to a veterinarian is the key to ensuring it is in the best shape. This way, you can prevent illnesses or catch and treat them early on.

Regular flea treatments, deworming, and annual vaccination are crucial.

  • Keep A Healthy Diet. Cats rely on meat for their protein needs. Therefore, their primary meal should always be meat.

If you’re unsure what food you should feed your cat, you can ask your vet for a recommendation.

  • Regular Grooming. Clean cats are healthy cats. Make it a habit to groom your pet on schedule to ensure they don’t have wounds or infections under their fur.


There are cat breeds similar to Siamese, such as the Tonkinese breed. Considering the ancestry of Tonkinese vs Siamese cat, it’s no wonder they share similarities.

Regardless of the breed that you will choose as a pet, it is worth noting that you need to provide it with love and attention. This way, you can ensure that your pet will thrive and live a long, happy life.

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