The Selkirk Rex is one of the newest breeds on record. These cats look like living stuffed animals! I got to see one for the first time at a TICA cat show this past weekend. With the adorable facial characteristics of a Persian cat, the size and strength of the British Shorthair, the curly coat seen in other Rex breeds, and a loving personality all their own, these cats are sure to make you fall in love with them.

The Selkirk Rex Breed: From the Shelter to the Show

Selkirk Rex Calico

Photo Credit: SRL Rina Daksi Green Day

In the 1980’s an avid cat breeder from Montana, Jeri Newman, was looking to breed some unique looking cats. She asked some friends to keep an eye out for any cats they ran across with interesting features.  Little did she know that one of those friends would find a cat that would lead to a whole new breed of cat.

In 1987 a shelter cat gave birth to an unusual curly-haired calico kitten that was quickly brought to Newman’s attention by a friend. Newman took the curly-haired kitten right away. This curly-haired kitten turned out to love being with people. Newman named her Miss DePesto (or “Pest” for short) because she was always pestering her for attention.

Newman decided to breed Miss DePesto with her award winning black Persian cat, PhotoFinish, to see what would happen. There were 6 kittens born, 3 of which had Miss DePesto’s curly-hair. Newman saw right away that this curly-hair was a dominant gene which was a fact that separated this new breed from the Cornish Rex and the Devon Rex. She named her new breed the Selkirk Rex after her stepfather.

The  Stuffed Animal Look

Selkirk Rex Creme Face

Photo Credit: Nickolas Titkov

The dominant “Rex gene” is the key to the Selkirk Rex’s cat’s adorable look. Only one parent must have the Rex gene in order for a kitten to be born with curly-hair. However, when 2 Selkirk Rex cats are bred together and a kitten receives a Rex gene from both parents, they are considered homozygous. A homozygous Selkirk Rex cat will have curlier, softer fur than the Selkirk Rex cat with only one copy of the Rex gene.

Everything about a Selkirk Rex cat’s coat is curly. Whether the coat is short or long, it is made of 3 different layers of fur – each layer is curly.  The flanks, belly, and neck see the tightest curls. Even their whiskers are curly!  Kittens will be born with the curly coat, but loose it for a while only to regain it again later on.

The body of a Selkirk Rex cat tends to be strong and muscular, much like the British shorthair. They are generally medium to large cats. The facial features get their look after the Persian cats used to create the breed. The face is round with no flat planes, a short snout, and large round eyes.

A Cuddly Purrsonality in Your Home

Selkirk Rex cat in his cage

Photo Credit : Steve Hardy

Selkirk Rex cats generally love being around people. They don’t just look cuddly – they love to be cuddled.  These cats never loose their kitten-like playfulness. They make great family cats and are known to be gentle and tolerant with children.

Care for a Selkirk Rex cat is fairly easy, but it does require regular grooming. All of the beautiful curly fur requires frequent baths and combing so the coat doesn’t become greasy looking or matted. Generally this is a very healthy breed, but owners should watch carefully for problems with clogged tear ducts and kidney disease.

Consider adopting a Selkirk Rex cat and save a life!  Petfinder has quite the variety of great adoptable Selkirk Rex cats.

Have you ever met a Selkirk Rex cat?