Siamese cats are widely regarded for their affectionate personalities. Tonkinese cats, which are Siamese-Burmese crossbreeds, are likewise praised for their loving temperaments. Because advocates, aficionados and authorities exist on both sides of the fence, deciding which breed is more loving is largely a matter of taste.
Siamese cats are ancient -- one of the world's oldest breeds -- but they didn't leave Thailand (then Siam) until the 19th century.
Combine their lithe bodies and point patterns with their "acute intelligence, inquisitive personality and a loving nature and you have the essence of the Siamese cat," according to the Cat Fanciers' Association.
"They are the quintessential 'people' cat, for they love to be in your lap, on your bed, at your table -- and in your heart!" the CFA notes.
Siamese cats also are known for their distinct vocalizations.
Tonkinese cats were were probably bred around the mid-14th century to the mid-18th century, and made their way from Thailand in the 19th century.
They're larger than Siamese cats, but some retain their pointed pattern. Others have a pattern akin to their Burmese lineage.
"They will take possession of your lap and shoulder, and they will supervise your activities," notes The Cat Fanciers' Association. "They are warm and loving, highly intelligent, with an incredible memory and senses that are akin to radar."
Tonkinese cat vocalizations are softer than Siamese cats.
Cults of Personality
The differences between Siamese and Tonkinese cat behavior can be subtle.
While both cats are affectionate and enjoy human contact, Siamese tend to talk more, while Tonkinese tend to be more docile.
Both breeds display similar affections toward their owners, according to a cat breed directory on the cable channel Animal Planet's website.
You can find owner anecdotes praising either of the breeds above the other on many online pet message boards.
While Siamese and Tonkinese cats are naturally loving, nurture can triumph over nature if you don't foster this tendency and meet their other needs.
According to many accounts, as well as the stats on Animal Planet's cat breed directory, Siamese cats are less independent and need slightly more attention than Tonkinese cats. Tonkinese cats, on the other hand, are more compatible with children and other pets than Siamese cats.
It's also noteworthy that there appear to be fewer Tonkinese cats than Siamese cats, at least in the U.S., so it may be harder to obtain the former.