As told by original Singapura importer - Tommy Meadow
Chiko of Rya and her kitten
Photo taken by Sheila Bowers in Singapore S.P.C.A. before
shipping Chiko back to the U.S. to Rya cattery in 1980
Hal knew I was interested in genetics. He'd spent so many long after hours (from work during foreign travels) in various countries looking at domestic type feral cats (instead of bars) that he knew he'd seen something both different and interesting to me when he saw the cats his boat crew had adopted. They were sent back to me when the boat returned to the US waters. We had no intention of starting a new breed and no records were kept. Someone asked me about vet records. Do you remember the vet you used 25 years ago in a different city? I don't. I can picture the location in my mind but no names or details come to me. It's like it was a different world from what I'm now living in.
I had in the past done various genetic work with rats and mice as a hobby. For instance, I developed a strain of albino rex coated waltzing mice, bred rats to prove that the ordinary black hooded rat was really in the same color gene pool as the Siamese (using terms to keep the explanation simple). I had also done work with Johns Hopkins re: osteogenesis imperfecta thinking that was what was causing brittle bone problems in Burmese. It was a lack of potassium iodide-KI- in their diet It was dietary and not genetic as in people. So, although I'm untrained in this area, I do have a deep interest.
Anyway, I had these BROWN ticked cats and I bred them with limited success. Shortly thereafter, we were transferred to live in Singapore and we decided to take the 5 cats with us. I was in the middle of a rat selective breed program so we also took a carrier of 10 rats. Interestingly enough, the cats went to quarantine and the rats went to the hotel room. The bureaucracy had no provisions for importing rats!
At quarantine, I had no trouble stating that the blue Burm (whole) female and the sable Burm (neutered) male were of the Burmese breed. However, when it came to the other three, I said I didn't know but that they looked kinda like brown abys to me. So that's what they put on the records--that I had imported burmese and abys! Obviously, that came back to haunt me when someone started telling half-truths without proper back up info. The blue burm was left behind as a pet after being spayed. The neutered sable burm returned with us along with the other cats.
The "other cats" consisted of Ticle, Tes and Pusse and two kits. They were male George and female Gladys, kits of a Ticle X Pusse breeding. These had been recognized by The Singapore Cat Club as the equivalent to a provisional breed named Singapura. So the cats that went into quarantine as "abys???" were exported again as "Singapuras", having been named as a provisional breed while living in Singapore. THERE WAS NO SINGAPURA BREED BEFORE THIS TIME.
Description of early Singapuras ~
The original male was Ticle of Usaf, imported into the US in July of 1975. He was a large boy, quite dark and strippy. His head was long, to me, unpleasantly long but the only male we had. Eyes and ears were very large. There were no necklaces or tail bars. As soon as his son by Pusse, Usaf's George, was siring, Ticle was altered and placed as a pet. His personality was wonderful.
Ticle's litter sister was Tes of Usaf, also imported in 1975. She would have held her own in the show ring even today. She had a very typey head, the big eyes and ears although I would have liked to see her ears have a slightly deeper "cup". She was small (about 4 1/2 pounds when grown). At ten years old she still looked great. Her color was a medium shade and she had no "mouse coat". Tes' markings were in all the right places. Both Ticle and Tes proved to be carriers of a solid color gene.
Pusse of Usaf was the 3rd original s'pura. She was very light and warm colored and had absolutely not barring at all--not even where you would want it to be today. Her head was a little long but nothing like Ticle's. Her ears and eyes were both wonderful. Her size was slightly larger than Tes, about 5 1/2 pounds when grown. Pusse, as testing later proved, was clear and did not carry a solid color gene. In hind sight, we now know that the lack of the recessive solid color gene accounted for her beautiful color. Pusse was very independent in personality but still loving. She had trouble breeding and we lost several litters before we recognized that she simply did not go into labor (uterine inertia) and required a c-section. Pusse's first litter was by Ticle and was natural birth producing Usaf's George and Usaf's Gladys.
Ticle, Pusse, Tes, George, and Gladys were the five cats we brought back from Singapore when we moved back to the U.S.
Let's back up here--part way. I'm going to go back to Tes. I thought I might be playing with fire with the close breeding but according to consulted geneticist, Roy Robinson in the UK, it was a way of starting a line and to be very careful about what was kept for future breeding. It was impressed on me by Dr. Robinson that inbreeding was not necessarily bad, something I already knew from my rat work. What was important is that you didn't breed common faults and weeded out ruthlessly those things that should not be in the line. I might suggest here that you read Genetics for Cat Breeders by Roy Robinson, SECOND edition which was written entirely by Robinson. The third edition was finished after his death and not all of the writing is Robinson's. Now there's a fourth edition. Go to the section on inbreeding and line breeding and read carefully.
Tes' first mating with litter brother Ticle has already been mention. The second litter was by "George" on Jan 26, 1977....one male. The 3rd litter was also by "George" and there were one of each sex which were Virg, the boy, and Gin, the girl. Virg was quite light colored and Gin was quite small. 4th litter by George was born 8-12-77 and contained 3 more males. which were named "Ono" (whose call name became "By George" and was kept by Hal), "Knott Again", and "Gawd Dammit"--as they were born.
So, typey Tes was bred to typey son, Wun Hung Lo,
for Tes's 5th litter. This is the closest breeding I ever
attempted with the cats. I got mostly nice cats from this pair but
most were dark colored and a couple had longish noses. Bodies were
varied from slightly leggy to small and the type the standard calls
for today. They all had small feet, big eyes and ears, outstanding
coat ticking and texture. But I did get some wonderful heads--a
trait that this breeding seemed to perpetuate in future generations.
The kits were Wuntesa male who went to Barbara Gilbertson, Huntress
who went to Catherine Macquarrie, Teswun (call name Babe)
which I kept and Lotes who died of Rhino at 4 weeks old. A 2nd breeding
to Wun produced Varment who belonged to Georgia Morgan, Useless
who became a pet, and Critter who went to Helen Cherry in Tennessee.
Time to switch boys for Tes as Chris was now siring. Between March of '79 and February of '81, the following cats in 5 more litters. 1st litter by Chris, 2 males, 2nd litter by Chris 3 males and 2 females. Raffles went to Tony Morace, Amah went to Helen Cherry, Ga Choo went to Brooke Brower. Next was a wonderful litter of 2 males and 3 females. We kept Rumah Miskin, who was oustanding. A male pet to Ed Toepelman, a really lovely female to Gerry Mayes (Loyang), another female pet, and Sungei a female we kept.
Then horror stuck!! Her last two litters both by Chris totaled 11 kittens!! Of the 11, 8 died of FIP before 4 months of age. This left Mata Tua, a female I kept to replace Sungei who also died of FIP, and Tew Chew who went to Eva Ede (Hapsburg Cattery), and a pet male. And so ended Tes' days as a breeding female. She was born in '74, spayed in '81, photographed by Chanan in '84, and floated up to kitten heaven in '87. She was a true delight with all her kits. She talked them up and down scratching post, got them to follow her like a goose with goslings, washed them lovingly and religiously while teaching to play and how to find "good" mischief. A sweet and gentle cat and I will always miss her.
© T. Meadow
Graphics © Melody Amundson, Mariposa Creations