The LaPerm cat is a naturally occurring breed in the 1980s, coincidental with the same period when the shaggy perms went on trend. In March 1982, on a cherry farm, a brown tabby birthed a litter of six kittens. One kitten stands out with its almost bald appearance, with tabby markings on its skin visible like a tattoo. Linda and Dick Koehl, the owner of both farm and the cats, were fascinated with its unusual character and named it Curly. They bonded closely with the cat when they tended its wounds from an accident. After six weeks, Curly developed a sparse but a surprisingly soft curly coat.
Curly is said to be the first LaPerm cat, but definitely not the last. Curly soon gave birth to kittens having the same coat as her with a neighbour’s Siamese contributing its genetic pool. It helped define the breed’s foreign body type.
In the 1990s, the Koehls brought some of these cats to a cat show. Experienced breeders and judges were fascinated for its uniqueness. Subsequently, the Koehls were encouraged to conserve this specific kind of breed as it is something special. A formal breeding programme was soon established, with the “LaPerm” as the breed’s name.
The LaPerm’s first generation was born hairless, and would later on develop curly coat much the same as its mother, Curly. There were some kittens that had straight hair even when they matured, until Snow Fire. Snow Fire was born with straight hair. But later on, it shed out and was changed with a curly coat and curly whiskers—these were the acknowledged signatures of the breed.
After twenty years of developing the breed with the help of breeders, it finally earned a Championship Status by the TICA in February 2003. It was only introduced in the UK in 2002, with a pregnant LaPerm producing a litter of five kittens upon its arrival. Ten years later, in 2012, the breed was granted full Championship status in the UK. Nowadays, the breed is broadly represented by the LaPerm Cat Club.