Aby-a-Day – 12 Mars: Origin of the species (Photoshop Friday)

The origin of the Singapura breed is not without controversy. While some people say that the breed occurred naturally, on the island nation of Singapore, others believe the breed is a deliberate hybrid. And it creates a bit of a rift in the Singapura community; not unlike, say, mask-wearing, both factions can be rather…attached to their viewpoints.

Where do I land on the subject? I have been following Singapuras since I first learned about the breed in the early 1980’s. I even wrote a letter to Tommy Meadows, the founder of the breed when I was in high school (and which I wish I could find, because I’m sure I have it somewhere), even though I have only recently joined the Singa community, I have a lot of book knowledge about the breed. So, I lean towards the Burmese/Aby hybrid theory.

This is not without a lot of though, so let me explain: First point: Tommy Meadow’s cattery name, USAF, is attached to both Abys and Singas; she worked with both breeds. She also had Burmese (haven’t been able to figure out if she bred them, too). She imported some cats when she moved from Texas to Singapore, and these were listed as Burmese and “brown Abyssinians” on the import manifest.

Second point: Singapore is an island, and, like mosts cats native to islands (Japan, the Isle of Man), the majority of Singapore street cats have some sort of tail deformation. Singas occasionally have tail deformation, but no more so than appear in other breeds (Siamese, for example). Of course, some long tailed Singapore street cats may have been used in breeding programmes, but that’s quite a bit different from an actual native breed (In Japan, you see feral cats that look almost exactly like purebred Japanese Bobtails).

Third point: Singapore was a British possession colonized in the early 1800’s. Given the British interest in exotic cats from foreign lands (Siamese, Burmese, and particularly the Abyssinian, purported to have been brought back from soldiers after the Abyssinian Wars) and the increasing Victorian interest in creating purebred animals and the Fancy, if the Singapura really was a native breed running around Singapore, don’t you think the British would have jumped on them and exported them back to England they way they did with other cat breeds?

At the end of the day, this is just my opinion. I know there is a romance in the “party line,” but honestly, so what if they ARE a Burmese/Aby hybrid? What’s so awful about that? Ocicats are Aby/Siamese/American Shorthairs, and that’s okay. Pointed Persians (Once the Himalayan breed) are Persians bred with Siamese. Burmillas are Chinchilla Persians bred with European Burmese. That’s all okay. You believe the origin story you feel most comfortable with.

All of this backstory has a point: Last week, I got the newest issue of Kattliv, featuring the (European) Burmese. I was struck by how much some of the photos reminded me of Singas, and I got an idea. I took a photo of Jacoby, and a photo of Butters, the cream EuroBurm we met at a show in Groton.

Aby layer

First, I reduced opacity on Jake and softened some edges.

Burmese layer

Then I did the same with Butters, and erased his eyes.

Aby-BurmMerge

Then I superimposed the two layers, and added a Sepia (of course) photo filter. But the eyes still just weren’t quite right.

SingaEyes

So, I made a layer with Izaak’s eyes, reduced their opacity, and added a green photo filter.

Aby-BurmSingamerge

And…Voilà! Okay, so it doesn’t look exactly like a Singapura…but it looks like it could be a computer-generated witness-descibed wanted poster image of a Singa.

4 thoughts on “Aby-a-Day – 12 Mars: Origin of the species (Photoshop Friday)

  1. I ascribe to the Aby/Burmese theory (nothing wrong with that!) but wonder why Singas are so small.

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  2. I had no idea there was so much controversy around Singas! My human just assumed that they were originally Singapore street cats, like the story goes. But yours makes more sense.

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  3. Another thought… Most cats living near humans get domesticated to a greater or lesser extent, if I’m not mistaken. It would be odd if the “drain cats of Singapore” had manged to stay out of reach for centuries. Also, even if they were more or less feral, would they have become domesticated in the short time between Meadows’ “discovery” and the introduction of the breed in the US? Wouldn’t it be more likely that a combination of social breeds like Abys and Burmese sort of jump-started it?

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