American Curl Cat
|Cost||$1000 - $3000|
|Life Span||15 to 20 years|
|Size||Small - Medium|
|Weight||8 - 12 pounds|
|Temperament||Attention seeking, devote, easy going, inquisitive, playful, sweet, tender|
|Known Issues||No known issues|
Nature has its beauty in every way and this can be seen even in the natural genetic mutation of the American Curl cat. Such natural mutation in the cat’s gene has proved itself to be a feature that is unparalleled to any other. Before it was given any name, the cat was known as the black kitten with long, silky hair and ears that curled backward. As a stray cat in the 1980s, it found its way to the door of the Ruga’s family in Lakewood, California; winning their hearts and earning not just a home but also a name - Shulamite - for itself. Little did it know that two out of the four kittens that she bore with an unknown father would inherit her exclusive pair of ears; neither does it know that the successful delivery of the litter would make her the progenitor of the American Curl breed.
Roy Robinson, a geneticist, started working closely with experienced breeders for the development of such cat breed. A study done by him has revealed that the cat’s ear-curling gene was an autosomal dominant gene. Thus, just one copy of such a gene in any cat would result in the ear-curling feature. It was further reported in an article published in the December 1989 issue of the Journal of Heredity that no defects has been found in any of the interbreeds that had been analyzed. This has helped to establish the foundation of the American Curl breed as a new and healthy breed. In fact, it is one of the youngest cat breeds.
From a stray cat to a pedigreed breed, the American Curl has rapidly, within a span of 6 - 7 years, achieved full recognition from the Cat Fanciers Association in 1993. Crossbreeding can happen between the American Curl and non-pedigreed domestic cats with straight ears, which allows for a pool of varied genetic diversity. However, it is recognized that all American Curls are descendants of the Shulamite.
Physical appearance and attributes
The American Curl can come in either the semi-longhair or shorthair variety both of which boast a myriad of color combinations due to its diverse background. It is a well-balanced and medium boning cat with a semi-foreign rectangular body that is moderately muscled, flexible and slender. The tail is wide at the base and tapers towards the end with a length that is equal to that of its body. It has legs that are in proportion to the body.
Male American Curl weighs between 8 - 12 pounds, while the female goes below the 8 pounds range. Its head is a modified wedge that is slightly longer than it is wide. The Muzzle is well-formed with distinctive whisker pads and its chin is strong. It owns a pair of large walnut-shaped eyes enriched with colors that are bright and clear. They are well-spaced apart and positioned at a slight angle. Semi-longhair variety is the most common variety. This variety wears a coat of fine, silky hair that lies close to the body. It possesses a tail that is full and tapers into a gorgeous plume.
In similar fashion, the shorthair variety has close-lying hair that is silky-soft and resilient, but neither plush nor dense to the touch. Both varieties have sparse undercoat that helps to prevent excessive matting, which would otherwise make grooming difficult. The most intriguing feature that adorns the American Curl is its pair of ears that curls back. What is interesting is the fact that all American Curls are born with straight ears and would start curling only between 2 - 10 days old. It continues to curl and uncurl and then slowly unfolds like a rose petal until it reaches its final shape at about 4 months old. The degree of the curl can range from being straight to a minimum arc of 90 - 180 degrees.
The swept back look is completed with long tufts that accentuated the cat’s alert and perky appearance which will likely brighten your day. Even though its pair of ears appears to be like delicate petal, it is firm to the touch. There is a cartilage that runs from the base of the ear to about 2/3 of the height allowing the remaining 1/3 to curl back into a graceful arc. Having large, bright eyes, gracefully arced ears, fan-like tufts and opulent tail have definitely given the American Curl an exceptionally elegant and refined comportment.
Personality and temperament
Even though the American Curl has a sophisticated and aloof disposition, it is extremely people-oriented and has a special fondness reserved for younger children. Affectionate, devoted and sweet are some of its personal traits and these are evidenced in its love for a cuddle.
The American Curl possesses an abiding playful, energetic and inquisitive nature that sees them well into their senior years. Being such sprightly feline that retains its kitten behavior throughout its adult life has earned it the title “the Peter Pan of cats”. Fetch is one of the games where it is able to direct most of its energy and they are able to stay in the game long after you have exhausted your own energy. Tricks, together with puzzle toys, can also be introduced to challenge its highly intelligent mind.
The American Curl loves companionship. It endears itself quickly with those who are close and would always have a yearning to stay close. Thus, if it is not found perching in high place, it would either be nestled in your lap or following you around. It is also able to adapt fast to relationships with other pets and new situations.
Rarely territorial, they can exhibit a significant level of respect towards other animals in the home. Though they are not exceptionally vocal, soft and chirp-like purrs and trills can be expected when they are happy or particularly pleased.
Care and health issue
The American Curl is a healthy breed with no reported health conditions. The average life span ranges from 15 - 20 years. Good grooming practices should be observed in order to help maintain good hygiene and prevent undesired sickness or diseases. A weekly grooming (twice for the longhair variety) would be necessary to keep its coat shining and healthy. Consider running the comb backwards for the shorthaired variety. This would help remove and accumulated dead hair. The shorthair variety sheds year-round and usually sheds more than the longhair variety. The longhair variety typically sheds more heavily during warm months, thus, frequency of brushing and combing should increase during such months.
Daily dental hygiene using vet-approved per toothpaste is ideal to prevent periodontal disease. The nails need to receive regular trimming, usually weekly. Look out for ears that are dirty and check for redness or odor that could indicate an infection. Use a cloth damped with a balanced mix of cider vinegar and water to wipe the ears clean. A gentle cleanser recommended by the veterinarian is another alternative. Be careful not to damage the cartilage by folding or forcing the ears into any unnatural position.
The ideal home
Being easily adaptable, this breed is suitable for any family with young and old or even for homes with other animals. The American Curl is an easy-going cat with a high demand of personal attention. Thus, adequate allowance of time should be given to care and to play with this breed.
Even though it is likely to stick with you most of the time, safe spaces should be created indoor and ideally outdoor to provide the cat with substantial activities and simulations for healthy growth. No. The American Curl with its all its tenderness and playfulness would provide any home with much warmth and joy.
Photo by Nickolas Titkov - CC BY SA-2.0
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