If you’re looking for a cat that has a unique look and style, then a Curly-haired cat might be what you’re looking for. There are only four recognised variants worldwide. Take a look for yourself to see their striking looks.
How do they get curly hair?
The curly-haired cat breeds all have genetic mutations which affects the number of layers they have in their coat. This is the reason that their curly coats are so different from each other in terms of texture. Some curly-haired cat breeds, like the Devon Rex, completely lack an undercoat, giving them a plush short coat. Whilst others have a more dense and curly coat.
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An in depth study was performed to identify the culprit gene which causes curly hair mutations specific to the Selkirk Rex. In this study they did genetic testing on a number of cats which had curly hair and straight hair. They found that the Gene KRT71 which is responsible for the keratinization in the hair follicle was spliced which had led to development of the curly hair.
As well as their unique looks there are also some other potential benefits of curly haired cats. Whilst not completely hypoallergenic, it is widely accepted that they shed less making them a better choice if you have allergies.
With it’s sheep like coating they make for a unique looking pet. They are know to have an independent streak even by cat standards so don’t expect them to be a lap cat. They have been extensively cross bred with various different breeds. This mean that if you’re determined to find one matched to a more traditional breeds personality it should be possible.
The Selkirk Rex originates from a stray kitten that was found in Montana back in 1987, this kitten was eventually cross bred with a Persian and of a litter of 6 half had curly hair. Currently only the American shorthair crossbreed is accepted by TICA (International Cat association) but others are available. It is the only cat breed to have been named after a person and is often referred to as a Poodle Cat.
|Life Expectancy||14-15 Years|
With their striking look you might expect this breed to be fiercely independent. They however make fantastic family pets who will adore the whole family from children to grandparents. They are highly inquisitive so be careful not to leave cupboards or drawers open. When they are not playing or searching the house you will almost certainly find them cuddled up next to you.
The origin of the LaPerm cat can be tracked back to Oregon 1982. A barn cat was found with very little hair, however as they grew older their curly coat began to form. Once the cat had litters it was apparent that the curly hair was a dominant gene with the majority of her offspring also having curly hair. The owner took this unique cat to shows and it didn’t take long for interest to take off and the breed to expand it’s numbers. This breed is recognised by TICA and has been since 2002.
|Life Expectancy||12-15 Years|
The Devon Rex has a very different look to the first two cats on our list. If you have never touched one then you’re missing out on the feel of their beautiful soft fur. They are also the recommended cat for anyone who has allergies to cats but insists on having one, they are not hypoallergenic but are the closest you will find. They have a very unique look with their big eyes and ears with people describing them as elvish. They love climbing and hiding away in small hiding spots. They will however fully engage as a member of your family and have been described as dog like in some of their actions.
In 1959 a domestic cat had a litter which included a kitten with the characteristic short curly coat. Originally this was believed to be a Cornish Rex. The kitten was bred with a Cornish Rex which resulted in only short haired kittens, this highlighted that it was a unique mutation and in itself a different breed. Eventually a separate breeding program was established and any Devon Rex can still be tracked back to this original cat to this day.
A Devon Rex cat was also the inspiration for Yoda in Star Wars. At the time Steven Spielberg owned a Devon Rex and legend says this influenced the design for Yoda, they look too alike for it to not be true!
|Life Expectancy||10-15 Years|
Whilst their coat is very similar to that of the Devon Rex their build is often a lot more slim and elegant. They can be difficult to groom but have very playful and affectionate personalities. You’ll often find them looking to cuddle up to you for warmth due to their shorter coat not providing as much heat as a regular cat.
This specific breed was first identified back in 1950 when a barn cat gave birth to a unique looking kitten. He was bred back with his mother twice of which both litters contained more curly haired kittens. This was fortunate due to later genetic testing and breeding showed the gene to be recessive meaning both parents needed to possess it for more curly haired offspring to be produced. This has been a recognised breed since 1964 and has well established numbers due to many successful breeding programs.
The Cornish Rex coat doesn’t contain any guard hairs. Due to this they should be kept as indoor pets as they lack the natural protection from cold and wet conditions. In addition to this they are also prone to sunburn.
|Life Expectancy||12-20 Years|
Finding a breeder
If you are looking for a breeder for any of these cats then we recommend going through the TICA website where breeders have to sign up to their code of ethics. Unfortunately they only have paid advertisements so below will also contain a check list of what to look out for when buying a kitten.
Buying a kitten checklist – EveryPaw