This friendly feline’s ancestry can be traced to a stray cat named Shulamith. In 1981, the black, long-haired stray appeared in the garden of Grace and Joe Ruga of California, USA. After feeding it with bowls of food, the kitty moved in with its benefactors.
Shulamith went on to give birth to a litter of 4 kittens, of which the local tomcat was the father. Two of the kittens had their mother’s curly ears. A geneticist later acknowledged that the curled ears were due to a dominant gene.
The original cat continued to be bred with other stray cats and produced kittens of various fur lengths, colours, and coat patterns. Two of Shulamith’s offspring were given to Nancy Kiester, a former dog breeder. She showed them to a Scottish Fold breeder and cat competition judge Jean Grimm, who never saw that kind of cat in the past. Grimm then collaborated with Kiester and the Rugas to create the breed standard for this feline.
Two years later, feline fanciers began to breed this type of cat selectively. The American Curl was bred with non-pedigreed house 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. Although acknowledged by the FIFe and TICA in the UK, this feline is not yet recognised by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF). It is also not commonly seen in the UK and there are very few American Curl breeders in Britain.