All Things in Moderation

The Tonkinese blends the best traits of its Siamese and Burmese cousins in a beautiful, charming package.

By Stacy N. Hackett

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Cat Fancy- Tonkinese Cat Breed- July 2011
The female Tonkinese wanted her owner to end the telephone conversation and pay attention to her, so she did what any clever cat would do — she disconnected the phone. When the owner complained to Maryland-based Wanda Martin, the cat's breeder, Martin learned that the owner had placed the call immediately upon returning home from work.

"I told her to give the cat five minutes [before calling the friend next time]," Martin explains. "She did, and the cat didn't disconnect her again. Problem solved."

Such an occurrence highlights the assertive yet loving nature of the Tonkinese. Breeders describe the cat as active, alert, attentive, smart and outgoing. "They love to interact with anyone willing to play," Martin says, noting that the breed's companionable nature extends beyond playtime. "They are sweet, loving fur babies that like to snuggle at night [and] sit in your lap while you read, watch TV or even crochet or knit."

While snuggling in a lap at night, the Tonkinese may engage its owner in conversation, "talking" in full sentences and paragraphs, according to Linda Martino, a breeder from St. Augustine, Fla. She recommends that the human companions pay attention. "When a Tonkinese talks to you, it is best to listen to what he has to say," she explains. "Otherwise, he might find an alternative way to express himself."

Striking Combination
The Tonkinese shares this talkative nature with its cousin, the Siamese. In fact, the Tonkinese combines characteristics of two popular breeds, the Siamese and the Burmese, with breeders tracing their cats back to Wong Mau, considered to be the founding cat of the Burmese.

In the 1960s, a group of breeders began crossing the Siamese with the Burmese, Martin explains. Outcrossing to Siamese and Burmese continued until 1984, when the breed was accepted for championship status by the Cat Fanciers' Association.

**Get the July 2011 issue of CAT FANCY to read the full article or click here to purchase a PDF version.**
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