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The American Curl takes her name from the unique characteristic of her ears, which curl backward. This gives this feline a perpetually perky, bewildered look.
Originating in the United States, the American Curl cat has been called the Peter Pan of cats because she retains a kitten-like personality throughout her lifetime.
American Curl cat is playful, sociable, good with children, and easily bonds with humans, thus making her a good family pet. This doglike kitty can enjoy a game of fetch and follows her humans around.
Although robust, the American Curls need to be picked up with care to avoid damaging their ear cartilage. As highly adaptable pets, they are not as talkative as other breeds as well as not demanding. They are low-maintenance cats as their coat only requires minimal grooming.
Do you plan on getting an American Curl? Here is a brief background of this cat with unique-shaped ears and kitten-like attitude, often referred to as the Peter Pan of cats.
The American Curl is a product of a natural and harmless but rare genetic mutation. Her backward-curled ears are the result of this phenomenon.
The American Curl breed's development through the efforts of cat fanciers began in California in June 1981. Two kittens of an unknown breed were left in the garden of Joe and Grace Ruga. They have unusual ears that curl backward, and this caught the eye of the couple.
Little did they know that this coincidence will lead to the existence of the American Curls. Grace allowed them to stay, and both kittens would visit her home for meals. When evening comes, they leave.
Later on, she named them according to their coat markings. One was named Panda whilst the other was Shulamith, a biblical name meaning ‘black and comely.’
The two kittens shared a strong bond. However, Panda died after she suffered from head trauma. This was because the door forcefully closed on her when a hard gust of wind blew.
After the unfortunate accident, the couple decided to let Shulamith move into her home. They were easily taken by the kitten’s loving and sweet nature.
In December 1981, another fateful happening helped the creation American Curl breed. Shulamith went on to give birth to a litter of 4. 2 of the kittens inherited her curly ears. Shulamith offspring was fathered by a local long-haired tomcat.
He didn’t have curled ears nor the gene for them. Thus, it means Shulamith was the parent that possessed the curl ear gene.
The American Curl breed’s ancestor, Shulamith, continued to mate with local tomcats and produce litters. The kittens in the litter were a mix of colours and patterns. Some of them were long-haired, whilst others were short-coated.
One of Shulamith’s first female American Curl kittens, Mercedes, was given to Grace’s sister, Esther Brimlow, who lived in Orange, California. This domestic cat also gave birth to a litter of kittens with ears that curl backward.
Nancy Kiester, a cat fancier as well as a local butcher, fell in love with them. This gave her an idea to create a new cat breed. She put this plan into motion after Mercedes’ kittens birthed a male and female. They were named Princess Leah and Master Luke.
In 1983, American Curl selective breeding programmes were established. Nancy worked with Grace and included Shulamith and her kittens in a California cat show. Cat fanciers happily welcomed the unique-looking feline family.
Nancy and Grace teamed up with Jean Grimm, who had been successfully producing Scottish Folds. She then confirmed that Shulamith and her kittens were of a different breed. The 3 women worked hand in hand to create a name and a breed standard.
This was how the American Curl finally has a name. It is not the end of breeders' efforts to improve the American Curl cats. They worked with the renowned English feline geneticist, Roy Robinson. He determined that the ear-curling gene was autosomal dominant. This means that a cat with even one copy of the gene will have backward-curling ears.
Roy was able to accomplish this task by analysing 383 kittens from 81 litters. He then published an article in the December 1989 issue of the Journal of Heredity. The geneticist stated that he found no defects in any crosses he had analysed.
His hard work paved the way for producing a healthy American Curl breed. The feline was bred with non-pedigree cats to prevent hereditary health issues. The Cat Fanciers’ Association later awarded this breed championship status in 1993.
Today’s American Curls are all descended from Shulamith. The breed is acknowledged by the Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe) and the International Cat Association (TICA). However, the American Curl is not yet recognised by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF).
American Curls are rare breed cats that are uncommonly seen in the UK and there are very few American Curl breeders in Britain. They are rarely found in other countries as well.
However, they are sought after by many cat fanciers around the world, especially in France, Japan, Spain, and Russia,
The American Curl has a rectangular body and a luxuriously plumed tail that tends to be as long as her body.
The American Curls cat’s most distinctive feature is her tufted, curled ears, which have been likened to those of a lynx. There are 3 degrees of curl in the breed's ears. The first degree is for pet quality, the second for breeder quality, and the third for show quality.
When an American Curl is crossed with a different breed, around 50% of her litter will possess curled ears.
American Curl kittens are actually born with straight ears, which start to curl in 3–5 days. The curling continues until the kittens are 4 months old, which is when it is permanently set. The breed standard requires 90 degrees arc of curl and it should not go over 180 degrees. The tightest curls are the most desired ones.
American Curls have large round eyes that may be of any hue. The eye colour usually matches their coat pattern and colour.
The American Curl breed’s coat can either be short- or long-haired. Regardless of the length, they have soft, silky coats. These also come in a variety of colour combinations due to their diverse ancestry. The most common coat colours of the breed include:
American Curl Size
The American Curl is a medium-sized cat. The height of both male and female American Curls can range from 45–50 centimetres (18–20 inches). Male American Curls typically weigh anywhere from 2–5 kilos (4–11 pounds), whilst female American Curls also weigh around 2–5 kilos (4–11 pounds). It takes approximately 2–3 years for the breed to fully mature.
