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From A Humble Barn Cat To CFA’s Newest Championship Breed

| December 26, 2011
LaPerm Newest Championship Breed

They have not been shown in TICA as yet, but Ona earned three finals at her first CFA shows and is the #1 LP Kitten in CFA so far this year

Spring 1982: In the barn of a cherry orchard, in an isolated gorge along the Columbia River at the end of the Oregon Trail, a new breed was born. A common brown tabby barn cat named Speedy gave birth to a litter of 6 kittens. Linda Koehl, the orchard owner said the only female was the oddest kitten she had ever seen, a tabby marked, hairless baby with large, wide-spaced ears. Linda had doubts about this kitten’s survival.

The little one did survive and by the time the litter was up and about, learning to become barn cats, the odd looking female had started to grow a coat, a curly coat! Linda could not keep from picking the kitten up and petting her and aptly named her Curly.

Curly and her descendants bred freely for the next 10 years producing more and more curly-coated kittens, even to the chagrin of her neighbors, who presented Linda with a litter of curly coated Siamese and another neighbor with litter of curly Manx. Since no matter what type of cat was crossed with Linda’s curly cats produced more curly cats, it became obvious that this was a dominant mutation, unlike that one found in Cornish and Devon Rex. Another remarkable fact is that all of the curly coated barn cats were very similar in type.

The very first standard written for the LaPerm breed was based on these first cats and has changed very little in the past sixteen years.

Some people still have doubts if this is a different mutation from that found in the Selkirk Rex, who’s founding cat was found a few years later, in 1987, a few states away. Solveig Pflueger, head of Genetics at TICA states that the LaPerm gene is unique. It differs from the Devon & Cornish Rex in that it is dominant, and from the Selkirk Rex and the American Wirehair by being a complete dominant gene. Homozygous Selkirk Rexes look different from their heterozygous counterparts. It also differs from the American Wirehair in that has complete penetrance, i.e. 50% of kittens from a heterozygous LaPerm crossed with a domestic will be curly.

Unlike the Selkirk Rex, which used already established purebreds, Persian, British Shorthair, American Shorthair, and Exotic Shorthair and acquired championship status rather quickly; the LaPerm breeders have continued to stay with the roots of the breed and use only domestic cats of unknown origins.

The LaPerm in TICA

The LaPerm was first granted New Breed status by TICA in 1995, and with the support of several breeders attained championship in 2003.

In 1995 there was a total of 79 LH and 1 SH LaPerm registered. The 1996/1997 saw 21 LaPerm make it into the rings (19 LH, 2 SH). Of the catteries represented that first year as a New Breed only two have remained active to this day; one is the obvious, Kloshe, the breed founder Linda Koehl, the other RedDazzle, Doreen McCann.

*See registration stats below
*See show stats below

No breed is without growing pains and in May 2003, those breeders who had been showing cats in TICA found that because of an oversight of the Breed Committee, the very same cats shown to obtain championship could no longer be shown. The LaPerm was not designated to have a limited gene pool, so the LaPerms with their only allowed out-cross, the domestic cat of unknown origins, could no longer be shown. Those breeders who are still dedicated to keeping the establishment of the LaPerm based upon it roots are still working to rectify this oversight.

As of December 2007, there have only been approximately 500 LaPerm registered in CFA and TICA since both registries started tracking this breed, realizing that the same cats are registered in both registries, this is still a very limited gene pool. Using domestic cats of unknown origins allows us the widest gene pool available; these numbers are still too low to disallow the showing and breeding of LaPerms with domestics in their pedigrees.

