While it’s common to see curly dogs, it’s very unusual to find a curly-haired cat. It’s even hard to believe that they actually exist!
The curly hair seen in cats is caused by a genetic mutation that alters hair structure. Most curly cats completely lack an undercoat. This results in a natural plush coat with curly guard hairs instead of the usual straight fur.
Today, we’re going to find out everything there is to know about the curly-haired cat — their appearance, temperament, lifespan, health, and others. Let’s get started, shall we?
4 Curly-Haired Cat Breeds and Their Characteristics
Out of the 71 different cat breeds known worldwide, there are only four recognized for their curly hair. Most of them come from the rex group of cats.
Let’s see how each breed differs from one another in terms of looks, size, and temperament.
If you want to be taken back to the style of the 80s, all you have to do is look at a LaPerm cat. This breed has the curliest fur out of the four breeds.
Ironically, LaPerm kittens are born bald or with very short hair, so it’s a surprise to find them with soft waves and springy curls as adult cats.
As for other physical characteristics, a LaPerm is a medium-sized cat with a muscular body.
They have long legs, large ears, and plumed tails. Their coats can be short or long with a mat-resistant undercoat.
This breed is naturally affectionate, so you should expect them to come to you for their daily dose of snuggles. They are also quite playful and have a high prey drive.
LaPerm Cat Breed Information:
- Height: Male and Female: 6 – 10 inches (15 – 25 cm)
- Weight: Male: 7 – 12 lbs (3 – 5 kg), Female: 6 – 9 lbs (3 – 4 kg)
- Life Expectancy: 10 – 15 years
- Origin: United States
- Temperament: Sociable, Affectionate, Gentle, Inquisitive, Easy Going
- Coat Colors: Chocolate, Brown, Sable, Cinnamon, Lavender, Silver, Fawn, Blue, Gray, Black, Orange, White, Red, Cream
2. Selkirk Rex
The Selkirk Rex is one of the three Rex breeds included in this list of curly-haired cats. The curly appearance of this cat easily caught the attention of Jeri Newman, a Persian cat breeder.
The cat was named “Miss DePesto,” after a character from a popular TV show called “Moonlighting.”
All Selkirk Rex cats can be traced back to the bloodline of Miss DePesto. When she was bred with a black Persian, the litter produced had six kittens with curly coats. Kittens born with straight fur will not carry the dominant rex gene for curly hair.
Selkirk Rex cats are often compared to teddy bears because of their long, wooly coat. Sometimes, they are even referred to as the “poodle cat.”
In terms of personality, a Selkirk cat can be compared to a British Shorthair — they are inherently loving and playful.
Selkirk Rex Cat Breed Information:
- Height: Male and Female: 9 – 11 inches (23 – 28 cm)
- Weight: Male: 11 – 16 lbs (5 – 7 kg), Female: 6 – 12 lbs (3 – 5 kg)
- Life Expectancy: 14 – 15 years
- Origin: United States
- Temperament: Affectionate, Dependent, Gentle, Quiet, Patient, Playful
- Coat Colors: White, Black, Red, Cream, Chocolate, Lavender
3. Cornish Rex
In 1960, a feral cat named Kirlee was the first curly-haired Cornish Rex. Instead of having three layers of fur, this feline has only an undercoat that appears as tiny ripples of curly hair.
Like the Devon Rex, the Cornish Rex is often regarded as a nearly hairless cat breed. They are known to shed minimally, which makes them a good choice for allergy sufferers.
As for other features, they are incredibly slender, like a ballerina with noticeably large ears and a long, skinny tail.
Cornish Rex cats are extremely loving and intelligent pets. Sometimes they can be very demanding and vocal, but that’s just how they show affection to their owners. Because of their personality, they make excellent therapy cats.
Cornish Rex Cat Breed Information:
- Height: Male and Female: 10 – 12 inches (25 – 30 cm)
- Weight: Male: 8 – 10 lbs (4 – 5 kg), Female: 5 – 7 lbs (2 – 3 kg)
- Life Expectancy: 11 – 15 years
- Origin: United Kingdom
- Temperament: Bold, Curious, Sociable, Highly Energetic, People-Oriented
- Coat Colors: White, Blue, Black, Cream, Red, Brown, Frost, Platinum, Fawn, Chocolate, Chestnut, Cinnamon, Lavender, Champagne, Seal
4. Devon Rex
The next curly-haired cat on our list is the Devon Rex, also known as the alien or pixie cat. Unlike other Rexed cats, their curly coat is caused by a recessive gene.
Aside from their curly fur, they have curly eyebrows and whiskers that become more noticeable as they age.
Compared to other curly-haired breeds, the Devon Rex has a very short coat (almost hairless) with a suede-like texture.
They also have large heads and eyes that are set wide apart. Their thin necks and small bodies also give them a unique appearance.
A Devon Rex is a wonderful addition to the family due to their silly and playful personality. You will often observe them following you around the house or climbing on the kitchen counter.
