If you want a truly unusual cat, then a curly haired cat breed might be exactly what you’re looking for. There are only four curly haired cat breeds. Let’s find out more about each breed so that you can decide which one is right for you and your family.
Are there any cats cuter than those with curly hair?! These cute-looking felines are not only visible on Instagram.
These felines are becoming more popular because of their distinctive appearance. These fluffy fluffballs are more common than any other domesticated cat breed but could be a wonderful addition to your family.
Before you begin looking for breeders, it is important to familiarize yourself with the various breeds and their personalities.
They come in many sizes, shapes, colors, curly types, and can be difficult to distinguish between them when first seen.
Below is a guide to all of the well-researched and popular fuzzy-coated breeds.
This list is for all owners who are looking for unique, intelligent, and active cats that will make their home happier.
What makes a curly haired cat breed?
Many curly-haired cat breeds have been called “rex” cats. This refers to the genetic mutation responsible for curly or wavy hair in these cats. Curly hair cat can be found in many species including horses, dogs, cats, rabbits and even rats. This mutation changes the structure of hair, making it curlier than straight.
Natural genetic mutations are responsible for all rexed cat breeds or those with curly hair. This isn’t a common trait, so there are only four official rex cat breeds recognized by the major breed associations like The International Cat Association and Cat Fancier’s Association.
Curly-haired cat breeds have different genetic mutations, which is why their curly hairs are so distinctive.
Curly haired cat breeds like the Devon Rex have no undercoat and have a thick, short coat that is entirely made up of guard hairs. Some, such as the Selkirk Rex have dense, thick coats that can be either short- or long-haired.
Only four curly haired cat breeds are accepted internationally: LaPerm. Devon Rex. Selkirk Rex. Cornish Rex. You’ll learn more about the unique characteristics of these cats’ personalities, sizes, and their history below.
Apart from the four most well-known breeds, six other breeds were added that are in development but not yet officially recognized.
These include the Skookum and German Rex as well as the Tasman Rex and Ural Rex. These breeds may not be internationally recognized, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be loved and familiarized.
|Lifespan:||10 – 14 years|
|Temperament:||Active and affectionate|
|Coat Colors:||Black, white, red, blue, chocolate, cream, fawn, cinnamon, and lavender, with different shadings and patterns|
|Weight:||5 – 10 pounds|
LaPerm is an organic breed. It can be traced back from a litter of kittens that was born in 1982 on a Dalles farm, Oregon. Curly was named after Curly. Curly was born bald but developed soft curly hair over time.
The kitten had her own curly-haired kittens. A breeding program was created in 1992 because the curly-haired cats at the farm were not allowed to breed.
LaPerm is a name that was inspired by the breed’s long, wavy hair. It looks almost like it has been permed. The breed attracted a lot of attention once it was better known.
LaPerm cats love to spend time with their owners and are very affectionate. They are also very attuned and attentive to their owners. While they love to be active, LaPerm cats will happily sit down with you.
LaPerm kittens may be born with or without hair. However, they almost always lose their hair by 6 months.
Clicker training is a great way for intelligent cats to learn tricks. It can also be a great way for you and your cat to bond while learning new tricks. LaPerms will be happy as long as they get affection and attention from their owners.
2. Selkirk Rex
|Temperament:||Outgoing and confident|
|Coat Colors:||Black, white, cream, red, lavender, and chocolate, with different shadings and patterns|
|Weight:||6 – 12 pounds|
The Selkirk Rex, sometimes called the “Poodle Cat”, is a natural breed that Jeri Newman discovered in Montana in 1987. In a litter of regular kittens, a curly-haired kitten was found with curly whiskers.
The mother cat had slightly curled hair and it is believed that this gene might have been passed on to the kitten. Miss DePesto was named after a character from the popular TV series, “Moonlighting”.
DePesto was bred to a Persian cat and had six kittens. Three of them were curly-haired, while the other three were normal.
In honor of Jeri’s stepfather, the breed was named Selkirk Rex. The Selkirk Rex is the only cat breed to take its name after a person.
Selkirk Rex cats come in a variety of hair lengths, including short and long hair. They can also be born with straight or curly coats. The Selkirk Rex is confident, outgoing, and people-oriented. They enjoy living in busy households and getting along with other pets.
Because of their thick coats, they shed quite often so it is important to brush them regularly. Selkirk Rex cats are strong and muscular. They are playful and enjoy lots of interaction with their family members.
Although they aren’t loud or demanding, you might find them following you around your home. They need lots of stimulation both mentally and physically to stay healthy.
