Tonkinese vs. Siamese Cat

Published: October 14, 2022
Share this post on:
Continue Reading To See This Amazing Video

With just a quick look, it may be pretty difficult to see differences between the Tonkinese cat vs. Siamese cat. They’re actually closely related, and they look fairly similar. However, we’re about to give you a rundown of the differences between Tonkinese and Siamese cats. Once you’re done reading this article, you will fairly easily be able to tell them apart and also know more about their appearances, personalities, and backgrounds. If you’re considering adding one of these cats to your family, it is good to know these differences. This way, you can figure out which one would suit you best!

Comparing Tonkinese vs. Siamese Cat

Tonkinese cat
The Tonkinese cat was bred centuries after the Siamese cat, in an attempt to create a cross between the Siamese cat and Burmese cat.


Tonkinese CatSiamese Cat 
Size7-10 inches tall; 6-12 pounds10-13 inches tall; 6-14 pounds
AppearanceRelatively even color tones throughout the body, with short and silky fur. Round heads with small ears.Very pronounced color points and patterns, especially on the face. Longer head and larger ears. 
AncestryOriginated in North America in the late 1900s as an attempt by breeders to create a combination of the Siamese and Burmese cats.Originated in Thailand sometime from the 1300s to 1700s.
BehaviorVery affectionate, loving, and intelligent, while being relatively docile. Great with children and other pets. Sometimes needs stimulation in order to avoid becoming destructive. Friendly to strangers.Very affectionate, loving, and intelligent, while being very vocal as well. Needs stimulation in order to avoid becoming destructive indoors, and also needs a lot of attention. Relatively reserved around strangers.
HealthOverall healthy, but can be prone to many conditions, including heart and liver disease, gum disease, asthma, hyperesthesia syndrome, and lymphoma. These cats are also prone to hyperthyroidism, feline asthma, and cystitis.Overall healthy, but can be prone to many conditions, including heart and liver disease, gum disease, asthma, hyperesthesia syndrome, and lymphoma. Progressive retinal atrophy is common as well.
Lifespan10-16 years8-15 years

Tonkinese vs. Siamese Cat: Key Differences

Siamese cat
The Siamese cat originated in Thailand several centuries earlier than the Tonkinese cat, which became an official breed in the late 1900s in North America.

© Hil

11,410 People Couldn't Ace This Quiz

Think You Can?

The Tonkinese and Siamese cats are fairly similar. This makes a lot of sense, considering that the Tonkinese cat is a crossbreed between the Siamese and Burmese cats. Any given Tonkinese cat can take after either its Siamese or Burmese parent. However, many people would say that these cats tend to resemble their Burmese parents more.

On average, the Tonkinese cat tends to be slightly smaller than the Siamese cat. Additionally, the Tonkinese cat does not have the same distinctive color patterns as its Siamese parent.

Additionally, while the Siamese cat originated in Thailand, the Tonkinese cat as we know it today originated centuries later in North America. This was a result of breeders wanting a cross between the Siamese and Burmese cats.

Let’s learn more about these differences now!

Tonkinese vs. Siamese Cat: Size

Tonkinese kitten
The Tonkinese cat is slightly smaller, shorter, and lighter than the Siamese cat on average.


Both of these cats can be up to 15 inches long and weigh up to 14 pounds. However, the Tonkinese cat is more likely to be a bit smaller, typically only weighing up to 12 pounds.

The Tonkinese male cat is usually between 8 and 10 inches tall, and the female is between 7 and 10 inches tall. The Siamese cat is slightly taller, with the male being 11 to 13 inches in height, and the female being 10 to 13 inches.

Even though the difference is subtle, you can see that the Tonkinese is a slightly smaller cat than its Siamese parent.

Tonkinese vs. Siamese Cat: Appearance

Beautiful Blue Tonkinese Cat Peering out of the window
The Tonkinese cat looks similar to the Siamese cat, except with less pronounced color patterns; they also tend to be smaller, with rounder heads and smaller ears.


Given that the Tonkinese cat is the child of the Siamese cat, it makes sense that the breeds look somewhat similar. However, there are subtle differences.