*See registration stats below

LaPerm Title Holder

DGC Dennigan French Maid of Shoalwater *First champion
SGCA Jemcats Jest Dawg (A) *First Supreme Alter
Ch Dennigan’s BC Freckles of Sekani
QGC Kloshe BB Blkbaron of Shoalwater
Ch Elecats BC Iron Cloud
QGCA Reddazzle BC Sweet Tyler (A) * Youngest Champion
Ch Smeraldas BC Uneda
Ch Vankkadia BC Taos Maous
Ch Arohanui BC Marcus Mocha Dandi (LS) * First Shorthair Champion
Ch Arohanui BC Tamaya
Ch Kloshe BC Dancing Waters
Ch Arohanui BC Yankee Doodle
SGC Arohanui BC Tiponi *First Supreme whole Cat
Ch Arohanui BC Smoke on the Water
Ch RedDazzle BC Doubleshot Dorico

Once the LaPerm had its foot in the door with TICA in 2000 recognition Miscellaneous class was granted by CFA. Another split in the breeders arose, when CFA allowed AOV (any other variety) Ocicat for a two-year period, but this out-cross was suspended after this trial period.

LaPerms Around the World

In the mean time the LaPerm started to migrate to other counties, first to Germany, then Japan, followed by New Zealand, South Africa, The Netherlands, England, Russia, France, Sweden and Australia. Some of these people who imported LaPerms, knowing what the out-cross policy was in both TICA and CFA have gone off in a completely new tangent, allowing a variety of purebreds as allowed out-crosses, Somali, Abyssinian, Ocicat, Asian Shorthair, Tiffanie, European Burmese, Tonkinese, Oriental SH, Oriental LH (Angora), Siamese, Balinese, plus variants of these breeds. There are independent breeders, who have also used Maine Coons, Turkish Vans, Turkish Angora, Munchkins, Persians, Russian Blue, Javanese, Chinchilla, and Burmilla.

There have been new exports of American bred TICA registered LaPerms to Australia and the breeders there have joined TICA and are registering their LaPerms and promoting TICA down-under as well as the district cat registries.

TICA allows the registration of all non-allowed out-crosses and CFA offers Cats Ancestral Tracking Service (CATS) for those people in other countries who do not want to follow CFA breeding guidelines. The breeders who do not want to follow TICA and CFA guidelines should utilize these services, instead of asking CFA and TICA to allow other purebred out-crosses. Proposals have already been sent to both Boards asking for purebred out-crosses which have been turned down. A proposal was asked at this year CFA Board of Directors for the importation of LaPerms without a pedigree, simply a registration certificate stating the cat’s parents were registered as LaPerms in the country of birth. This was soundly defeated in an 18 to 1 vote.

In 2005 CFA moved the LaPerm to the Provisional Class. Breeders extended their efforts and LaPerms were shown in every region. Some breeders bringing as many as 6 cats to each show, paying for breed information booths out of their own funds. Their efforts finally paid off with championship status being granted on February 4, 2008!

In the summer of 2007 a group of LaPerm breeders and admirers from around the world pooled resources and formed the LaPerm Fanciers’ International The LFI’s club motto is “Putting the LaPerm First” and is dedicated to preserving the LaPerm breed as a natural American breed as Linda Koehl presented it from the very beginning. Keeping in step with the other American native breeds, the Maine Coon, the American Curl, American Bobtails, American Shorthair & Wirehairs.

Since this past summer we have rescued and placed 4 LaPerms from different states. We have sponsored TICA rings, purchased Breed Booths at TICA shows. We have shown 10 different cats in three different regions. The LFI is still accepting founding members until October 2009.

A Bit About LaPerms

The LaPerm is a delightful medium-sized cat without any extremes. Both coat lengths are allowed, but the longhairs should never have a heavy coat like a Persian or even a Ragdoll. The distinguishing mark from longhair to short is the length of the tail hair. Often the shorthairs will have “a parting of the waters”, where the coat will separate down the spine. Both coat type show feel light and airy, with a bit more texture in the shorthair.

