The Tibetan: a half-haired and sociable cat

Tibetan cat

The Tibetan originated from a cross between the Balinese and the Tonkinese. It is actually the long-haired variant of the Tonkinese, just like the Balinese is the long-haired variant of the Siamese. The nice thing about this breed, is that it originated in the Netherlands. Quite recently, in 1997, this breed was officially recognized. Just like its Oriental ancestors, this breed also has a cozy and curious character. Would you like to know how the Tibetan originated in the Netherlands? Then read on!

The origin: from the Netherlands!

The Tibetan is a breed that originated in the Netherlands. Agnes Driessen is the Dutch person who has dedicated herself to the development of this breed. Since 1997 it is an officially recognized breed. It is actually a half-haired variant of the Tonkinese, but with its own breed name.

The story of the Tibetan begins with Agnes breeding the Balinese. This breed is the long-haired variant of the Siamese. Originally this was a fairly round and sturdy breed in contrast to the Siamese, which often had a pointed and slimmer appearance. The American line of Balinese worked more and more towards this Siamese appearance for the Balinese. When these Balinese of American descent were more and more to be seen in cat shows in the Netherlands, it was decided that the Dutch Balinese also had to have this appearance.

Agnes did not like changing the standard of the Balinese. She preferred the more rounded version. That’s why she decided to focus on another Eastern breed, the Tonkinese. These were only not to be found in the Netherlands, so she went looking for a Siamese and Burmese. By crossing these two breeds the Tonkinese is created. Agnes already had a Balinese, which is actually a long-haired Siamese. She decided to cross this long-haired Siamese with a Burmese. In this way also short haired Tonkinese kittens were born, only they carried the long-haired gene. As the long hair did appeal to Agnes, she decided to cross these Tonkinese kittens with the long-haired gene with the Balinese (or long-haired Siamese). The crossing of these two resulted in the long-haired Tonkinese, which we now know as the Tibetan.


The character: a talkative inquisitive eagle

The Tibetan has many of the same characters as his ancestors the Siamese, Balinese and Tonkinese. It is a very affectionate breed that is quite demanding. They hate to be alone for a long time. A busy family with many children or several animals is the best place for this breed. They also show this demanding by their vocal qualities. It is therefore quite possible to have an entire conversation with the Tibetan and they also respond well to the shouting of their name.

The Tibetan also has a very curious nature. They like to walk around the house and discover all kinds of new places. Of course this is not always desirable, so you might encounter them in places they are not allowed to go. And even if you close the door of the forbidden place, the Tibetan is so intelligent that he knows how to open it. This nature is also not always suitable for outdoors, because it can cause them to get lost. That is why the Tibetan is especially suitable to keep as a domestic cat, if there is at least enough space. When they go outside it is often recommended to put a good fence around the garden, so that they don’t get lost in their curiosity. This inquisitive nature is always entertaining and with their intelligence they always know how to make new antics.

In addition, the Tibetan has canine characteristics. Where listening carefully to their name is already one of them, they also like to fetch objects. They can do this for a very long time. And besides that, the Tibetan can really become a buddy of the owner. They can become very attached to their owners.


Infographic Tibetan

Appearance: a slim and muscular appearance

The Tibetan’s appearance is also very similar to that of his ancestors. It is a slim and muscular animal, which therefore does not look very heavy, but is relatively heavy because of its muscles. They weigh between 2.5 and 5.5 kilograms on average.

The construction is also very elegant and of medium size. The Tibetan belongs to the group of Oriental cat breeds. They are all quite the same in appearance, with some small differences. The Tibetan mainly resembles the original Balinese, which is somewhat rounder and fuller than the Siamese. They have a slim body and well-developed muscles. The legs are long and end in oval feet. The head is wedge shaped with big ears that are wide apart. The eyes are oval shaped. This breed has a rare eye colour called aquamarine. This is a blue-green colour that only occurs in Tibetan and Tonkinese. This is because the Balinese have blue eyes and the Burmese have golden eyes. After mixing these colours the colour aquamarine is created.

