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    Place of origin

    Texas, United States; Singapore


    Even this recently established breed has attracted myths about its origins. When three brown-ticked cats were imported into the United States in 1975, they were claimed to be native Singaporean "drain cats," and their small stature was supposedly due to generations of living in storm drains. It was some years before the true origins of the breed were uncovered. It was later revealed that the military family of an established Abyssinian and Burmese breeder had been relocated to Singapore in 1974, taking five of their cats with them. Quarantine papers described the five cats as two Burmese and three brown Abyssinians, although it is claimed the latter merely described their brown-ticked appearance and was not a reference to their breed.

    When the breeders returned to the United States in 1975, they began promoting a new breed they called the Singapura, which exhibited the ticked tabby pattern of the Abyssinian cat and the semi-albinistic color and body type of the Burmese cat. These cats are widely believed to be Burmese-Abyssinian crosses, although they are also claimed to be the descendents of three ticked cats sent home from a previous (and apparently secret) spell in Singapore.

    The Singapura breed was established from those three brown-ticked cats plus a Singaporean cat discovered in 1981 that fitted the breed standard apart from being part-tailed. This gave the Singapura breed a legitimate claim to being partly Singaporean in origin. During the 1980s Bibleand 1990s, American breeders sought further Singapuras in Singapore, with minimal success. In 1987, a Singapura breeder visited Singapore looking for street cats fitting the description of the Singapura breed to take back to the United States as foundation cats. He spoke to local people, only to find they were unfamiliar with the type of cat known in the United States as a Singapura!

    When asked to explain how Burmese and brown Abyssinians exported to Singapore in 1974 had somehow become Singapuras in 1975, the breeder claimed the three ticked brown cats were in fact descendents of Singaporean cats brought back from an earlier stay in Singapore in 1971. Because that trip that was related to a sensitive military mission, this fact had originally been withheld as part of the breed's history. This explanation was accepted by the CFA, and the breed is still classed as a naturally occurring one. Feline DNA studies in 2007 found very few genetic differences between the Singapura and Burmese, reinforcing the likelihood of a man-made breed.

    TICA recognized the Singapura in 1979 and the CFA in 1982. Singapuras arrived in the United Kingdom in 1988 and were recognized by the GCCF in 1997. They are now also bred Australia, South Africa, and other parts of Europe.

    Careful selection to establish the color to "breed true" created a very small gene pool of original cats, which contributes genetically to its position as the smallest of the recognized cat breeds (only the unrecognized Teacup Persians are smaller). Solid-color brown kittens occurred in early litters due to a recessive gene inherited from two of the original foundation cats. Singapura litter sizes tend to be small, a characteristic associated with inbreeding.

    A number of experimental Burmese-Abyssinian crosses have closely resembled the Singapura in color and type. In Continental Europe, some Abyssinians have so closely resembled the Singapura in color that judges suggested they be registered as Singapura foundation cats to expand the gene pool. The Singapura is genetically very uniform. Although this ensures consistent conformation and color, it can result in health issues due to inbreeding depression. Most registries and breeders are not receptive to the idea of crossing to other breeds, in order to maintain the integrity of the Singapura. However, careful outcrossing may become unavoidable in the future due to the inevitable inbreeding caused by the very small foundation stock.

    Despite the lack of Singapura-type cats in their alleged native country, the Singapore Tourist and Promotion Board (now Singapore Tourism Board) made the Singapura a tourist emblem in the guise of "Kucinta-The Love Cat of Singapore." Statues of the cat can be found alongside the Singapore River. This appeals mainly to Western tourists because the official emblem of Singapore is the lion.

    Although most feline historians, including cat fanciers of that country, remain highly skeptical of the breed's purported origins as a "street cat of Singapore," it cannot be denied that these two genetic traits may be naturally found in this part of the world. A few ticked cats have been found by American fanciers; dubbed the "Wild Abyssinian," they resembled a dark Abyssinian-type cat and can still be found among street cats in Singapore today. A red-ticked cat was referred to as the "Limau Kohlum." However, the majority of Singaporean street cats are bobtails, and they are generally mackerel tabbies, tortoiseshells, and bicolors.

    Physical description

    A small, dainty-looking breed with a rounded head, large expressive eyes, and deeply cupped, large ears, the Singapura is an athletic cat who only looks delicate. Although compact, they are well-muscled, with medium boning and strong, legs that are long relative to their size. The tail is slender, but not "whippy" and has a blunt tip. Singapuras do not develop to their full size until they are almost two years old, with males weighing 6 to 8 pounds (2.75–3.5 kg) and females weighing slightly less.

    The Singapura has an angelic face, with the impression of "high cheekbones" below its large eyes giving it an expression of innocence. Deep eye colors range from celadon (pale jade) green through hazel or gold to copper. The fine-textured coat is a distinctive sepia-shaded brown ticked tabby in color. Its muzzle is medium-short and broad with a blunt nose.

    Colors and varieties

    This breed exists only in the color sepia (Burmese brown) ticked tabby. This produces a rich, warm, sable brown ticking against an "old ivory" hued background, often with yellow tones. The color is darkest along the back and fades to sepia on the undersides. Residual tabby barring is present on the forehead and lower legs. Solid brown cats appeared early in the breed's history, but test matings appear to have eliminated cats carrying the solid color.


    These active, intelligent cats are mischievous, lovable family members. They get on well with children and are content to be indoor cats, but they need the company of people or of other cats. They are also gentle and sociable with other cats and nonconfrontational. They love to be up high, surveying the world. They also enjoy shoulder-riding and snuggling with their humans.

    Activity level


    Vocal level


    Special needs

    The short, sleek coat of the Singapura requires only a weekly grooming to keep it in good conditions. One of the foundation cats had the heritable condition of uterine inertia (weak uterine muscles that cannot push a kitten from the womb), and because of inbreeding, this is found in some Singapura females. If you are interested in breeding Singapuras, it should be noted that affected females may require caesarian sections.




    From The Cat Bible, Copyright by Sandy Robins, licensed through ContentOro, Inc and used by arrangement with I-5 Press

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