Devon Rex Cat Breed Information:
- Height: Male and Female: 8 – 12 inches (20 – 30 cm)
- Weight: Male: 7 – 9 lbs (3 – 4 kg), Female: 5 – 7 lbs (2 – 3 kg)
- Life Expectancy: 9 – 15 years
- Origin: United Kingdom
- Temperament: Sociable, Alert, Active, Fun-Loving, Affectionate
- Coat Colors: White, Black, Blue, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Lavender, Red
Other Curly-Haired Cat Breeds in Development
The International Cat Association (TICA) and Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) only recognize the four curly-haired breeds I’ve discussed previously. However, there are other breeds that will soon join the list.
The list below consists of several rex cat breeds and other curly-haired cats in development:
- German Rex
- Ural Rex
- Tasman Rex
- Tennessee Rex
Once these become widely accepted as curly-haired breeds, you will have plenty of options when getting a curly kitten for yourself.
Some Rexed cats like the Cornish Rex have also been mixed with Persians and Maine Coons. However, a separate breed with curly hair has not been developed from them.
Places to Find Curly-Haired Cats for Sale and Adoption
Compared to other famous cat breeds, those with curly hair are quite special and extremely rare. Because of this, finding a curly-haired kitten for purchase or adoption can be a bit of a pickle.
If you want to find cats with curly fur, you should look for a breeder that offers any of the four curly-haired breeds.
Luckily, I compiled a list of breeders just for you:
- LaPerm Kitties – This cattery produces curly-haired LaPerm kittens with thick, soft, and velvet-like coats. They offer kittens for companionship and breeding. Shipping is possible across different states.
- British Dynasty Cattery – As a TICA- approved breeder, this cattery has been providing the best Selkirk Rex cats since 2005. All of their curly-haired kittens have complete registration and age-appropriate vaccinations. They also come from European champion bloodlines.
- Barmont Persians and Cornish Rex – This is a CFA-registered cattery dedicated to providing Persian and Cornish Rex cats. They are home to champion adult cats and kittens. All of them are raised in a safe and healthy environment to socialize with other cats and humans.
- Kurakats – This breeder is the largest supplier of Devon Rex cats in the United States. They established their cattery in 2010, and since then, they have served many cat lovers from their home in North Carolina. They highly recommend adopting two Devon Rex kittens for effective socialization.
Buying a curly-haired friend comes with a high price. For those on a tight budget, consider adopting a curly kitten from a rescue group or shelter.
Here are some places you may find a curly-haired cat for adoption:
- Cornish Rex Friends – This is an organization focused on providing secure and loving homes for the Cornish Rex breed. An adoption application should be filled out online to take home a kitten from them. You can view available cats on their Petfinder profile.
- Specialty Purebred Cat Rescue – Founded in 1999, this rescue is the largest organization that focuses on saving special and rare purebred cats and mixes. Curly-haired breeds with short hair and long hair are available for adoption in this rescue. They regularly consult for veterinary advice to rehabilitate and treat their rescued cats.
- Petfinder – This is a pet adoption website where you can easily find rescue groups that offer the curly-haired cat of your preference. You can also filter your search according to the cat’s breed and your location.
A cat with curly hair is challenging to obtain but rewarding to own. It’s essential to choose a breeder that ensures the health and quality of his litter.
Ask questions about the parents of the litter and if they offer a guarantee for congenital disabilities.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Curly-Haired Cats Rare?
Curly-haired cats are pretty rare in the feline world. They are produced from a particular genetic mutation that expresses the curly hair gene. As of today, this is exclusive to only four breeds — the LaPerm, Selkirk Rex, Devon Rex, and Cornish Rex.
Are Curly-Haired Cats High Maintenance?
As low-shedders, most curly-haired cat breeds are considered low maintenance. Curls in short-haired breeds are easier to manage, while long-haired cats need regular brushing.
However, if you have a hairless cat, you need to put in more effort in maintaining their oily skin.
Do Curly-Haired Cats Shed a Lot?
Unlike those with straight fur, most curly-haired cats shed a lot less. Although not completely hypoallergenic, they are the most viable option for those with allergies. This also means that you can enjoy an almost dander-free home.
How Much Do Curly-Haired Cats Cost?
If you plan to buy a curly-haired cat, you need to prepare around $1,000 to $1,500 for a kitten. Sometimes, you need to pay for the extra cost of shipping your purchased cat.
One cat can also cost higher than the other due to its bloodline, color, or special markings.
As pets, a curly-haired cat is truly one of a kind. There are only four existing breeds with curly coats, most of them from the Rex family.
If you choose to own one, you won’t only have a beautiful cat but also an excellent companion.
You are also less likely to have an allergic reaction by having these curly cats around. This means you can freely enjoy cuddling with them and spend less time removing fur from sheets and clothes.
You should also consider the temperament of the cat you wish to have. Aside from their unique looks, each breed has its own personality that may or may not suit your liking.