The coat is half-long with a nice plume tail. The coat is silky and very shiny and does not tangle as much as other long-haired breeds. This is because there is no undercoat. This undercoat is short and consists of thin and soft hairs. It is a kind of down coat that has an insulating function. Because the coat is half-long, this insulating function is less necessary and the undercoat will decay.


The coat colour and coat patterns that occur

The Tibetan has inherited the colourpoint coat pattern from his ancestors. This pattern has the characteristic that only certain parts of the coat are darker coloured and other parts a bit lighter. The pattern is the result of a genetic mutation that causes less pigment to be produced. This mutation is temperature dependent, which means that the mutation has more influence on warm areas. This makes the coat lighter in warm places. These are areas such as the belly and neck. Colder spots such as the muzzle, tail and legs therefore colour darker.

For the Tibetan, this is a mixture of the appearance of the Burmese and that of the Siamese and Balinese. The Burmese has little contrast between the darker and lighter parts, so the lighter parts are also relatively dark. The Siamese or Balinese has much more contrast between the light and dark parts. In the Tibetan both the Burmese and the Siamese/Balinese variant of this pattern can be found.

When the Tibetan is born the coat does not show a colourpoint pattern yet. This only develops into its permanent colour later on.

The coat colours

And as for all other external features, the coat colours can also be related to the ancestors. These breeds are mainly characterised by dark colours, i.e. black, brown or grey. Often all kinds of terms are invented to refer to the entire coat with respect to colour and pattern. With the Tibetan and the Tonkinese the coat names Mink and Sepia often occur, but these names mainly say how the colourpoint has developed in this specific cat.

The colours that are common with these Eastern races, and therefore also with the Tibetan, are:

  • Seal: This colour is often called seal, but with this the colour black is meant for the Tibetan. So the cold parts of the body show black.
  • Blue: This is a dilution of the black. This colour blue is not the blue as you might suggest. By diluting it the colour becomes greyish and this can change to the blue.
  • Chocolate: This is a creamy brown colour.
  • Lilac: Lilac is a dilution of the chocolate colour.

These are the most common colours of the Tibetan people. Occasionally a red colour occurs in the Tibetan, but less frequently than the colours mentioned above.


The upbringing: make sure your kitten is socialised.

With kittens it is important that they get used to people. It is important that kittens get used to human touch so they can take care of themselves. Once your kitten is used to human touch it will be possible to cut your kitten’s nails, not unimportant!
It’s also important that your kitten gets used to other animals and unfamiliar sounds. If your kitten doesn’t get used to this, there may be symptoms of anxiety and stress in the kitten. This can lead to several problems. For example, problems with the kitten’s skin or the immune system. Behavioural problems can also occur. For example, the kitten may start to behave very aggressively. Absolutely not what you want!

It is therefore important that the cat is properly socialised. This is especially important when the kitten is between 2 and 7 weeks old. In addition to this first socialisation period, there is also talk of a second socialisation period. This stops as soon as the kitten is 14 weeks old. If you want to get your kitten from a breeder who is a member of a cat club, you will only get your kitten when she is at least 13 weeks old. The kitten will then have spent almost the entire socialisation period with the breeder. It is wise to check whether the breeder has paid enough attention to this socialisation process.


Care: take into account the temperature in the house

If you bring the Tibetan into the house from an early age, make sure that the cat gets used to the normal way of doing things in the house. If you often have people over the floor, don’t do so especially for your cat. This way the cat can get used to unexpected crowds in the house. Also start taking care of the cat’s hair at an early stage. This way they can get used to the touch of people and the coat care will also be easier later on.

It is also good to take the temperature in the house into account. The Tibetan has no insulating undercoat, so is sensitive to the cold. Keep the temperature in the house always above 15 degrees. Should the Tibetan also go outside, avoid this if the temperature drops below 15 degrees.

Furthermore, the Tibetan is very easy to deal with, so care will not be a major challenge. Try to comb the coat two or three times a week. The Tibetan doesn’t get tangles easily, but this will help to keep his coat better clean and more beautiful.


