Born in Venice in 1518, His surname means “little dyer” in recognition of his father’s occupation as a dyer.

As a Painter his work is associated with enthusiasm and energy: “furisoso enthusiasmo”. Tintoretto’s paintings have a deep individuality and an unrivalled command of light, a skill expressing movement and an elegant gift of design.

Given that Tonkinese coat pattern should illustrate a controlled blend of colour points, we thought that the name of this particular artist would be the perfect name for our prefix.

The above map reference will direct you to the Gulf of Tonkin, situated to the South of China and the East of North Vietnam: an area that was historically named Tongking. It is the location of fierce pirates; relentlessly hot, humid weather and, according to legend, the origination for the naming of the magical, intelligent, creatures better known as Tonkinese Cats.

If you trace the line of latitude 20 degrees through to land, you will see that it neatly divides the adjoining countries of Burma and Thailand. This illustrates the naming of a cat breed which is historically, a cross between its Burmese and Siamese parent breeds.


 The Tonkinese breed has existed within the West for at least a hundred years. Towards the end of Victoria's reign, a cat which was initially designated as a Copper (Burmese), was exported from Singapore to an English breeder who described it as a "chocolate variety of the royal Siamese cat ... rich chocolate or seal, with darker face, ears and tail; the legs are a shade darker which intensifies toward the feet". Many other examples of cats with the distinctive Tonk. coat pattern has existed throughout the last century.

20.00N 108.00E!
From East to West

Jacapo Tintoretto

How the Tonk became recognised as a breed

The foundation dam of the modern breed of Burmese was a single walnut-brown cat called Wong Mau, which was imported into the USA, from Rangoon in 1930. Its owner was a physciatrist, Dr.J. Thompson, who was able to bring a scientific mind to his ownership and genetically establish the queen to be a Tonkinese.

The cat was described as a brown hybrid with darker points on her face, legs, feet and tail. She was bred with a seal-point Siamese called Tai Mau and produced kittens which exhibited a close resemblance to herself as well as several with a distinctly Siamese coat pattern.

These intelligent and loving cats are now well established as a recognised breed in this country and indeed are bred and appreciated as far afield as Australia and America.

Tonkinese in the UK (Taken from an extract written in a Tonkinese Cat Club pamphlet)

"In the UK the Cat Association was the first to recognise the Tonkinese as an experimental breed and interest began to grow - Mary Hodgkinson and Tommy and Diana Bishop, who were among the founders of the C.A. Club, accepted the challenge of aiming a Recognition by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy and started negotiations with the then General Secretary, Mrs Lesley Pring.

The Tonkinese Breed Club has gone from strength to strength and is now affiliated, but in November 1994 some breeders, including many of the original founders of the first Club, felt that there was now room for more than one club and went on to found the the Tonkinese Cat Club (now also affiliated to the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy)...."

My warmest thanks go out to all those people who worked so hard to establish the breed in this country, without them we would not have the pleasure of sharing our lives with such a beautifully natured yet enigmatic feline.