The Singapura was developed in the 1970s from cats found in Singapore — the Lion City — by cat fanciers Hal and Tommy Meadow. Their cats Ticle, Pusse, Tes, George and Gladys, plus Chiko, adopted later from a shelter in Singapore, were the foundation of the pedigreed Singapura, although cats like them had probably lived in Southeast Asia for at least a decade if not longer.
Brown cats and cats with agouti, or ticked, coats are common in the region, and there is likely some relationship to Siamese and Burmese cats. The ticked tabby gene is dominant to all other tabby patterns and is frequently seen in Southeast Asian cats. Small cats with a brown-ticked coat were known in Singapore from at least 1965. The Singapura as discovered by the Meadows may have resulted from matings between cats with the Abyssinian ticked tabby gene and the Burmese gene (which gave the brown color). A DNA study published in 2008 showed little to no difference genetically between the Burmese and the Singapura.
The Cat Fanciers Association recognized the breed in 1988, and it is also recognized by most other cat associations. In 1990, the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board adopted the Singapura as the island nation’s travel mascot.