The food your cat needs

Besides taking good care of the cat, the food is of course also very important. The Tibetan is an active cat, so is not very susceptible to obesity. Just keep an eye on this at all times. A long coat can keep a belly hidden from view, but overweight is always in the way. Take care of a good quality food, like for example the brand Royal Canin. It is also important for the muscular build of the Tibetan to get protein rich food for a good maintenance of these muscles.


Diseases that are common in this cat

The Tibetan has a predisposition for a hereditary disease originating from the Siamese ancestors. Fortunately, this is not a very serious disease and the Tibetan can still grow old with it.


HCM stands for hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy. This is a heart disease that causes the tissue of the heart to thicken. The cat itself does not suffer much from this and can be examined by means of an ultrasound. The cats that have this disease are no longer used for breeding. This ensures that the disease does not spread further.


How old can the Tibetan get?

The Tibetan can live to be between 8 and 13 years old. The Asian group is known not to get super old. The Tibetan therefore grows between 8 and 13 years of age on average. The spectrum is broad and good care of the Tibetan can increase life expectancy. Regular check-ups at the vet, good nutrition and sufficient exercise all contribute to the health of the cat. A cat that is well cared for usually gets a lot older than a cat where the care was not optimal. It is all up to you as the owner, because you have the biggest influence on this.


What you need to know before you take in this type of breed

The Tibetan is a half-haired cat. Long-haired animals are known for their beautiful appearance, but this does not always come naturally. To keep the coat beautiful these animals need some help from their owner. Cats are always busy to keep their fur beautiful, but that is not always enough. Longhaired cats are advised to comb at least two or three times a week. In the moulting period, the period that the cats sheds a lot, it is advised to do this daily. The Tibetan doesn’t have the most difficult long coat and fortunately doesn’t have many tangles.

The Tibetan does not like to be alone for long. If you have a rather busy life and are away from home a lot, make sure the Tibetan has a boyfriend, like another Tibetan! Space for the cat is also important. They love to explore, so a small flat can quickly bore them. The Tibetan is suitable to keep inside, but prefers a lot of space. The Tibetan can also come outside, but keep in mind that a well closed fence is necessary. The Tibetan is not known for just walking away, but his curious nature can make them get lost. Furthermore, the Tibetan has no undercoat. This means that the fur is less insulating, so make sure they are not exposed to temperatures below 15 degrees.

Before buying a kitten it is important that you do this at a well-known breeder. Sometimes breed cats are offered for a softer price, but often the paperwork is correct which shows that it is a real breed cat from no side. It is also important not to buy a kitten when the mother cat is not present. For the development of a kitten it is very important that it is raised in a domestic circle in the presence of the mother cat. It is also very important that the cat has been vaccinated, dewormed and possibly chipped.

One of the big clubs is Felikat. Felikat is one of the two clubs that exist in the Netherlands at the time of writing and that are affiliated to FIFe, the Fédération Internationale Féline. Mundikat is the other association. The Fédération Internationale Féline is an umbrella body involving 40 countries.1

After 13 weeks Dutch breeders give the kitten to the new owner. Moreover, the cat associations all make extra demands. For example, the breeding animals have to be tested for certain hereditary diseases and blindness.2


What price do you have to think of?

The Tibetan costs between $650 and $1000. The Tibetan is a breed of cat with a fairly normal price tag, that is why this breed falls in this price category. Finding a good breeder in the Netherlands will not be very difficult, as it is a Dutch breed. The breeder Agnes Driessen has unfortunately stopped breeding the Tibetan and Tonkinese. Of course there are other breeders who do this. But of course only the purchase of the cat is not everything. There also needs to be a litter box with cat grit, cat food and trays for food and water.


Do you also choose the Tibetan?

Do you already have a Tibetan in your house or are you planning to take one? Then let us hear from you! We are very curious why you choose this cat breed and what you think makes this cat so special. You can let us know by leaving a comment on this article!

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We are a team of cat lovers, doing our best to create and spread information about cats. On you will read all about different cat breeds, and what makes them so special. You will also find information about grooming and training your cat. Be sure to leave us a reply if you like our article.

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