The Singapura Cat — or Kucinta, as it's called in the Malay language — is the mascot of Singapore's Tourism Board. They make loving and loyal family pets who try to help their owners with everything. With their cute kittenish looks, big innocent eyes, and playful personality, it's hard not to adore them. If you're looking for a great companion pet who will stay with you for many years, then the Singapura cat breed may be the right choice for you.
Characteristics of Singapura Cats
Physical characteristics. The size of Singapura cats doesn't exceed 12 inches. The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes them as the smallest domestic cat breed. Mature males — weighing around six to eight pounds — don't differ much in size from the females, who weigh around five to six pounds.
Since Singapuras develop slowly, their kittens remain small for a long time. For this reason, many vets who aren't familiar with this breed think that there's something wrong with them. If that happens with yours, know that it's nothing to worry about.
Despite their small size, the physique of Singapura cats is athletic and muscular. They have short tails, strong legs, stocky necks, and round heads with a distinct tabby M mark right on the center of the forehead. However, the features that get the most attention are their large, pointed ears and big green, hazel, or yellow eyes. Singapuras are also known for their warm, glossy coats that come in the unique colors of sepia brown as well as warm ivory.
Temperament. The personality of Singapura cats is often described as social, energetic, and extroverted. You may find them following you everywhere around the house and getting involved in all your activities. These cats are known for their curious and intelligent nature. So, instead of being on the floor, they would rather stand on top of your cabinets or climb on your shoulders to get a clear view of the things around them.
Singapuras are loyal and affectionate and will stay friends with you even when they get old. As their owner, you should be prepared to get their constant attention. They might try to sit on your lap, snuggle with you on the bed, and do everything to stay as close to you as possible.
Caring for Singapura Cats
Grooming. The short, dense coat of the Singapura cat breed doesn't require much grooming. But they do enjoy the sensation of being groomed. So, brush their coat around once a week. You should also regularly check their ears for debris, trim their nails, and brush their teeth daily with cat-specific toothpaste to keep them clean and dirt-free.
Exercise. Singapuras are a naturally athletic and energetic breed. They love to climb and jump and require the same level of exercise as most other domestic cat breeds. To maintain their health and well-being, keep them engaged in different physical and mental activities. Making them play fetch and exercising them daily using jumping posts and cat toys would be enough to meet their exercise needs.
Training. Being an intelligent breed, Singapura cats are easy to train. They can learn different kinds of tasks and understand commands easily. Cats of this breed love playing games and often develop their own, so games are a good way to train them. For example, since Singapuras are good at playing bring-and-take games, you can teach them to fetch objects for you by carrying them in their mouth.
Due to their smart nature, these cats also easily pick up the common behaviors of their owners. So, it shouldn't come as a surprise if they start opening doors for you. Another thing to keep in mind is that the hunting instincts of Singapuras are the strongest at night. For this reason, they tend to become slightly noisy after dark. This is why you should keep a separate area for them where they can be trained to go and spend the night.
Diet. The Singapura cat breed needs high-quality cat food to live a long and healthy life. The amount of food should be suitable for their small size but still be able to satisfy their high energy needs. Keep in mind that these cats have grazing habits. This means they prefer eating small portions of food throughout the day rather than finishing it all in one go.
Talk to your veterinarian if you plan to feed them a raw food diet. They can help to confirm if such a diet contains all the essential nutrients and if it’s safe.
Medical care. Like other cat breeds, your Singapura can get infected by viruses and bacteria. Rhinotracheitis, rabies, panleukopenia, and calicivirus-induced respiratory disorders are some of the health issues they can face. Moreover, parasites like roundworms, heartworms, whipworms, and hookworms as well as fleas, ticks, and ear mites can make a home in their bodies.
The good news is that there are many core vaccines for such pet-specific diseases. Your vet can recommend non-core vaccines too. You can talk with your vet about flea and tick control as well as year-round heartworm medication to prevent these parasitic diseases. Also, make sure to get your cat vaccinated and regularly tested for these conditions.
Health Problems To Watch For With Singapura Cats
The lifespan of Singapura cats is around 11 to 15 years, longer than that of many other breeds. Many cat experts think that it's their possible ancestry from Singaporean street cats that makes this breed sturdy and tough. However, despite being relatively healthy, these cats are prone to some genetic conditions. So, when buying a kitten, talk with your breeder about whether the litter of the parents has had any of these health problems:
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA): This refers to a group of genetic conditions that lead to the loss or wasting of the cells in your cat's retina — the innermost light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eye. This can gradually decline your Singapura's vision quality and even cause blindness in severe cases.
- Pyruvate kinase deficiency (PKD): Cats with this condition lack pyruvate kinase — an enzyme needed by their red blood cells. This may cause them to get anemia and develop symptoms like jaundice, fatigue, and weight loss.
- Uterine inertia: In this condition, the uterus is unable to contract properly, which makes it hard to push the babies out of the vaginal canal. It's one of the most common causes of dystocia (difficult birth) in cats.
Special Considerations for Singapura Cats
The Singapura cat breed is friendly and social. They get along well with people, other cats, and even dogs if trained from a young age. Since they love to play and stay around their owners, you should only get them if you're sure you can give them ample time and attention. They're prone to developing separation anxiety if left alone for a long time.
You might need to make some changes in your living space to keep your Singapura healthy and happy. Make sure your interior is kept warm, since these cats dislike wet and cold conditions.
Also, keep in mind that they like to jump on cabinets, climb curtains, and scratch against surfaces. To keep them safe, you should remove any object that might put them in danger. You can also buy them cat trees, climbing poles, and cat toys as well as scratching posts. Doing so would not only keep them entertained but might also help to increase the life of your household items.
The short coat of Singapuras sheds very lightly. So, even though they're not hypoallergenic, they may be suitable for you if you have pet dander sensitivity, but not if you’re allergic.
History of Singapura Cats
Singapura means "Singapore" in the Malaysian language. It's not clear whether these cats are a natural breed.
What most people believe is that the Singapura cat breed originated on the streets of Singapore. It was here where these cats were commonly found during the 1960s and 1970s. In 1975, they were brought into the United States by two American expatriates, Hal and Tommy Meadow, who found them in Singapore.
Soon after, they started a breeding program to develop more purebred features like uniform appearance and good health and disposition. For this purpose, they used three Singaporean brown ticked cats.
However, in 1987, it came to light that the Singapura breed had the possibility of being an Abyssinian/Burmese mix. The evidence for this came from an American breeder named Jerry Mayes, who found some importation papers that indicated that in 1974, the Meadows had flown the original three cats to Singapore from the U.S.
Later on, the Cat Fanciers' Association carried out an investigation and found that the Meadows had done nothing wrong. However, today, people are still doubtful about the origin of the Singapura breed.
Over the years, the Singapuras have been recognized by most cat registries. The International Cat Association (TICA) accepted them in 1979. The CIFA recognized them in 1982 and granted them championship status in 1988.
Today, Singapuras are considered one of the rarest and most prized cats in the world. Such is their demand that some excellent specimens are sold for as much as US$10,000.