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The Singapura is a shorthaired tabby, and is one of the smallest breeds of pedigree cat, generally not weighing more than about 8 lb, even in the males. It is said to have originated from Singapore, and the Western translation of the name means 'Lion City', the Malay word for the island, although they were originally known locally as the 'drain cat'. In 1990, the Singapore Government decided to adopt this breed as their national mascot and ran a national competition to find the most suitable name, eventually choosing 'Kucinta', meaning 'love cat', and it has since been designated as the National Treasure by the Singapore Government. Although these cats have been recognised in the UK by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) since the late 1990s, they are still relatively rare here with just 56 new registrations in 2010. The 1970 Disney film The Aristocats was way ahead of its time as it featured an English, guitar-playing Singapura cat named Hit Man!
All modern Singapura in the West are believed to have originated from just six cats. Americans Tommy and Hal Meadows are said to have found three very distinctive cats in the Loyang area of Singapore in the mid-1970s and imported them into America, naming them as Ticle, Pusse and Tes, although there is a certain amount of controversy surrounding this story, and some say the Singapura was created as a cross-breed between Abyssininas and Burmese, and even possibly imported into Singapore. Two kittens named George and Gladys were kept from a mating between Ticle and Pusse, and the Meadows imported a sixth cat from Singapore in 1980 (that they had found in a cat sanctuary there), that they named Chiko. Interest in the breed spread in the USA, and a British breeder named Carole Thompson imported the first Singapura cat into the UK from the USA in 1988, a pregnant female cat named Imago's Faye Raye of Usaf, and the breed achieved full Championship status with the GCCF in 2005. Singapuras are now bred in many countries around the world including Australia, Canada, mainland Europe, Russia, South Africa, South America, and Japan, and a network of Singapuran breeders has formed to maintain a uniform standard. They are not out-crossed to any other breeds, and pure Singapuras should be just that, although some breeders feel that the gene pool is just a little too restricted for good development of the breed, and are concerned that breed-related health problems could emerge.
The Singapura is recognised in only one colour worldwide, sepia agouti, which is described as dark brown ticking on a warm gold, or golden ivory, body colour - 'ticking' refers to the fact that each hair has at least two bands of sepia (dark brown) interspersed with lighter bands of colour. The under parts, including muzzle, chest, stomach and inner legs, are an un-ticked light ivory colour, and sometimes a faint yellow-toned necklace pattern may appear on the neck, although this is acceptable so long as it is not complete. There should be dramatic 'cheetah' lines from the inner corner of the eye towards just behind the whisker pads. The coat itself is short, fine, silky and close lying, but it will generally be slightly longer, with less ticking, in kittens. The eyes are large and set quite closely together, and are hazel, green or yellow in colour, the more brilliant the shade, the better.
Singapuras make ideal family pets as they are very affectionate and human-orientated, and provide hours of entertainment with their gentle playfulness which lasts well from kitten-hood until they are quite mature adults. They always want to be with their humans, 'helping' with household chores - no job is unsupervised by their winning ways with their very inquisitive nature, and no cupboard or closed room is safe from their investigations! They also love climbing and will enjoy treating your home as an obstacle course to be navigated without their paws touching the ground. The Singapura enjoys a good cuddle and is happy to curl up on laps for the maximum attention. Their devoted owners say that they are wonderful companion cats to have around if you are feeling a bit poorly - they are very sensitive to human moods and will offer comfort when it is needed. They are very conversational and will love to chat, but they have very gentle voices to match their general demeanour, and do not meow loudly.
This is generally a very healthy breed of cat without any known breed-related defects, and, although it is still relatively early days, it appears to be a long-lived breed often living until their late teens. However, it is a very small breed and one of the original females had uterine inertia, which meant that she had problems actually giving birth because of weak muscles. This is sometimes (but not always) seen today, in which case kittens are delivered by caesarean section. Like all other breeds, the Singapura needs annual vaccination boosters against the common feline ailments of flu and enteritis, as well as against Feline Leukaemia if they go outdoors.
The coat of the Singapura is short, smooth and sleek and is largely self-care on behalf of the cat, although stroking will help to remove any loose hairs that could give rise to furballs. Using damp hands to groom this kind of coat, followed by a buffing with a dry chamois cloth, will give a wonderful sheen. They will eat most good quality brands of cat food, but will also enjoy treats of cooked chicken, ham and grated cheese. However, cows' milk will probably give them a stomach upset, and a bowl of water should always be available.