The American Curl's most notable distinction is its gracefully curled-back ears. Lengthier tufts of hair shoot out from the ears, giving an appearance reminiscent of the wild lynx. Its prominent plumed tail resembles a luxurious boa, adding further flair and style to complement the breed's unique ears. These medium-sized cats average 7 to 10 pounds in adulthood and have rectangular frames, a flat and silky coat, and expressive walnut-shaped eyes. They come in just about any feline color and pattern.
Lengthier tufts of hair shoot out from the ears, giving an appearance reminiscent of the wild lynx.
American Curls retain a kitten-like playfulness throughout their lives, so much so that they've been referred to as the Peter Pan breed. Fittingly, they not only get along well with children, but they seem to have a special affinity for them. This healthy, loyal, people-oriented breed prefers to have company most of the time, and these cats get along well with other pets, including cat-friendly canines.
The American Curl's trademark curling ears are the result of an all-natural spontaneous genetic mutation that occurred in California in 1981. The ears are straight at birth, curl back into a tight rosebud position within the first 3 to 5 days of life, then slowly "blossom" until reaching their permanent curled position at around 16 weeks of age.
The American Curl is intelligent, highly sociable, and a lover of people. These cats much prefer having company, and they'll take an occasional respite from their play to sit in a lap. Playfulness is certainly a dominant quality, and it lasts into old age. They don't exhibit the classic feline aloofness, preferring affection to isolation any time. While American Curls crave attention, they aren't vocal or pushy about seeking it.
American Curls are family-oriented and excellent with children, often bonding with them better than most other breeds. They get along well with other animals, too, and are noted for their ability to assimilate into a home that already has a pet; they have a way of entering the environment unobtrusively without upsetting the other animal occupants.
These traits run reliably strong through the breed. However, due to continued outcrossing to non-pedigreed cats until very recently, there are certainly some variations in personality between different bloodlines.
American Curls have an average lifespan of more than 13 years. At this time, no genetic diseases or health problems have been identified. Regardless, acquiring these cats from a breeder that offers a written guarantee of good health is a good idea.
The unique design of the American Curl's ears leaves their ears more susceptible to accumulation of dirt, bacteria, and foreign matter. The ears should be closely examined weekly for irritants or signs of infection, which include a foul odor, redness, swelling, discharge, excessive wax buildup, hearing loss, and difficulty balancing.
As with any breed, obesity is a leading threat to the American Curl in the home. A nutritious diet providing an appropriate number of calories, as defined by a veterinarian, is essential to continued well-being. Daily exercise in the form of active play is also a necessity.
American Curls have a natural intelligence and curiosity that constantly prompts investigation of their environment, and they will do whatever it takes to get to whatever isn't completely out of reach or appropriately secured. They need stimulation in the form of puzzle toys and attention.
These cats are energetic and playful without being hyper, and they're quick to pick up fetch and other games. They enjoy interacting with children and often seek out their company and companionship. Young children should be supervised to ensure they don't injure the cat in the course of play.
The American Curl is well suited to life in a family with children and other pets. In homes that are often empty for extended periods, these cats do much better when they have a companion animal to play with; they are not fond of being alone for too long.
The American Curl can be shorthaired or longhaired, but the breed always features a flat, smooth coat. These cats barely have any undercoat, so they shed very little and require minimal grooming. This breed is a good choice for people looking for low-maintenance grooming or who are inexperienced with feline grooming.
Groom American Curls weekly and comb them twice weekly to prevent matting and tangles. Nails should be trimmed approximately once per week and teeth should be brushed weekly with a veterinarian-recommended feline toothpaste. Check the cat's ears once per week for an unpleasant odor or redness that may indicate an infection. Clean the ears only when they visibly need it with a gentle otic cleanser.
While American Curls may be more receptive to grooming than many other breeds, they are unlikely to enjoy it. Begin acclimating these cats to having their paws, toes, ears, and mouths handled and to grooming at as young an age as possible. Early grooming and hygienic care should be kept short, and sessions can be gradually extended over time as the cat becomes more cooperative.
The first American Curl was a stray black longhair female with curious ears. Meals were presented to her at the Ruga residence in Lakewood, California. In June 1981, the Ruga family took her in and named her Shulamith. Six months later, she gave birth to a litter of four kittens, two of which had curled ears, and a new breed was discovered.
This is a definitively American breed, born of a stray and quickly achieving star status in the feline world. Globally, cat breeders were quickly enchanted by the attractive otic mutation and began selective breeding to preserve it by 1983. And, unlike the typical story of a new breed, American Curls were unhesitatingly accepted and adored by cat lovers everywhere.
American Curls have such diverse appearances due to outcrossing to non-pedigreed domestic cats, a breeding practice which was only stopped in 2010. This helped ensure adequate genetic diversity in such a young breed with a relatively limited gene pool.
The International Cat Association (TICA) recognized the American Curl in 1986, quite quickly for a new breed. Five years later, in February 1991, the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) followed suit and recognized the breed.