The only breed to originate from Canada, the Tonkinese was developed in the early 1960s by crossing a Seal-point Siamese and a Sable Burmese. It was christened Tonkinese after the Gulf of Tonkin which, like the cat itself, is close to Burmese and Siamese (Thai) territories, but does not belong to either of them. It has the better traits of both the Siamese and the Burmese. It is a perfect combination of brains and beauty.
The Tonkinese is inquisitive, active, loving and responsive. This cat is firmly convinced that humans were put on earth to love it. It will take possession of a lap or shoulder to supervise human activities. It is warm and loving, highly intelligent, strong willed, with an incredible memory and senses that are akin to radar. The Tonk is a natural at inventing and playing games, especially hide-and-seek. It has been described by enthusiastic owners as part puppy, part monkey (its "acrobatics" are legend!), and it can sound like an elephant running through the house when it chooses. Tonks are great jumpers and climbers, getting to those seemingly inaccessible high places with ease.
Historically, it is interesting that the first Burmese Cat to arrive in America in the early 1930s, a female called Wong Mau, was not a pure-bred animal, being part Siamese. This means that the Burmese Cat who founded the modern Burmese breed was, in reality, what one would today call a Tonkinese. The mating of two Tonkinese will produce an average litter of four kittens -- usually two Tonkinese, one Burmese and one Siamese offspring.
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