Brushing and Bathing
Long-haired and short-haired American Curl varieties are all minimal shedders. Thus, they do not require heavy grooming.
Since long-coated American Curls only have a little undercoat, their fur is less likely to form matts. Regardless, they need twice a week of brushing to remove debris and dead or loose hairs. Mind that they tend to shed more during summer. Daily brushing is advised during this period.
American Curls with short hair shed throughout the year. They also shed more compared to long-coated American Curls cats. To avoid the accumulation of loose and dead hair, brush them weekly. Run the brush backward on their fur to get rid of dead hair, tangles, and debris.
You can use a steel comb to brush long-haired and short-haired American Curls. Bathing them is rarely needed, but you can do it every 4–6 weeks.
Due to the American Curls’ ear form, they are very vulnerable to ear infections. Make sure to check their ears weekly. Inflammation, redness, unusual discharge, and foul odour are signs that they may have ear problems. If your American Curl cat shows these symptoms, bring her to the vet immediately.
After checking her ears, proceed to cleaning. Use a mild cat-safe ear cleanser and cotton balls or damp cloth. Never opt for cotton swabs as they can easily damage the ear’s interior.
When cleaning your American Curls’ ears, make sure to do it properly. Avoid folding them or forcefully tugging them into other positions. Rough handling can cause damage to the ears’ cartilage.
Make sure that your American Curl kitten gets used to daily tooth brushing. This is the simplest and most effective method to avoid gum diseases and bad breath.
Consider investing in plaque-removing chews too. This will not only get rid of tartar but also give your cat fresh breath. Just be sure to limit her intake as chews are full of calories.
Sometimes dry crust or wet discharge forms on the corner of the American Curl’s eyes. Use a damp, warm cloth or cotton ball to remove it.
Change the cotton ball or use a different portion of the cloth once you start cleaning the other eye. This prevents the transferring of bacteria to the other eye and lowers the risk of eye infections.
Trim your American Curl’s nails every 2 weeks. The best time to do so is when your cat is relaxed or sleepy. Gently knead her paws for around 3 seconds. Then, let your cat smell the clippers. Once it's done, start clipping the white tip of her nails.
American Curl Personality
Friendly, playful, gentle, and people-loving, the American Curl is a delightful feline that retains her kitten ways throughout her lifetime. Her doglike personality makes her a wonderful family cat.
American Curl cats enjoy playing fetch and like to follow their humans around. However, unlike other breeds, they are not demanding or talkative. They may greet owners with an affectionate head bump to make their needs known.
A genial breed, the American Curl loves children and can live with other animals. She likes to look down from high places and also stay on one’s lap. Being an intelligent and curious kitty, she likes to engage in play and get involved in other domestic tasks.
As a very sociable cat, the American Curl does not like to be left alone, which might cause depression or trigger other health issues. Her ears should not be fiddled with, and playtime with small children should be avoided or closely supervised.
The American Curl cat should be fed good-quality food that fulfils her nutritional needs. She should be consistently fed the same food. If there are changes to her diet, those must be done gradually to prevent digestive upset.
Provide small frequent meals to American Curls to keep them healthy. The portions should depend on their weight, age, and activity level.
Generally, the American Curl food’s protein content should be at least 25% to 35%. Fat must only be limited to 20% of her diet. Fibre content should range between 2% and 4% to efficiently enable the American Curl to pass food (and hair).
The rest of the American Curl food’s nutritional content should also include a minimal amount of vitamins and minerals.
The American Curls have an average life expectancy of 12–20 years. Ensuring that they live a happy and prolonged life provides them with a stress-free home and balanced meals. Make sure that they receive enough love, attention, and exercise.
The American Curl’s regular grooming requirements should be met to lessen the risk of health problems. It is necessary to keep up with scheduled vet visits as well. This will keep you and the vet up-to-date on your American Curl's current state of health.
The American Curl is known for being a healthy breed and defect-free except for those health issues affecting all cats.
Not only do American Curl cats look sturdy, but they are also truly hardy felines. They are not known to have any genetic issues other than narrow ear canals. For this reason, regular ear inspection and cleaning are important to prevent ear infections.
Despite the American Curl breed’s hardiness, it is always recommended to buy American Curl kittens from reputable breeders.
American Curls have low exercise needs, but they are usually active. They like climbing on perches and jumping from them. Since they enjoy playing, it is best to give them interactive toys to stimulate their minds. They would also love cat trees or climbing towers.
American Curl Price
A well-bred American Curl kitten can cost £800–£1,000 to acquire. However, finding one in the UK could be a challenge as there are very few breeders of this feline. Only two have been noted to be breeding this kitty in the country.
An American Curl cat’s monthly caring costs can reach £70. This rate includes vet bills, pet insurance, litter, food, and toys. Annually, expect to spend £840.
For her lifetime (14–20 years), ownership costs may range from £11,760 to £16,800. This does not include the fees of neutering / spaying and microchipping.
Are you sure the American Curl is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.Cat Breed Selector Quiz