3. Cornish Rex
|Lifespan:||9 – 13 years|
|Temperament:||Sociable and athletic|
|Coat Colors:||Black, white, red, blue, cream, lavender, chocolate, silver, tabby, and smoke, plus a range of different shadings and patterns|
|Weight:||5 – 9 pounds|
Nina Ennismore discovered the Cornish Rex in Cornwall, Britain in 1950. She was a breeder and mother of Rex rabbits so the kitten she got from a barn cat mom was not common. So she adopted him and named him Kallibunker.
His curly hair is thought to be due to a genetic mutation. It was initially thought that the Cornish Rex might be related to the Devon Rex, but all of the kittens that were bred from these two breeds developed straight hairs.
In 1957, the first Cornish Rex cat pair was brought to America. The breed was officially recognized in 1967. They are now more popular than their native country in the United States.
Cornish Rex are people-oriented, and they need to be around other people most of the day. Cornish Rex will not thrive in homes where their owners are away at work every day. Cornish Rex have no guard hairs so their coat is silky and thin.
This cat has a slim, athletic body. Cornish Rex cats have a distinct appearance due to their narrow faces and large ears. It’s important that they have plenty of places to climb.
They are good with dogs and other pets. Once they are harness trained, they love to learn tricks.
4. Devon Rex
|Lifespan:||9 – 13 years|
|Temperament:||Sociable and mischievous|
|Coat Colors:||Black, blue, white, red, cream, lavender, chocolate, fawn, and cinnamon, plus a range of different shadings and patterns|
|Weight:||5 – 10 pounds|
The Cornish Rex was more popular, so a curly-haired, naturally occurring breed of cat was discovered in Devon. A curly-coated feral cat gave birth to a litter of kittens in 1960. One of the kittens had a curly hair just like her father.
Beryl Cox was the owner of Kirlee, the curly-haired kitten. In an initial sale, Kirlee was given to Kallibunker, the owner of the Cornish Rex. This was to test whether breeding them would produce more curly-haired kittens.
However, none of the Kallibunker or Kirlee kittens were curly-haired. This indicates that their genotypes were different and they were not actually the same breeds. The Devon Rex breed was created by crossing Kirlee with other cat breeds.
Devon Rex are known for their tight curled hair and short whiskers. The breed’s large ears rest low on the heads, giving them a charming, pixie-like appearance that is irresistible to many.
These social cats are very friendly and enjoy being around other cats. They’re often mischievous and love to have fun. Devon Rex require lots of interaction with their owners, toys and enrichment to keep them busy.
Devon Rex cats are known for their adorable habit of waving their tails when they are happy. Their fur is fragile and should not be brushed too often as it can cause them to lose their hairs.
The Skookum breed of curly-haired cats appeared much later than the previous four breeds. It’s an experimental breed that first emerged in the 1990s when Roy Galusha crossed a LaPerm cat and a Munchkin cat.
The result was kittens that had curly hair like LaPerm and that were small in size with short legs like the Munchkin cat.
Since then, the Skookum has become one of the cutest dwarf-sized groups of cats that exist today.
These adorable cats with short legs will melt your heart when you see them too! It’s a dwarf feline breed that usually weighs between 3 and 5 pounds for females and 5 to 7 pounds for males. Their body is small, and close to the floor because of the short legs.
Like its LaPerm ancestry, the coat, whiskers, and eyebrows of the Skookum are all curly. However, the length can vary from short to long.
Regarding the colors, there isn’t a single one that’s specific for this breed. Instead, there are numerous variations, and future owners can pick between single-colored or multi-colored Skookum furballs.
Because of their unique appearance, Skokum cats are easy to love and give plenty of affection to their owners. Skookum cats will want to curl up right next to you and loved to get petted.
However, don’t let their small size deceive you! Even though they’re small and short, these felines are still fast and adventurous. In fact, these beautiful creatures are the perfect balance between active and calm.
Just like all other curly-haired cat breeds, Skookums are also very smart. They will learn so many things without you even needing to teach them. And when you want them to learn new tricks, it will be a real show.
Because of the unique way these furry friends are bred, you should be very careful when picking where to buy them. Do your research, and find a great breeder that is known for having the best Skookum cats.
6. German Rex
Although one of the first curly-haired breeds to appear, the German Rex is still not recognized as a separate cat breed.
The first members of this breed appeared in the 1950s in Germany. A doctor named Rose Scheuer-Karpin noticed a unique black and white feline with a curly coat near her hospital. Rose took the cat and started breeding her.
Unfortunately, professional breeders didn’t find a way to perfect the breeding process in the years to come, so they gave up.
In 1986, another breeder decided to give it another attempt and continue the tradition, making the German Rex cats we know today. German Rex cats are hard to come by and are often listed under the same breed as Cornish Rex.
