Below are 3 twelve week old brown Tintoretto kittens from Mali's 2003 litter of 7. All three kittens are same colour, “Brown”. However, they are also different in terms of how the colour, brown, has been expressed within their genetic coat colour restrictions. This three genetic variation of colour restriction is characteristic and unique to Tonkinese cats.

Coats of many colours

On closer examination, the colour and coat-pattern of their fur is reminiscent of the wild animal's pelt. However, the description also refers to the similarity of pattern and colour between the wild animal's pelt and the foundation cat of the Burmese breed, Wong Mau, who was actually a Tonkinese with a tonkinese coat pattern, i.e. a medium-brown body that shaded to a lighter hue on its underparts and to a dark brown colour at its points. The Tonkinese belongs to the genetic type group known as Himalayan. In Tonkinese like most with a Himalayan coat pattern we find that the Points (mask of face, ears, feet, legs, tail and testicles in males) are darker because the temperature at the extremities of the body are lower than the rest of the body. However, fleshier legs and feet tend to be paler in tone than the other points.

In the picture above, the pointed (CPP) boys eyes are a bright sparkling sapphire blue, likened to the Siamese eye colour. The solid BCR male on the opposite side has sparkling chartreuse green eyes, likened to the Burmese eye colour. Sandwiched between the two at the centre is the Tonkinese Colour Restriction (TCR) female kitten. Her eyes are clearly developing the revered sparkling aqua eyes, which is a gentle merging of the other two colours into a bluish-green or greenish-blue.

In the picture above, the kitten at the top is a male with Colourpointed Pattern (CPP). The pointed variant of the Tonkinese coat pattern is very pale in its body with contrasting dark points. The kitten at bottom looking at us is a male with a Burmese Colour Restriction (BCR) This solid variant of the Tonkinese coat pattern is evenly coloured over its body and in most colours has no noticeable contrast. Sandwiched between with her back to us is a female with a Tonkinese Colour Restriction (TCR) The TCR is the definitive Tonkinese coat-pattern which has a rich body colour that gently merges with darker points. She is already showing the truly gentle merging middle ground between the other two.

The Burmese colour restriction (BCR), The Tonkinese colour rectriction (TCR) and the Colourpointed pattern (CPP) all have some contrast, as the dominant allele (C) gene is not found in the Tonkinese or Burmese breeds. There is only a single variation between the three strains of Tonkinese: the 'C' gene. It is this that controls their coat pattern.

Each Tonkinese has one pair of genes that control their gene pattern with one gene derived from each parent. Each gene can be either a pointed (cs) or a solid (cb) coat pattern gene. Tonk. Breeders realize that when Tonkinese are mated together, their offspring will uniquely have one of only three coat pattern variations. Thus, the Solid, variant has two (cb) coat pattern genes. The cat is evenly coloured across its body and points. It has the weakest colour contrast and will have chartreuse eyes, ranging from greengold to yellowgreen.

Pointed, this type has two (cs) coat pattern genes. It has the strongest contrast with a pale body coat, dark points and bright blue eyes in shades from sky blue to violet. The tonkinese (Mink), version has one (cs) and one (cb) coat pattern gene. Since both are recessive genes, neither will be dominant. The type is characterised by a strong body with darker points but overall the coat pattern illustrates a medium contrast. Unlike their eyes which are a brilliant aqua colour: a beautiful combination of the golden Burmese and blue Siamese eye colour.

A word of caution should be inserted here as it is not always possible to be authoritative as to what type of coat pattern the young kittens may have. It often takes some time (as much as 18 months) for kittens to acquire their definitive coat-pattern / eye-colour / colour. Don't blame the breeder if they initially err on the side of caution!