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Curled, Curved and Folded ear Cats – Part 2

| November 6, 2010

The only widely recognised fold-eared cat is the Scottish Fold and its longhaired version, the Highland Fold (Coupari). These have ears which form a close-lying cap. Also known as Scottish Lop, the Scottish Fold traces back to a female white shorthair farm kitten discovered near Coupar Angus, Perthshire, Scotland in 1961.

The only widely recognised fold-eared cat is the Scottish Fold and its longhaired version, the Highland Fold (Coupari). These have ears which form a close-lying cap. Also known as Scottish Lop, the Scottish Fold traces back to a female white shorthair farm kitten discovered near Coupar Angus, Perthshire, Scotland in 1961.


The first recognised curl-eared breed was the American Curl. The ears are curled or swept back on themselves and feel rigid to the touch. The originate from a stray kitten, Shulamith, in 1981. Shulamith was a black longhair female with strangely curled ears. She went on to produce kittens, some of which also had curled ears. These attracted attention when shown at a cat show in 1983 and in 1985/6 the American Curl breed was recognised.

The mutation is a dominant gene so litters will often contain a mix of curl-eared and prick-eared cats. It is impossible to tell which kittens will develop a good curl – they are all born prick eared. The ears curl up tightly over the next few days. During the next four months, the tight curl starts to relax until the final semi-curled state is reached. As far as is known, the gene does not cause detrimental side-effects.

The Hemingway Curl is a localised variety rather than a breed. The first Hemingway Curl appeared as a spontaneous curl-eared mutation in a colony of polydactyl cats known as Hemingway cats (after the polydactyl cats of Ernest Hemingway) on Key West. Hemingway Curls have since been crossed with African Jungle cat hybrids to produce the Jungle Curl breed. It occurs in shorthair and longhair versions and may attract sufficient interest for a breed to be established.

Having established the curl-eared trait, it became possible to cross American Curls with other breeds to create new varieties e.g. the Kinkalow which is a mix of American Curl and Munchkin to produce a short-legged curl-eared cat.

The Ruffle was, according to one source, an accidental side-effect resulting from attempts to improve the ear size of American Curls by introducing the Cornish Rex into a breeding line. Whether the Cornish Rex is an allowable outcross for the American Curl is another matter entirely. According to another source, the original mating was a deliberate attempt to produce a new breed. Progeny from this breeding line was apparently acquired by a breeder unaware of the Curl-to-Rex matings which had the side-effect of introducing the recessive gene for curled fur. The gene remained hidden until two carriers were mated and produced curly coated American Curls some generations later. The rippled effect of the fur reminded the breeder of a brand of potato snack hence the name Ruffle. Unfortunately the breeder’s circumstances changed and further development of the Ruffle breed could not be funded. Interestingly, the Rex coatd in American Curls was mentioned as early as 1991 by feline geneticist.

An experimental breed called the Jaguarundi Curl (shorthaired and longhaired) was reported in 2001, but its existence is unconfirmed. The Jaguarundi is a South American felid which is very un-cat-like in shape. It is suspected that the reporter had confused it with the Jungle Curl. The Jungle Curl does exist and is a hybrid of Jungle Cat (F chaus) and American Curl or Hemingway Curl with Serengetis, Jungle cat hybrids, pure Jungle Cats, Bengals, Egyptian Maus, Abyssinians and other domestic shorthairs contributing their genes to the mix. It is still in the developmental stage to produce wild looking cats, preferably with a spotted or rosetted pattern, with curled ears. Several breeders in Illinois are working with a curl-eared polydactyl cat called Tulips. Tulips were originally developed in the 1990s by crossing American Curls with polydactyls, creating a harlequin patterned semi-longhaired breed. The markings, which can be any colour, are restricted to the head, down the spine, shoulders, hips and tail.

The Australian Curl was a breed that never was, rather it was a single female cat, Matilda, which was discovered in 1996 and who failed to pass on the trait. The curl of the ears apparently differed from that of the American Curl though no precise details were provided. She was mated to a normal eared cat of similar type, but none of the kittens were curl-eared. She suffered severe illness after the birth (1997) and could not be bred from again. No back-crossing could be attempted to determine whether the gene was carried as a recessive. Although none of the offspring had curled ears, they were not bred to each other (or it was not possible to do so) to determine whether they carried the trait was carried in recessive form. It is possible that a breed opportunity has been missed due to Matilda’s unfortunate illness.


