Elf cat looking a bit like a Komodo dragon

The Elf is a hairless cat with curled-back ears; a hybrid between the American Curl and the Sphynx. It is not one of the dwarf cat breeds. The breeder, Anna Jewerly, tells us that the kitten is a brown tabby but it is impossible to tell as there is no fur and therefore no tabby markings. Although when we do see patterns on hairless cats (and we do sometimes) it is because of the fine, downy almost invisible fur that covers the cat. You can see clear bicolor patterns on hairless cats. The likeness of this Elf kitten and a Komodo dragon is in the mouth and muzzle, the cat’s skin texture and the short legs (because this is a young cat) which are splayed out with claws sort of visible.

Evil looking Elf cat
Evil looking Elf cat. Photo: Anna Jewerly. Note to breeder: I’m having a bit of fun.
Komodo dragon
Komodo dragon (cropped image). Image by Deepu Joseph from Pixabay

The Elf cat is an example of beauty being in the eye of the beholder. Personally I do not find this cat breed beautiful. I see the reverse to be perfectly honest but I totally respect others who find the cat interesting and sometimes beautiful, I suppose. I do believe, however, that this cat is an example of a breeder experimenting in crossing one breed with another and it just so happened that nobody at the time (2008) had crossed an American Curl with a Sphynx and so Karen Nelson and Kristen Leedom took the opportunity to plug that hole in the range of cat breeds of which there are over 100 at my last count. Although, only about 47, as I recall, are accepted by the major cat association, the CFA.

Go to a page on the Elf cat.


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Elf Cat

elf cat

Elf Cat. Photo: copyright Kristen Leedom’s cattery


This is an entirely new breed of cat at 2008; a deliberate hybridization of two well known cats, the Sphynx and the American Curl. The result, as expected, is an extremely interesting hairless, curly eared cat. This breed is at the early stages of development and is yet to be recognized by the cat associations.

The creators of this new breed of cat are Karen Nelson and Kristen Leedom, who have 16 years of combined knowledge and experience in the breeding of Sphynx cats.

Being a hybrid of the Sphynx and American Curl, this cat has the characteristics of both.

Karen and Kristen have drafted a breed profile for their cat (see below).

elf cat
Photo of Kessler: © copyright Kristen Leedom


The Foundation Cats – the Sphynx and American Curl

{Note: the cats portrayed here are not the actual foundation cats in this program}

1. The Sphynx

The Sphynx is a strong, agile and fairly large cat and these characteristics are carried forward to this new breed. The Sphynx is energetic, playful and above all said to be the most intelligent of all cat breeds. I can confirm through personal experience that they like human attention and are sometimes monkey-like in their agility, which is expressed through their mischievousness. Look at the photograph below for instance and the photograph in the middle of the Sphynx page

sphynx cat

Sphynx: by Skithund (Flickr)

The hairlessness (or near hairlessness to be more accurate) is due to a recessive gene mutation. With careful breeding the Sphynx is a strong and robust cat with no inherent genetically based health problems. {see also genetic diseases in purebred cats}

A hairless cat needs to be washed periodically including the ears (with care). This cat is best kept indoors for warmth and protection. These matters apply equally to the Elf cat.

Some characteristics of the Sphynx are naturally incorporated into the Elf Cat breed standard.

2. The American Curl

american curl

Photo of American Curl: by tanakawho (Flickr)

The American Curl is named after her curled ears, the result of a naturally occurring genetic mutation. Also the mutation that causes the curled ears has no secondary ill effects. As a result, this foundation cat is also a good all round healthy and strong cat, making an ideal co-founder of this breed. This is a medium energy cat.

Elf Cat – Appearance and Character with reference to the breed standard (profile)

You can see the full breed standard (profile) on the Elf cat website. I only cover some of the most notable sections of the breed profile. This is a medium to large muscular cat and they have a bit of a belly (a particular characteristic of the Sphynx).

The head has prominent cheek bones that are very apparent. Another distinctive feature of the head is the prominent whisker pads.

The most distinctive feature is the ears (even more so than the hairlessness), which you can see clearly in the photographs. The gene that creates these ears (from the American Curl foundation cat) is dominant and as mentioned, benign, which means that the mutation does not produce negative secondary features which would make breeding doubtful.

The ears are “moderately large” and they should “curve back in a smooth arc”. The curl should be between 90º and 180º. As expected there are no “ear furnishings” (ear hair). The heading picture illustrates the ears well.

The neck is medium in length (my comment: the neck of a Sphynx cat is to my mind long, so this shortening is due, it seems, to the influence of the American Curl, a far more cobby cat).

The Elf cat retains the whip-like slender and tapered tail of the Sphynx.

The coat/skin – This cat is not completely hairless (neither is the Sphynx). The body can be completely hairless or be covered by a fine down-like fur. The skin should, ideally, be wrinkled particularly around the shoulders, ears and muzzle. There are usually no whiskers and if there are they are short and sparse.

See this interesting cat at: this website no longer functions – sorry — and at sphynx-cattery.com/elfcat.html (link broken at 29th August 2011) and you can contact the creators of this breed from the websites.

I’d like to thank both Karen and Kristen for letting me present this cat on my website and in granting permission to use their photographs.

From Elf Cat to the Home Page

Russian bred Elf cat

Click on the image to read more if you wish:

American Curl crossed with a Sphynx. The Elf cat.
American Curl crossed with a Sphynx. The Elf cat.

and here is another Russian (believed) bred Elf cat. They do seem to like them. The Russians like their cat breeds and hairless ones.

Elf hairless cat
Elf hairless cat. Photo: Dana Danilova. She is Photographer at Семейный фотограф Дана Данилова. And she studied for псхология at МГГУ им. М.А. Шолохова.

And here is a third:

Female Elf cat
Female Elf cat. Photo: Dana Danilova. This is a hairless cat with is that curl back as you can see in the photograph. It is a Sphynx crossed with an American Girl.


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