Tonkinese Coat Colour & Pattern

One of the most attractive aspects of the Tonkinese is the variations in colour and pattern that are possible within the breed. However the colours and patterns that exist in the Tonkinese breed can be very confusing for the newcomer to the breed, and it can be difficult to understand the relationship between the colours and patterns that characterise the breed.

In this section we explore the colours and patterns that define the Tonkinese breed, and we focus particularly on the basic colours and patterns. However there are other colours and patterns permitted within the Tonkinese breed, depending on the country of origin and the Cat Registry rules as the apply to the individual breed standards.

Basic Colours & Patterns

At Anniesong we breed the basic colours of Seal, Chocolate, Blue & LiIac and with the exciting addition of Cinnamon & Fawn we now offer 6 colours and 3 variations of pattern for each colour.

Thus we now have a possible 18 colour/pattern combinations that can be expressed within our gene pool.
............... so how do we get 18 colour and pattern combinations ?

Each of the 6 colours is expressed in one of 3 patterns ie;

  • Solid - (Burmese expression of colour),
  • Mink - (a blend of the Burmese / Siamese expression of colour)
  • Point - (Siamese expression of colour),

for more information on colour and patterns check out the 'genetics pages. 

 The 6 colours, and their 3 possible patterns

Coat Colour Chart for Kittens

This colour & pattern guide is intended to visually convey the colours and patterns of Tonkinese kittens in comparison to one another... Each image has been produced under identical lighting conditions, enabling a true comparison between colours - please make allowances for individual monitor settings as this will affect how the colours perceived. All kittens depicted have been bred here at Anniesong.

This chart does not include the new colours; Cinnamon & Fawn, yet these will be added in due course. We will also eventually produce a photographic colour chart comprising all adult expressions of colour and pattern.... including the new colours; Cinnamon & Fawn.



 Confusion over colour names & identification

How Colours are named causes much confusion
when researching the breed.

This is due not only to the fact that some colour
names don’t seem to describe the colour very well,
but also due to the reality that different names are
used to describe the same colour.

Seal is called 'Natural' in the USA, 'Brown' in the
UK & NZ, yet in Australia, Seal is the most often used name and is arguably the most appropriate.

Comparative names for colours overseas;
The names used in Australia to describe Tonkinese colours, are substituted in other countries as follows;

Natural (US) / Brown (UK)
Chocolate = Champagne (US)
Blue = Blue
Lilac = Platinum (US)
Cinnamon = Honey (US)
Fawn = Fawn

Factors that affect accuracy of colour online

Tonkinese colours are very subtle and don't photograph well.

Colour in the environment reflects onto the coat creating incorrect colour casts.

Variable-coloured light changes the coat colour.

Monitors vary massively in how they display colour making it problematic to choose colour online.

Confusion between the 3 main colours;  Seal, Chocolate & Cinnamon



 Other Tonkinese Colours & Patterns
In other countries where they are popular, Tonkinese are bred in many different patterns and this varies from country to country, dependent on the breed standard in place. 

Yet here is Australia, depending on individual Cat Registry rules, the breed-standard allows generally for a more limited range of colour/pattern combinations. Thus it is rare to see Tabbies, Torties, Reds & Creams.

Although permitted in several Australian breed standards, Caramel is not to my knowledge represented in Australian gene pools.

Tabby-Mink Tonkinese from UK
owned by Sue Arnold (Suantre)

Tabby Tonkinese are popular in Europe and although a couple of local breeders did work on developing the pattern in Australia, the Tabbies were not popular with buyers.

Cream-Mink Tonkinese - Australia
owned by Heather Redmond (Tinkatonks)

Cream is a dilute of the colour Red and may be a non-sex-linked colour when breeding from a red or cream female. Bred to a red or cream male - only red/cream will be produced.

Blue Tortie-Solid Tonkinese from UK

Tortoiseshell Tonks (or Torties) are very oppular in Europe & New Zealand but have until recent times failed to find favour in Australia. Some stunning Torties are being bred in Victoria.


As the Gene for the Red & Tortie series are sex-linked, Males are generally Red or Cream, while Tortoiseshell, being exclusively female, may be expressed as either Seal, Chocolate or Lilac-based paired with Red, or expressed as Blue, Lilac, or Fawn based, paired with Cream.


 Juvenile coat-colour development

Coat Colour and the patterns that define Tonkinese develop very slowly and in reality colours and patterns that are vastly different in the adult Tonkinese can look remarkably similar in young Tonkinese and in kittens.

Essentially all the colours begin as being far lighter on the body of a kitten than that seen in the adult, the degree of 'lightness is principally connected to the characteristics of the colour itself and their pattern, ie; if they are Point, Mink or Solid patterned.

Point-Pattern Kitten / Colour @ birth

Seal-Point = dirty white (tinged greyish)
Blue-Point = dirty white (tinged greyish)
Chocolate-Point = pure white
Lilac-Point = pure white
Cinnamon-Point = pure white
Fawn-Point = pure white

Mink-Pattern Kitten / Colour @ birth

Seal-Mink = light coffee
Blue-Mink = light coffee
Chocolate-Mink = pale cream (just off-white)
Lilac-Mink = pale cream (just off-white)
Cinnamon-Mink = pale cream (just off-white) Fawn-Mink = pale cream (just off-white)

Solid-Pattern Kitten / Colour @ birth

Seal-Solid = dark coffee
Blue-Solid = mid-grey
Chocolate-Solid = light golden brown
Lilac-Solid = taupe (greyish gold)
Cinnamon-Solid = pale gold 
Fawn-Solid = beige

Prior to birth all kitten colours and patterns are to varying degrees supressed by the temperature of the womb, that has a bleaching effect on the developing colour

The following series of 12 images depict Anniesong Jagger at various ages, up to 10 weeks of age, demonstrating the typical progression of his coat-colour from the pale coffee colour at birth to the rich and warm tone of an adult Seal-Mink Tonkinese. He is seen here with his Seal-Mink mum; to illustrate how the colour and pattern will eventually appear. 

@ Birth - While still wet after its birth,
a Seal-Mink kitten appears darker than it will be once it has been cleaned up by mum and is dry.

@ 1 day old - Seal-Mink kittens begin life as a pale coffee colour and with a slight tint to the nose leather. A Blue-Mink will be identical at this age.

@ 1 week old -  Jagger's pattern is beginning to develop. His nose leather displays a brownish tone and the ear seams start to develop colour.

@ 10 days old - With eyes now fully open, his point colour is continuing to develop, as his body begins to gain a darker and richer tone.


@ 2 weeks old - While still very different in tone to an adult, it is now clear that the kitten is a Seal-Mink.

@ 3 weeks old - Jagger is still much paler than mum, but continues to strengthen in both colour & pattern.

@ 4 weeks old - The colour on his nose has spread to his 'mask' and the characteristic 'points' are becoming more evident.

@ 5 weeks old - Jagger's body is now a lot darker and his points are continuing to darken also.


@ 6 weeks old - The 'points' are now quite dark and stand out distinctly from the body colour.

@ 7 weeks old - The point colour continues to darken and become more distinct from the body colour.

@ 9 week old - Jagger's coat colour & pattern are still developing, but he is still a 'duller' tone than that of an adult.

@ 10 week old - His Points have strengthened but it will be many more months before the full expression of adult colouration is reached.

  (for more detailed info on the genetic factors that influence coat colour and pattern; check out ...  'Genetics of Coat Colour & Pattern' page) Read more
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