Although I grew up with Siamese (my mother bred under the prefix Pandarina) the first kitten I had when I got my own house was a Burmese - she was given to me by a friend. At first, though I loved her dearly, I though she was rather ugly, since I had grown up with cats who had relatively long faces. I surprised myself 3 months after she came to me when I looked at her and thought how beautiful she was. I realised then that to the people who love them, every cat is beautiful, no matter what it looks like. She was called Truffle, and this is her picture. She was my foundation queen, the mother of my first Tonkinese and a cat I loved more than I ever believed I could. She gave me many wonderful kittens, and those who love them in their turn would agree.
I took Truffle to a Siamese stud, as I thought what I really wanted was a Siamese. The stud was called Dunchattan Justus, a seal tabby point, and the kittens were a real eye-opener. I was hooked! It was the stud owner who told me that this cross, which I was doing essentially for myself, was a recognised breed, the Tonkinese. I was so impressed with the kittens, and enjoyed the experience so much, that I registered my own prefix with the GCCF and bred another litter from Truffle the next year.
I kept a girl from Truffle's first litter, called Pumpkin. She was a chocolate tabby Tonkinese, and sadly died on 1 September 2006 from cancer. She also gave me many wonderful kittens, and loved her mother as much as I did. When Truffle died she was as bereft as I was, but we kept a kitten from her next litter and she was happy again.
I always regretted that I had never bred Burmese from Truffle, as I didn't have a Burmese baby to make me another Truffle when she died. When I eventually got another Brown Burmese girl, the first thing I did was to breed a litter of Burmese and keep a girl from her. My Burmese had both Burmese and Tonkinese kittens, but I knew that I would not feel I had lived up to my mother's prefix until I had bred Siamese.
I searched and searched for the right Siamese for me, and after a couple of false starts I happened to bring in two girls as a rescue after the death of their owner, and one of them founded my own line of Siamese. I became involved with the Old-style Siamese and founded a Club to support the breeding of the non-extreme type which seemed to be healthier, bigger, and to live much longer than the new showy type. I had been warned that Siamese were extremely difficult to breed, but this was by breeders of the extreme-type cats, and I knew from seeing my mother's breeding that they should be no more difficult than any other breed. When I bred my own old-style Siamese they had huge litters with great ease, and all those kittens were strong and healthy. Just to prove it I took my first litter of 8 kittens out to a show on exhibition when they were 14 weeks old. There were show kittens of 4-6 months of age on show, and mine were twice the size of them. I felt vindicated, and have no doubts that breeding the old style is the right thing for me. You can see my first two Siamese litters in the Newborn Diaries.
I knew that I wanted to be involved with the Tonkinese because it was a lovely breed, and being a new breed was one to which I could make a significant contribution. I took about 3 years off breeding Tonkinese exclusively, and concentrated on developing both Burmese and Siamese lines that would be strong and healthy, have lovely temperaments, and would create the sort of Tonkinese I wanted to breed.
Here are my three breeds 'in Blue'.
From left to right: Blue Point Siamese (Ming), Blue Tonkinese (Teddy), Blue Burmese (Boogie).
You can see the difference in the shape and length of the heads, as well as the markings. Being absurdly contented (and lazy), it's quite difficult to get pictures of them with their eyes open, so you can't see the eye colours, sorry! The same cats can also be seen below, with Missie, Teddy's chocolate Tonkinese sister on the left. (Teddy is the one showing off his tummy).