These cats with curly hair have a fuzzy coat without guard hairs. It’s short, wavy, and silky soft. These felines can have various coat colors, with the exception of cinnamon, lilac, chocolate, or fawn.
Their head is small, round, with large ears and eyes. In fact, the size of their eyes is normal, but they appear much larger than they are because of the small head size. In general, the eye color of German Rex cats is yellow, orange, or green.
When it comes to their personality, these fluffballs are everything a cat owner can wish for. They are athletic and active but not too energetic.
They’re also very loving and connected to their human, which means you can expect plenty of petting sessions and sleeping together at night. German Rex cats aren’t always as curious as other breeds are, but that doesn’t mean they’re not smart.
7. Tasman Rex
The Tasman Rex breed is one of the most unique breeds of cats. They have frizzy curly coats and are either tailless or partially tailed, making for a truly unusual and distinctive appearance.
However, despite their one-of-a-kind looks, the Tasman Rex is still not officially recognized. This is due to its lack of tail causing several anatomical issues, deterring many from breeding Tasman Manx cats.
The origin of the Tasman Rex is unknown. Genetically, this breed is very close to a breed of cat called the Manx, and most people consider the Tasman Rex a variation of this breed.
Frizzy-haired Manx cats first appeared in New Zealand and Australia. They are possibly a product of a Persian cat that carried the Rex gene, but it wasn’t a dominant gene.
Alongside their genetic similarities with the Manx breed, Tasman Rex cats also adopt the features of Cornish Rex and Devon Rex cats.
In terms of temperament, their personality is fun, but they’re not loud or demanding. You can leave these cats alone, and they’ll find a way to entertain themselves.
As an extremely rare breed, it can be difficult to get your hands on a Tasman Rex feline. However, if you do manage to, it’s good to know that it will fit in very well with your kids and other house animals.
8. Ural Rex
A breed even rarer than the Tasman Manx is the Ural Rex. These felines are thought to have come from the Ural Mountain range in Russia. Although still present, these felines aren’t officially recognized as a breed. And, since these fuzzy-haired cats aren’t easy to come by, not much is discussed and known about their features.
One thing we do know for sure though is that the Ural Rex breed has a very curly coat. These luscious locks can be either short or medium length. The curls are so tight that they create a wave-like texture on the surface of their body.
Like other breeds in this list of cats with curly hair, Ural Rex felines are active and get attached to their humans. They love playing around, learning tricks and dislike being left alone at home.
9. Tennessee Rex
Tennessee Rex is one of the newest breeds of cats with curly hair, dating back only to 2004. When Franklin Whittenburg adopted a pregnant stray cat, he noticed that two of the kittens had a curly coat with a stunning satin finish. Next, professional breeders and researchers came to the rescue to discover that these kitties carried a new gene.
Since all this happened in Tennessee, the new breed was named Tennessee Rex. In general, Tennessee Rex felines are one of the recognized orange cat breeds, but their curly coats can also be a combination of white and orange or many other colors.
These are medium-sized cats with luscious, voluminous curls that always have a stunning and unusual satin shine that can’t be removed with shampoos or other products.
The personality is lovable, and this breed easily gets attached to its owners. They might end up following you around everywhere you go, but they won’t be boring or too demanding.
10. Oregon Rex
The Oregon Rex cat is the only extinct breed of domesticated felines. It might not be present anymore. However, it still deserves an honorary mention. These beautiful cats first appeared in 1955 in Oregon. According to most sources, this breed disappeared in 1972 due to breeding with Cornish Rex felines.
Oregon Rex cats were stubborn, but they loved their humans. Some people report that these furry creatures were a little tricky to have at home because of their stubborn personalities. Maybe that’s another reason why the breeding process didn’t continue.
The curly coat didn’t have any guard hairs, was short, and featured tight curls. Some of the most common hair colors included red, blue, silver, chocolate, and black.
These beautiful cats were small to medium-sized with athletically built bodies. Their head was round and small with large ears and eyes.
Why Do Some Cats Have Curly Hair?
As someone who loves cats, you may be wondering: “Why do some cats have curly hair and others straight hair?” The answer to this all lies in genetics. The rare, curly-haired phenomenon appeared due to a spontaneous genetic mutation. This mutation is wildly known as the rex mutation.
When the rex mutation is present in a cat’s genetic make-up, the structure and the look of the hair change, leading to cats having a curly coat.
However, there is not one single mutation responsible for curly hair. Instead, several different mutations have come about, which explains why each of the breeds on this list has subtly different curly coats. For example:
Lp Mutation: LaPerm felines suffer from an Lp dominant gene mutation and are blessed with luscious curls. Their coat can be short-haired or long-haired.
