Singapura cat

Singapore Infopedia

by Dass, Annalisa


The Singapura Cat a.k.a. Kucinta (Kuchinta) is regarded as Singapore's Tourism Board's mascot, although claims of it having originated from Singapore remain questionable. The Cat Fanciers Association in the US gave the Singapura cat pedigree status in 1988.

The Singapura cat has a history that is somewhat shrouded in mystery. Apparently, it had its dubious beginnings as a native "drain cat". During the 1960s and 1970s, this species was the most prevalent in Singapore. With its small size, distinctive coat and unique features, it caught the attention of an expatriate couple: Hal Meadows and Tommy Meadows. They claimed to have pioneered breeding the cats in 1974, starting with three drain cats which they brought to Texas, USA.

In early 1990, a seemingly harmless move by the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board (STPB) to adopt the Singapura as a tourism mascot, culminated in a furore of controversy. During checks on the historical background of the breed, records by the Primary Production Department (PPD) and the Singapore Cat Club showed that the Meadows already had the three cats when they arrived in Singapore in 1974. They were among the couple's six Burmese and Abyssinians. Investigations revealed that the wife had lied about the dates in order to conceal a secret trip that her husband had made in 1971, after which he smuggled four local cats to the USA. Elsewhere, evidence of Abyssinian and Burmese crossbreeds, which looked identical to the Singapura, threw further doubt over the feline's origins and credibility as a natural breed. The Singapura's small litter sizes, a typical of natural breeds aroused further suspicion. To compound the situation, the American-based Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) considered not acknowledging the breed as a natural one, but rather, as an established one. An inquiry was launched to clear the discrepancy. It eventually resulted in the CFA's promise to keep the breed's pedigree intact and the STPB's mascot launch in 1991.

Competition results were announced on 5 December 1990 and the first posters appeared in May of 1991. A "Name the Singapore River Cats" competition was held by the STPB, in which, Mdm Ang Lian Tin submitted the winning entry of "Kucinta". Following this, plans were made to grace the Singapore River with 15 special sculptures of the Kucinta. The sculptures have since been the prime target of vandals, with several being defaced and one stolen.

The Singapura is one of the rarest cats in the world, and is also registered as the smallest recognised breed in the Guinness Book of World Records. It is highly sought after, with offers going as high as US$10,000 for excellent specimens. Although it seems delicate, it is fairly hardy and muscular for its size. Its exceptional, richly ticked or agouti coat, is often found in wild mammals. The coat is short, fine-textured and comes in sepia brown or warm ivory colours with some barring present on the inner front legs and back knees. It has large ears and strikingly beautiful eyes, which seem to be accentuated by eyeliner. "Cheetah" lines continue down to its whisker pad and stop before its nose, which must have a clear, dark outline. It is a highly intelligent, lively and affectionate cat, which makes a gentle and loving companion.

Variant Names
Common name: The Singapura Cat.
Local name: Kucinta (Kuchinta) a hybrid of two Malay words: Kuching (cat) and cinta (love). Invented by Mdm Ang Lian Tin the winner of the Name the Singapore River Cats competition, held in 1990. Kucinta in Malay also means "I love" with ku being short for aku or "I" and chinta being a verb "to love".

Annalisa Dass

Fogle, B. (1997). The encyclopedia of the cat. (p. 175). London: Dorling Kindersley.
(Call no.: q636.8003 FOG-[ANI]) 

Maggitti, P. (1995). The cat. (pp. 80-81). PLC, Twickenham: Tiger Books International.
(Call no.: 599.74428 RIC)

Kucinta best name for cats. (1990, December 6). The Straits Times, p. 25.

Singapura cat a hit with feline lovers all over the world. (1989, December 31). The Sunday Times, p. 17.

Singapura cat still a pedigree. (1990, October 12). The Straits Times, p. 2.

Storm over Singapura cat. (1990, August 29). The Straits Times, p. 20.

The Cat Fanciers Association, Inc. (1999). Breed standard: Singapura. Retrieved April 23, 1999, from

Further Readings
Davie, S. (1991, May 5). Singapura cat used in posters to woo tourists here. The Sunday Times. p. 3. 

Search for the Singapura. (1997). In, Hey Singapore. Series 3, episode 2 [Videotape]. Singapore: Television Corporation of Singapore.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 HEY)

The information in this article is valid as at 1999 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history on the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Rights Statement

The information on this page and any images that appear here may be used for private research and study purposes only. They may not be copied, altered or amended in any way without first gaining the permission of the copyright holder.

More to Explore

Crash of Singapore Airlines Flight SQ006


Singapore Airlines (SIA) Flight SQ006, which was on its way to Los Angeles from Singapore via Taiwan, crashed on a closed runway at Chiang Kai-shek Airport (now called Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport) during take-off on 31 October 2000 at 11.18 pm local time. The incident, which destroyed the aircraft and...

Nalla Tan


Nallammah Ruth Tan, née Navarednam, popularly known as Nalla Tan (b. 12 May 1923, Ipoh, Malaya–d. 27 March 2012, Singapore), was a doctor, academic and author. She was best known for her advocacy of a diverse range of issues, especially sex and health education, gender equality in employment, women’s rights...

Association of Muslim Professionals


The Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) is a community self-help group established on 10 October 1991. It aims to be a “model organisation in community leadership”– one that collaborates with all parties to “bring about a dynamic Muslim community in the 21st century”. ...

Charles & Keith


Charles & Keith is a Singapore brand known for its women’s footwear and accessories. Established in 1996 by brothers Charles and Keith Wong, Charles & Keith started out as a shoe store in Amara Shopping Centre. By 2013, the company had grown into an international chain with close to 400...

Mohamed Eunos bin Abdullah


Mohamed Eunos bin Abdullah (b. 1876, Singapore–d. 12 December 1933, Singapore) was one of the most notable nationalist intellectuals in the 1920s. He has been touted as the “father” of modern Malay journalism and a leader for Malay nationalism. He also championed better educational facilities for the Malays of Malaya....

Crash of SilkAir Flight MI 185


SilkAir Flight MI 185, while on its way to Singapore from the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, nosedived into Musi River near the city of Palembang in South Sumatra, Indonesia, on 19 December 1997 at about 4.13 pm local time. The plane was almost completely destroyed and all 104 people on...

Chap ji kee


Chap ji kee (which means “12 cards” in Hokkien) is an illegal lottery that was widespread in Singapore until the late 1960s. During chap ji kee’s heyday, the lottery’s popularity spawned a system of promoters and their agents, bet collectors, accountants, cashiers and couriers. Major chap ji kee syndicates were...

Jemaah Islamiyah’s bomb plot (2001/2002)


In October 2001, some Singapore members of a regional Islamic militant group known as Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), meaning “Islamic Community”, began planning a bomb attack on specific targets in Singapore. The bombings were scheduled for execution in either December 2001/January 2002 or April/May 2002, and the targets included the United...

First Road Courtesy Campaign


The Road Courtesy Campaign launched by then Deputy Prime Minister Toh Chin Chye on 10 September 1966 is the first national campaign to try and instil more awareness of road safety in all road users. It marked the start of a sustained effort in Singapore to bring down the number...

Adrin Loi


Adrin Loi Boon Sim (b. 1955, Singapore–) is the executive chairman of food and beverage chain Ya Kun International. The youngest son of Ya Kun founder, Loi oversaw the expansion of the company from a single outlet to a chain spanning over 50 outlets in Singapore and close to 50...