LaPerm Cat (image)
The curl is real; it's not a perm - even though the cat is called a LaPerm.
There are other curly breeds of cats, as well as dogs, horses, rabbits, and even birds. Curly haired or feathered animal breeds originally became curly from a genetic mutation called the 'Rex mutation.' The Rex mutation does not occur frequently, so some breeders, if they like the qualities of a rex cat, breed them with other full-bred cats that they like. The mutation is dominant so when curlies breed with non-curlies about 50 percent of their litters will be curly.
Selkert Cat (image)
After a few generations, curlies can breed with each other to establish a line of curlies with specific characteristics and traits. But they often breed with other cats to create specific lines with different physical and personality characteristics. The LaPerm is a popular recognized curly breed here in the U.S. as well as elsewhere throughout the world, but you'll seldom find two representatives from different litters that look exactly alike, even though they do share some important characteristics.
Although more than 30 different rex cats have been bred and named throughout the world since the early 1930's (that we know of), there are only four rex cat breeds recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association. Listed and described below, I have selected images from the Cat Fancier's Association to illustrate how rex cats can look so different from each other, even though they are from the same rex breed.
1. LaPerm Cat
While the above three cats don't look exactly alike, they do have distinctive characteristics: a round-shaped head, stand-up ears with fur growing inside, almond-shaped eyes, a long body, long legs, a bushy tail, and, of course, curly fur. These cats are reputed to be outgoing, active, and affectionate. They also don't shed as much as other cats, especially, if groomed regularly.
All LaPerm cats originate from a cat named 'Curly,' one of six kittens born to a barn cat in Oregon in the 1980's. Curly was born bald, and did not start growing his soft curly fur until he was about 8 weeks old. Now, almost all LaPerms are born bald.
2. Cornish Rex Cat
Some say that the Cornish Rex Cat is perfect for the person that really wants a dog... although, don't underestimate this cat's ability to jump as high as your dining room table, and then some. Again, you see that, though the colorings differ, there are distinct characterists in the Cornish Rex - the large stand-up ears, long legs, tail, neck, and body. The coat is very curly, but also very short, unlike the LaPerm. The coat is said to be one of the softest in the animal kingdom.
"Kallibunker" was the first Cornish Rex, who like 'Curly,' the LaPerm, was born to a barn cat, but Kallibunker in Cornwall, England. The solid cream-colored cat looked like a little lamb with 'bat ears.' Kallibunker was first mated with his mother to begin the breed; later, when kittens were mated with other breeds, like the Burmese, Siamese, and British domestic shorthair cats, it was learned that the Cornish Rex was a recessive gene, unlike most other rex genes.
The Cornish Rex is a totally companionable cat, very affectionate, playful, and sweet. Like most dogs, the Cornish Rex likes to fetch, as well!
3. Selkick Rex Cat
Miss DePesto of Noface was the first of what was to become the Selkick Rex Cat, born to a stray adopted cat in Montana in the late 1980's. Ms. DePesto mated with a Black Persian cat and gave birth to six cats, three of which were curly. The dominant-gened Selkick Rex gives rise to short-haired and long-haired Selkicks, both doing their best to win hearts. They are sturdy, large-boned cats with round faces and small ears. They have loose curls and, uniquely, curly whiskers! Their coats should not be over-brushed.
Selkicks are very friendly and playful, but they can also be laid back, certainly more so than the LaPerm and Cornish Rex.
Selkick Rex cats are seldom interbred, but are coupled with British Shorthairs, American Shorthairs, Persians, Himalayans, and others. Though the breed is sturdy, it is prone to eye infections. The cat's curls must be kept out of her eyes.
4. Devon Rex
Would you believe that a nickname for the Devon is the 'Alien Cat?' Yes, you would. How could anyone turn away from those eyes?
Another dog alias, the Devon Rex cat is a very funny, mischievous curlee who loves people and is very loyal. The CFA says the Devon is "a cross... between a cat, a dog, a monkey, and Dennis the Menace." I'm sure you get the idea.
The Devon Rex is from Devon England, first born in 1959. The Devon was originally thought to be a descendant of a Cornish Rex, but test mating later determined them to be distinctly different breeds. Not much is known about 'Kirlee's' mother, but it is believed that she was a stray and that his dad was a curly roaming male. All Devons are descendants of Kirlee.
Though lightly built, the Devon can, and will, jump to the highest counter to obtain any food of any kind that is left out. They are intelligent and very trainable, even to walk on a leash!
Oh, and the Devons like to perch on your shoulder! (And you thought the parrot was heavy...)