The history of the American Curl cat breed began in June 1981, in the town of Lakewood (California). A black kitten with a half-length of wool and unusual curls of ears wandered around the house of spouses Joe and Grace Ruga. The husband decided to ignore the appearance of a little strayhead, but his wife did not agree with him. Grace began to feed the kitten. Soon the foundling became a full-fledged member of the family. The kitten turned out to be a girl. The receptionist was given the name Shulamith, which means “black, but cute”.
By the end of the year, Shulamith brought the first litter. Dad kittens remained unknown. There were two babies with ordinary ears in the litter, and two with curled ones, like Shulamith herself. Spouses Ruga turned to geneticists to investigate the causes of the birth of kittens with such non-standard ears. Scientists have discovered that this feature is genetically determined. The kittens had a dominant gene that caused the ears to twist. Moreover, this feature was not accompanied by any deformations. In 1983, research and breeding of a new breed of cats began.
The path to recognition of American Curls as a breed was rather long and difficult. After genetics investigated Shulamith and her offspring, felinology enthusiasts turned to CFA judges to help establish Curls as a breed.
For the first time, American Curls were presented at the CFA exhibition, which took place on October 23, 1983 in California. Then the standards of this breed were considered for a long time.
To give the curls a special look, it was planned to cross them with such breeds as the Ocicat, the Egyptian Mau, the Abyssinian cat. But then it was decided to adhere to the signs possessed by Sulamif in order to preserve the distinctive features of the ancestor of the breed. For this reason, curls were crossed only with local cats that are suitable for the standard. This approach ensured genetic integrity, good health of the offspring, and the preservation of a unique appearance.
A genetic study of American Curl breed cats was carried out by two famous genetic scientists – Roy Robinson and Solveig Flyueger. They concluded that a twisted ear is a genetic mutation inherited by descendants dominantly. The recessive form of the curled ear does not exist. This feature is not accompanied by any deformation, adversely affecting the health of animals.
The first kitten with curled ears from a pair of American Curls was born in early 1984. Playit Kitten in black and white was the first homozygous representative of the breed. All his descendants had twisted ears, regardless of what ears the cat-mother had. It is natural that in breeding breeding programs, preference is always given to homozygous individuals.
Throughout the history of the breed, not a single disease has been recorded, caused by the gene responsible for twisted ears. Many breeders working simultaneously with several breeds note that American Curl kittens are more resistant to colds and infectious diseases than litters of other breeds.
In 1986, CFA accepted the American Curl for registration, and in 1991, cats of this breed first appeared at dog shows. In 1993, the Curls received the right to exhibit in the title classes. In the same year, the first precedent was fixed in CFA, when one breed of cats exists in both the long-haired and short-haired variations. Both species take part in CFA shows in the category of long-haired cats.
Since the progenitors of American Curls were ordinary domestic cats, this breed recognizes any colors (including colorpoint) and their various combinations with the length of the coat. By the way, several babies from the first litters Sulamif had a seal-point color.
In a very short time, American Curls have become popular in many countries around the world. At present, nurseries breeding this breed are in Japan, North America, and European states. It is surprising that in many countries they began to find local Aboriginal cats with ears twisted like that of American Curls. It is known that cats with such a feature were found in Australia and South America.
Breeding and care
The American Curl has a strong moderately plump body with smooth lines, an open pretty face and funny curled ears. Both short-haired and long-haired individuals have a soft coat, silky to the touch. The difference is that long-haired Curls have a bushier tail. The outer hair, which gives the fur heaviness, is practically absent in cats of this breed.
Care for American Curls is simple. All that is needed is bathing as the animal is polluted and treated with antistatic agents before traveling to exhibitions. The only caveat: you need to be very careful with curled ears, so as not to break your pet cartilage.
American Curls mate either with representatives of their breed, or with outbred specimens, which closely match the standard curl, but do not have curled ears.