American Curl


Basic Information

Other Name
United States
Life Span
12-16 years
Flat Lying, Light Undercoat, Lustrous, Silky, and Soft
Black, Blue, Chocolate, Cream, Lilac, and Red
Small to Medium
5 - 8 Pounds



The signature characteristic of the Curl is his unusual ears, which curl backward instead of standing up and coming to a point. The American Curl is a medium-size cat weighing five to 10 pounds, with an average lifespan of more than 13 years. This cat generally has a well-proportioned and slender build. Its coat is soft, silky, and light, with no undercoat. Because of outcrossing -- introducing unrelated genetic material into a breeding line -- with other breeds, the Curl can be found in many colors, and in both long- and short-haired varieties. Its ears are moderately large with a wide and open base; they are also curled at the end (tip). Ideally, the ears should not curl back so far that they would touch the skull. But should, instead, curl back and toward each other at about 90 degrees, shaped similar to a crescent moon.

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The American Curl’s unusual ears are the result of a spontaneous mutation that occurred in 1981. Cat breeders took an interest in this twist of nature and developed him into a breed.It all began on a hot June day in 1981, when a stray longhaired black female kitten with unusual ears who moved in with Joe and Grace Ruga of Lakewood, California. They named her Shulamith. A few months later, the affectionate Shulamith repaid the Rugas’ kindness with a litter of four kittens. Two of them shared their mother’s distinctive trait. And thus was born a breed, with all American Curls tracing back to Shulamith.Cat breeders around the world were fascinated by the new development. By 1983 they had begun selective breeding programs to preserve the characteristic. Feline geneticist Roy Robinson determined that the ear-curling gene was autosomal dominant, meaning that a cat with even one copy of the gene would have ears that curled back.In an unusually rapid rise from stray to star, the American Curl was recognized by The International Cat Association in 1987 — just five years after the first breeding programs began — and by the Cat Fanciers Association in 1993.

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