American curl cat history
The history of the American curl cat begins in June 1981, in Lakewood, California. Then, two stray cats with unusual curled ears wandered up to the doorstep of cat lovers, Joe and Grace Ruga. One suffered an unfortunate accident soon after arriving, but the other, a longhaired black female, was adopted by the Rugas. The cat was named Shulamith, a variation of a Hebrew term that means "black but comely”.
The Rugas at first paid little attention to Shulamith’s curled ears, as they assumed that other curly-eared cats existed somewhere. However, after consulting many cat breed books and journals, they realized that there was no reference to cats with such unique ears.
In December 1981 Shulamith delivered her first litter of four kittens. Out of these four kittens, two had curled ears.
The Rugas didn’t know much about genetics at the time, thus this indicated that the gene governing the trait was dominant, since a local long hair cat named Mr. Grey, did not have curly ears or the gene for them. A geneticist who was contacted to study this phenomenon confirmed this assumption. He also attributed the curled ears gene to a spontaneous genetic mutation in the domestic cat population.
Since the curl gene was (and still is) dominant, only one parent needs to possess it in order to deliver curled ears kittens, which was a big advantage for the breeding program. Unlike a recessive gene, a dominant gene will always be expressed in the cat's physical appearance. If a cat doesn't have curled ears, it doesn't have the curl cat gene. A spontaneous genetic mutation in the domestic cat population was very likely responsible for the unique ears.
Shulamith continued to mate with the local cats, adding to the local Curl cat population. The kittens appeared in many colors, hair lengths and patterns, including pointed. The Rugas gave away kittens to friends and family, including Grace's sister, Esther Brimlow.
Esther gave two Curl cats to former Australian Shepherd breeder Nancy Kiester, who showed them to cat judge and Scottish Fold breeder Jean Grimm. Grimm told Kiester that Curl cats were unknown to the cat fancy and teamed up with the Rugas to start an official breeding program and edit the first breed standard. They also named the breed the American Curl cat.
They first exhibited the American Curl cat at the October 1983 CFA show in Palm Springs, California. Cat fanciers immediately recognized that the Curl's unparalleled ears were unique and acceptance quickly followed. The American Curl cat was officially accepted for CFA registration in 1986 and for championship competition in February 1993.
American curl cat personality
The American Curl cat is very sociable and people-oriented. It will join you when watching your favorite TV show, help you with dinner preparation, get into the shower with you and finally it will sleep in your bed. Affectionate and caring, it will become your soul-mates. It also gets on very well with children and other pets, and it does not mind guests in the house.
Although fearless and courageous cats, when introduced into a new home the American curl cat seems to have an inherent respect for the current pet occupants giving them plenty of space and time to adjust to the new kid on the block. It is never aggressive, on the contrary it is gentle and polite.
Intelligent and curious, it can be taught to act tricks and even fetch. The American curl cat is also very playful; its toys can be anything that makes a crinkling sound. Not overly talkative, it expresses itself through little trill-like cooing sounds when it wants to comment or would like an opinion on something that's momentarily confounding to it.
American curl cat breed standards
According to the Fédperation Internationale Féline, the American Curl cat is well balanced and moderately muscled. It is svelte rather than massive in built and has always an alert expression.
It has a medium sized and wedge shaped head, without flat planes. The head is moderately longer than wide and bears smooth transitions.
The American curl cat nose is moderate in length and straight, rising slightly from the bottom of the eyes to the forehead. The profile continues with a gentle curve to the top of the head, flowing into the neck without a break.
The muzzle is rounded with gentle transitions and no pronounced whisker breaks.
The chin is firm, aligned with the nose and the upper lip.
The ears, which are apparently responsible for the breed's name, are wide at the base with rounded and smooth tips and ideally should be furnished. They curve back in an arc of minimum 90 degrees, however not exceeding the 180 degrees. The ears also bear a firm cartilage, extending from their base to the 1/3 of them. They are moderately large and set erect, equally on top and side of the head.
The eyes are moderately large, oval on top and rounded on the bottom. They are set wide apart, on a slight angle between the base of the ears and the tip of the nose. Their color should be clear and brilliant and there does not have to be a relation between the eyes color and the coat color. The only exception concerns the Curls with pointed patterns, whose eyes can only be clear blue.
The American Curl cat has a graceful neck and a medium sized and well balanced body.
The legs are medium in proportion to the body, set straight when viewed from the front or rear and the paws are medium and rounded.
The tail is flexible wide at the base and tapering towards the tip. Its length is equal to the body's length and its coat is full and plumed.
The Longhair American Curl cat has a semi long, fine and silky coat that lies flat. There is very little undercoat and the officially recognized color varieties are the following:
· Black/Blue/Chocolate/Lilac/Cinnamon/Fawn with White
· Black/Blue/Chocolate/Lilac/Cinnamon/Fawn Agouti
· Black/Blue/Chocolate/Lilac/Cinnamon/Fawn Golden
· Black/Blue/Chocolate/Lilac/Cinnamon/Fawn Agouti and White
· Black/Blue/Chocolate/Lilac/Cinnamon/Fawn Golden and White
· Red/Cream/Tortie Solid/ Agouti
· Red/Cream/Tortie Golden
· Red/Cream/Tortie Solid/ Agouti with White
· Red/Cream/Tortie Golden and White
· Black/Blue/Chocolate/Lilac/Red/Cream/Cinnamon/Fawn Smoke/ Silver Agouti
· Tortie Smoke/ Silver Agouti
· Black/Blue/Chocolate/Lilac/Red/Cream/Cinnamon/Fawn Smoke/ Silver Agouti with White
· Tortie Smoke/ Silver Agouti with White
· Tabby Pointed
· Smoke Pointed
· Silver Tabby Pointed
· Golden Tabby Pointed
· Pointed with White
· Tabby Pointed with White
· Smoke Pointed with White
· Silver Tabby Pointed with White
· Golden Tabby Pointed with White