Selkirk Rex

Janelle Leeson

Janelle Leeson

. Reviewed by Barri J. Morrison, DVM
Updated Mar. 24, 2024
gray and white selkirk rex on a gray wood background

Thomas Leirikh/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

In This Article

General Care

The Selkirk Rex is known for dense, soft curls that can be long or short. The largest of all the Rex cat breeds, they have a sturdy, muscular build and a round, expressive face with large eyes.

These curly cuties owe their origin story to a chance encounter with breeder Jeri Newman, according to the Selkirk Rex Cat Club. Upon meeting a shelter cat with an unusual coat named Miss DePesto (affectionately called "Pest"), Newman knew there was a potential foundation for a new breed.

Newman embarked on a breeding program by carefully incorporating Pest’s genes and those of Persians, Exotic Shorthairs, British Shorthairs, and American Shorthairs. She developed the sociable and lovable Selkirk Rex cat we know today.

Caring for a Selkirk Rex

The Selkirk Rex is a medium-sized friendly cat with curly or wavy fur that’s a staple of very Rex breed (including the Cornish Rex and Devon Rex). However, these mutations are independent of one another, and no Rex breed is related. 

Their patient and easygoing temperament usually means Selkirk Rexes are happy to indulge your urge to pet and scoop them up, turning them into a living, purring teddy bear. This same patience makes them well-suited for families with other pets and children.

The Selkirk Rex's coat does require some upkeep, and these cats are moderate shedders. To prevent fur from flying, brush your Selkirk Rex twice a week. But take care not to overbrush, which can lead to overfluffing of their signature curls.

Their patient and easygoing temperament usually means Selkirk Rexes are happy to indulge your urge to pet and scoop them up, turning them into a living, purring teddy bear.

Selkirk Rex Cat Health Issues

Selkirk Rex cats can have a long lifespan of 14–20 years, but they may be at risk of a few genetic health conditions. Purchasing pet insurance for your Selkirk Rex kitten can help make medical expenses more affordable. 

Polycystic Kidney Disease

Selkirk Rexes have a moderate risk of inheriting polycystic kidney disease (PKD) due to their shared ancestry with British Shorthairs and Persians, two breeds predisposed to PKD. PKD is a genetic condition that causes cysts to form in the kidneys, leading to permanent damage that impacts waste removal, fluid balance, and hormone production.

Fortunately, genetic testing can identify cats carrying the PKD gene, allowing Selkirk Rex breeders to prevent the disease from being passed to kittens. Before purchasing a kitten, ask if the breeding parents have been tested and for a copy of their testing result. At-home DNA kits can also detect PKD in cats before symptoms appear. 

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Because Selkirk Rexes have Persian ancestry, they may carry a low risk for progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). PRA is a genetic disease that causes progressive vision loss, which begins in kittenhood and eventually leads to blindness. Selkirk Rex breeders concerned that their parent cats could be carriers of the PRA genes can genetically test them before breeding.  

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

Like many cat breeds, Selkirk Rex cats can develop hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). HCM is a heart disease that thickens the wall of the heart, eventually leading to heart failure. Early detection is crucial, but HCM can be challenging to spot in its early stages. Cats with heart murmurs, kidney disease, and overactive thyroid hormone production (hyperthyroidism) are at an increased risk of developing HCM.

Signs to watch for include:

If you notice any of these symptoms in your Selkirk Rex, take your cat to the vet right away. Unfortunately, there's no genetic test available for HCM in Selkirk Rexes. Regular veterinary checkups are key for early detection and management.

What To Feed a Selkirk Rex

gray selkirk rex sitting on hardwood floor and looking up
Photo credit: Patrick Gross/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they require a diet rich made from animal proteins. They can eat wet or dry food, but it should include a statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) on its label. This ensures the food meets veterinary standards of feline nutrition.

Cat food is also labeled by life stage: 

  • Kitten (or “growth”)

  • Adult (or “maintenance”)

  • Senior

Selkirk Rex kittens should eat kitten food or food labeled for all life stages, while adult cats should eat adult food. Your vet may recommend switching to a senior diet as your cat nears their golden years. Talk to your vet to determine the best cat food for your pet.

How Much Should You Feed a Selkirk Rex?

