By Sarah Hartwell
This mutation occurred naturally in Russian Scottish Folds. In January 2014, a curly-haired kitten called Snejana was born in the litter of pure-bred Scottish cats Daryl White and Nestor Petrovich, owned by breeder Margarita Egorova. When Snejana grew up, her fur formed large waves. In their next mating, Nestor and Daryl produced two curly-coated white kittens, named Kelvin and Kudriashka Sue, a white male Scottish Fold (went to a pet home) and a lilac female Scottish Straight. The lilac female was assumed to be a carrier of the curly gene and was mated to an unrelated bicolor Scottish cat who was also was a gene carrier and they had 4 kittens, one of which was curly.
Because Daryl and Nestor were related it looked like they carried a recessive mutation. Both cats had produced completely non-curly litters with other partners. Margarita knew that curly-coated Scottish Folds had been born repeatedly in Russia. Curly-haired Folds had appeared in St. Petersburg and also in Kazakhstan, where breeders tried to develop a curly-coated Fold, but no-one was working to identify the gene. DNA from these cats was tested at the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory School of Veterinary Medicine, Davis, California, ruling out the Cornish and Devon rex genes. The recessive Urals Rex gene was ruled out because that native Russian breed has not being crossed with other cats. Selkirk Rex and LaPerm were ruled out because they are dominant mutations. This meant the mutation was unique.
Together with Nina Vladimirovna Ekimova, expert felinologist, and president of the “FELIS” cat club, Margarita decided to develop the cats as a new breed called FLEECY CLOUD. The name reflects the fur type. Fleecy Clouds look very different from Scottish Folds. The kittens’ muzzles are not so round, and they have broad cheekbones and have almond-shaped eyes set obliquely. These features become more pronounced with age. Their fur forms large open curls and lies in dense waves. The texture is springy and not too soft and when stroked the curl can be distinctly felt as well as seen. The fur is shiny and slick-textured, but is not oily, and does not become tangled or droopy. The curls do not straighten with age and curls that are disorderly in kittens become regular as they mature, forming neat rows in adulthood with no sparse or bald areas. Kittens are born with very twisted whiskers which straighten into waves as they mature.
Independently of Margarita’s breeding programme, Lana Nasurdinova in the Perm region of Russia was developing curly coated cats from a cat bought in St. Petersburg. The two breeders decided to work together and exchanged some cats. They adopted the name and breed standard drawn up by Margarita, whose breeding programme was more advanced. To expand the gene pool, improve conformation and ensure the cats are healthy, Fleecy Clouds have been outcrossed to the Siberian and Neva Masquerade (the colourpoint form of the Siberian). At present, because the cats are few in number, fold-eared curly-coated cats are still used in the breeding programme, but in future this will be prohibited. The breed standard calls for straight ears and permits any colour coat and eyes. Both longhaired and short-haired varieties are allowed.
Fleecy Cloud cats have very friendly and non-aggressive temperaments and love to communicate with people. This, along with their unique features, makes them a valuable addition to the showbench and the pet home.
My thanks to Sarah Hartwell. See her great cat website by clicking on this link.
This is a very interesting new cat breed. I would expect there to be interest in the USA. The breed is not yet seen in Western Europe.