American Curl is one of the most distinguishable cat breeds today due to their signature fluffy, curled-back ears. But, even without this conspicuous feature, it is a stunning feline sporting a sweet and inquisitive expression. Highly adaptable, this cat would fit various home types, and get along with children and other pets. It is friendly, affectionate, and docile, seldomly harassing for attention, more often bringing a smile to any person who meets this adorable furball.
Origin of the American Curl
While they are popular, American Curl is one of the youngest breeds, and its first litter was born only a few decades ago. The distinct strangely-shaped ears were brought by a natural and harmless genetic mutation, which first appeared in a stray cat found by the Rugas in 1981 in Lakewood, California.
Joe and Grace Ruga came across a homeless, long-haired, black kitten with the unusual curled-back ears and gave her the name, Shulamith. Soon enough, Shulamith gave birth to a litter of four kittens by an unknown father. Two of the offspring inherited the curly ears. After a consultation with a feline geneticist, it was discovered that genetics was the culprit, linking the trait to a dominant gene. Since then, cat breeders worked hand-in-hand to breed the cats, preserving and spreading the unique characteristic. American Curls’ popularity rose rapidly shortly, and the breed was soon recognized by the International Cat Association (ICA) in 1987 and the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) in 1993.
Physical Characteristics of the American Curl
Length: 18 to 20 inches
Weight: 7 to 10 pounds (Male) 5 to 8 pounds (Female)
Life Expectancy: Typically 9 to 16 years
Coat Color: White, blue, black, cream, lilac, silver, brown, and red
Type of Coat: Short, Medium
Eye Color: Aqua, amber, copper, green, blue, hazel, gold, yellow, orange, odd-eyed
American Curl cats have a slender, well-proportioned body. Due to the introduction of other unlinked genetic materials into its breeding lineage, various colors and length occur in the breed. The most conspicuous feature of the American Curls is their relatively large, open and broad base and curled-back ears. When a kitten is born, the ears are actually straight then begin to crawl at 2 to 10 days after birth. It will continue the curling, uncurling and re-curling process, before reaching its permanent shape at about four months old. The ears would arch back 90 degrees but not more than 180 degrees, more often resembling a crescent moon. When the cats are alert, the ears go forward, while the ear tips point at the middle of the skull’s base. This signature feature does not affect the American Curls’ hearing.
American Curl Personality
American Curls are renowned for their people-loving temperament. They are loveable, and sweet but won’t harass families to gain attention or trouble them with their activities. However, these furballs would perch on their owner’s shoulders or pat themselves against their masters to show their affection. As gentle cats, they also get along well with children, which isn’t always the case for all breeds. Often seen following family around, but would not be vocal or bossy. If in case they need something, such as food, a toy, or some attention, these cats will quietly ask for it.
When it comes to their energy level, American Curls are enthusiastic and energetic. Both sexes are relatively active, and even older cats, love to play. They can easily learn the game of fetch, but also have the smarts to open doorknobs and cabinets, so extra caution is needed. Like other cats, they are inquisitive and will survey any new changes around the area. Lastly, they are very adaptable, making them suitable for any loving family and type of home environment.
Caring for the American Curl
Grooming American Curls would not be a daunting task, as their coat, whether short or long, is easy to manage. Long-haired ones have a little undercoat, making it less vulnerable to matting or tangling. A weekly combing routine is enough to keep their coat shiny and healthy. Long-haired varieties tend to shed more during warmer months. On the other hand, shorthairs shed throughout the year, requiring more brushing. Bathing is rarely necessary for both varieties.
As with any cat breed, good oral hygiene can boost their dental health and avoid them from developing periodontal disease. While daily brushing is recommended, a few times a week would be sufficient, then supplement it with some plaque-removing treats.
Given the distinct ear shape of this breed, some cats may be born with tighter ear canals, making it prone to accumulating wax. Examining their ears every week is required to avoid or detect any issues. Handle the ears cautiously to avoid any damage with the interior ear and cartilage. If something is unusual, a consultation with the veterinarian is the best resort.
American Curls are fairly active and intelligent and will need ample exercise. Pick games that will stimulate both their minds and energy, such as hide and seek, or puzzles. If properly trained, they can also learn how to roll pieces of paper or fetch. Cat trees and perches are also a good investment as these furballs would surely relish them, and would develop their jumping and climbing abilities.
As for their health, American Curls are renowned for their hardiness. They rarely get sick as long as there are no genetic defects, or they are not predisposed to any physical condition. Even their kittens boast strong immune systems and do well with the necessary immunization shots.
American Curls are perfect for those owners who would like to add a distinct-looking, sweet, affectionate, smart, and relatively active cat. They are highly adaptable and will quickly get along with any loving family that would add them in their homes.