Tonkinese vs Burmese: Here Are Their Differences

Tonkinese is a cross between a Siamese cat and a Burmese cat. In a separate post, I’ve discussed how Tonks differ from one of their origin breeds, the Siamese. For this one, we will tackle how this rare breed differs from its Burmese roots and what similarities it bears. This Tonkinese vs Burmese face-off will help you choose which breed suits you well as a cat owner.

Highlights of the Tonkinese breed

In this video, the Animal Planet tells us more about the unique Tonkinese cat:

Tonkinese cats are rare, but their personality makes them worth the extra mile.

Shyness is not a Tonk’s vocabulary. This is an extroverted breed that will welcome guests whole-heartedly. They also pamper their families with love and cuddles.

Tonks are very affectionate, and many owners say that you can’t find another kitty that’s as loving as this elegant feline. This cross between a Siamese and a Burmese is an attention-seeker and enjoys being the center of attention.

Since half of Tonkinese’s genetics came from the Burmese cat, it’s easy to mistake each one for the other. Still, there are subtle differences that set them apart.


Tonkinese vs Burmese

Tonkinese cats share the same color-tinged coat as the Burmese breed. Unlike Burmese cats, Tonks can come in champagne, platinum, blue, and natural colors. Their coat is also divided into color point patterns with different contrasts.

Like the Burmese and Siamese cats, Tonkinese also wears a dark mask. It also has darker colors on the tail, ears, legs, and paws. But unlike Burmese cats, Tonks are born with blue eyes. Meanwhile, those with mink colors will grow to have aqua eyes and solid-colored ones have yellow-green or green eyes.

Its head is rounded with slightly planed cheekbones. You will also notice a blunt and wide muzzle. Unlike Burmese cats, Tonks has alert ears with very short hairs.

🐱Personality & temperament

Tonkinese vs Burmese

When it comes to personality, Tonkinese is a champ. It bears both the affectionate disposition of a Siamese and the playfulness of a Burmese. However, this same personality means that Tonkinese cats are always up for trouble.

Unlike the Burmese breed, Tonkinese cats are quite talkative and opinionated. It likes talking with a loud but gentler voice than that of a Siamese. This breed also likes joining in everything their owners do, even bathroom trips.

Tonkinese cats have an unabashed enthusiasm to be part of everything. They don’t seem to run out of energy so make sure that you occupy them with interactive toys and lots of playtimes. 

However, this active personality doesn’t suit all households. If your home is more laidback, getting a Tonkinese may not be a good idea. If you have other pets at home, Tonkinese will thrive with those that have the same energy level. Otherwise, your overly friendly Tonk will just annoy other furry babies.

You should also know that Tonkinese cats are intelligent. They can easily figure out how your door works or where you hide food. They tend to be demanding when it comes to attention but remains quite docile on most occasions.


As a mixed-breed cat, Tonkinese has varying predispositions to different health problems. The most common issue for Tonks is they tend to be sensitive to anesthesia, something that they probably inherited from their Siamese side.

Aside from that, Tonkinese cats are prone to being cross-eyed so you should always observe for any changes in appearance. This breed is also susceptible to hyperesthesia, asthma, lymphoma, retinal atrophy, and congenital heart problems.

Still, it doesn’t mean that all Tonkinese cats will develop such problems. If you’re planning to get this breed, make sure that you’re dealing with a reputable breeder.


Tonkinese cats are very easy to groom, thanks to their soft and short coat. Weekly brushing is enough to keep their elegant coat healthy and clean. As long as you keep a Tonkinese indoors, it will not get too dirty.

However, you should pay attention to its teeth. Tonkinese cats are highly susceptible to periodontal disease so toothbrushing is needed at least once a week.

Overall, maintaining a Tonkinese is very easy. However, you should keep them out of strangers’ eyes as much as possible. This breed is hot in the eyes of thieves who want a precious cat that costs a lot of money.

Highlights of the Burmese breed

In this video, Cats Wiz shares with us interesting facts about the Burmese cat:

As one of the origins of Tonkinese cats, Burmese kitties have an equally elegant appearance and a likable personality. Unlike Tonks, Burmese cats came from Burma, which is now Myanmar.

It’s believed that Burmese cats are temple felines kept by priests. All of them descended from a small, brown cat named Wong Mau.

At first, Wong Mau was thought to be a dark-colored Siamese. This led breeders to cross him with a Siamese, thus the birth of the Tonkinese breed.

Before, Burmese and Siamese cats were interchangeable terms to identify the two different breeds. But in 1953, the Cat Fanciers Association resumed registering this breed. From there, the Burmese cat was differentiated from its cousin Siamese breed.


Burmese cats have a more muscular and bony body than Tonkinese. Their head is rounded with flat planes that you can easily notice in most angles. Also, they have a short muzzle with a noticeable nose break.

Moreover, Burmese cats are available in champagne, sable, platinum, and blue colors. They have almost the same color variations but the patterns are not as prominent as the other breed. Most of the time, Burmese cats are almost solids with slightly faded color on the torso area.

Unlike the almond-shaped eyes of Tonkinese, Burmese have rounded eyes that are set quite apart. It’s alert and easily noticeable at a glance. Aside from that, Burmese cats have either gold or green eyes, depending on their coat color.

