American Curl Cat: 12 facts

Here are 12 facts about the American Curl cat.

American Curl Cat: 12 facts
Photos copyright Helmi Flick except bottom right (in public domain)
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Standard shape

But for the ears, this is a standard shaped domestic purebred cat. What I mean by this is that this is neither a large nor small cat and there are no outstanding features other than the cat’s ears.


As mentioned this cat breed is identified by its ears. As we know, they curl back. The ears curl because of the presence of a dominant gene mutation which results in 50% curly-eared kittens in litters resulting from crosses between cats with curled ears and cats with normal ears. There is no connection between this cat breed and the Scottish Fold which as you probably know has flattened ears.

Straight ears

Kittens are born with straight ears. They curl back tightly within 24 to 72 hours. Over the next four months the tightly curled ears start to relax. They settle finally into the typical adult half-curled state.

Long and short haired

There are long-haired and shorthaired forms of this breed. The original form was long-haired.


The breed first appeared in 1981 in Lakewood, California. John and Grace Ruga found two stray kittens on their doorstep in June 1981. One of them was a black female who had silky long hair. The cat stayed with them. They called her Shulamith. This name means “black but comely”.

On December 12, 1981 Shulamith gave birth to a litter of four kittens. Two of the kittens show the same curled ears as their mother.The Rugas saw the possibility of creating a new cat breed.

Nancy Kestrel, an acquaintance of the Rugas, encouraged them to exhibit the two curly-eared kittens and their mother in a cat show held at Palm Springs, California in October 1983. This was the first public appearance of this then new breed. The cat received a favorable reaction and within a few years it became formally registered with some of the American cat societies.

The International Cat Association formally recognised the “American Curl” in 1985 followed by the Cat Fanciers’ Association in 1986 (and AACE and AFCA).

Associated deficiencies?

Not infrequently this sort of genetic mutations can cause associated deficiencies in the cat but in this instance it appears that the genetic mutation does not cause the animal any problems. However, some people see the curled ears as a deformity and reject the idea that the cat should have been made of breed.


It has to be said that this cat breed is not that popular. Personally, I can see why. I do not see anything particularly attractive about ears that are curled back leaving the “ear furnishings” (ear hair) sticking out horizontally. I for one would have preferred that the breed had not been created.


As a reflection of this cat’s slight lack of popularity, in 1993, it was estimated that after 12 years of breeding there were fewer than 1,000 American Curls in existence and I suspect almost all of them were in America.


A wide range of words have been used to describe this cat’s personality such as “placid, playful, even-tempered, amusing, whimsical, adaptable, friendly, affectionate, intelligent, mischievous et cetera. If we are perfectly honest I think we can say that this cat has a typical domestic cat personality which varies between individual cats.

Coat type

The cat associations allow all colors and types. This represents a huge range of coat colors and types and the Cat Fanciers’ Association list them in convenient categories. You can see what they are by going to their website.


A associated breed is the Highlander, a bobtailed cat with curled ears. This is quite a solid, largish cat.

Breed clubs

There used to be two breed clubs but at the date of this post there appears to be none. Although there is a Facebook page, a group, called the American Curl Club (a Russian organisation it seems). I’m not sure whether this is simply a Facebook creation or if it is a social media page which represents a club. Although I could not find any website for a club.

The two former clubs were as follows: American Curl Cat Club at 100 Westmont Road, Syracuse, NY 13219, USA: and the United Society of American Curls at 11691 Cagel Canyon, Lake View Terrace, CA 91342-7422, USA.

If corrections are needed please leave a comment. I welcome comments and additional information.

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