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rec.pets.cats: American Curl Breed-FAQ

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Archive-name: cats-faq/breeds/american-curl
Posting-frequency: 30 days
Last-modified: 12 Mar 1997

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                               American Curls
   Author: Karen O'Brien, CFA American Curl Breed Council Secretary,
   Copyright (c)1995 Karen O'Brien, All Rights Reserved.
   "What did you do to their ears? Are their ears always like that? Did
   you use a curling iron?"
   Yes, their ears ARE always like that and no, a curling iron was NOT
   used to achieve those extraordinary ears! The curled ear is a natural
   genetic mutation and first time admirers are always surprised by the
   American Curl's unique ears and impressed by their overall striking
   beauty. Curls quickly become a favorite with all who come to know
   The American Curl's ears, which are firm to the touch and curl back in
   a graceful arc away from their face toward the center back of their
   head, are a genetic mutation given to us by none other than Mother
   Nature. Discovered in California as a stray cat in 1981, the American
   Curl is now recognized as one of the United States' native American
   cat breeds.

   On a sunny day in June 1981 in Lakewood, California, a longhair silky
   black female kitten with unusual ears wandered up to the doorstep of
   Joe and Grace Ruga. Joe scrutinized the situation and determined that
   the most effective solution to this stray kitten problem was to ask
   Grace not to feed the kitten. Grace, not abiding by her husband's
   wishes but listening to her heart instead, left a bowl of food on the
   porch. The affectionate black kitten quickly worked her way into the
   Ruga's hearts (especially Joe's) and they named her Shulamith, which
   means "black but comely". Such are the beginnings of the American Curl
   as it is known today. True American Curls must trace their pedigree
   back to Shulamith, the foundation female.
   In December 1981, Shulamith delivered her first litter of kittens. Out
   of four kittens, two had the same curly ears as Shulamith. A
   geneticist was contacted to study this phenomenon and he confirmed
   that this unusual ear was a genetic trait and was inherited in every
   case, causing it to be labeled a dominant gene, with no deformities
   attached to it. Referred to as a spontaneous mutation, the gene that
   causes the ear to curl appeared to be following a single dominant

   Selective breeding and presentation of the Curls began in 1983
   allowing cat fanciers their first opportunity to get a glimpse of a
   rare, new addition to the world of cats. Curls were first accepted for
   CFA registration in 1986 and achieved Provisional status in 1991
   followed by their advancement to the Championship Class in February
   1993, setting a precedent in CFA by being the first breed to be
   admitted to the Championship Class as one breed with two coat lengths.
   Due to their domestic ancestry, American Curls are available in both
   longhair and shorthair varieties and come in any color or coat
   pattern. Both coat lengths are presented in the Longhair Division at
   CFA cat shows.
   Breeding partners for American Curls are limited to other Curls or
   non-pedigreed domestic cats which closely match the Curl breed
   standard with the exception of the curled ear. By outcrossing to
   domestic cats, the American Curl gene pool grows large and optimum
   health is maintained due to genetic diversity. When breeding Curl to
   Curl, the resulting kittens will usually all have curled ears.
   However, a Curl bred to a straight ear cat, regardless of whether or
   not it is a domestic cat or an American Curl Straight Ear, will
   produce at least 50% Curls and sometimes more due to the dominant
   nature of the curl gene. American Curl Straight Ears from such litters
   are very valuable in a planned breeding program and also make
   outstanding pets.
Characteristics and Temperment

   When Curls are born, their ears are straight, but within two to ten
   days after birth, their ears begin to curl back. During the first 4
   months, the kitten's ears will gradually curl and uncurl in varying
   degrees until they are set permanently at 4 months of age. At this
   age, breeders can determine the kitten's quality (pet, breeder, show).
   Along with the kitten's overall conformation to the breed standard,
   degree of curl to the ear is a key factor in determining quality as
   follows: first degree (pet), second degree (breeder), and third degree
   (show) being the most desirable curl to the ear, emulating the
   graceful curve of a full crescent. Ear furnishings (hair tufts)
   fanning outward from the ear accentuate and further enhance the curled
   The ideal American Curl is a medium sized, alert animal with an
   elegant appearance and a sweet, open expression complimented by their
   remarkable ears. Both longhair and shorthair Curls have soft, silky
   coats, but the longhair Curl has the distinction of sporting a
   beautiful plumed tail. Because both coat lengths have minimal
   undercoat resulting in non-matting hair, grooming an American Curl is
   easy -- an occasional bath and combing is all that is needed. Care
   should be taken when handling the ears to avoid breaking the cartilage
   -- do not force the ear into unnatural positions.
   The Curl's temperament is one of curiosity and companionship. Being
   very people-oriented, they like to assist in all household projects
   and delight in "bumping heads" with their owners or new human
   acquaintances. Curls are even tempered and intelligent, yet they
   retain their kitten-type behavior throughout their adult life. Not
   overly talkative, the Curls will tell you when they need something or
   desire attention. American Curls easily adapt to almost any home
   situation and adjust to other animals remarkably well. Simply stated,
   they are extremely affectionate and absolutely ear-resistible!
   Pricing of American Curls usually depends on each individual kitten's
   degree of curl, bloodlines, type and markings. Many breeders allow
   pickup of new kittens between 3 and 4 months of age. Along with
   reaching their permanent degree of curl by 4 months, kittens have had
   basic inoculations and developed the physical and social stability to
   adjust to a new environment. Four months is also the minimum age
   requirement for cat show participation and transportation of kittens
   by air.
    American Curl FAQ 
    Karen O'Brien,
    Last updated 07/19/95

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