American Curl Cat Breed Characteristics

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American curl cat quick facts

Length‌: 12 - 16 inches


Weight‌: Females: 5 - 8 pounds, Males: 7 - 10 pounds

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Lifespan‌: 11 - 15 years or more

Coat length‌: Shorthair and longhair


Coloring‌: All coat colors and patterns including tabby, tortoiseshell, bicolor, and calico

Grooming needs‌: Low to medium

Friendliness‌: Breed alone is not an accurate predictor of individual cats' personalities. However, American curl cats are generally regarded as intelligent, social, and playful.


The American curl cat is a small to medium-sized cat with a big personality. They have been nicknamed "Peter Pan" because they continue to be playful and kitten-like into adulthood. These domestic cats come in both long and short hair. They also come in all colors and patterns including tabby, tortoiseshell, bicolor, and calico.


If you are looking for a beautiful cat with a unique appearance and a sociable and playful personality, the American curl may be the breed of cat for you. Carefully consider the breed's care requirements and personality before selecting a kitten to bring home to your family.


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American curl cat history

The American curl is a fairly new breed. It was first bred by a black kitten who was found by Joe and Grace Ruga in Lakewood, California, in 1981. The kitten had long hair and curled ears and was named Shulamith. When she grew up, she had a litter of four kittens. Half of the litter had curled ears. Breeders started selective breeding in 1983 to develop what would become the American curl cat breed. This breed of cat is recognized by the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA)and the International Cat Association (TICA).



Geneticists studied the cats to determine how the curly ears were passed on. Feline geneticist Roy Robinson determined that the trait is autosomal dominant, which means that a kitten must have at least one copy of the dominant gene.

The American curl's ears have firm cartilage at the base of the ear that extends up at least 1/3 of the ear. The top of the ear is thin and flexible and curls back. The breed standard requires that the curled-back ears form an arc that is at least 90 but no more than 180 degrees. The backward curl is one factor that distinguishes the cats from the Scottish fold, whose ears fold forward.


American curl kittens have straight ears when they are born. Within a few days, the ears develop a tight curl. From the age of 6 weeks to 4 months, the ears slowly uncurl.

American curl cat personality

The American curl cat is known for their kitten-like behavior. They love your company and will likely be waiting for you to wake up. and accompanying you around the home as you go about your day. They are curious and intelligent. They enjoy exploring and will likely examine any purchases you bring into your home. Be aware that this breed has a somewhat uncanny ability to open doors.


They love to play games of fetch but they can also entertain themselves with available toys. The cats also jump and climb and you may often find them on high perches.

They love to play but they are also very affectionate. They tend to vocalize with a cooing sound, but they aren't overly loud cats. They may greet you with a head bump and wake you up by licking your hair. American curls tend to get along well with other pets.

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American curl cat lifespan and health issues

A healthy American curl cat can live into their mid-teens or longer. Fortunately, this tends to be a very healthy breed and there aren't any known genetic health problems that affect the cats.


However, due to their unique ear shape, cats are prone to developing ear infections. Watch for symptoms of an infection that may include:

  • head shaking
  • ear scratching
  • red and inflamed ears
  • yellow or black ear discharge
  • foul odor from the ears

If you see symptoms of an ear infection, take your cat to a veterinarian. They can diagnose the cause of the infection and prescribe an effective medication to treat your cat.

American curl cat grooming and care

The American curl cat comes in both long and shorthair varieties. The cats have little in the way of an undercoat and do not shed very much. Shorthaired cats should be brushed occasionally to remove loose hair. Longhaired cats need more frequent brushing to prevent tangles and matting. Grooming a couple of times per week is usually sufficient.

Be sure to check and clean the cat's ears when you brush them. This keeps the ears clean and helps to prevent infection. Use a soft cotton and an ear-cleaning solution designed for cats and recommended by a veterinarian.

Other care requirements include:

  • checking the cat's nails and trimming them as needed
  • feeding a high-quality commercial cat food as recommended by your veterinarian
  • providing fresh drinking water that is available for your cat at all times
  • taking your cat in for regular veterinary examinations
  • staying up-to-date with recommended vaccinations
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Welcoming a new cat into your home

Bringing a new American curl kitten or cat into your home is an exciting time. The playful energy of the cat is sure to bring joy into the home. Before you welcome your cat, make sure to cat-proof your home. Put away anything that may be harmful to your new cat. Remember the American curl has a tendency to open doors and cabinets. Consider using child-proof latches on cabinets that contain harmful materials such as cleaning supplies.


Set up a safe room where you can welcome your new kitten. Make sure they have everything they need including:

  • food and water
  • litter box
  • cat tree
  • scratching post
  • cat toys

Allow your cat to explore the room at their own pace. You don't want to push them to be held or explore areas they don't want to be in. Instead, sit and offer to play with them. Giving them plenty of positive reinforcement is a good way to start developing a loving and trusting relationship.

Introduce your new cat to any other pets and children you have in the household. Once your new cat is comfortable, you can open up the door so they access more of the home. It shouldn't take long for these curious and adaptable cats to become comfortable — but don't rush them. Before you know it, your American curl will be an integral part of family life.



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