Tonkinese cats lack the distinctive color points that Siamese cats have. They are either one solid color or a mink color with medium contrast. These cats have short and silky fur. The fur can be different shades of blue, cream, champagne, or beige, with red, cinnamon, or light brown color points. They also tend to shed somewhat more than their Siamese parents.

The color patterns on Siamese cats are more pronounced, and they can have faces that are blue, lilac, or chocolate, with cream, apricot, caramel, cinnamon, tabby, or other somewhat light colors on the rest of the body.

Tonkinese cats tend to be a bit smaller than Siamese cats on average. They also have rounder heads and smaller ears than their Siamese parents. 

Tonkinese vs. Siamese Cat: Ancestry and Breeding

Siamese Cats - Applehead Siamese Cat
The Siamese cat originated in Thailand, while the Tonkinese cat originated in North America.

©Axel Bueckert/

The Tonkinese and Siamese cats are somewhat different. Obviously, the Siamese cat is the older breed, since it is a parent to the Tonkinese cat.

The Siamese cat lived in Thailand, then known as Siam, for centuries before it was first transported to England in the late 1800s. This cat is believed to be one of the oldest cat breeds in existence. In fact, it was described in the Thai manuscript “Tamra Maew,” which was written between the 14th and 18th centuries. These cats were coveted by royal families.

The Tonkinese cat is a cross between the Siamese cat and the Burmese cat. It is believed that this cat existed in previous centuries as well, as it was imported to England in the early 1800s and referred to as the “Chocolate Siamese.” 

However, the modern Tonkinese cat that we know today found its beginnings in the 1960s and 1970s. Breeders in North America wanted a new breed of cat that was a happy medium between the extremes of the Burmese and Siamese cats. They also wanted to create a cat with intermediate coloring and aqua eyes.

The Tonkinese cat was first recognized in Canada, and it was accepted for championship status in 1984 by the Cat Fanciers Association. This is the first feline breed with aqua eyes. 

Tonkinese vs. Siamese Cat: Behavior

Tonkinese cat
Tonkinese and Siamese cats are both intelligent, affectionate, and loving, although Siamese cats tend to be much more vocal and need more attention.


It can be hard to notice real differences in the personalities and behaviors of the Tonkinese and Siamese cats. They are both affectionate and like human contact, for example.

However, Siamese cats tend to be much more vocal, and Tonkinese cats are generally more docile. The meow of a Siamese cat is very high-pitched, and some would compare it to a crying baby. Siamese cats need a little bit more attention than Tonkinese cats do. Tonkinese cats are also probably more compatible with other pets and children than their Siamese parents are. 

Both of these cats are very intelligent. They can be destructive in the home if they aren’t provided with adequate stimulation. Also, while Tonkinese cats tend to be friendly to strangers, Siamese cats are relatively reserved until they get to know the person better. 

Tonkinese vs. Siamese Cat: Health

Siamese cat lying on a table.
Tonkinese and Siamese cats are both fairly healthy overall, but they do tend to suffer from certain medical conditions of which you should be aware.

©Suwanon Wongsaphan/

Siamese and Tonkinese cats share fairly similar genetics, so they tend to suffer from similar conditions as well. They tend to be more prone to heart and liver disease, gum disease, asthma, hyperesthesia syndrome, and lymphoma than other cats.

Siamese cats are also prone to progressive retinal atrophy. Tonkinese cats are more likely to suffer from cystitis, feline asthma, and hyperthyroidism. 

However, both of these breeds live fairly long lives, and as a whole, they are typically very healthy. In order to make sure that your cat lives a long, happy, and healthy life, make sure that you take him or her to the vet on a regular basis.

Tonkinese vs. Siamese Cat: Lifespan

Tonkinese cat laying in grass
The Tonkinese cat lives slightly longer than the Siamese cat on average.


Another difference between the Tonkinese and Siamese cats involves their lifespans. On average, the Tonkinese cat lives a little bit longer than the Siamese cat. The Tonkinese cat generally lives between 10 and 16 years, while the Siamese cat is more likely to live between 8 and 15 years. However, it isn’t rare for either of these cats to live to be 20 years old!

Up Next:

More from A-Z Animals

The Featured Image

Tonkinese vs Siamese Cat

Share this post on:

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.