Singapura cat: the smallest cat in the world, which you can rarely meet in our country

László Enikő, 2023. March 3 - Source: Photos by Getty Images Hungary

In 1991, this tiny cat with a big personality, once known as a "drain cat", was declared Singapore's National Heritage Site.

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Although at first glance he is very similar to the Abyssinian, the Singapura cat is actually the smallest cat breed known in the world. But there’s a big personality in the small size, as the Singapura is a lively, happy and inquisitive companion who likes to be part of the action at home.


It is considered that Singapura cats are believed to have ancestors from all over the world, as the Singapore harbour was home to countless cats who were randomly mixed together. Later, one of these animals became one of the direct ancestors of the breed. In the early seventies, American geophysicist Hal Meadow visited Southeast Asia for work. As his wife was a cat breeder, he sent her some tabby Singapura kittens. Later, she also went to Singapore, where she continued the selective breeding she had started in the United States. They returned to America in 1975 with five brown spotted cats. They were Ticle, Pusse, Tes, George and Gladys. The five of them and Chiko (who was later adopted from a Singapore shelter by other breeders) were the ancestors of the first Singapuras, although cats like them had probably been living in Southeast Asia for at least a decade, if not longer.

Cats with a similar appearance to this breed are common in the region and probably have some connection with the Siamese and Burmese cats. The Singapuras discovered by Meadow may have been derived from a mating of cats containing the Abyssinian spotted tabby gene and the brown Burmese gene. In a study published in 2008 showed no significant genetic differences between Burmese and Singapuras. As a result, many people believe that Singapura is nothing more than a cross between Siamese and Burmese. Some people have travelled to Singapore just to see for themselves that there are indeed cats of the species living on the streets.

Singapuras were accepted for registration by TICA in 1979 and by CFA in 1982. However, the breed did not have a very good reputation at first. The Singapura cat is the ancestor of the stray cats that used to live in Singapore’s harbours, searching for the fish left behind by fishermen. They also used to walk in canals, and were nicknamed “drain cats”. According to some sources, this “underground lifestyle” is the reason for the Singapura’s small stature.

Breed standard

The Singapura is the smallest cat breed known to date, weighing only around 2 kg. Round head, short, firm nose. The ears are large, broad at the ear, and sit apart from each other. Their ends are pointed, the auricle is wide. Its eyes are large and almond-shaped. The neck is short and muscular. Legs are thin but muscular, medium length. The paws are small and oval. The tail is thin, medium long, with a slightly rounded tip. The coat is short, close to the body, slightly longer at the shoulders. Silky to the touch. Colour is sepia agouti. Life expectancy is 11-15 years.


The tiny Singapura has a sweet, low voice, but this mischievous, intelligent and active cat also makes his presence known in other ways: chasing little balls around the hallway, rattling cat toys, climbing curtains or anything else that might give him a view from above. He retains his cheerfulness and playfulness into adulthood.

He likes people and is not afraid to meet strangers. He loves to rest on his owner’s lap and is an excellent bed warmer on cold winter nights. Despite his lively nature, he is a gentle friend who puts aside his activities to keep you company when the weather is bad. In the rest of his time he loves to explore and observe, as he is a very curious cat. He shows his affection easily and purrs to his owner.

Ideal environment

Singapuras do best in a home where they have plenty of company, whether it’s a human or another pet. He avoids conflict, he is a very peaceful soul. He gets on well with dogs, as well as with other cats. However, he sometimes likes peace and quiet, so it’s important to provide him a nice, quiet place, preferably high up.


Claws must be cut if they become too long, and it is also a good idea to clean the teeth regularly. You should occasionally wipe his eyes with a soft, damp cloth, as they are prone to watering. To avoid infections, use a separate area of the cloth for each eye.

The cleanliness of the ears should be checked weekly. If they look dirty, wipe them with a cotton pad or a soft, damp cloth moistened with a 50-50 mixture of apple cider vinegar and warm water. It is sufficient to comb through the coat once a week with a fine-tooth brush.

Common health problems

Breeders are concerned about uterine inertia which is the inability to expel the foetus due to weak muscles. This problem was present in one of the cats that founded the breed and is still present in some Singapura females. Cats with the disease are often only able to deliver their offspring by caesarean section.

Another problem that affects the breed, is the pyruvate kinase deficiency, which leads to anaemia. The inherited genetic disease, known as PKD (not to be confused with polycystic kidney disease), is caused by a deficiency of an enzyme important for the energy metabolism of red blood cells. Typical symptoms include lethargy, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, poor hair quality, weight loss and jaundice. There is a test that can tell if the cat is affected or free of the disease. Fortunately, Singapuras with PKD can generally lead normal lives.

(Literature used: János Szinák – István Veress: Cat Guide, Jean-Luc Renck: The Cat, Laura Aceti – Viola Autieri: Our Best Friend, the Cat)

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