The Singapura cat takes it’s name from the Malaysian name for Singapore. The Singapura was brought to America in the 1970’s. Also known as ‘drain cats’ because they were reputed to inhabit the city drains, they are also known as the Singapore River Cat.
In 1971, Hal Meadow, a geophysicist working in Singapore, noticed three unusual looking brown-ticked cats. Some boat crew. He sent these cats back to his friend Tommy (they weren’t married at this time) in America aboard a company ship. Later, a fourth brown ticked cat was also shipped back to America. These cats were sent without export or import papers. Tommy who had an interest in genetics bred with these ticked cats. Apparently at the time she had no interest in starting a new breed, and therefore kept no paperwork. Then in 1974 the now married Hal & Tommy were transferred to Singapore & they brought along five of their cats, two Burmese & three grandchildren of the original cats shipped over from Singapore in 1971. These grandchildren were named Ticle, Tes & Pusse. They declared the Burmese as such to quarantine, not knowing what to declare the other three cats as, Tommy declared them to be Abyssinians as they looked like Brown Abyssinians to her.
The Meadows continued to breed with these cats. Ticle & Pusse had two kittens named George & Gladys. These cats were recognised by the Singapura Cat Club provisionally as Singapuras. Following the fall of Saigon in July 1975 the Meadows returned to America, bringing back Ticle, Tes, Pusse, George & Gladys. They then set about obtaining official recognition for the breed & in 1981 presented the Singapuras to the American CFA as a natural breed, in 1988 they were were accepted for championship status with the American CFA.
In 1980, another American cat breeder, visiting a SPCA shelter in Singapore, discovered a cat named Chico, with the same colouring and ticked coat of the Singapura. She was sent to a breeder by the name of Barbara Gilbertson in Washington, where she was a great asset to the limited gene pool.
There has been some controversy surrounding the breed’s origins. An American Singapura breeder by the name of Gerry Mayes visited Singapore in 1987 to look for street cats fitting this description. He spoke to locals who didn’t know anything about local cats fitting the description of the Singapura. Mr Mayes returned to America with several cats from Singapore but he also had some interesting information in regards to the original cats imported by the Meadows in 1974. The original story told by the Meadows was that they discovered Ticle, Tes & Pus in Singapore in 1974, however papers indicated that Ticle, Tes & Pus had in fact been brought into Singapore by the Meadows in 1974. As import records showed that the Meadows imported two Burmese & three Abyssinians it was suggested that there was no such ‘local’ cat in Singapore but the Singapura was in fact a Burmese x Abyssinian hybrid.
Another version is that the discrepancy was discovered when the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board (STPB) decided to adopt the Singapura as a mascot. While performing background checks on the breed, the discrepancies with the paperwork were discovered. In fact the Singapura was locally given the name ‘Kucinta’, meaning ‘love cat’ as a result of this campaign.
Tommy Meadows was asked to explain the discrepancy to the CFA on 9th & 10th February, 1990. Tommy explained the reason for the discrepancy was because Hal had been in Singapore in 1971 on a sensitive trip. Records proved that Hal had in fact been in Singapore in 1971. The CFA accepted Tommy’s explanation & the breed is still recognised as a ‘natural’ breed.
The purpose of this article isn’t to speculate how the breed came about, if it originated from the streets of Singapore or was a ‘man-made’ breed originating from America, it is just to tell the story of the breed, as has been told by others.
Dainty and elegant, the Singapura has changed very little over the years. People are usually drawn to the Singapuras angelic face, large expressive eyes, big ears and their ‘butter wouldn’t melt in the mouth’ demeanor. Singapuras are a small to medium sized cat. Their size gives them a delicate appearance, though they are muscular and feel heavier than they look. The Singapura is affectionate, good natured, gentle & extremely playful. They have no inherent health problems & are generally a very robust cat. The only other markings the Singapura have on their body is barring on the inner front legs and back knees and the remnants of the tabby m on their forehead.
The Singapura has a moderately stocky and muscular build. The head is rounded. The ears are large and the eyes are huge, almond shaped and can be green, hazel or yellow. Their nose, which is salmon toned and eyes are accentuated by dark eyeliner like outlines. The tail is slightly shorter than the body, slender with a black blunt tip. They have a close lying, satiny, ticked coat of sepia brown. This is the only accepted colour. This means that the individual hairs on the cat have alternating bands of sepia brown and the warm ivory ground colour. This gives the appearance of fine sand. Their muzzle, chin, chest and underside are all a warm ivory colour.
They have no inherent health problems and are generally a very robust cat.
The Singapura has an enchanting personality. They are truly captivating little sprites that steal your heart. These beautifully proportioned and graceful creatures have the ability to charm and take hold of your heart and soul. They have a love of warmth and will often be found under your doona cover, hogging a heater or lying in the sunshine. They love to be up high, laps and shoulders are great as are the tops of cupboards, doors and fridges. It is also amazing the places they can squeeze their little bodies. The only thing better than one Singapura is two or three or… more. Once you have owned a Singa you’ll never be without one.
Singapuras are gentle, non-destructive yet very playful cats. However give them a toy, dangling from string or thin elastic and it will be chewed off in seconds flat, the toy, will then be whizzed away somewhere else to be played with. Singapuras are cheeky, lively, extremely curious, full of mischief, affectionate, intelligent, inquisitive, fun loving cats, which actively seek out human company. They are non confrontational and will rarely enter into a dispute or quarrel.
The females tend to be the more dominant sex while the males are a little more easy going. I am lucky, as my stud boys do not spray; therefore they live inside and are always curled up together or with the other resident cats. The females are wonderful mothers, (two to four kittens are an average sized litter.) often nursing their kittens well past the weaning times of other breeds.
The Singapura is a great family pet, it gets along well with children & is an outgoing breed which thrives on companionship. If you are away from home for long periods then it it recommended your Singapura has a feline companion. Be it another Singapura or another breed. They are suited for indoor life. Provide plenty of toys, as well as your attention. Scratching posts for sharpening claws and climbing are a must, the taller the better.