American Curl Cat: Characteristics, Temperament, Cat Care


The American Curl cat is an unusual breed with distinctive ears that gently curve backward. The backward curling ears are a result of a dominant mutation. This mutation was first documented in 1981 when a stray long-haired cat with curled ears was taken in by Grace Ruga and named “Shulasmith”. A subsequent unplanned litter resulted in two of the four kittens having curled ears. The first time these American curls, Shulasmith and the 2 kittens, were shown was at Palm Springs in 1983 where they created a lot of interest and excitement. Since the curled ears seemed to be a dominant mutation, Joe and Grace Ruga and a friend, Nancy Keister, started a selective breeding program with the intent of developing a new cat breed. The American Curl was first recognized in the US by the International Cat Association and later in 1991 was given provisional recognition by the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA).

Cat size Small/Medium
Exercise Requires little or no exercise
Grooming Low shedding/Minimal grooming
Temperament Pleasant, playful and adaptable



The American Curl is a small to medium-sized cat breed with distinctive curled ears. Male Curls weigh from 7 to 10 pounds and females from 5 to 8 pounds. Curl kittens are born with uncurled ears but they become tightly curled within a week and then gradual uncurl until they reach their adult state in 4 to 5 months. The degree of final curling varies between individual cats with show quality ears ranging between 90 and 180 degrees arc of curl. Curls are elegant, moderately muscled and slender in build with a rectangular body. The head has a wedge shape that is slightly longer than wide and the eyes are fairly large, walnut-shaped – oval on top and rounded at the bottom. Longhair varieties have a semi-long fine, silky and flat-lying coat with a minimal undercoat and a fully plumed tail. Shorthair varieties have a short, soft, silky and flat-lying coat with a minimal undercoat.

Color Varieties

There are a very large number of American Curl color varieties and permitted colors are different between countries and even between cat fancy organizations in the US.



American Curls are quiet, pleasant, playful and very adaptable to different household situations. They can adapt well to existing pets and children. Curls are affectionate, faithful and almost like a dog in their need to follow their owners around the house. They are quite quiet and make trilling noises when communicating. Curls don’t fully mature until 3 years of age and in fact, maintain their kitten-like personality well into their adult years.

Cat Care

Curls are very healthy due to a wide range of cat breeds used during the development of the breed. The curled ears do not present a health problem. The American Curl is a low-shedding cat breed and requires little grooming beyond a once per week combing to remove dead hairs.


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