By Cathie McHenry
Enchanting, beguiling, endearing are often the first words people use to describe a Singapura. Initially, it is their deceptively delicate appearance coupled with the angelic face that makes these cats so special. However, the true secret to these little charmers is their captivating personality. Due to their rarity, there can be a wait to obtain a Singapura. Nevertheless, to those lucky enough to live with or work with the breed, there is simply nothing like a Singapura.
The Singapura is a small to medium cat. Adult males weigh approximately six to seven pounds. Adult females weigh between four and five pounds. Singapuras have a finely ticked (agouti) coat pattern. Ticking refers to the presence of bands of different color on each individual hair shaft. In nature, ticking often provides camouflage allowing the animal to blend into the background. The coat is short, silky, and close lying. Some barring is on the inner front legs and knees on the hind legs. When viewed from the side, the body and legs should form a square rather than the elongation typical of oriental breeds. The head should be rounded, medium length with good width at the eye level. The muzzle of the Singapura is of medium length and square. Remnants of the tabby "M" are visible on the forehead along with "cheetah" lines extending down from the inner corner of the eyes. Eyes and ears should be noticeably large. Eye color can be hazel, green or yellow. Singapuras all have the same coloration, only one color is allowed, dark brown ticking on an old ivory ground color, the underside is the color of unbleached muslin. This coloration gives the impression of delicacy but do not be fooled, the Singapura is a muscular, although small cat.
The Singapura remains a rare cat. Since they are considered a natural breed, only Singapura to Singapura matings are allowed. Average litter size is between two and three kittens. Another factor attributed to their small numbers is that Singapuras mature more slowly than other cats. Females may not have their first heat cycle until they are one year old; males mature around the same time. Their small numbers do not reflect their acceptance with either breeders or the public. Many breeders maintain a waiting list for kittens.
They are highly intelligent, active, and curious cats with the bonus of being just as affectionate as they are active. You could even say they can be addictive. If you are looking for the stereotypical aloof couch potato type of cat, the Singapura is definitely not for you. Singapuras are extremely interactive. Whatever you are doing, they want to be there. Singapuras genuinely seem to need their people. The desire for closeness with their humans is a constant characteristic.
Their attitude is "The world is my oyster. Get out of my way, I'm going for the pearl and you can't stop me." Singapura has a low key way of getting exactly what it wants, somewhat like a small child who looks at you with huge imploring eyes saying, "please, please, please..." Before you know it, you have given in.
Are Singapuras trainable? Certainly. The only problem is they seem to be better trainers of people than we are of them. It is not unusual for a new Singapura exhibitor to become so enchanted with their first Singapura that the cat ends up terribly spoiled. As you can imagine, this has led to many adored individuals with unfulfilled show potential. Singapuras seem to be able to find just the right way to get out of being shown. Some do it by "bluffing" the judge, making the judge think they are going to bite them (they have no tintention of doing so). They will grumble and complain as you carry them to and from the ring which is another form of bluffing. Singapuras are usually as sweet as they look.
These beguiling creatures with their large eyes and ears do not miss much going on around them. They are lively, curious, and intelligent. Some would say too intelligent. Singapuras know they can do anything and everything better than you. Cooking is a particular favorite. Pens and computer keyboards make great toys especially when you are trying to write or cook. This playful nature remains well into and frequently throughout adulthood. They do outgrow it. While they are extremely playful, they are also very sensitive to the moods of their family. If you are feeling under the weather, your Singapura may be in the bed under the covers with you (its usual place), but it will probably wait at the foot of the bed to be asked.
Singapuras are not confrontational cats; they rarely squabble among themselves. Some have never met a stranger. Others are more cautious and prefer to observe from the sidelines until they size up the visitor. In either case once they approach the stranger, they will be soliciting attention. They do not care for loud noises. Therefore, a Singapura may not be the best choice for a family with boisterous children. However, many families enjoy living with a Singapura. It just depends on the makeup of the family. Chasing a Singapura is a complete waste of time. It is frustrating for the person because the cat is too fast to catch and alarming to the Singapura. If you want a Singapura to come to you, it is far better to walk after it calling its name. Then it will stop and come to you. The Singapura knows it is in charge at all times.
Maintenance of a Singapura
Largely because they are so intelligent, the Singapura is not always an easy cat to show. If they do not like the show ring, they can very quickly figure out how to avoid it. Therefore, the successful exhibitor must know the individual Singapura and how to make the show fun for that cat.
Singapuras are generally confident in their own environment. They are quick to sense when things are different and, largely because they are intelligent, may become wary. In a show hall environment, they prefer to keep all four feet on the judging table. Making direct eye contact with a cat in a strange environment is likely to be interpreted by the cat as an aggressive posture. If the cat is relaxed and playful, it has come to enjoy the show experience.
The Singapura is truly a wash and wear cat. Their short, close-lying coat makes everyday and show grooming essentially the same; the only variable being timing. Before an upcoming weekend show, the bath is normally most effective if performed on Wednesday or Thursday. It is a simple rinse, lather, and rinse procedure finishing up with a flea comb to remove any excess hair. Hair dryers are not advised as blow drying has a tendency to fluff the coat, thereby losing the look of a short tight coat with painted on coloring.
Singapuras are tactically sensitive. They frequently do not like to have their nails trimmed. Therefore, it is particularly important to trim them regularly starting as small kittens to desensitize them to the process. One breeder has reported a system that greatly reduces the stress for both the cat and the owner. She runs the water in the kitchen sink. Then places the cat in the other (dry) side of the double sink. It seems that the cat feels it is going to get a bath and is then good as gold sitting very still in the sink for the nail trimming. Singapuras!
Although most of the world may think of the island of Singapore as the commercial giant at the tip of the Malay peninsula, cat lovers have a different view. To them it is the reputed birthplace of the Singapura. In the early 1970's, Hal Meadow and his wife, Tommy, an American couple on their return to the United States after a stay in Singapore, introduced the cat they called the "Singapura." The three original foundation cats were Puss'e, a young female, Ticle, a male kitten, and Tes, his female littermate. Then in 1980 a female Singapura, Chiko, was found in the Singapore SPCA and imported to United States. The fascination with the Singapura had begun.
The first Singapura breeders worked diligently to promote the Singapura to the cat fancy. In 1981, the breed was accepted in CFA. Five years later in 1986, the Cat Fanciers' Association accepted the Singapura for provisional show status. It looked as though the Singapura would make the big time. The cats did well in the show ring, they entranced the public, and the numbers were growing. One concern the breeders did have was the appearance of an occasional solid color kitten in litters from two Singapuras. Since the solid color gene is recessive, both parents had to be carriers.
Some felt the only way to go was to test mate with solid color cats and remove from breeding programs those found to be carriers of the solid color gene from the breeding program. Others felt that the breed was too new and the numbers too small to follow this course and all it entailed. There was a profound difference of opinion. Having successfully advanced through the rigorous screening process the Singapura was granted Championship status beginning May 1988. Shortly thereafter, the first Singapura earned the coveted title of Grand Champion. Despite their small numbers the Singapura has gone on to earn many titles (Grand Champion, Grand Premier, Distinguished Merit and national and regional winners).
Whether a veteran show cat or a pet, the intelligent and loving Singapura makes a wonderful and entertaining companion. There is just something a bit different about these endearing little charmers from Singapore.
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This program is supported by
The Cat Fanciers' Association, Inc.
This program is supported by The Cat Fanciers' Association, Inc.