American Curls - Personality & Traits

American Curl Personality

Curls have qualities other than the whimsical ears to make them attractive pets. They are a very intelligent and trainable breed, low maintenance, family-friendly cats. They are people cats that do not show any of the stereotypical feline aloofness, and are affectionate without harassing people for attention. They delight in perching on shoulders and love to pat and nuzzle their peoples' faces.  They are enchanting -- a word that perfectly describes them. They also have their own language, a sort of chirping voice, but only "speak" when they have something to say.

American Curls are curious like all cats, and ready to investigate any changes in their environment; they are always playful and energetic. Called the "Peter Pan" of cats, they stay kitten-like into adulthood, can be taught to play 'fetch', and simply never lose their love of play. They are also noted for their affinity with children -- all people -- and other pets.

Interested in a brief history of the American Curl breed?

While some new cat breeds have had a difficult time gaining acceptance by cat fanciers, the American Curls have purred their 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, the Curl 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, but the other, a longhaired black cat that Ruga named Shulamith (a Hebrew word meaning 'black but comely') stayed on. In December 1981 she 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, out-crossing to non-pedigreed domestic cats continues 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.

About those Curled Ears

Along with those big eyes -- almond-shaped on top, rounded on bottom -- there are those wonderful ears!  The ears are not caused by a genetic defect, as with the Scottish Fold, but was a spontaneous natural mutation. 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, breeders typically do not release kittens until they are at least 4-5 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 (in the show ring, this is cause for disqualification, as is any ear lacking firm cartilage from the base to at least one-third of its height.)


In general, the American Curl is a healthy, hardy breed that has not yet suffered genetic health problems that can often occur  from overbreeding or small breeding pools -- and the American Curl has been breed with domestic cats from day one.  Because the ear canals can often be smaller than the average cat, [careful] cleaning is necessary from time to time to reduce the possibility of infection, although this is rare.


Curls have luxurious silking coats, with very little undercoat, so shedding is usually minimal.  Grooming and brushing with a natural bristle brush or metal grooming comb several times a week is usually sufficient, although daily brushing enhances quality bonding and play time.  Our own Curls love to be brushed and head butts assure us that more is better!  They don’t require frequent baths but many do enjoy “water sports.”  If you do bathe your Curl, make sure you're careful around the ears and that they are thoroughly dried using medium heat, then gently work through the coat and tail with a metal grooming comb.


Some Curls have darker ear wax that requires regular maintenance, but you should check with your Veterinarian for directions on how to properly clean and work around the ear canal. Curl ear canals can sometimes be much narrower than most cats, and require delicate handling.  Avoid pulling on the cartilage as this can cause the ear to uncurl over time, or even breakage to the cartilage.  Do NOT put any liquids directly into the ears as some Curl ear canals are narrow and they may be unable to shake out the liquid.  Nail Clipping is usually a breeze, although make sure you are careful not to clip the quick.


Want to Know More?

Interested in learning more about American Curls, or in adopting one?  Contact us for more information and to see if they are the right kitty for your home and family.

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