Tonkinese is the product of cross-breeding between the Burmese and Siamese breeds. This mixed origin gives Tonks the attributes of the two cats, including some health problems. Don’t get me wrong: Tonks are relatively healthy felines. But just like any cat breed, they have a higher predisposition to some health issues. Knowing such threats will help you, the owner, to keep your cat in shape so it would be less likely to develop any Tonkinese cat health problems.
Tonkinese Cat Breed Health
Tonkinese is the epitome of being sociable in the cat kingdom. They are sweethearts who love seeking attention. They love climbing on elevated spots, and they don’t mind wandering around with a stranger (beware here!). As much as they are sociable and have lots of love to give, you must ensure that they are in good shape.
Lifespan: 10 to16 years
Weight: 6 to 12 pounds
Size: 8 to 10 inches, body length of 12 to 15 inches
Personality: Sociable, loves attention, loves living with another Tonkinese, outgoing, active
Body composition: muscular and dense, can grow heavy
Diet: All-breed formula, small yet multiple meals a day
Shedding Level: Low shedding
Susceptibility to obesity: Low to moderate
Tonkinese Cat health problems
Like any cats, your Tonk can develop or be born with some health problems. I discussed here some of the commonly observed health problems in this cat breed. AGAIN, it doesn’t mean your pet will develop or have all or any of these. My cat Lucky is in the pink of health, but I’m always watching out for potential health problems to keep the pooch in shape.
NOTE: Most of these health problems can be avoided if you will get your cat from a reliable and responsible breeder. Also, diet and living conditions are big factors that will affect your cat’s health.
Cats, in general, are susceptible to dental problems if they are not properly brushed. Although cats are groomers, they can’t take good care of their teeth. This could lead to a slew of potential dental woes.
Dental disease occurs when bits of food are left stuck between the cat’s teeth for days. Over the weeks, the food bits will rot and affect the health of the surrounding teeth. Soon enough, plaque will build up, and gingivitis will ensue.
If not removed right away, the plaque will push through the gum line. This will lead to a chronic dental infection that could cause internal organ damages. Remember that any opening in your cat’s mouth is an entryway for just about any pathogen.
The next time your cat’s breath smells stinky, don’t dismiss it as a random bad breath. Check your cat’s teeth or might as well bring it to the vet.
Signs that your Tonk has dental problems:
- Bad breath
- Excessive drooling
- Intense pawing of the teeth
- Unexplained weight loss due to difficulty eating
- Bleeding or swollen gums
- Teeth discoloration
If you spot any of these symptoms, you should book an appointment to the vet for teeth cleaning and other dental treatments.
Amyloidosis is a condition among the Siamese family, which can lead to organ malfunction. What happens is that a type of protein called ‘amyloid’ deposits on the outside of the tissues and cells. Such abnormal protein deposit can happen in different organs, which will also affect the symptoms your kitty will show.
Since Tonks bear the genes of the Siamese breed, they have a predisposition to amyloidosis. This predisposition gets stronger as the kitty ages.
The tricky part about this condition is that there’s no clear genetic profile that appears to transmit amyloidosis to a litter. This makes it more difficult for breeders to avoid such predisposition. Nevertheless, you can reduce the predisposition of your Tonk by asking to see the health clearance of its parents.
General symptoms of amyloidosis:
- Poor appetite
- Increased urination and thirst
- Weight loss
Take note that amyloidosis is a multi-faceted condition. The symptoms I mentioned above are just general in nature and can point to other health problems as well.
If your Tonkinese has been diagnosed with amyloidosis, you would have to deal with life-long care. This involves continuous health monitoring and increased vet visits.
Feline asthma is a condition on which a cat exhibits respiratory issues upon inhaling allergens, which will then trigger the immune system response. It’s quite similar to how asthma works in humans: there would be breathing difficulties, coughing, and hacking.
The intensity of feline asthma varies across infected cats. All cat breeds can develop feline asthma so you should watch out over your Tonkinese’s health.
Moreover, feline asthma can be difficult to diagnose because there’s no single test that can confirm its presence. A veterinarian will usually rely on physical manifestations, your cat’s health history, and examination of the feline’s respiratory system. Your cat will undergo X-ray and CT scans to help a veterinarian diagnose the problem.
Feline asthma has a dreadful prognosis. Cats that will develop this condition will experience progressive asthmatic episodes, with the condition worsening over time. There’s no cure to feline asthma so pet owners would have to monitor their asthmatic cats and keep them in a controlled environment to prevent allergen inhalation.
Symptoms of feline asthma:
- Rapid breathing
- Hacking or couching
- Open-mouthed breathing
- Increased respiratory rate
Take note that some cases of feline asthma can be life-threatening, especially for a senior Tonkinese.
One of the most common hormonal disorders among Tonkinese cats is hyperthyroidism. This condition occurs when the thyroid glands of the cat overproduce the thyroid hormone. Such occurrence will cause the formation of non-cancerous tumors on the thyroid gland. For severe cases, a cancerous tumor may also grow. Hyperthyroidism is more common among cats in the 10 to 12 age bracket.
So what happens if your cat has hyperthyroidism? Their energy levels will go overdrive. Cats with hyperthyroidism will become extremely active, which can lead to accidents and injuries. Although your cat may appear perky, the kitty is actually experiencing nervousness and discomfort.
