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The LaPerm Cat

| January 22, 2011
LaPerm Cat Sp Pr Silkenclaw BC Pawsum Nesquik

LaPerm Cat Sp Pr Silkenclaw BC Pawsum Nesquik

Character: LaPerms are very gentle and extremely affectionate. They often look out for human contact and purr the moment they become aware of your presence. LaPerms are face lovers and often reach for your face with the paws and rub their faces against your head, neck and, face.

Care: The LaPerm is very low maintenance that requires the very minimum of grooming because the coat doesn’t easily mat. The curls hold the hair in a similar way to a poodle, so shedding is minimal.

History of the LaPerm

The LaPerm is a new breed of Rex cat that originated on Linda Koehl’s cherry farm in The Dalles, Oregon in 1982. A barn cat gave birth to a litter of six kittens. One kitten was born totally bald, not looking like her mother or her siblings. It was one of the ugliest kittens Linda had ever seen! But within eight weeks the kitten began to grow very soft, curly hair. Linda named the cat “Curly.” Linda did not know much about cats and thought nothing more of the matter.

At four months Curly had a beautiful coat sporting thick curls. Linda found herself constantly picking Curly up because her soft fur was so inviting to the touch. Curly’s temperament was also very different to the other cats. She was very affectionate but not demanding and would wait patiently for her turn.

During the next 10 years no attempt was made to breed Curly and her kittens selectively but the bald kittens kept increasing! Linda eventually realized how special these kittens were and began to confine and control the breeding. It became obvious the LaPerm gene was dominant since curly kittens kept cropping up even when crossed with unrelated straight-haired cats. She came up with the name “LaPerm” which means wavy or rippled in several languages.

The LaPerm as a breed almost didn’t make it though! Curly was of course a mouser that lived in a barn on the cherry farm. One morning she climbed into the fan housing of a bakkie to get warm. When the bakkie started Curly got pinned between the blade and the housing. Linda heard a loud yowl and rushed to find her under the hood. Curly fell to the ground lifeless. Linda rushed to pick her up. All of a sudden she sprang to life and scurried from the scene with all her might. She calmed down eventually and was taken to the vet where they found only superficial wounds. During her recovery Curly was the perfect little angel displaying many of the qualities that are now expected from the LaPerm. She was very patient and made no attempt to dislodge her dressings and thrived on the extra attention she was receiving. Even when tape was pulled from her she made no attempt to escape, bite or scratch.

Curly had a second scrape with fate with her first litter. Maybe taken by surprised by the onset of labour Curly gave birth to her five kittens under a tree in the orchard during a rainstorm. The hysterical barking of dogs woke Linda up. She grabbed her coat, her boots and her torch and dashed outside to investigate. Following the sound of the dogs she found Curly straddling her newborns whilst holding the dogs off. Linda chased the dogs away and picked up the kittens. She put them in her coat pockets and then tucked Curly under her coat and took the new family into the barn, making a nest in a bale of hay. Curly had always insisted on being an outdoors cat and this unfortunately led to her eventual downfall. One day Curly stopped showing up for her morning visits but her legacy lived on in the curly kittens that had the run of Linda’s farm.

Temperament of the LaPerm

LaPerms are very gentle and extremely affectionate. They often look out for human contact and purr the moment they become aware of your presence. LaPerms are face lovers and often reach for your face with the paws and rub their faces against your head, neck and, face. They love being kissed and will kiss back. They beg to be held, draped over a shoulder or cradled in your arms whilst resting on their backs. Ice Spirit’s breeder, Andy Lawrence (Uluru Cattery) described how Spirit would sit on her shoulder or lap licking Andy’s eyelids or nibbling on her ears while she spoke to her.

They are very inquisitive by nature and love to get into mischief. Kittens have been known to stop nursing and seek out the source of a human voice before their eyes have even opened yet. LaPerms are a relatively quiet breed but can be vocal when demanding attention. They are excellent hunters but remain gentle companions.

Fortunately LaPerms adapt well to living in a flat because of their strong bonding instincts. LaPerms are well known for their bonding to humans. They often choose one person over another therefore prompting some prospective owners to take two kittens: one for mom and one for dad.

Often because of outcrossing a straight-haired kitten will pop in a litter. These kittens are also blessed with the special personality belonging to the LaPerm. And therefore make excellent pets as well and are often available at a lower cost.

Despite the fact that LaPerms are very energetic cats they make excellent lap-warmers. They are extremely intelligent and very playful. They readily learn to fetch as well as many other tricks.

Description of the LaPerm

The LaPerm is very low maintenance that requires the very minimum of grooming because the coat doesn’t easily mat. The curls hold the hair in a similar way to a poodle, so shedding is minimal.

Although no cat is hypoallergenic a few breeders have claimed that people who are allergic to cats have less trouble with LaPerms. This is due to the fact that LaPerms don’t shed as much. Should a person who is allergic to cats consider a LaPerm they should spend time with the cats to test their reaction. Also a bath in clean water at least once a week is recommended. LaPerms come in both short and long-haired varieties. The length and fullness of the hair varies on the maturity of the cat. LaPerms can have wavy coats to ringlet-type curls that are anywhere from tight ringlets to long corkscrew curls. The tightest curls occur on the underside of the cat on the throat and at the base of the ears. Males and females have a full ruff on the neck at maturity. The longhair LaPerm often has a curly plumed tail. The coat is moderately soft in texture, but each LaPerm’s coat is unique. The shorthair LaPerm has more texture to the coat than the longhair and doesn’t have a plumed tail, but a “bottle-brush.” The coat stands away from the body that parts down the middle. Whiskers are always long and very curly! They have a semi-foreign body type with a modified wedge-shaped head. LaPerms have long legs, a long neck and firm muscles that comes from a cat bred from working stock. They have almond shaped eyes, large cupped ears, a long broad nose of which has a slight break in profile, but no stop, and long broad muzzles with a firm chin.

Kittens are born bald or with straight hair and then the curls shortly come in later; but most kittens are born with curly hair. Breeders often use the initials BC, BB or BS in their kittens’ names which referring to how they came into the world. BC = Born Curly; BB = Born Bald; and BS = Born Straight.

Most kittens go through an “ugly duckling phase” (as all Rex varities do) in which about two months old they loose their coat and go almost totally bald. The coat grows back relatively quickly and is nearly always more curly and more softer. This process may happen to the cat more than once in their life, but once spayed or neutered it is generally a lot more stable. In which case it will happen less frequently and quite possibly never again in the cat’s life.

The LaPerm comes in every recognized colour and coat pattern. Because the LaPerm originated from one single cat outcrossing to other cats is vital to increase the gene pool and is accepted by SACC (South Africa Cat Council) and other world authorities. As a result the LaPerm is a very healthy breed not plagued by illnesses and various conditions that other pedigreed cats are.

Ratings out of 10

Compatibility: -Children: 9
Compatibility: -Other Pets: 9
Grooming : Shorthair – 9 | Longhair – 8
Affection: 10
Playfulness: 8
Attention Need: 8
Healthiness: 10
Independence: 5
Activity Level: 7
Vocality: 5
Intelligence: 8

Copyright & Credit:
Breed Profile and: Silkenclaw The home of healthy, playful, affectionate LaPerm, Siamese, Oriental, Selkirk Rex, American Curl and Scottish Fold. Kittens occasionally available to special homes.  www.silkenclaw.co.za

Photos copyright & courtesy: Linn Currie

Category: Feline Resources

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