Few know that the ears can be the most identifiable aspect of a cat, for many breeds, this is just the case. A great example of this is the wonderful breed of cat known as the American Curl, which have very distinctly shaped ears. The strange shape is the result of a spontaneous mutation that originated in Lakewood, California, in 1981. These cats can be recognized by the delicate curl of their ears that fold the ears away from the face and inward towards the skull.
The first cats of this breed were a pair of found kittens, who were named Shulamith and Panda by the family that found them. Both were long-haired, one black and the other black and white. Within a few weeks, Panda disappeared, leaving the remaining female, Shulamith, to be the foundation for this entire breed.
Selective breeding for the trait of curled ears began in 1983. It was determined that the trait for curled ears was dominant, as all kittens with at least one affected parent were affected by the trait during life. The first time that one of these cats entered the show ring was in 1986, and in 1992, the longhaired version of this breed was awarded champion status in cat shows. In 1989, it was reported by Roy Robinson, a well-known feline geneticist, that no defects were associated with the genes that caused the trait for curled ears.
Theses curly cuties are intelligent, loving and have a playful side. Overall, this breed is attractive and healthy. They are medium-sized and generally have long fur. Their soft, silky fur has minimal requirements for grooming. Occasional brushing with monthly focused grooming will suffice.
The wide variety of breeds that were involved with creating this breed led to a hardy and generally healthy American Curl. The primary health concern for these cats are ear infections and trauma to the delicate cartilage of their ears, which is why careful handling and regular cleaning is recommended for all owners of this breed.
The kittens of this breed are born with straight ears, and the curl develops over the first four months of life. After this period, the ears should solidify and should not be pliable.
These cats are hardly the aloof and shy stereotype of a feline. They are playful and affectionate, and they bond incredibly with their owners. They enjoy having company and are considered family-oriented. This makes them a nice match for first time cat owners, families with older children, and single owners with other pets.
This breed will give kisses and love nibbles, and they do not appreciate separation from their people. These cats are naturally curious, and instead of loud mews, they are well-known for their small chirping and cooing sounds. A kitten at heart, this breed does not fully mature physically or mentally until they are 3 years old, and they often retain many kitten-like traits well into adulthood.