American Curl Cats
Accidental Breed is All American
Without having seen the American curl cat, you may wonder what "curl" refers to. Does it have a curly coat? Is "curl" the name of the city from which the cat was originally bred?
Interestingly, it's the cat's ears—they curl backward, toward the center of its head like a popular hairstyle favored by men in the 1920s.
How the ears became curled still remains a mystery.
The American curl cat was discovered by accident.
In 1981, a Lakewood, Calif., woman found two stray cats on her doorstep, both of whom had curled ears. While one of the cats left for other pastures, the other stayed and shortly thereafter gave birth to a litter. Two of those kittens developed the same curled back ears.
A friend realized the cats' unique ear characteristic potentially meant a new cat breed may be at hand. The two joined efforts in researching cat breeds until it was confirmed that this was, in fact, an unknown breed.
The American curl cat was then carefully bred with straight-eared cats to safeguard it from cross breeding and developing hereditary health conditions.
By 1986, the American curl cat was recognized by The International Cat Association, the Cat Fanciers Association and the Cat Fanciers Federation. By 1991, the breed was recognized by all cat associations.
Because the breed is still relatively new, a history of behavior and personality has yet to be concretely defined.
That being said, American curl owners have reported that their feline companions tend to be people-oriented and affectionate without being too clingy.
The breed is playful and moderately energetic—the American curl cat is known to fetch toys and enjoys the company of children.
American curl cats are born with straight ears, which then begin to curl during its first week of life. The curl settles between the fourth and fifth month of life.
All curls are not alike; an American curl cat's ears can form a curl between 90 to 180 degrees. As the kitten matures, the cartilage in the ear will harden and take its permanent form.
Its unique ears aside, the American curl cat is also known for its smaller size; the breed typically weighs between 5 and 10 pounds after maturity.
With a non-muscular, somewhat stocky body, the American curl cat's other distinctive characteristic is its extremely long tail, which is tapered at the end and typically the same length as its body.
The American curl cat also has a prominently rounded head with oval eyes. The breed's silky, flat coat can be a variety of shades; tortoiseshell, smoke, shaded, point, bi-color, or tabby pattern are amongst the most common. An American curl cat's fur will be either longhair or shorthair, although the dominant longhair is more prevalent.
Since the American curl cat is a relatively recent breed and some care was taken to ensure genetic diversity during its development, there are no specific health conditions identified with this breed to date.
Due to their unusual ears, however, the American curl cat should have its ears cleaned regularly to prevent infections. Pet owners should be mindful to gently handle their American curl cat's ears as to not damage the cartilage.
As with any pet, be sure to regularly consult a veterinarian for routine care and medical advice for your four-legged friend.