Cats with curls: Five cute curly-haired cat breeds

Have you ever heard of a cat with curls? Some special cat breeds are born with fur that looks like it was permed, so take a look at what makes these five felines and their locks so special.

Selkirk Rex cats have a special curl to their fur.
Selkirk Rex cats have a special curl to their fur.  © 123RF/katoosha

Curly-haired cats came to be thanks to natural genetic mutations, plus their breeders' love for those luscious locks.

Curly haired cat breeds include:

  • Cornish Rex
  • Devon Rex
  • German Rex
  • LaPerm
  • Selkirk Rex
  • Ural Rex

Most curly hair cat breeds have the word "Rex" in their name. That's because it's also the name of the genetic mutation that causes the animals' curly fur. The same term is used for rabbit breeds similar coats.

But breeding curly cats is no easy feat. Kittens don't always inherit the trait and to make matters more twisty, some other cats with longer fur, like Maine Coons and Persian cats, appear to have curls even without possessing that curly gene.

This makes these five breeds rare as well as cute.

Curly-haired cats: Cornish Rex

The Cornish Rex's coat is very soft, like silk or rabbit fur.
The Cornish Rex's coat is very soft, like silk or rabbit fur.  © 123RF/diabl

The genetic mutation responsible for the Cornish Rex's curly fur first appeared in the 1950s in a male cat named Kallibunker on a farm in Cornwall, England. Selective breeding lead to the unique Cornish Rex breed.

This cat breed is known for having a delicate and petite body, and a narrow head with large ears.

A distinctive feature of a Cornish Rex is that the cat's coat is just an undercoat. That makes this feline one silky animal, but this also makes it very sensitive to changes in temperature, which means it's best suited to being an indoor cat. It still needs a lot of room to move and play, though.

Anyone interested in a Cornish Rex should pay special attention to where this rare breed is coming from. Make sure your future cat is the product of professional and responsible breeding, while also being aware that this is going to be a real investment.

Curly-haired cats: Devon Rex

The Devon Rex is a curly haired cat breed that's great with kids and likes to cuddle.
The Devon Rex is a curly haired cat breed that's great with kids and likes to cuddle.  © 123RF/grigory_bruev

The Devon Rex is originally from Devon County in England. This cat's wavy fur mutation was first bred around 1960 and can be traced back to a tomcat named Kirlee.

The Devon Rex's has more than just an unusual coat structure. It also has a broad head, large ears, and a long thin tail.

Another special thing about this cat breed is that it's curls don't stop at it's coat, but extend to its bushy whiskers.

The Devon Rex's fur is mostly undercoat with a thin top layer, which needs a careful weekly brushing session.

This breed's disposition makes it the perfect family feline. It's calm, trusting, and cuddly. It also very curious and playful, and likes to chill with its owners. Anyone who chooses to make this curly breed their cat companion is sure to have a loyal animal by their side. In fact, this cat prefers hanging out with its favorite people.

Curly-haired cats: LaPerm

LaPerm cats love to hang on their owner's laps and purr.
LaPerm cats love to hang on their owner's laps and purr.  © 123RF/nilsjacobi

It's all in the name: the LaPerm is known for its majestic "perm."

This cat's characteristic curls can be traced back to a different genetic mutation than other curly haired cat breeds.

In fact, sometimes kittens of this fuzzy breed are born bald, and their fur has to grow in.

LaPerm breed originated in Oregon. There, a female cat named Curly was born sans hair but eventually grew a curly coat. When this permanently permed cat had kittens, she passed on this curly trait and a new breed was born.

People love these cats because of their adorable but disheveled appearance. LaPerms are known for their trusting and affectionate nature. These animals need a lot of attention and love from their owners. Anyone considering taking in a LaPerm should be ready to give this cat a lot of cuddles and avoid leaving it alone for long stretches.

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Curly-haired cats: Selkirk Rex

The Selkirk Rex is affectionate, social, and strong.
The Selkirk Rex is affectionate, social, and strong.  © 123RF/mdmmikle

The curly cat breed line called Selkirk Rex can be traced back to a mama cat named Miss DePesto, discovered in a Montana shelter in 1987.

Breeders like to cross-breed this cat, as the results have curls of various shapes and definitions.

Kittens breed from Selkirk Rex purebreds often results in cats with smooth coats.

Because of its dense, curly coat, the Selkirk Rex is also referred to as a sheep or poodle cat. Its cozy curls, wavy whiskers, and a sociable disposition make this kitty a very popular cat breed.

Selkirk Rex is a great cat for people who spend a lot of time at home or want to have more than one feline. That's because this curly Rex is one needy kitty and it hates being left its own.

In fact, these cats have been known to follow their owners everywhere, which is why they are often compared to dogs. Speaking of, they're also great with pooches, as well as kids.

Curly-haired cats: Ural Rex

The Ural Rex's curls need a lot of love and care.
The Ural Rex's curls need a lot of love and care.  © 123RF/akifyevasvetlana

The youngest of the curly haired cat breeds is the Ural Rex. This puss in curls was first bred in Russia and boasts a beautiful short curly coat with soft but dense fur.

The Ural Rex is also special because each wave has a striking elasticity. This exotic coat is easy to maintain and doesn't shed much.

Ural Rex is a gentle, relaxed cat, but it's also a vocal little thing that loves and needs to be close to its owners. Like the Selkirk Rex, this cat doesn't let to get left home alone, so it's best if it has other animals to hang out with. It also has some serious smarts, which need to be stimulated.

The same gene that accounts for this breed's special coat makes breeding tricky, and bad cross-breeding can be disastrous. These restrictions are what make Ural Rex cats both rare and costly.

Anyone interested in bringing home a cute curly cat should do their homework. Make sure your breeder is a good one. Bad or illegal breeding practices can lead to sickly cats.

Cover photo: 123RF/katoosha

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