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American Curl
Recognized Breed

American Curl Activity Level 7
Playfulness 8
Need for attention 8
Affection towards its owners 8>
Vocality 2
Docility 5
Intelligence 7
Independence 6
Healthiness and hardiness 7
Need for grooming 5
Compatibility with children 8
Compatibility with other pets 8
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History
While some new cat breeds have had to bang their fuzzy little heads against the cat fancy walls to gain acceptance, the American Curl has purred its way into the hearts of judges and cat lovers in an amazingly short time. The breed originated in June 1981 as a spontaneous genetic mutation in the domestic cat population. By 1986 it was recognized by two of the largest cat registries.

In 1981 two cats with curled ears arrived on the doorstep of cat lover Grace Ruga in Lakewood, California. One disappeared soon after arriving. The other, a longhaired black cat that Ruga named Shulamith (a Hebrew word meaning ¿black but comely¿) stayed on and in December 1981 gave birth to a litter. Two of the kittens had the same curled-back ears.

Ruga gave two of Shulamith¿s kittens to her sister, Esther Brimlow. Nancy Kiester, a former breeder of Australian Shepherds, saw the cats while making a delivery to Brimlow¿s house and fell in love with their unique ears and gentle temperament. She obtained the two Curl kittens from Brimlow. After reading an article on Scottish Fold cats¿a breed also noted for its distinctive ears¿it occurred to her that this might be an entirely new breed.

Kiester contacted the Rugas and together they exhibited Shulamith and Kiester¿s two kittens at a show in Palm Springs, California, in October 1983. Later they met with a cat judge who bred Scottish Folds, who confirmed that the Curls were unknown in the cat fancy.

In 1986 TICA granted the Curl Championship status. Later the same year, CFF accepted the breed for experimental status and the CFA accepted the Curl for registration. In February 1991 the CFA granted the breed Provisional status. All of the associations now recognize the Curl.

Since this is a breed with a fairly small gene pool, to insure sufficient genetic diversity, outcrossing to nonpedigreed domestic cats will continue until January 1, 2010. However, this also means that conformation and personality can vary greatly from bloodline to bloodline, depending upon the cats used in the breeding program.

Personality
Curls have qualities other than the whimsical ears to make them attractive pets. They are people cats that do not show any of the stereotypical aloofness, and are affectionate without harassing people for attention the way some breeds can. They delight in perching on shoulders and love to pat and nuzzle their owners¿ faces. Curls are a ¿fetching¿ breed¿easily taught to play fetch¿and never lose their love of play. They are also noted for their affinity with children.

While not as active as the Abyssinian, American Curls are playful and energetic. They also display the typical cat curiosity and want to be right there to investigate any changes in their environment.

Conformation
At birth, Curl kittens look like any other kitten, but between one and seven days the ears get firmer and start to plump up and curve back. Since the degree of curl can change dramatically over a short period, kittens should not be purchased until they are between four and four and one-half months, when the curl of the ear settles down into the form it will carry throughout the cat¿s life. Curl cats take two to three years to reach maturity.

The degree of ear curl can vary from 90 to 180 degrees, or from first degree to the show-favored third degree curl. The ears should not curl back to touch the back of the head, however; this is cause for disqualification, as is any ear lacking firm cartilage from the base to at least one-third of its height.

General
Well-balanced, moderately muscled, slender rather than massive in build. Proper proportion and balance are more important than size.
Body
Semiforeign; rectangle; length one and one-half times length at shoulder; size intermediate; tail flexible, wide at base, and tapering.
Head
Modified wedge without flat planes, moderately longer than wide; nose moderate in length; straight, slight rise from bottom of eyes to forehead; no break; muzzle rounded with gentle transition, no pronounced whisker break; chin firm.
Ears
Moderately large; alert, set equally on top and side of head; furnishings desired; minimum 90 degree arc of curl, not to exceed 180 degrees; wide at base and open, curving back in smooth arc; tips rounded and flexible.
Eyes
Moderately large, walnut shape, oval on top and round on bottom; set on slight angle between base of ear and tip of nose. Color clear and brilliant; no relation to coat color except blue eyes are required in colorpoint class.
Tail
Flexible, wide at base, tapering.
Coat
Longhair: fine, silky, lying flat; minimal undercoat; semilong; tail full and plumed. Shorthair: soft, silky, lying flat; resilient without a plush dense feel; undercoat minimal; length short.
Color
All colors and patterns, including Himalayan pattern, shaded, smoke, chinchilla, and bicolors.
Disqualify
Extreme curl in adult where tip of ear touches back of head or ear; straight or severely mismatched ears; thick or calcified ears; lack of firm cartilage in base of ear; tail faults.
Allowable Outcrosses
Domestic longhair or shorthair for litters born before January 1, 2010.

Picture(s): Yann Arthus-Bertrand/Corbis | |

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