What defines the American Curl cat breed? Perhaps Grace Ruga, the breeder that first recognized their uniqueness, put it best.”They are not just ‘decorator’ cats. You might say that they are ‘designer’ cats, perhaps even signed masterpieces of a humor-loving Creator.” These cats have a unique look, but they are so much more! Perhaps one of these kitties would be perfect for your family.
Title Photo Credit: Nickolas Titkov via Flickr
The Perfect Curl
The American Curl’s most iconic feature is its back-turned whimsical ears. These ears are made of hard cartilage just like a human ear. They are not flexible like typical cat ears and they can be fragile. If a child were to pull on one of these curled ears, the cartilage could break.
American Curl kittens are born with straight ears. They begin to curl around 5 days old but do not have their permanent curl until around 16 weeks of age. The curl can be almost straight but show cats have a curl of 90º – 180º. An American Curl can be disqualified in competition for having an ear that curls back so far that they touch the back of the head.
Curly ears are not the only hallmark of these unique cats. They are also known for their silky, flat-laying coat, which can be found in both long and short-haired varieties as well as in many patterns. There is very little undercoat so they shed very little and don’t need much grooming. The American Curl reaches maturity at 2-3 years of age and has a medium-sized body and walnut shaped eyes
History of the American Curl
It all started one summer day in 1981 Lakewood, California. Two stray black cats with unique curled ears showed up at Joe and Grace Ruga’s door. One of the cats quickly disappeared back to its life on the streets, but the other stayed and was given the name Shulamith (which is Hebrew for “black but comely”).
Grace Ruga loved the cat’s funny ears. After some advice from her sister (who bred Austrailian Shephard dogs), she decided to breed Shulamith and pursue formal recognition for the breed. Non-pedigreed domestic cats were used in the breeding process to give the new breed a larger genetic pool and ensure their overall health.
There was some concern from the cat fancy community that the new breed would be prone to genetic cartilage defects similar to those of the Scottish Fold cat breed. Famed feline geneticist, Roy Robinson, confirmed that the gene that causes the curly ears was, in fact, a dominant gene and that the breed did not have any inherent health issues. Two cats with curled ears could be bred together without any problems. Remarkably, by 1991 the American Curl was beginning to be recognized by the leading cat fancier associations.
A Peter Pan-like Personality
Fondly known as the Peter Pan of cats, the American Curl maintains its kitten-like playfulness all of its life. These cats are dog-like, energetic, curious, and they easily learn to play fetch. Not very vocal, these cats express themselves in soft voices and with gentle cooing sounds.
American Curl cats love to be around their owners and will follow them around the house. They are very social and love to interact with humans. These cats are not fond of being left alone for long periods of time. They get along great with children and other pets. However, it is very important that babies and young children are supervised when they interact with these kitties as those gorgeous ears can be fragile when pulled.
If you are considering adding an American Curl cat to your family, check out these adoptable cats from Petfinder!