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The Selkirk Rex Cat

| January 14, 2011
The Selkirk  Rex - Ch R Kat Magic L.Lovegood Catequil of Silkenclaw (Imp)

The Selkirk Rex - Ch R Kat Magic L.Lovegood Catequil of Silkenclaw (Imp)

Selkirk Rex stay playful and retain their kitten-like attitudes well into adulthood. They are curious and adore a game of fetch. Toys such as mice, laser pointers or even a wad of scrunched up paper can keep them entertained for hours on end. People-oriented, without being very clingy, a Selkirk Rex enjoys spending time with their favourite person. Because of their social nature they do not cope well in isolation or when left alone for long periods at a time.

The temperament is often described as that belonging to the breeds used in their development. They have the laid-back, reserved qualities of the British Shorthair and the playfulness of the Exotic Shorthair. Unlike other Rex breeds, the Selkirk Rex is not recommended for those suffering from allergies.

Standard of Points

A medium to large well muscled cat, the Selkirk Rex has substantial boning in proportion to the body. The skull is round, broad and full cheeked with no flat planes on the underlying bone structure. The nose slants downwards with a convex curve, set below the line of the eye. The profile reveals a nose stop and a muzzle that must be clearly visible beyond the curve of the cheek. An extreme nose break will cause the show cat to be disqualified. The muzzle is medium in width with well padded whisker pads to give the impression of squareness. The length of the muzzle is equal to half the width. The chin is firm and well developed, balanced in proportion to the rest of the head. Ears are medium in size and set well apart. Ears must be broad at the base, tapering and must fit into the rounded contour of the head. The body is more rectangular than square but should not appear long. The tail is medium in length and in proportion to the body. It is thick at the base, neither blunt nor pointed at the tip. The paws are large, round and firm.

Both longhair and shorthairs are accepted. The shorthair has a soft, plush full curl that is dense with no bald or thinly covered areas on the body. The coat stands away from the body without appearing close lying or flat. The longhair has a similar texture without being as plush, but should not feel thinner. The tail curls are plumy and stand away from the tail.

The coat is random, arranged in loose individual curls that appear in clumps or ringlets rather than a wave. The degree of curl varies with the hair length, age, and sex. Curliness increases around the neck, tail & stomach. Kittens appear less curly and allowance is made for this on the show bench.

Unlike other Rex breeds eye colour is important and must complement the coat colour. All shades are accepted including copper, gold, yellow, green, blue or even odd eyes.


The Selkirk Rex does not require a great deal of grooming, but is slightly higher maintenance than other Rex breeds. Bathing is usually unnecessary unless for showing. Before bathing, brush the coat to remove any loose or dead hairs. Beware of over brushing though, as this will straighten the coat and the curl will not be as distinct. The best shampoo to use would be those that don’t coat the hair but instead leave it silky, thereby encouraging the curl. Spritzing with water will help to bring out the curls at show.

Heath Problems
The Selkirk Rex remains a healthy breed but care must be taken when outcrossing that no genetic problems are inherited from the Persian, Exotic or British Shorthair parents. Health problems inherited from Persians and Exotics include Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) and Hypertrophic Cardiomyopaty (HCM) from British Shorthairs. Different blood groups, present in British Shorthairs can be problematic and result in kitten losses. Responsible breeders screen their breeding cats for these diseases to eliminate the impact.

Breeding towards correct head structure is required to prevent kinking of the tear ducts that result in tear run down on the front of the face, as seen in the Persian and Exotic. Similarly muzzle creases can result in dermatitis on the face.


Kitty Garrett Brown ran For Pets Sake, a shelter in Bozeman, Montana. She came across an unusual cat, later called Curly-Q, a dilute calico. Her whiskers were normal, but her coat exhibited a bit of a kink at the end of each hair shaft. Her stomach showed even more curl. She had been caught in a trap and lost a foot as a result. At 7 months Curly-Q gave birth to a litter of six kittens, amongst them a calico kitten who exhibited an even more dramatic coat. All the other kittens were normal. The little kitten was homed, but was returned not much later because she cried too much, wanted too much attention and was too naughty for her new owners.

Kitty knew of Jeri Newman, a Persian breeder who didn’t live that far away and who had some knowledge of genetics. The unusual kitten was named Miss DePesto, after a curly haired character in the TV series Moonlighting played by Allyce Beasley. In 1987 Kitty phoned Jeri to explain to her about the auspicious find. Jeri described her later as the worst looking Devon Rex with a Chatreaux body. Jeri decided to use Persian, British Shorthair, Exotic and American Shorthairs as outcrosses. Firstly probably because they were more easily accessible, being a Persian breeder herself, but also because she wanted a very different look unlike any of the current Rex breeds: Devon Rex, Cornish Rex, or LaPerm. American Shorthairs are no longer used as outcrosses.

At 14 months old Jeri bred “Pest” as she was affectionately known to her black Persian male, Ch Photo Finish of Deekay. On the 4th July 1988 Pest had six babies, of which three were curly, proving that it was a dominant gene. One of the kittens was a black bicolour male, Noface Oscar Kowalski who was instrumental in furthering the breed and can be found in many Selkirk Rex pedigrees today.

Jeri did not want to name the new breed the American Rex as the Cornish and Devon Rexes were named after their areas of origin. Instead she honoured her stepfather by calling the new breed after his family name. Jeri also told people that the breed was named after the Selkirk Mountains about 75 miles from Miss DePesto’s birth place. The Selkirk Creek also lies approximately 20 miles from the point of origin.

The Selkirk Rex attended their first show in Salt Lake City, Utah in January 1990 were they were a huge success. CFA all breeds judge, Kim Kilborn encouraged Jeri to have the breed recognised. CFA accepted the Selkirk Rex in February 1992, by which time TICA and ACFA had already accepted them. To date, no breed has achieved recognition as quickly in so many worldwide registers as the Selkirk Rex.

SA History

The Selkirk Rex was not in South Africa for long when the only breeder regretfully gave up breeding a few short years later after the first Selkirk Rex was imported into South Africa. During that period, the Selkirk Rex achieved recognition in SACC (South African Cat Council), the largest and oldest cat register in South Africa.

Vicky Harris, who now concentrates on showing her award-winning Beagles bought one of these early cats, Avante Guard Smiling Thomas. Thomas has been shown extensively in Gauteng and became the first Supreme Premier (neuter) in South Africa. The highest possible title for any cat in SACC. He also became the first of his breed to be a qualifier for Cat of the Year in 2007. In 2008 he qualified yet again as the only representative of his breed and managed to achieve an impressive 5th place in the neuter section.

The Selkirk Rex is currently being re-imported in South Africa and will soon be available to special homes.


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.

Photos copyright & courtesy: Linn Currie

Category: Feline Resources

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