A rare breed with highly distinctive curled-back ears, this gentle, soft-voiced cat makes a wonderful pet.
This breed has its origins in a stray cat with a long, black coat and oddly curled ears that was adopted off the street by a family in California in 1981. The cat, a female, went on to produce a litter of curly-eared kittens, and the rare mutation aroused widespread interest among both breeders and geneticists.
Programs for the planned development of the American Curl, in both longhaired and shorthaired variants, began remarkably quickly, and the future of the new breed was secured. In an American Curl, the ears curve backward to a greater or lesser extent, the arc of the curl ideally somewhere between 90 and 180 degrees.
The cartilage is firm, not floppy, and the ears of these cats should never be manipulated. At birth, all Curl kittens have straight ears, but in about 50 percent of them the characteristic curve begins to take shape within a few days, reaching its full arc by the time the cat is about three or four months old.
Cats whose ears remain straight are of value in breeding programs, since their use helps to keep the American Curl genetically healthy. The longhaired Curl has a silky coat that lies close to the body. There is very little undercoat, which makes grooming easy and means minimal shedding.
An additional embellishment in the longhair is the lovely, long, plumed tail. Alert, intelligent, and affectionate, the American Curl has an attractive personality and is an excellent family pet. This cat is gentle and soft-voiced, but not at all shy about pestering its owner for attention.
The American Curl is one of the newest cats to emerge in a continuing trend to create breeds with unusual features. The perpetuation of natural mutations for the sake of appearance has not been without controversy in the cat fancy world.
However, the Curl remains free of the health problems that can arise in cats with genetic variations. The only outcrosses allowed in this breed are nonpedigree domestic cats, which provide a large and robust gene pool.
Origin: US, 1980s
Breed registries: CFA, FIFe, TICA
Weight range: 7–11lb (3–5kg)
Colors and patterns: All solid colors and shades; patterns include colorpoint, tabby, and tortie.