Described in a light-hearted book depicting cats which had been “painted” with vegetable dye (in fact all painted cats were photo-manipulations), the Irish Shortear is a mutant-eared cat that never was. This footnote has been included because people have asked where to find an Irish Shortear!

The book in question was the spoof “Why Paint Cats” and the fake breed among genuine breeds was the Irish Shortear. It was described as Burmilla x Scottish Fold with large protuberant eyes, short ears and very relaxed nature due its excellent vision. The photo was that of a Brown Burmilla which was been edited to give the cat larger eyes, narrower chin and short ears (the original ear tip had been photographically enlarged and grafted back onto the face). The face was then grafted back onto the image of the cat’s body. One giveaway was that the facial area had a “floating effect”, which is common in photo-composites. A Scottish Fold would have given folded not shortened ears. In addition, the partial-dominant “macro-retinal” gene mentioned in the text is fictional (and it should have been a macropthalmia gene since the retina is the back of the inside of the eye).

A cat is a warm, purring bundle of fun, always ready for a play with the kids or a peaceful moment curled in Mum or Dad’s lap. For time immemorial, cats have served, entertained and conjured thoughts of the simpler pleasures of home and health for their human companions.

A cat truly makes a house a home, so imagine the joy two cats can bring!

Two cats together can be like a 24 hour floorshow, which has you laughing in the aisles. Whether you’re the spectator to the frolicking good game of tail chasey or the ever-popular feline pastime of “let’s see if we can both fit in the space behind the fridge”, you’re sure never to experience a dull or lonely moment with two cats in your life.

But have you ever considered the benefits a second feline friend can be for your new or existing best friend?

So many of us lead such busy on-the-go lifestyles, that often our most loyal companions are left without the benefit of our company. But just because it may not be in your cat’s nature to loudly protest, doesn’t mean your feline friend doesn’t pine for your company or become bored or lonely.

Cat families usually play better in even numbers, so to create that balance of purrfect harmony in your home, think in pairs!

Introducing a second cat to keep an existing cat company, or adoptiong two cats together, can be the ideal solution.

If you’re currently ‘catless’, then for you, choosing your new cat family can be as simple as adopting two kittens from the same litter. The time between 2 and 12 weeks of age is critical in cat socialisation, so kittens over the age of 8 weeks from the same litter are already likely to share a strong bond.

However, don’t be discouraged if you already have a cat and want to adopt a second, or want two kittens from different litters. Kittens of any age are ideal to be introduced to all manner of new family members, including people, other cats and even the family dog!

But what about introducing an adult cat, or even a new cat to a ‘fixture cat’, that has always ruled the roost solo? Rest assured, even the most independent cat can make friends with a new arrival, but it is important you introduce the two cats slowly and give them time to get used to each other.

The following should prove helpful:
A supervised first meeting is essential. Allow both to meet each other at their own pace, they will soon get to know each other or avoid each other until they feel more comfortable and are ready to become friends.

Keep the two cat’s food, water, litter and sleeping areas seperate until they are comfortable with each other. Don’t expect them to eat out of the same bowl or share the same litter tray at first, as these are the chief areas of feline territoriality.

Introducing your cats might require a little patience, but it will definately be worth the wait! In no time at all you’ll be coming home to two friends frolicking madly around the house like that endless floorshow.

Owners of elderly cats might be particularly surprised to see the mature and dignified puss they thought would never leave its favourite cushion enjoying a second kittenhood and whole new lease on life with a second cat around.

So, consider a friend to give your best friend’s life a lift and discover why, for both you and your beloved feline, two cats are most definately better than one!

Copyright & Credit:
Sarah Hartwell – MESSYBEAST.COM

Photo copyright and courtesy:
Sarah Hartwell
Fallsvetclinic – Cuyahoga Falls Veterinary

Category: Breeding and Genetics, Feline Health and Care, Feline Resources

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