Although the feeding guidelines that come on your cat’s food packaging offer a starting point, consult your veterinarian to determine how much food your Selkirk Rex needs. They'll consider your cat's age, activity level, health, and weight to create a personalized feeding plan.

How To Feed a Selkirk Rex

You can opt to free-feed your Selkirk Rex or provide them scheduled meals throughout the day. While convenient, free-feeding could lead to overeating or even boredom in your cat. If you’re not home during the day to cater to multiple small meals, an automatic feeder could be a solution. 

Nutritional Tips for the Selkirk Rex

To promote dental health, consider feeding your Selkirk Rex treats approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC). This can help keep their teeth clean between dental exams and cleanings

Behavior and Training Tips for Selkirk Rex

Selkirk Rex Personality and Temperament

curly-haired selkirk rex cat curled up asleep in a wooden bowl
Photo credit: Adobe Stock/fotofox33

With a loving nature inherited from the Persian and the patience of the British Shorthair, Selkirk Rex cats make ideal cuddlers. Their playful bursts, lackadaisical as they may be, are likely influenced by their Exotic Shorthair ancestry. 

But remember, even with a docile personality such as that of the Selkirk, socialization with other pets and teaching children respectful interaction are still crucial for a happy and well-adjusted cat.

Selkirk Rex Behavior

These affectionate cats crave companionship. While they can handle short periods alone, too much solitude can leave them feeling lonely. To keep them happy during your absence, create an enriching environment that includes a cat tree with scratching surfaces, a sunny window perch for watching the world, and a selection of toys to bat around.

Selkirk Rex Training 

All cats can learn new tricks and skills, no matter their age. Make training fun with positive reinforcement like treats, praise, or playtime. Food puzzles can also be enriching and slow down fast eaters. You might be surprised by how smart your cat really is!

Fun Activities for Selkirk Rex 

Selkirk Rex Grooming Guide

Selkirk Rex cats aren’t as high-maintenance as their Persian relatives, but they still need regular grooming and care to look and feel their best.

Skin Care

Selkirk Rex cats can have oily skin, so they may benefit from baths every few weeks. Introducing baths when your cat is a kitten can help make the experience a positive one.

If you notice signs of skin irritation or itching, schedule a checkup with a veterinarian. Make sure to always keep your Selkirk Rex on a flea and tick preventative, even if they’re indoor-only cats.

Coat Care 

The Selkirk Rex’s curls can range from tight ringlets to lose waves. They also come in an array of coat colors, resembling little sheep in white and cream tones, black, orange, chocolate, tabby, pointed, and more.

Brushing your Selkirk Rex about twice a week will reduce loose hair around the house and prevent knots and matting. If you notice their curls are loosening or frizzing out, you may be grooming your Selkirk Rex too much.

Eye Care

Selkirk Rexes don’t require special eye care. However, if you notice they’re having trouble seeing (especially at night), or have eye discharge, redness, or irritation, schedule a checkup with your veterinarian. 

Ear Care

Cats' ears typically don't require at-home routine cleaning. If you notice debris, use a veterinarian-approved ear cleaner. Any itchy ears, discharge, or foul odors warrant a checkup with your veterinarian.

Considerations for Pet Parents

Selkirk Rex cats are beloved for their patient personalities and soft, curly fur. But like all cats, they require ample exercise, mental stimulation, and respect for their personal space.

Before welcoming a Selkirk Rex into your home, prepare your children and have a plan for properly introducing your cat or kitten to other pets. You'll also need essential supplies like a cat tree for climbing, food formulated for their life stage, and plenty of toys and scratching surfaces. When in doubt about your Selkirk Rex's care, consult your veterinarian for the best advice.

Selkirk Rex FAQs

How much does a Selkirk Rex cat cost?

The Selkirk Rex price typically ranges from $850 to $2,000.

Do Selkirk Rex cats shed a lot?

Selkirk Rex cats shed moderately, but regular brushing (about twice a week) can significantly reduce the amount of loose fur around your home. 

Can Selkirk Rex cats go outside?

While Selkirk Rex cats might enjoy the outdoors, it's safest to keep cats indoors to avoid dangers such as vehicles, predators, and disease. However, walks on a leash and harness or providing access to a secure catio are great options for safe outdoor exploration.

Janelle Leeson


Janelle Leeson

Freelance Writer

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