It’s essential to diagnose hyperthyroidism as early as possible; otherwise, it would have life-threatening consequences. A cat with this condition will need life-long care to keep their hormones in check and to delay the progression of the illness. Some mild cases can be cured through special treatment.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism in cats:
- Sudden hyperactivity
- Unexplained weight loss
- Increased thirst
- Blood clots
- Organ failure
The last two symptoms listed are for cats with advanced hyperthyroidism.
Tonkinese cats were found to have a predisposition to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). It’s the most common cardiac disease among cats where the muscular wall of the heart thickens. When this happens, your cat’s heart becomes less efficient in pumping blood.
HCM can either be a congenital or acquired disease. If not diagnosed and addressed right away, HCM will result in heart failure among Tonkinese cats. Remember that HCM has an unpleasant prognosis because no kind of therapy can slow down its progression.
Some cats, though, will have a mild case of HCM and can survive for years without medical treatment.
If ever your Tonk got diagnosed with HCM, it will require life-long medication and care. HCM isn’t curable, but veterinarians can help improve the quality of life of your pet. Various tests like echocardiography will be conducted to identify if your Tonk is suffering from this condition.
If you’re getting a Tonkinese cat from a breeder, always ask if the kitten has been genetically tested for HCM. This will avoid you from getting a sick cat.
Symptoms of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in cats:
- Rapid breathing
- Open-mouthed breathing
Take note that many cats with HCM don’t exhibit symptoms until the condition has worsened.
Cystitis affects the urinary system of cats. It’s also known as the Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC) and is often triggered by stress and anxiety.
Although cats with cystitis may exhibit symptoms similar to urinary blockages, it’s a whole different health problem.
Cystitis occurs when the PSGAG glycoproteins that insulate the bladder become patchy. This could be due to a sudden change in urine pH, among other potential causes. And when patches of the glycoproteins are removed from the bladder’s lining, it will expose the bladder tissue directly to the cat’s urine.
This condition will lead to inflammation and a slew of other symptoms. There’s no cure for cystitis, and it can recur over and over again, especially if your kitty is under extreme stress.
To give your Tonkinese cat a better quality of life, you’d need to monitor its diet and remove any potential stressors from your home. The vet may also prescribe medications to ease the discomfort.
Symptoms of cystitis in cats:
- Straining when passing urine
- Crying out in pain when urinating
- Accidents even if fully litter-trained
- Traces of blood in the urine
- Excessive grooming of the genital area
- Hair loss on the genital area (as connected to over-grooming)
Whenever you spot any of these symptoms, you must bring the cat to the vet for proper diagnosis.
Are you noticing your Tonkinese eyes starting to cross? It may be suffering from a genetic condition it inherited from its Siamese lineage. Some Tonks can be born with crossed eyes, but some will develop it later in life.
In the medical world, crossed eyes are known as convergent strabismus. This can happen in one or both eyes of the cat. If it’s not a genetic problem, the condition can be cured through surgery, therapy, or medications.
If your Tonk wasn’t born with crossed eyes, there could be several possibilities as to how it developed the condition. It could be due to eye trauma, previous infection, tumor growth, nerve damage, inner eye disease, and more.
Symptoms of crossed eyes in cats:
- Difficulty walking straight
- Head tilting
- Difference in pupil size
- Uncoordinated eye movement
- Lazy eye
- Loss of appetite
- Turning to one side
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: At what weight would a Tonkinese be considered overweight?
A: A Tonk cat will grow as heavy as 12 pounds. Anything beyond that usual body weight will be considered overweight. It’s always advisable to keep your cat within their ideal weight level. And since Tonks are notorious climbers, the extra pounds will make it difficult for them to perch.
Q: How often should I bring my cat to the vet for checkups?
A: Bring your cat to the vet at least once a year for a general checkup. Don’t wait for your kitty to get sick before you consult a vet. Just like with humans, quarterly or annual vet visits will keep you in check of your cat’s health. Life-threatening health conditions can be cured if it’s diagnosed as early as possible.
Q: Does an indoor Tonk need shots each year?
A: Regardless if your cat is an indoor or outdoor type, primary vaccinations are essential. This will protect them from vaccine-preventable diseases like rabies, FPV, FCV, and FeLV. As a responsible pet owner, it’s your job to keep your cat in the best health condition possible.
Q: Is it bad for a Tonk’s health to bathe it regularly.
A: Cats are natural groomers, and since Tonkinese cats don’t’ shed a lot, regular bathing isn’t necessary. You should still brush the cat’s coat to spot any skin changes, parasites, and coat problems. However, if your Tonk got pretty dirty, a quick bath will not hurt.
Q: What if my cat is sick and I don’t have money?
A: Local vets and government-backed vet clinics will sometimes offer subsidized medical attention to cats of less fortunate owners. Some organizations like Help-A-Pet, American Veterinary Medical Foundation, and The Pet Fund provide financial assistance to owners who can’t afford their pets’ medical needs.
By knowing these Tonkinese cat health problems, you’ll have a better understanding of your pet’s health. It would also help you diagnose potential symptoms and have your cat checked right away. Remember that the first step to treatment is proper diagnosis.
Still, it doesn’t mean that your Tonk will get sick. Raising your cat well and observing a healthy feline lifestyle will help reduce their risk of developing any of the mentioned conditions.