Tonkinese Cat - breed information and advice

The Oriental Tonkinese cat is in one word, sociable. The Oriental Tonkinese loves company and is likely to seek out a shoulder (it's also fond of heights) as soon as someone's in the room. It can be a good idea to have two Tonkinese cats ('Tonks') to keep each other entertained. It's worth bearing in mind that Tonks are adventurous cats, and have been known to wander off with strangers.
To ensure your Tonkinese cat is protected in case of an emergency, take a look at our cat insurance policies.

Breed information


Colour: The Tonkinese can be plain or patterned, but comes in four main coat colours: platinum, champagne, natural or blue.

Coat: Short, soft and silky, the coat doesn't need grooming as it is self-maintaining. However, this breed still enjoys the attention it receives when groomed.

Life span: Tonkinese cats have a long life expectancy of around 15-18 years.


Hyperthyroidism is one of a number of hormonal disorders that can affect Tonkinese. It occurs when the thyroid glands, which are located in the neck, produce too much thyroid hormone. This most commonly occurs as a result of a benign (non-cancerous) tumour of the thyroid gland, although a cancerous tumour known as a thyroid adenocarcinoma can also occur. Surgery, longterm medication, radioactive iodine therapy or diet changes can be used to effectively manage the condition, meaning the cat can live a normal and comfortable life.


We paid £1,920 to treat Tango the cat for hypothyroidism in 2016

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Mouth and gum disease

Like most breeds, Tonkinese may suffer from gum and dental disease during their lifetime. Gum disease occurs when some (or all) of a tooth’s deep supporting structures become inflamed. This begins when food, bacteria and minerals accumulate along the gum line, leading to the build-up of a brown scale known as tartar. When this undermines the gum the condition is called gingivitis. Eventually, small spaces can form between the gums and the teeth creating pockets of space for bacteria to grow, resulting in what is known as periodontal disease. The bacteria from infected gums can spread around the body and damage the liver and kidneys. This condition can be prevented with basic routine care such as feeding cats dry food and brushing their teeth, helping them to lead a normal, pain-free life.


Gingivitis is the second most common illness we see in Tonkinese

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Feline asthma

Tonkinese, like other cats, can suffer from problems in the lower respiratory tract (the trachea and the lungs). Feline asthma, for example, occurs when allergies and irritants cause the lower airways (bronchi) and lungs to become inflamed and sensitive. Symptoms include coughing and wheezing. While asthma is not curable, it is manageable with various long-term medications including tablets, injections and even inhalers.


Respiratory system disorders are the fourth most common illnesses we see in Tonkinese

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Heart disease

Heart disease in cats refers to when the heart’s structures aren’t working as they should be. There are two categories of heart disease: congenital (meaning the cat is born with it) and acquired (meaning the disease develops later in life). Congenital heart diseases include defects in the wall of the heart, abnormal valves and blood vessels. Tonkinese are prone to a disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which can lead to heart failure. Whilst this condition is not curable, it can be treated with lifelong medication.


We paid £3,215 to treat Coby the cat for heart disorders in 2016

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Conditions that affect a cat’s bladder and urethra are collectively known as feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), which is more commonly referred to as cystitis. Tonkinese can suffer from these conditions, which can be caused by stress, not urinating enough, infections and bladder stones or crystals. Cats suffering from cystitis make frequent, painful attempts to urinate, and blood is often found in the urine. Treatment depends on the cause, but cats diagnosed with cystitis will usually require pain relief, access to plenty of water, special diets and perhaps some help to reduce stress.


We paid £3,015 to treat Steve the cat for cystitis in 2016

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