I have been involved in the breeding of Siamese for nearly 50 years, and after a break to concentrate on Tonkinese I have a Siamese girl again. You can see the daily diary of two litters of Siamese kittens from 2002 in the Newborn Diaries (I can't believe that is 20 years ago!). My Tonkinese lines were all bred from my own Siamese and Burmese lines, so that I knew more about the background of my cats' genes than is usually the case for Tonkinese breeders.

The first Siamese cats imported into this country from Siam (now Thailand) were in fact hybrids: what we would now call Tonkinese. Breeders commented to each other that litters showed two types of coat patterns: Some had very pale cream coats with dramatically darker points and blue eyes, these were the Royal Siamese, while others had a darker body colour with less definition between that and the points, and greeny eyes: these were known as Chocolate Siamese. Both types of cat had quite a rounded head and stocky build. Breeders naturally bred favouring the Royal type, and in so doing gradually bred out the genes of the stocky brown cat that we now call Burmese, which had given the original Siamese their more rounded look.

In the last 20 to 30 years pet owners and breeders have noticed the tendency to extremity in the contemporary Siamese: this means that the heads are very long and narrow (some people describe them as 'weasels'!), the nose rises rather than dipping between forehead and nose-leather, giving a rather 'Roman' look, the ears are placed low on the head, sometimes almost on the side, and the overall body shape is extremely long, whippy, and skinny. Many people are looking to the Tonkinese breeders, who have re-introduced the Burmese characteristics into the equation, to find cats of less extreme type while still showing the blue eyes, dramatic pointing and elegant figure of the old Siamese. However, more than 90 breeders of Siamese across the country have been quietly keeping the old-style Siamese alive and well, though as they don't show they are not very visible!
[The first picture on this page shows Libby, with 8 of the 9 kittens from her first litter with me.]
Breeders of Siamese increasingly come to expect a high mortality rate among purebred Siamese kittens, and the breed is also frequently accused of being neurotic. Undoubtedly these problems are the result of the distance these cats have come from the healthy genetic outcross of their ancestors, as well as some careless breeding by a few isolated 'bad apples' which has given the breed a bad name. However, any breed can suffer from these problems, and those seen in the Siamese probably have a lot to do with the breed having eliminated the stocky Burmese genes which strengthened the original 'hybrid' Siamese imports.

Although many mainstream Siamese breeders would like to retain the solid strength of the old genes, the modern show standard favours the extreme type, thus actively discouraging breeders from pursuing old type lines and the strength and health that comes with them. However, there are improvements apparent in the show Siamese, where many beautiful cats can be found, and the Old-style Siamese Club in the UK has brought together many of those who have been breeding the older type of cat all their lives, retaining the original solid but elegant look without needing to resort to matings with cats from other breeds. [On the right is a picture of Libby's third litter with me (2004), 7 kittens]

Pointed-pattern Tonkinese
Siamese (or pointed) pattern Tonkinese look in almost every respect like pure-bred Siamese except for their firmer build and very moderate type. They have gorgeous blue eyes, Siamese voices and the definition between points and body colour is exactly as you would expect to see, with all the colours and patterns of Siamese available. They have a gentle, mischievous and highly affectionate character that is irresistible (which is just as well since they are quite demanding!). Siamese pattern Tonkinese will be larger and generally heftier than show Siamese, like their old-style Siamese cousins.

Siamese pattern Tonkinese are registered as Tonkinese and can now be shown. However, since most of these kittens go to pet homes, that is rarely a consideration for new owners, who buy the cats for their looks and temperament. You can see a brief description of the genetic make-up of Tonkinese and how Siamese type cats are bred from Tonkinese-Tonkinese matings on the Tonkinese page

The pictures below are of my first two Siamese breeding queens, Cradlebridge Eliza and Cradlebridge Libra, both bred by Mr Henry Tinney in Somerset. They came to me as adults on the death of their first owner, the breeder Mrs Pring. Ellie's first litter with me can be seen in the kitten diaries. Libby, to my surprise, produced litters of 9 and 7.

On 19 July 2002 Libby produced a fantastic litter of NINE beautiful babies. You can read the whole story here.

Libby always had large litters, 2004 saw seven kittens, all beautiful and healthy (the second picture on this page shows them). They are now all at new homes except for one, who stayed to be Libby's successor as Libby was spayed in 2004. Her son, Ferdinand, stayed with me until he had mated with Rebel, my little Burmese, and is now living with friends very close by, who also had a kitten from 2003 (below). Thanks to Ferdinand, we had a lovely litter of 6 First-generation Tonkinese from a brand new bloodline in the Spring of 2005.

Kittens 2005, all seal points, from Libby's Daughter, Rameses Sinamtanperak:

I am indebted to Mario Magé, who always takes such stunning pictures of my cats. Over the years he has become a friend too, and I love the work he does, and the kindness and patience he demonstrates when photographing my cats in his portable 'studio'. He is a real artist, and his portrait photography shows how talented he is. All the pictures on this site with graduated blue backgrounds were taken by Mario. I'm very flattered that a couple of the pictures featured on his website are of my cats!