The history of the American Curl is unlike that of any other breed. Originating in 1981 due to a natural but completely spontaneous mutation – a mutation that caused the ears to curl – being present in a cat named Shulamith and her litter of kittens, the American Curl breed came into existence and has been the focus of efforts to preserve its distinction and its unique characteristic ever since. Selective breeding began in 1983 when enthusiasts began to doubt the dominance of the gene mutation and thus the permanence of the breed, however, these doubts were settled when Roy Robinson, a feline geneticist, confirmed that the ear-curl mutation was in fact autosomal dominant. The breed became popular in next to no time and was eventually imported around the world. In 1987 the American Curl was officially recognised by the International Cat Association, only six years after its first appearance in native America.
The breed’s most distinctive trait is its ears, which curl back from the face towards the skull. Domestic American Curls may have near-to-straight ears, although in the show ring this would be disallowed. Besides from the ears, the breed is well proportioned and of a medium size, with an athletic build, long legs and an expressive face. Both short-haired and long-haired varieties of American Curl are seen, and all colour deviations are permissible, with no set patterning being recognised. The coat only sheds moderately, so infrequent grooming is fine.
Many people describe the ‘joyous’ expression given to by the curling of the ears, and this is reflected in the breed’s personality. In general, the American Curl is a fun-loving, playful and animated breed that loves human interaction and engages well with children and other house pets. It is important to introduce dogs and larger animals gradually to avoid scaring your cat or forcing it to become territorial. The American Curl is well-suited to indoor living due to its sociable nature, and does not enjoy being left alone for long periods of time. Typically, a healthy adult Curl will weigh 5-10 pounds, with a life expectancy of roughly 13 years.
Due to the American Curl being a relatively new breed without enormous worldwide prevalence, little is known about genetic or breed-specific health complaints, although it is widely thought to be a healthy, active and resilient breed, with a long life expectancy.