R Mutation: The Cornish Rex breed appeared as a result of a recessive R gene mutation. They only have a short undercoat and don’t have an outer or middle coat layer.
Se Mutation: Selkirk Rex cats have a Se gene mutation that blessed these felines with long, curly hair. As a result, their coat is denser, fuller, and longer than most cats from the other three recognized breeds. The Se gene is dominant, which means that even if only one of the parents is Selkirk Rex, the kittens will still have a curly coat.
Re Mutation: The Devon Rex breed appeared because of the Re gene mutation. They are similar to the Cornish Rex cats, so is the care of their curly coat.
Numerous other gene mutations happen among cats, such as the Gr mutation carried by German Rex cats and the Ro mutation carried by Oregon Rex cats. Many of the mutations we are still not familiar with nor have been researched enough. Rexed mutations aren’t easy to understand; therefore, many cat breeds aren’t officially recognized. The breeding process is complex and can lead to the appearance of various hair lengths, colors, and curl types.
How to Care for Curly Haired Cats
Curly hair cats require special care because their coats are different. Rex cats are cats that have undercoats. However, most of their hair is down. This requires special bathing and brushing.
This shouldn’t stop you from getting one these cat breeds. These sections will provide all the information you need to maintain your cat’s curly hair.
1. Brushing & Combing
Owners of curly cat breeds have to brush and condition their hair regularly. However, it is not more difficult to have a cat who has curly hair than one with long hair.
It’s usually a similar task in most cases because all cat owners must brush their hair. Only thing that will change is how many times you have to brush your cat each week.
Selkirk Rex and LaPerm are two breeds that can be a little more difficult to brush and comb. These felines have a curly and dense coat that can easily become matted.
The leading cause of matted cat fur is not brushing or combing your furry friend. You should brush your Selkrikr Rex and LaPerm furry friends at least twice per week, using tools that are specifically designed for these breeds.
The neck, limbs and stomach require the most attention. These are the areas where curls are most fragile, dense, and tightest.
Tangles will only get worse over time and will require more effort to untangle during your next combing session. Itching, allergies, matting, and baldness can all be caused by not brushing your cat regularly.
Devon Rex and Cornish Rex have looser curls so that it doesn’t get as matted as frequently and doesn’t require as much brushing.
These two breeds have a problem: they can get bald spots which can lead to other symptoms. Overgrooming your cat is often the reason. Because the hair follicles of cats are fragile, it is easy for them to lose their hairs if they are groomed too often.
Avoid overgrooming your cat and make sure you pay attention to any signs that she has been grooming for too long.
Ask for professional advice to make sure your cat is safe. Talk to your veterinarian if you notice bald patches in your cat’s fur. You’ll be given additional instructions by your veterinarian on how to care for your cat and how to comb its hair.
A feline with curly hair should also be bathed. Their hair cannot absorb the oil their skin produces so they can appear oily, greasy and waxy.
Usually, you will notice oily hair when brushing your pet’s coat. This is when bathing comes in to play.
Use gentle, moisturizing shampoos to bathe your cat with curly hair. They will moisturize their skin and make their coat shine. Gentle shampoos are also less likely to cause irritation and allergies.
Shampoos made for cats should be used sparingly to maintain their unique pH balance.
The cat’s ability to bathe will determine the difficulty, but most felines with fuzzy hairs don’t have any complaints.
These beautiful animals are attached to their owners and will not cause any trouble when they need to take a bath.
Are there any other curly haired cat breeds?
These four curly-haired cat varieties are the only ones that most breed associations accept. There are many curly-haired and rexed breeds that are currently in development.
- German Rex
- Tennessee Rex
- Ural Rex
- Tasman Rex
We’ll be adding these breeds to our database as soon as they become accepted. Although rexed cats are sometimes found in other cat breeds such as Persians and Maine Coons it has not led to the creation of a distinct breed. We would love to hear about curly haired cats!
MY FINAL THINKING
There is no doubt that cats are fascinating creatures. The gene mutations that create new breeds of cats with unique traits and characteristics make things even more interesting. Curly-haired cats are now very popular with owners.
There are four distinct curly-haired cat breeds that have been recognized: the LaPerm (Selkirk Rex), Devon Rex (Devon Rex), and Cornish Rex.
Many other breeds are not recognized, but they are still waiting to be officially accepted into cat associations. Every cat has their own unique characteristics, so there is bound to be one that you like the look of.
Curly-haired cats, aside from their beautiful looks, are loving, loyal pets who will give their best to you. They’re great for families with children and those who have dogs.
These breeds are very attached to their owners, and will need a lot more of your attention. People with busy lives might be better off choosing a breed that takes less time and requires less attention.