The Singapura cat takes the Malaysian version of the name Singapore, also the place where it originates. This cat type has existed in Southeast Asia for decades and was first discovered by cat fancier, Hal Meadow, in 1971 while he was working in Singapore. Three unusual brown ticked cats were spotted and sent over to his friend, Tommy, back in the United States. Tommy then proceeded to breed the cats.
In 1974, Hal and Tommy (now married), came back to Singapore and brought along three grandchildren from the first three cats that Hal sent back the first time in 1971. On their return trip to the U.S. in 1975, the couple brought back five brown ticked cats. A sixth cat from a Singapore cat shelter was imported by Brad and Shella Bowers in 1980. The Meadows set up a breeding program to develop the cat into a pedigreed breed and those cats became the foundation of the Singapura breed.
There were occurrences of undesirable solid brown colored kittens in some of the litters produced. A test mating program was set up to remove cats with the recessive gene responsible for the solid brown coat from the breeding program.
The Cat Fanciers Association accepted the breed for registration in 1982. The Meadows continued to make concerted efforts. They founded the United Singapura Society (USS) in 1984 to bring together cat fanciers for the promotion of the breed. Their efforts paid off four years later in 1988 when CFA promoted the breed to the Championship status.
Unfortunately, disagreements subsequently arose among the breeders over the USS’s policies. This resulted in the decisions of some breeders to break off from the society. The concerns of these breeders over the limited gene pool of the Singapura cat had led to the formation of another group called the International Singapura Alliance (ISA). The main goal of this group is to persuade the CFA to open doors for the registration of additional cats from Singapore in order to increase the limited gene pool of the Singapura breed.
The origins of the breed were fought with controversies in between, but nothing conclusive has resulted. The beauty of this breed has overrode them all and continued to attract new breeders as well as supports from different associations. Though it is still a considerably rare breed, the Singapura cat has received recognition in many associations worldwide. It has also been bred and promoted at shows and in countries outside of the U.S. and Canada.
Physical appearance and attributes
The Singapura breed is a medium - small sized cat that weighs around 6 – 8 pounds and between 4 – 6 pounds for females. It boasts of a compact body that is accentuated by well-toned muscles. The abdomen is held firm with a rounded rib cage and it has a slightly arched back. It walks on heavy and well-muscled leg that tapers into small, oval paws. The tail is slender and ends in a blunt tip. When laid along the body, it should end just below the shoulders.
Singapura breed has very distinct facial features. The head is rounded with a tabby ‘M’ that marks the forehead. It narrows into a short and broad muzzle with definite whisker break. Viewed in profile, the tip of the nose is aligned with the tip of the chin. A slight convex curve can also be traced along the nose between the brows and the muzzle. Its nose leather is of a pale to dark salmon tone with dark brown outlining. The appearance of high cheekbones is created by the proportion of the head and its facial features, especially the eyes. This breed has large ears that are wide-set and tapers to a rounded tip. They are broad at the base with deep cupping.
The eyes are almond in shape but are not oriental in style. They present a slight slant when closed or partially closed. Held wide open and set not less than one eye's length apart, they are strikingly captivating against the relatively small head. They are further highlighted by the outlining of natural dark mascara, which is contrasted against the lighter hue of coat color around the inner corners eyes. The color hue then grades into a darker tone around the outer corners of the eyes. Another distinct facial marking is the cheetah-lines that run from the inner corners of the eyes down along the sides of the nose to the whisker pads. Eye colors can come in brilliant hazel, green or yellow.
Singapura cat has a coat of very short fur that is neither plush nor springy. They are close-lying and display the ticked tabby pattern with a satiny luster. Each hair shaft carries at least two bands of alternating color tone, starting with the lighter tone next to the skin and then darkening onto the tip of the hair. The ticking pattern is most intense across the upper back and down the spine line.
Barring (ghost/tabby markings) on the back knees as well as the inner front legs are another feature that marks the Singapura cat. The coat comes in one color, sepia, i.e., dark brown ticking against ivory base color; and one pattern, i.e., ticked. The underside, chest, chin and muzzle carry the color of unbleached muslin. The facial and body markings develop in intensity as the cat matures, creating a fascinating contrast of hues, tones and lusters that is unique of the Singapura breed.
Personality and temperaments
The Singapura breed is a friendly cat with the humans as its favorite playmates. It can get along well with other family pets as long as they are introduced well into the home as well as guests. This is a lively breed that is packed with intelligence and curiosity. It can paw through the contents of the drawer and manipulate switches and buttons on gadgets. It learns tricks fast and can be trained easily to respond to its name and other choice words.
This breed thrives on attention and loves interactive play. Like some other cat breeds, the Singapura cat is also fascinated by waters. Even though it is relatively puny is size, this breed has the confidence of a lion. With its agility and acrobatic nature, it springs and leaps easily onto any tall perches.
However, its affectionate nature would draw it to your lap, shoulders and anywhere near to its favorite people. Singapura cat prefers a quiet environment and though some may be reserved, they are still a generally people-oriented breed.
Care and health issues
The Singapura cat is a generally healthy breed with an average lifespan of 12 – 15 years. Health concerns involve inbreeding due to the small gene pool and thus poor gene diversity. Due to its small size, the Singapura breeds do have issues delivering and may require a caesarean section to deliver their kittens. Do obtain a written health guarantee from a qualified breeder when purchasing the cat. This would ensure that the cat has undergone all the necessary health checks for any hereditary diseases.
Keeping this breed looking good is easy; brushing it twice a month and nail clipping whenever necessary are all you need. It is advisable to check the ears for redness or odors and clean it with a damp cloth if needed to prevent infections. It is also good to brush the teeth frequently with vet-approved toothpaste to prevent periodontal disease and to maintain good oral health.
The ideal home
This ardent and agile breed would appreciate outdoor spaces where it could hunt and explore. However, such spaces would need to be escaped-proof and safe. Many cat breeders would, however insist that the cat be kept indoors for safety reasons. Apartment living is possible for the Singapura breed provided that an adventure zone is created to prevent boredom. This space would need to be equipped with the necessary cat gym sets, cat trees and interactive toys to encourage an active and hearty growth.
Singapura cat would not tolerate solitude, but that does not mean that it prefers a boisterous environment. A tranquil home with family members providing the needed company will be highly prized by this breed. It can get along well with children as long as they are taught the right way to care for a cat.
With its great personality, its love to be at the center of attention and its abundance of affections, the Singapura breed is certainly a highly considerable pet to have around the home. The entertainment and zest it will bring to the family will certainly be larger than its size.
Photo By Lil Shepherd - CC BY 2.0
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