Is there no element of our culture that is immune to the 1980s revival? Big hair was a thing in the ‘80s, and now it’s a big thing for cats. Curly-haired cats are all the rage, but you don’t need to get yours a perm: it’s all in the breeding.
Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that some of these curly cat breeds were developed in the 1980s. With their tousled fluff, they look something like a cross between a sheep, a duck’s behind, and a Scouser. But which breeds should you be considering?
Curly fur cats: what lies beneath
Curly-haired cats began their resurgence a couple of years ago following, among other publicity grabs, a tweet containing pictures of a poodle-esque curly kitten went viral.
But while the species has always been dotted with freak occurrences of curly cats, it’s only since the 1950s that they’ve been available ‘to order.’ That’s when breeders started to deliberately develop lines of Shirley Temple-looking critters with fur you could lose your wedding ring in.
Let’s take a look at the four key curly breeds of cat you need to know.
Curly fur cat #1: The Selkirk Rex
The first curly Selkirk of note was Miss DePesto, a stray found in Montana in 1987. A keen-eyed breeder named Jeri Newman adopted DePesto and introduced her to a gentleman Persian whose name is not on record. Nature took its course, and the couple produced a litter of six kittens. Three of them were curly, meaning the curly gene was dominant.
The Selkirk is quite a big cat, with one of the fluffiest coats among curly breeds. They are born curly, and will shed a reasonable amount of it over the years. And they require a fair deal of grooming, making it an altogether time-consuming breed. But it’s playful, as far as cats go, and fluffy as hell.
Curly fur cat #2: The Cornish Rex
Let’s go further back in time to a different type of Rex; not the tyrannosaurus, but the Cornish. The original Cornish Rex was a fellow of the 1950s, cream-coloured with tiny, lamb-like curls. But rather than grow into a sheep-shaped creature, the Cornish remains pretty lean for a cat. It has long, slim legs and pointy bat ears. Yes, imagine a cross between a cat, a bat, a sheep, and a gazelle, and that’s just about what you’ll find in the box.
The Cornish Rex loves people (as far as cats go) which is just as well, as its fur feels like heaven. Having been bred with Burmese, Siamese, and British Shorthair cats over the years, the Rex is a great blend of artful poseur and no-nonsense Englishness.
Curly fur cat #3: The Devon Rex
Keen geographers (and British holidaymakers) will be aware that Cornwall and Devon are pretty close to each other on the south coast of England. So perhaps the Cornish and Devon Rexxies are keen rivals? Who knows.
But we do know that although the Devon Rex first appeared in the same decade as the Cornish equivalent, it was not produced as an attempt to ‘keep up with the Joneses.’ In fact, this curly critter came about by chance. Locals found a stray cat had produced a litter that included a sweet-faced and curly-haired fur-baby. So heaven knows who the father(s) were. (We’re looking at you, Cornish Rex).
Anyway, this kitten grew up to father its own litter of permed-looking kitties, and so the Devon Rex spread.
It’s a childish, friendly, sometimes needy beast; alien-shaped with soft, wavy hair that tends not to shed too much (good news for the allergic).
Curly fur cat #4: The LaPerm
Another cat of the ‘80s – the name says it all. But this one is more likely than the rest to have arrived, E.T.-style, from another planet (or perhaps the Upside-Down). It was born bald, with tabby skin, and freaky ears. When its fur finally grew, hey presto – it was curly, and Curly was her name.
Being the new kid in town, Curly soon attracted the attention of local toms, including a Manx and a Siamese. And all of her kittens developed curly coats – showing that her perm gene was dominant.
Small and quiet but mischievous, the LaPerm makes a good pet (if you’re sure it’s a cat that you want). And despite its fancy hair, it doesn’t demand too much grooming. Colour-wise, it is most commonly red, tabby, or tortoiseshell.
Put your tongs away, cos these four cats come ready-curled!
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