This cat generally has a well-proportioned and slender build. Its coat is soft, silky, and light, with no undercoat. Because of outcrossing -- introducing unrelated genetic material into a breeding line -- with other breeds, the Curl can be found in many colors, and in both long- and short-haired varieties. Its ears are moderately large with a wide and open base; they are also curled at the end (tip). Ideally, the ears should not curl back so far that they would touch the skull. But should, instead, curl back and toward each other at about 90 degrees, shaped similar to a crescent moon.
Initially, a Curl kitten looks similar to any other kitten, though with large, open ears. Within a week their ears will curl back, curling and uncurling over the course until the cat reaches four months of age. Their curl will then become fixed and permanent.
For this reason, American Curl kittens should only be purchased after the age of four months. However, the shape of the ear does not affect the cat’s great personality, and is only bred into them for exhibition purposes.
Personality and Temperament
This is a lovable and physically affectionate cat. Easily adaptable and even tempered, the Curl will seldom trouble or harass you for attention, though it does enjoy perching on shoulders and displays its love by patting and nuzzling against its owner’s face.
The Curl is known for greeting companions with a soft bump to the head, and for helping out in the kitchen. They are also known to get along well in families with children. Naturally clever and inquisitive, the Curl often spends a considerable amount of time exploring its environment or playing games.
The American Curl is well regarded for its health, hardiness and adaptability. With no known genetic defects or predispositions to physical ailments, it rarely gets ill. Kittens also have a strong immune system and respond well to immunization shots.
While one might conclude that the curled ear is a defect, it is in fact a mutation – a departure from the natural normal characteristic. The ears are an aesthetic characteristic for this breed, made up of cartilage that is firm to the ends of the ears. It also does not affect the cat's hearing.
History and Background
This cat had an easy time climbing the ladder to success. In its ten years of existence, the Curl has managed to win the hearts of American cat lovers and judges.
The birthday of this breed falls in June of 1981, when two kittens of unknown breed or origin came to the doorstep of Grace Ruga of Lakewood, California. Grace's attention was intrigued by the cat's curious curled in ears and decided to encourage their stay. The two kittens would arrive for meals daily and then leave at night.
Based on their fur markings, Grace christened the kittens Panda and Shulamith, the latter a biblical name she understood to mean “black and comely.” The kittens were inseparable, until the day a sudden, hard wind blew the door shut on Panda. Panda suffered a fatal head trauma, but Shulamith moved into the Ruga home for good, settling in happily and transferring her sisterly devotion to her new human family.
Shulamith's kittens would later produce kittens with the same curled ear characteristic, giving one of the first females, Mercedes, to Grace's sister, Esther Brimlow of Orange, California. Mercedes soon gave birth to a litter of her own, and she and her kittens came to the attention of Nancy Kiester, a local butcher and cat fancier. Kiester was so enthused with the Curls, that she attempted to establish the breed, which began when Mercedes' kittens gave birth to a female and a male, named respectively, Princess Leah and Master Luke.
Later, Nancy contacted Grace and formed a partnership, exhibiting Shulamith and the kittens at a California cat show in 1983. The response from the cat community was wholehearted acceptance of this charming feline family. Nancy and Grace collaborated with breeder and judge, Jean Grimm, who had been successfully breeding Scottish Curls (or Folds), and who confirmed that this was an entirely different breed. With her help, both a name and a standard were created, and so was born the American Curl.
In 1987, the American Curl was accepted for registration by The International Cat Association (TICA), and later that year the Curl was awarded championship status by TICA. More success was to come its way. In 1986 the Cat Fancier's Association (CFA) gave the Curl provisional status, and in 1993 the Curl advanced to the CFA's championship class.
The Curl is recognized by all major cat associations and has been sought after throughout the world for its physical and personality traits. As a new breed with a relatively small gene pool, genetic diversity for the breed has emboldened Curl breeders to reach out to each other in an effort to interweave Curl to Curl bloodlines. While breeding outcrosses will be allowed to continue until 2010, this aggregate of breeders will more likely result in a consistent Curl well before the cut-off date.