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10 Cats With Curly Hair

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Updated on: June 1, 2021
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Curly-haired cats are a genuinely unique and exciting breed. The quality and texture of their fur sets them apart from all others. But, how does it come about? How many curly-haired cat breeds are there? How much do they cost?

If you're thinking of getting a curly cat and are asking yourself these questions, here's what you need to know.

What Do The Coat Genes Mean For Your Cat?

Coat genes determine the pattern, pigmentation (color), texture, and length of feline fur.  They are responsible for a variety of coat variations, any of which can be curly. The different coats include;

Calico/tricolor and tortoiseshell

A tortoiseshell coat pattern is defined by streaks of orange and a non-orange, mostly black color. Cats with these coats may also have white spots in their fur. In contrast, Tricolor cats will have large amounts of white in their coat, so the red and black patches will look more like patchwork. 

Picture of a tricolor Persian cat

Calicos and tortoiseshells are almost always female. This occurs because the coat pattern arises from a differential X chromosome activation. Since males carry only one X chromosome copy, it is rare for them to have this kind of coat.

Colorpoint

Color-pointed cats have a dark coloration on their extremities (feet, ears, faces, and tails) and a lighter coloration on other parts of their bodies. The pointed pattern is a type of partial albinism that results from a mutated enzyme (tyrosinase).

Picture of a Siamese cat

In its mutated form, the enzyme is heat-sensitive, so it takes effect only in cooler parts of the skin. As a result, only the coolest parts of the cat's body will have dark pigmentation. They can be remarkably dark in color - they will often have a near-black, brown, or cool grey appearance.

Silver

The silver coat occurs whenever the melanin inhibitor gene is activated. It suppresses pigment production, which gives solid cat coats a silver smoke appearance.

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Tuxedo, bicolor, or Van

This is a coat type in which the cat has one primary color with white patches. This pattern includes a tuxedo, where the cat is mostly black with white on its chest, van (primarily white with a colored tail and head, or tortoiseshell.

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Tabby

Tabbies have marbled patterns comprising bullseyes, butterflies, spots, bullseyes, or swirls. They owe their coat pattern to a dominant allele of the Agouti gene. It stimulates full pigmentation when the hair first starts to grow, slows down pigment production, and speeds it up again. This creates the pigmented bands tabbies are known for.

Picture of a Tabby cat licking its paw

The four tabby variations include

  • Mackerel: also known as fishbone, this pattern time is defined by vertical stripes on the sides. The lines are usually narrow and may run continuously or break into spots and bars along the stomach and flanks.
  • Spotted: with this coat pattern, the stripes are broken down into spots. It is most common among Serengeti, Bengal, Arabian Mau cats, and similar breeds.
  • Ticked: ticked tabbies have no stripes. Their fur is filled with indistinct bands of color that give it a sand-like appearance.
  • Classic: classic tabbies have blotched patterns on the sides, usually with three thin stripes along the spine

Want to know the best DNA testing kit for your cat? Read our 2021 Guide.


Curly Hair and Genetics

Curly coats come from a rare genetic mutation that causes changes in the way individual hairs and hair groups behave. This change gives the cat's fur a curly appearance. The mutation is not common but can occur spontaneously in several genes, leading to various curly coat types.

Curly-haired cat breeds

There are four cat breeds known to have curly fur. The trait is rare among felines and sometimes, it can’t be passed down even when it occurs. Consequently, there aren't that many. Three of the four officially recognized curly haired cat breeds are from the Rex class.

LaPerms

LaPerms have short wavy coats. The breed is known for being social and affectionate towards humans, so expect them to follow you around and seek your attention. They can have a variety of colors and markings and may also display long/short-haired coat variations.

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Note: This cat's curly fur tends to disappear after birth then reappear at about 10 months of age. So, you shouldn’t be surprised if you see this happen.

Devon Rex

The Devon rex is an intelligent, short-haired, tall-eared cat breed started in England in the mid-90s. These cats are known for their slender bodies, large ears, and wavy coats. They have shown the ability to learn and perform complex tricks but are hard to motivate.

Pciture of a purebred Devon rex cat

Devon cats are usually mischievous, active, and friendly. In fact, cats of this breed are so playful that they're often described as a cross between a dog, cat, and monkey. They are experienced jumpers and will actively try to investigate and occupy any space large enough to hold them. Most Devons will devote their love and attention to a single person. This individual will be the one on whom they will most often lie and rub.

Cornish Rex

Cornish Rexes have no hair except for down. This makes their coats extremely fine and curly. The breed is best adapted to indoor living with warm, dry conditions, as they are sensitive to low temperatures. The cats like to race other pets, play fetch and do acrobatic jumps. Like the Devon, they are very intelligent, capable of quickly adapting to new environments. Cornish Rex cats display various coat colors and patterns that include solids like black, white, and chocolate; all variations of tabby like mackerel and classic; and color-point patterns.

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Selkirk Rex

The Selkirk Rex differs from the Devon Rex and Cornish Rex in that it has a complete coat, and its hair is of average length. Its fur is also plusher and thicker than a LaPerm's.

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The breed originated in Montana in 1987, with a litter born to a rescued cat, and has since been developed into two distinct coat lengths, long and short. Selkirks are large and solidly built. Their coats are soft and woolly, loose, unstructured curls. The breed's temperament is primarily influenced by the cats that contributed to its development. Selkirks usually possess the reserved traits of the British shorthair, the socialness of the Persian, and the playfulness of the exotic shorthair.

Note: there may be other cats with curly fur, but these are the only recognized breeds.

How much does a curly-haired cat cost?

A curly-haired cat will cost about $1500. Since the cats are so rare, it's unlikely you will find them in pet shelters. In fact, they are so rare that they're only a handful up for adoption at any given moment. This means your best option is to contact reputable breeders, who will charge around $1500 per kitten.

Are curly-haired cats allergenic?

Curly-haired cats are less susceptible to shedding. Some breeds may not shed at all. This characteristic means they are less likely to trigger allergies in humans.


The Definitive Guide to Cat DNA testing: What you need to know.

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