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American Curl Breed Description

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Breed Organization

TICA Executive Office

The Cat Fanciers' Association

Native Country
United States Of America

Other Names

Coat Length
Longhair and Shorthair

Life Expectancy
Approximately 10-20 Years

General Description

The look of the American Curl can vary significantly from one cat to another because of continued outcrossing to non-pedigreed cats. All American Curls should have the signature curled ear.

Breed Standard

Head: Medium in size, moderately longer than wide, without flat planes. The straight nose gives way to a slight rise from the bottom of the eyes to the forehead. Muzzle is neither pointed nor square. No whisker pinch. Firm chin.
Eyes: Moderately large, walnut shape, and wide set. Color, which must be clear, brilliant, and uniform, has no relation to coat color.
Neck: Medium.
Body: Semi-foreign, length one and one-half times height at shoulder. Boning and musculature neither heavy nor fine.
Paw: Moderate length, in proportion to body. Forelegs slightly shorter than hind legs. Straight with good muscle tone. Paws are medium in size and rounded.
Tail: Length equal to body length. Broad at the base and tapering to a rounded tip.
Coat: Two varieties: Semi-long (currently the most common) - fine, silky; sparse undercoat; no ruff, full plume on tail. Shorthair - fine, silky, laying flat; minimal undercoat. All colors are permissible.
Fault: Deep nose break. Heavy, coarse coat with thick undercoat, ruff. Ears set low; extreme curl (tip of ear must not touch back of ear or back of head).


A spontaneous mutation is responsible for this breed's full crescent ear curl In 1981 in Lakewood, California, the Ruga's welcomed a black, semi-longhaired stray with curled ears into their home and named her Shalamith. At the end of the year, she gave birth to four kittens, two of which had inherited the curled ears of their mother. In 1983, Nancy Kiester, a breeder and friend of the Ruga's, successfully showed Shalamith and her offspring at a cat show in California. At the same time, she began selectively breeding this new breed. The mutation resulting in the ear curl is caused by a dominant gene that can be transmitted by one parent. Whether sporting long or short hair, the American Curl has beautiful ears accentuated by abundant interior furnishings. The cartilage is firm to the touch. There are three degrees of curl: slight, partial, and full crescent (the most coveted). The American Curl was recognized by T.I.C.A. in 1985, then by the C.F.A. in 1991. The fist American Curl arrived in France in 1988 (the first litter was born in 1989), and the breed was introduced in Great Britain in 1995. The American Curl is a rare cat, especially outside of the United States.


The American Curl has a well-balanced personality and an even disposition. Mischievous, playful, and a comfortable companion, this breed talks only rarely. The friendly, affectionate, and loving, American Curl is very attached to his owner. This breed is comfortable with other cats, dogs, and enjoys children.


Due to its large genetic pool with non-pedigree cats, the American Curl is generally a healthy breed. However, their ears should be handled carefully, as rough handling may damage the cartilage in the ear, and require frequent cleaning to prevent infections.

Various matings between cats with curled ears and cats without curled ears revealed a dominant inheritance of the curl gene. Sex-linked distribution was not found. The mutant gene was designated as curl and is symbolized by Cu. Another mutation of the ear pinna was found in Scottish Fold cats. In these cats, anomalies were rarely found when heterozygous, however, in homozygous (FdFd) cats, animals suffer from dysplasia of the lower limbs and tail. The question arises if homozygous curls (CuCu) could also be affected by cartilage formation defects and bone abnormalities. However, observations of a CuCu cat over two years showed no sign of anomaly.

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