Popular Breed Despite Controversy Over Origin
The Singapura cat is named after the Malay name for Singapore—the supposed country of the breed’s origin. However, several claims over the years have called into question where the Singapura truly originated and whether it is a true “natural” breed or a mixed breed.
Despite the controversy, the Singapura cat is beloved by its families worldwide, charming everyone with its affectionate disposition and curious nature.
American cat breeders Tommy and Hal Meadow claim to have discovered three unusually colored cats while on a business trip in Singapore in 1975. They brought the cats—two males and one female—to the United States at which time the cats were bred and the Singapura cat lineage was established.
In 1982, the breed was accepted by the Cat Fanciers Association. In 1987, while on a business trip to Singapore, an American cat breeder named Jerry Mayes came across documents that revealed that the three cats exported by the Meadows had actually been imported from the United States into Singapore in 1974—one year before the brothers claimed to have discovered them.
On the importation documents, the three cats were registered as Abyssinians. The Meadows were breeders of Abyssinians, Burmese and Siamese cats. This discrepancy was overlooked for the most part until 1990, during which time the Singapore Tourism Board launched a campaign to elect the Singapura cat as the national mascot.
It was at that time that cat fanciers speculated that the Singapura was actually a cross between an Abyssinian and a Burmese. CFA judges had noted that the Singapura greatly resembled an Abyssinian and Burmese cross. It was also pointed out that “natural” cat breeds are usually not as petite as the Singapura—one more detail that cast doubt on whether or not the Meadows were telling the truth about where they discovered the original three cats.
The CFA began an investigation to validate the origins of the Singapura cat. Hal Meadow admitted to the CFA that the three original cats exported from Singapore were actually the grandchildren of four local Singapore cats he found on a separate trip in 1971. He withheld this detail years earlier because the trip to Singapore in 1971 was supposed to be a secret. The CFA determined that despite the deception there was nothing to indicate that the breed was not actually a natural breed from Singapore and closed the investigation. The conclusion was that the Singapura was a legitimate cat breed.
In 2007, however, a DNA study conducted on the Singapura revealed that the breed has very few genetic differences from a Burmese, thus questioning the Meadows’ claim once more.
According to cat fanciers, one will rarely see a brown ticked Singapura breed in Singapore. The local cat appears to be tabbies and tortoiseshells. None the less, the Singapura cat remains the national mascot of Singapore.
Singapura cats are affectionate, playful cats that enjoy the companionship of family, sometimes choosing one person in particular with whom they’ll form a tight bond.
Social pets with a desire to mingle with people (including children) and other household pets, the breed is curious and active, eager to participate in family activities. Sometimes referred to as the “Velcro” cat, the Singapura is quite fond of sitting on one’s lap for long periods of time.
“Everyone falls in love with my Singapuras,” says Lori Goodman of Orange, Calif. The former cat clinic manager has owned three Singapuras during the past 15 years, one of whom—a lovable male named Yussel—used to keep patrons company in the clinic’s lobby, taking turns sitting on people’s laps until they were called into an examination room.
“He was the official greeter at the clinic,” laughs Goodman. Lars and Edie are her two younger Singapura cats, each with their own fun-spirited personality. “Lars prefers to head-butt those he loves—and he tends to love everybody. Edie is a good cat; she’ll stay away from a decorated Christmas tree, but then I’ll find her sitting on the counter knocking a soda can over just to see what will happen.”
Goodman says her Singapura cats are sweet cats with an even temperament. She recommends the breed to those who want an affectionate cat and one who enjoys being around children and dogs and cats.
“I consider the Singapura the perfect breed,” Goodman says. “Their sweet personality combined with their lack of behavioral or health issues and their tendency to stay clean make them a perfect, all-around companion.”
The Singapura cat is one of the smallest cat breeds in the world, weighing on average between 5 and 8 pounds.
Despite its small size, the breed is muscular and has a slightly stocky build. Exotic, almond-shaped eyes are a trademark of the Singapura, along with its large pointed ears.
The Singapura cat has a short fur coat that is soft to the touch. The unusual pattern in its coat is called “ticked tabby,” when individual strands of fur have alternating sections of dark and light color, usually ending with a dark color at the tip.
The breed usually sports a lighter shade of fur on its chin, chest and muzzle. Sometimes, the lighter areas of the cat’s fur coat can be banded with a circular ring usually in a darker shade.
The Singapura cat has one color: the sepia agouti, also known as “dark brown ticking accompanied by warm ivory.”
Breeders discovered that every so often a solid colored kitten would be born into a new litter of Singapura cats, indicating that the solid color was caused by a recessive gene. In an effort to preserve and establish the ticked tabby pattern, breeders began to remove cats with the recessive gene from the breeding program.
The Singapura cat is considered to be a healthy cat; while all cat breeds can potentially develop health problems—most commonly renal failure, hyperthyroidism and diabetes, this breed is known to have very few genetic health issues.
- Uterine inertia is a condition in which a female cat lacks the ability to deliver a litter of kittens due to weak muscles around the uterus. Pregnant cats with uterine inertia may require a Caesarean section in order to give birth to a litter.
As with any pet, be sure to regularly consult a veterinarian for routine care and medical advice for your four-legged friend.