As for its coat, Burmese also have short and glossy fur. It’s close-lying, which is similar to that of Tonkinese.

🐱Personality & temperament

Burmese cats are cunning and playful, which is a perfect fit for active households with children. They tend to remain kittens at heart with their clownish antics and never-ending energy.

Aside from that, this is a highly spirited breed that will entertain the family through its affinity for climbing and leaping. They use these habits to get the attention of their owners and to get the spotlight when the family is around.

Take note that Burmese cats have variations in temperament based on their gender. Females are more active, intelligent, and curious so expect them to be the sneaky ones. Meanwhile, males are more laidback and tend to be overly devoted to their owners. Still, male Burmese cats love fun playtime.

Unlike Tonkinese cats, the Burmese breed doesn’t meow loudly; they rumble. This cat produces a raspy sound whenever it wants to communicate. It’s less piercing than the sound of a Tonkinese, much so of a Siamese.


Burmese cats are generally healthy. But just like any cat, they have a higher susceptibility to several diseases than other breeds.

This breed is observed to be prone to corneal dermoid, which is the presence of hair and skin right on the corneal surface. This can be removed through surgery and the kitty will live a normal life.

Also, Burmese cats can be born with the ‘Burmese head defect’, a craniofacial abnormality. It’s a form of mutation. Still, a Burmese cat needs to have two copies of the mutated gene (one from each parent) to physically manifest the defect.

Cats with this deformity are either stillborn or will be born alive but will not survive. Some will be put down.


Like Tonkinese cats, Burmese felines have short coats that only need weekly brushing. They are best kept as indoor cats to prevent accidents. They are also prone to theft due to their elegant coat and attractive eyes.

Similar to the Tonks, you should maintain healthy dental hygiene for this cat to prevent periodontal disease.

Another thing you should know is that Burmese cats can be very picky with their food and how you serve it. They are delicate cats so patience is necessary.

Tonkinese vs Burmese: Which is Right for Me?

Both the Tonkinese and Burmese breeds are elegant, attractive, and precious cats. They suit homes looking for a companion that can thrive in the presence of children and other pets.

Still, you should be prepared to put up with lots of energy. These two cats can’t be kept in one spot. They love zooming, climbing, leaping, and inspecting every object they find interesting.

If you prefer a quieter kitty, you may thrive with a Burmese. However, this feline will still make its opinion heard so don’t expect a submissive pet.

However, Burmese kitties tend to be more snappy than Tonkinese. If you have an infant, I don’t recommend a Burmese cat just yet. Nevertheless, you should still be careful with a Tonkinese since it’s very energetic and may hurt a baby in the process.

With proper introduction and training, both Tonkinese and Burmese kitties can live in a multi-pet household. Just make sure that your other pets match the energy level of these two active breeds.

Which is more affectionate, the Tonkinese or the Burmese breed?

Both the Tonks and Burmese breed are affectionate. Over time, they form a strong bond with their owners. They are loyal pets that will follow you around the house.

However, Burmese cats tend to be less suitable for very young kids. They have a strong prey drive whenever they see birds, which could be a problem for little kids. Their playful hunting instincts may hurt a little child. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do Burmese cats meow a lot?

A: Burmese cats are vocal felines, but their meow isn’t as piercing as a Siamese or a Tonkinese. They make a rumbling sound to get the attention of their owners. If you want a chatty companion at home, A Burmese cat may suit you well.

Q: Are Burmese cats aggressive?

A: In general, Burmese cats are not aggressive. They are social and friendly if raised to be one. But just like any cat, a Burmese kitty may develop negative behavior. It’s important to train them to curb any aggressive tendencies. Socialization is also necessary to raise a well-rounded cat, be it a Burmese or Tonkinese.

Q: How much do Tonkinese cats weigh?

A: Tonkinese cats usually grow from 6 to 12 lbs. They are anywhere from 8 to 10 inches tall and 12 to 15 inches long. And while they are a cross between a Burmese and a Siamese, Tonkinese is considered a natural breed by cat fanciers.

Q: Why does my Burmese cat bite me?

A: Regardless of breed, cats will bite if they are scared, threatened, or stressed. Your kitty can also make playful bites that don’t draw blood or bury deep into your skin. Nonetheless, you should correct this behavior as it can be a precursor to other health problems.

Q: Can you leave a Burmese cat alone?

A: Burmese cats love being the center of attention. If they are left alone for long, this kitty will become sad and grumpy. If you’ll be at work for most of the day, it’s best to get another cat that your Burmese can play with. Make sure that the two have matching personalities and energy levels.

Q: Do Tonkinese and Burmese cats scratch furniture?

A: Yes, both Tonkinese and Burmese cats will scratch furniture and doors if you don’t give them to occupy their minds. It’s important to leave interactive toys, cat trees, scratching posts, and other similar stuff to keep your kitties busy. You should also make these spots unappealing for your cat so they won’t scratch it. 

Final words

Tonkinese vs Burmese, which is better? Both these cats are excellent pets. They are energetic, beautiful, and affectionate felines that will be loyal to your family. However, they are not for everyone. The energy level and bold personality of these breeds suit experienced cat owners.

In the end, it’s not about finding which breed is best. You have to identify which of the two matches your personality and lifestyle.