Burmese, Siamese, Tonkinese cats Breeding and Genetics
Tonkinese are a domestic cat breed produced by crossbreeding between the Siamese and Burmese. They share many of their parents' distinctively lively, playful personality traits and are similarly distinguished by a pointed coat pattern in a variety of colors. In addition to the modified coat colors of the "mink" pattern, which is a dilution of the point color (as in watercolors), the breed is now being shown in the foundation-like Siamese and Burmese colors: pointed with white and Solid overall (sepia.) They are also now designated a natural breed, as their history has now determined them to have been extant since the 14th Century
It is believed that Tonkinese-like cats have existed in the West since at least the early 19th century. The founder of the American Burmese type, a female named Wong Mau imported to the USA in 1930, is thought to have been genetically a crossbreed of this type. (Wong Mau was actually a Tonkinese, though the "breed" was not recognized as such at the time. Some of today's Tonkinese can be tracked by pedigree back to Wong Mau.
More modern Tonkinese cats are the result of a Canadian crossbreeding program between the Siamese and Burmese breeds, with the aim of creating the ideal combination of both parent breeds' distinctive appearance and lively personalities. The cats thus produced were moved from crossbreed classification to an established breed in 2001. The name is a reference to the Tonkin region of Indochina, though it is suggestive only, as the cats have no connection with the area. Tonkinese cats under the age of sixth months have historically been referred to in the West as 'small-cats' rather than 'kittens' to reflect a more direct translation from Burmese, although this term has become almost obsolete since the mid-20th century.
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