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Singapura Cat

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Singapura Cat

Singapura Cat | Breed Profile | Breed Description

The Singapura is a cat breed with a contentious history. Reportedly established from three “drain cats” imported from Singapore in the 1970s, it was later revealed that the cats were originally sent to Singapore from the US before they were exported back to the US. Investigations by the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) concluded no wrongdoing and the Singapura kept its status as a natural breed. One of the smallest breeds of cats, the Singapura is noted for its large eyes and ears, brown ticked coat and shortened and blunt tail.

The Singapura is a recognized breed of cat, These excerpts are from the UK Singapura Cat Club, The Singapura is an alert, healthy, small cat of foreign type. The body has good bone structure and is moderately stocky and muscular, yet gives an impression of great elegance.


In 1975, after a working stint in Singapore, Tommy and Hal Meadow returned to the US with what they say were three local brown-ticked cats. These three cats, a pair of male and female kittens from the same litter and another young female, were the foundation used to establish the Singapura. The breed takes its name from the traditional name for Singapore (Singapura, which means lion city in Malay). In 1981, a breeder visited Singapore and chanced upon a cat fitting the profile of the Singapura (with the exception of the tail) in the local SPCA. The cat was imported to the US and adopted into the breeding program.

The Singapura was accepted for registration by the CFA in 1982 and granted championship status in 1988. In between this period, breeders found that the occasional litter would have a solid colored kitten, caused by the recessive gene for solid color. In a desire for the Singapura to breed true, many breeders chose to do test matings to pinpoint and remove from their breeding programs individuals with the recessive gene. It was discovered that two of the three foundation cats carried this gene.

Females are usually smaller than the males, but still feel heavier than they look. The strong slender legs taper to small oval feet. The tail should be slender but not whippy. and should have a blunt tip. Body colour is an old or golden ivory with a soft warm effect, ticked with sepia brown.

Each hair has at least two bands of sepia brown ticking, separated by light bands — light next to skin, and dark tip. Muzzle, chest, stomach and inner legs are an unticked light ivory colour. Singapuras should have some barring on their inner front legs and back knees. The coat is short, fine, silky, and close-lying.The breed has noticeably large eyes and ears. Eyes are large, set not less than an eye width apart, held wide open, but showing slant when closed or partially closed. A dark outline to the eyes is desirable. Eye colour hazel, green or yellow only.

Ears are large, wide open at base, and deep cupped. The outer line of the ears extends upwards to an angle slightly wide of parallel. The head is gently rounded with a definite whisker break and a medium short, broad muzzle with a blunt nose. In profile, the Singapura has a rounded skull with a slight stop just below eye level.

There must be evidence of dark pigment outline on the nose. ‘Cheetah’ lines from the inner corner of the eye towards just behind the whisker pad should be present.The original home of the Singapura is the island of Singapore, with the breed taking its name from the local Malay name for the island meaning ‘Lion City’.

The breed is the result of Mother Nature’s combination of genes indigenous to Southeast Asia both the brown as in Siamese and Burmese and the agouti or ticked pattern. The area is the highest epicentre for the agouti gene, according to geneticist, Neal Todd, who has published articles on the migration of feline genes. This breed is the same colour as seal point cats or brown Burmese, but the difference is the agouti coat pattern and how it interacts with the sepia brown.

In 1990, suspicion arose as to the true origin of the Singapura when checks done by the Singapore Tourist and Promotion Board (now Singapore Tourism Board) revealed that the three foundation cats, registered as Abyssinians in import certificates, together with two Burmese were taken into Singapore from the US in 1974 before being exported back to the US. As the Meadows had been breeders of Abyssinian, Burmese, and Siamese, some have speculated that the Singapura is a Burmese/Abyssinian cross and it has even been described as such by CFA Judges. The resemblance of some Burmese/Abyssinian cross to the Singapura, as well as the Singapura’s small litter size, which is uncommon in natural breeds, added more doubts to the Meadows’ story.

The CFA investigated the incident at the request of a Singapura breed club. In the investigation, Hal Meadow told the investigation board that the three cats were grandchildren of four local cats he sent back to the US during a previous supposedly sensitive business trip to Singapore in 1971,contradicting the Meadows’ earlier claim of the foundation cats’ origin.

Apparently Tommy Meadow lied about it to conceal the secret trip. The CFA found no wrongdoing and kept the Singapura’s status as a natural breed. CFA’s Joan Miller said that “Whether they mated on the streets of Singapore or whether they mated in Michigan, it doesn’t really matter. In addition, there is at least one documented cat that is behind many Singapura pedigrees and it was picked up at the pound.

Even with none of the cats the Meadows brought in we still have a legitimate cat from Singapore behind our Singapuras.” Recent studies in 2007 based on feline DNA showed that there is very little genetic differences between the Singapura and Burmese, adding support to the claim that the Singapura is not a natural breed.

The Singapore Tourist and Promotion Board(STPB) proceeded with the decision to use the cat (advertised under the name Kucinta) as a tourism mascot after CFA concluded its investigation. The name Kucinta is an amalgamation of the malay words Kuching (cat) and cinta (love) and taken from the winning entry in a naming competition.

Sculptures of the Singapura can be found by the Singapore River. While brown cats with ticked coats can occasionally be seen, few if any resembles the Singapura, with the majority of cats being bobtailed tabbies, tortoiseshells or bicolor, and the move by the STPB is seen by locals to be an advertising move based on the popularity of the breed among tourists at that time.

Of concern to breeders is the condition known as uterine inertia, an inability to expel the fetus due to weak muscles. This condition was present in one of the foundation cat and appears on some Singapura females today. Individuals with uterine inertia would require delivery by Caesarean section. There are no other known genetic health problems in the Singapura although breeders have shown concern regarding the genetic diversity of the breed due to inbreeding caused by a small gene pool.

Researches who did the DNA study above found that the Singapura(along with the Burmese) have the least genetic diversity among the 22 breeds studied. The possibility of outcrossing with another breed to increase the genetic diversity had been raised among CFA breeders, but not many were receptive to the idea, preferring to use Singapuras from around the world that are not so closely related to the CFA line.