You’ll notice a striking similarity when you look at Tonkinese and Siamese cats side by side. This begs the question: what’s the difference between a Tonkinese cat versus a Siamese cat?
The main difference between Tonkinese and Siamese cats is that Tonkinese are hybrids from the cross between Siamese and Burmese cats. They share many similarities in looks, temperament, and lifespan. But they differ in their history, genetics, and other aspects.
Continue reading to discover more about the differences and similarities between Tonkinese cats and their Siamese ancestors.
We’ll compare and contrast factors like appearance, health, origins, lifespan, size, and more. Stick around to the very end to get answers to frequently asked questions, too!
Tonkinese Cat Versus Siamese Cat
Tonkinese cats and Siamese cats look almost identical, with a few key differences. The similarities between both breeds are because they possess Siamese genes.
Below, we compare the following factors that differentiate Siamese cats from Tonkinese cats, as well as the ways that they compare:
- Size and weight
- Average lifespan
- Origins and history
- Health and care
Size and Weight
Tonkinese and Siamese cats don’t differ much in their overall size but are different regarding weight.
The average Tonkinese cat is lean and muscular, weighing between 6 and 12 pounds as a fully grown adult. They typically grow about 8-10 inches tall and 12-16 inches low (front to back).
Siamese cats are also muscular, weighing an average of 8 and 12 pounds. Females are usually smaller than males and sometimes weigh less than 8 pounds.
You may be surprised that Tonkinese cats often live slightly longer than Siamese cats. However, they both tend to have long lives for cats.
Tonkinese cats live longer on average than Siamese cats because of their hybrid origins. A more diverse gene pool carries a lower risk of inbreeding and hereditary diseases.
Many Tonkinese cats live up to 15 or 16 years old, but many live an average length between 10 and 16 years.
On the other hand, Siamese cats live about 8-15 years on average, but there are cases of Siamese living beyond 20 years old.
Origins and History
Origins and history are the main points of distinction between the two cat breeds, as Tonkinese cats didn’t exist until Siamese cats had been around for a long time.
Tonkinese cats result from crossbreeding Burmese and Siamese cats – two prominent breeds from Asia.
They didn’t become recognized as their own breed until 2001; before that, they had only been recognized in the Western world as a crossbreed since the early 1800s.
Siamese cats, on the other hand, have been around for centuries. They’re one of the most ancient cats, dating back to the 14th century in Thailand specifically.
Health and Care
Tonkinese and Siamese cats have different grooming and maintenance needs and are prone to certain genetic conditions and illnesses.
Tonkinese cats often exhibit albinism, a trait inherited from their Siamese side of the family. They’re also prone to eye conditions that, in the worst cases, could lead to blindness.
Below are the most common health risks found in Tonkinese cats.
- Dental infections (which can lead to organ failure)
- Feline asthma
- Amyloidosis (abnormal protein deposits in organs)
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
- Crossed eyes
Many Siamese cats also have the albino allele – a genetic mutation causing white fur and blue eyes – they are sometimes prone to eye illnesses caused by the mutation. Siamese cats are also prone to:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Gastrointestinal issues like gastroenteritis (causing sensitive stomach, vomiting, diarrhea)
- Gum and mouth disease
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (can lead to heart failure, incurable but treatable)
- Crossed eyes
Tonkinese cats and Siamese cats share many physical attributes, but the main differences come down to the physique, such as eye shape, face shape, etc.
Tonkinese cats are low-shedding, with compact, muscular bodies. Like Siamese cats, they have white/cream-colored fur with colored points (tail, paws, ears, and face). Tonkinese cats can be both short- and medium-haired.
Some Tonkinese color variations include blue, platinum, medium brown, cream, red, tortie, fawn, and champagne. Their features are generally less extreme than the features of Siamese cats, but they share the colored feet, tail, and ear traits.
Their bodies are long and slender, and they have rounder faces with shortened snouts compared to their Siamese counterparts.
Siamese cats have short, smooth hair with a low shedding frequency.
Because of their low shedding, Many people refer to Siamese cats as hypoallergenic. This is because people with (mild) cat allergies generally do well with a Siamese. To read more about this, see our article here.
A Siamese’s coloring is traditionally ivory/creamy-white cats with blue, almond-shaped eyes and colored points, ears, feet, and tails. Their points come in various colors, including chocolate, lilac, seal, blue, cream, red, and fawn.
Their bodies are long, lean, and slender. All of their features are long, from the neck to the muscular body, to the tail and the legs. They’re also known for their tall ears and triangular-shaped faces.
These cat breeds are fairly similar in temperament. They’re both very loving, vocal, and affectionate to humans and do well around dogs in the home. But they have a few differences.
Tonkinese cats aren’t quite as vocal as Siamese cats. They are playful and energetic and tend to be super friendly even around strangers.
Siamese cats depend on their humans, which is why they’re often vocal and loud. They love to play and cuddle, and they’ll warm up to both other household pets and humans.
Frequently Asked Questions
What breeds make a Tonkinese cat?
The Tonkinese cat is a crossbreed of the Burmese and Siamese cat.
Is a Tonkinese cat rare?
Tonkinese cats are relatively rare, which drives up their price among breeders. It is not uncommon to find Tonkinese cats for upwards of 1000 USD.
Which came first – the Tonkinese or Siamese cat?
The Siamese cat predates the Tonkinese cats because Siamese cats were crossed with Burmese cats to create the Tonkinese breed. Siamese cats are much older and more ancient, having been around for centuries, originating in Asia (Thailand specifically). Tonkinese cats have only been around since the 18th-19th century.
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