Longhairs have been the most popular because the length shows the most curl. The very first two shorthair LaPerm championships were awarded only this show year, Arohanui BC Marcus Mocha Dandi, a solid chocolate male and Arohanui BC Smoke on the Water, as Seal Tortie Point female. The head is a modified wedge, slightly rounded, gentle contours. Whisker pads should appear full and rounded. The ears are placed to continue the modified wedge of the head; slightly flared and cupped; medium to large with curly furnishings and earmuffs. Lynx tipping is desired in longhairs. All genetically possible colors are acceptable; eye color is not dependent on coat color. There has been a blue eyed, red tabby and white LaPerm shown this year. Another the judges call, something for everyone, a seal silver torbie point and white. In LaPerms pattern and color is only given 2 points each in the standard.

Ever wonder why all LaPerms have the letters, BB, BC, BS in their names? This denote the coat they were born with; BB = Born Bald, BC = Born Curly, BS = Born Straight. Very few kittens are born bald nowadays, but some do go very bald before their full kitten coats come in. It actually takes about two years before a LaPerm is in full coat. Sparse coats in kittens and shorter coats in young adults should not be penalized. Some LaPerms will also go almost bald once a year and it is believed to be hormonal, as this seems to stop once they are altered. Males are appreciably larger than females.

The LaPerm is a clown in a curly coat. True to their barn cat roots, this is a thinking cat, a problem solver, in other words very clever and can be troublemakers. If a door is closed, they want it open, if a toy is just out of reach, they want to get to it. They are very clever at using the front paws to get what they want, be it a toy, food or attention, out comes the “magic” paw. They will follow you from room to room, ride on your shoulders, sit on top of you computer, play fetch, just to be close to you, but are not vocal or clingy.

Please contact a breeder close to you for more information.

*Some cats were shown more than once
Some cats earned more than one title, but only one is counted

Sources used:
TICA Unofficial show reports 1996-2007
TICA Official Standings 2003-2008
TICA Points Pending 2007/2008


Curly, the first LaPerm, is born on the farm of Linda Koehl, The Dalles , Oregon

Early 1990s

The LaPerm starts being shown.
The breed attracts breeders and judges alike


Recognition is granted by TICA in the New Breed class


Arrival of the first LaPerms in Germany


Arrival of the first LaPerm in Japan


The LPSA (LaPerm Society of America ) is formed


Recognition is granted by UFO ( United Feline Organization) in New Breed class


Arrival of the first LaPerms in New Zealand


Championship recognition granted by WACC in Germany . The first LaPerm champion is a male chocolate tabby: Ch Uluru BC Wiyaka


Arrival of the first LaPerm in South Africa


Recognition is granted by the New Zealand Cat Fancy (Longhair only)


Recognition is granted by the Southern Africa Cat Council


Recognition is granted by CFA (Cat Fanciers Association) in Miscellaneous class


The LPSA (LaPerm Society of America ) becomes affiliated to the CFA


Recognition is granted by ACFA in Miscellaneous class


Arrival of first LaPerm in The Netherlands


Recognition is granted by Catz Incorporated. ( New Zealand ) (Provisional status)


Championship status granted by Southern Africa Cat Council. Ch Le Beaux Chats Animaldocs Bree, a brown tabby is the first female champion LaPerm


The first LaPerm arrives in the UK


The first LaPerm Premier and the first LaPerm Grand go to Grand Premier Karnaki Giepie Goggabie in South Africa


Championship status in New Zealand (Catz Inc)


Arrival of the first LaPerm arrives in Russia


Championship status in TICA


Recognition is granted by WCF (The World Cat Federation)


The first TICA LaPerm Champion is Dennigan’s French Maid of Shoalwater


The first TICA Supreme Grand Champion Alter Jemcats Jest Dawg


Arrival of the first LaPerms arrive in France & Australia


Preliminary Recognition granted by the GCCF


Recognition is granted by CFA in Provisional Class


First TICA Shorthair Champion, Arohanui BC Marcus Mocha Dandi


LaPerm Fanciers International, “Putting the LaPerm First”, formed


Championship Status granted in CFA


The first whole TICA Supreme Grand Champion Arohanui BC Tiponi


Copyright & Credit:By  Jerrie Wolfe – Arohanui LaPerm Cattery |

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

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