Let's talk American Curls

If there is a highly people-oriented breed, it is the American Curl, known for its unique ears that curl into an arc. Loyal, social, and very friendly, Curls are great for families. They adapt quickly to other pets, children, and new environments and are big on play. One caveat: it’s important to devote a lot of attention to the American Curl as the breed doesn’t enjoy being left alone for long or excluded from household activities.

Official name: The American Curl

Other names: Curl 

Origins: United States

Black and white portrait of an American Curl cat

 Shedding level:

Medium

Warm weather? Medium
 Energy level (high, low, medium)*: Medium Family Pet?* 
 Compatibility with other pets: Very high

 * We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.
 
For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs).
 
Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.
 
Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.
 
All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company.  However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age.  Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

 
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Illustration of an American Curl cat
Male
45 - 50 cm Height
4.5 - 5.5 kg Weight
Female
45 - 50 cm Height
3.2 - 4.5 kg Weight

 

 Baby cat  Birth to 4 months
 Growing kitten  4 to 12 months
 Adult  1 months to 7 years
 Mature  7 to 12 years
 Senior  12+ years

american curl looking up

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Get to know the American Curl

All you need to know about the breed

Loyal, social, and very friendly, the American Curl is a great choice for families, and a big hit with older kids who aren’t likely to tug at their ears. They tend to adapt fast to other pets, children, and new environments and will never say no to playtime.

While the American Curl may feature any number of colours and colour patterns, the breed is most distinguished by their unique ears that curl back in a graceful arc, providing an alert, surprised expression. And the reason for their name, of course. In the longhair variety, long, Lynx-like tufts adorn the ears and complement its lavishly plumed tail.

With such an expression, it comes as no surprise that the American Curl is a joyous cat. This medium-size playful breed is moderately active and curious, as content on your lap or in your company as they are playing fetch (if you train them to!) or lounging on high perches.

Balanced in temperament and not overly talkative, the breed communicates quietly, with gentle trilling and cooing sounds. But they do expect attention: it’s important to make time for the American Curl as they don’t enjoy being left alone for long periods of time or excluded from the activity of the household. That kitten spirit is precisely what has earned them the reputation as the Peter Pan of felines.

Tabby American Curl cat sat in wooden doorway

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2 facts about American Curls

1. The Peter Pan of cats

The American Curl does grow up but much like the character of Peter Pan, the breed is known to stay spry and youthful in spirit, maintaining its kitten-like bubbly personality well into adulthood.

2.  The curl surprise

Despite being known for its unique ears, American Curl kittens are actually born with straight ears. They start to curl back when the kitten is about 3 weeks old and can curl up to nearly 180°.

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History of the breed

One of the youngest cat breeds in existence, the American Curl is a result of a spontaneous mutation seen in a longhaired black female stray with unusual ears who arrived on the Lakewood, California property of Joe and Grace Ruga in June 1981.

Named “Shulamith”, she gave birth to a litter of kittens that also exhibited curled ears, signaling to the owners that there was truly something special about these cats. Shulamith went on to become the progenitor of all bona fide American Curls. Among the more surprising fun facts about Shulamith and her fellow Curls’ famous ears: despite looking flexible and soft, the breed has firm ear cartilage, much like a human’s ear. It’s no surprise that the Curl became the subject of great fascination among cat breeders around the world.

From there, a breeding programme began in 1983 and the CFA (Cat Fancier’s Association) accepted The American Curl for recognition in 1986, with Provisional status achieved by 1991 and Championship status in 1993.

Side profile and a ginger and white American Curl cat

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of American Curls

1. Ears

Unique ears that curl back in a graceful arc

2. Eyes

Walnut-shaped eyes that lend a happily-surprised expression

3. Coat

Easy to groom flat-lying coat

4. Tail

Flexible, lavishly plumed tail

5. Look

Modified, wedge-shaped head and rectangular torso

Ginger American Curl with paws hanging out of its cat bed

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Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your American Curl
close-up of a tabby American Curl cat

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Caring for your American Curl

Grooming, training and exercise tips

The American Curl’s silky, flat-lying coat has a minimal undercoat which makes it easy and stress-free to groom. A weekly combing is sufficient to keep the tangles at bay and the coat looking its finest. Shorthair American Curls tend to shed throughout the year and more so than longhairs. The breed is a quick study and can be trained to fetch and play other games but their exercise needs are moderate. The American Curl is less energetic and active than other breeds, such as the Abyssinian or the Siamese cat, but just as interested in play, especially with you.

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All about American Curs

While American Curls are generally healthy, it is possible for some cats to struggle with narrow ear canals which can lead to ear infections from wax buildup. And while you might be tempted to think that the form of the breed’s ears would impact their hearing, they take in the world loud and clear.

In the case of the American Curl, the backward curl of the breed’s ears is a result of a spontaneous mutation. The amount of curl varies from kitten to kitten but can range from nearly straight up to 180 degrees as of 3 weeks of age.

Other breeds that might interest you.

Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Cat Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book