American Curl Shorthair cat breed photo

The origin of the breed

This relatively young breed comes from 80-s from California, where a peculiar feline with semilong, curly hair on ears was found by Ruga family. This ears were the breed-defining feature, as if they were curled. By the end of the year, Shulamith, that was the name of the mysterious feline, gave birth to 4 more kittens, 2 of which have inherited the curled ear shape. This was the moment when breeders have put an eye on the breed, and a couple of years later Shulamith was exhibited at a cat show in California together with her litter. The breed name comes from it's ear shape, as you may guess, as it is curled, indeed. Both the shape and the coat on ears is a result of spontaneous, yet, dominant gene mutation, which means that a single curl-parent is enough to produce curled litter. Usually, crosses with other breed yield at least 50% of curled kittens.

Those without curled ears are called curl-straight, and are used in breeding or sold as pets. Novadays there are two variations produced by breeding: longhair and shorthair curls, differing in their coat length as you might have guessed. It is worth noting that longhair curls are the original ones, and shorthair variation took quite some time to be developed, and still they recessively inherit longhair gene which results in eventual bearing of longhair kittens.

The breed was given it's first international recognition by TICA in 1985, with CFA following in 1991. First curl cats were brought to Europe in late 80-s, and have already gained worldwide fame. Novadays there are a lot of curl catteries in Europe, America and Japan. What is truly peculiar - soon after the breed became popular, there were quite a lot of reports about native curled felines showing up everywhere, including South America and Australia.


The cat is neither large nor particularly small, with their weight ranging from 6 to 12 lbs. Delicate yet fit, this feline possesses a surprisingly hard frame. Their “inside-out" ears are their unique call-card. Sexual dimorphism affects specimen of the breed by great extent, with men being noticeably larger and stronger than females.

Head: Of a medium size, slightly prolonged, in the form of a modified wedge without flat planes. Approximately 1-1/2 times longer than wide. Muzzle is neither pointed, nor square; it is wedge-shaped, of a medium size with gentle transition; no whisker break. Profile shows a slight rinse from the bridge of the nose to the forehead. Forehead is slightly arched and flows to the neck without a break. Nose is straight. Chin is firm, in line with nose and upper lip.

Eyes: Moderately large in proportion to the head, walnut-shaped (oval on top and rounded on bottom), set rather far (one eye-width apart), a little slanted. Color is clear and brilliant with no relation to coat color (except that blue eyes are required on all pointed cats)

Ears: Moderately large in proportion to the head, wide at the base and open, set erect and high, with rounded tips. Curved back and directed to the base of the scull. Minimum 90 degree arc of curl. The tip of the era should not touch neither the outer side of the ear, nor the head of the cat. The curl of the ear appear in 3 degrees: slightly curled back, moderately curled and, the most valuable variant, - curled in the form of an crescent. The surface of the curved portion of the ear should be smooth. Tips rounded and flexible. Furnishings are desirable.

Neck: Medium in length, muscular.

Torso: Rectangular, rather prolonged: the length should be apprx. 1-1/2 times the height of the shoulders. Boning and musculature are medium, neither fine-, nor heavy-boned. Moderate strength and tone.

Legs: Length is of a medium size, proportional to the body, well muscled, set straight (when viewed from front or rear). Front legs are a bit shortes that rear.

Feet: Rounded, compact and medium in size.

Tail: Equal to the body length, wide and thick at the base, and tapering to the end, furry.

Coat: Short with tail coat same length as body coat. Soft, silky, thin, laying flat, resilient without a plush dense feel. Minimal undercoat.

Colors: All colors, including colorpoint. Color should be well-defined, sound and with a clear pattern (if any)

Penalize: Deep nose break; heavy undercoat, heavy ruff; coarse, cottony or fluffy coat texture; dense or plush coat; ears set low; vertical/horizontal crimps; abrupt change of direction of the curl, rather than a smooth curve of the ear.

Disqualification on the shows: Straight or mismatched ears (srtongly), lack of firm cartilage of the ear, extreme curl in an adult cat when the tip of the ear touches back of the head or the ear itself. Not flexible ear tips. Ears in which the lower portion of the ear is abnormally flattened, has compressed ridges of cartilage and does not have a normal, visible ear cavity.

Disqualification for all breeds: Amputated claws, cryptorchism, deafness.

Character traits and features

Curl cats have a level temper, playful attitude and refined ethics. They treat humans as friends, and may often retire to spending time with them, instead of playing with their like, they are not the ones to have conflicts with other pets, not even dogs. They are prone to forming a strong bond between with the owner, and moreover, they are good with kids. These felines are also easy to train and walk with, they are fine with lashes.

They reach puberty by age of 2 – 3 , with their ears starting to curl a few days after being born, fixing their shape by 3 – 4 months.

Maintenance and care

Their coat is fine if you comb it on weekly basis. Their ears demand more attention though, as if they act like a natural dust and sulphur-magnet because of their shape, you would want to remove them with a special treatment. It is a normal practice to wash their ears a few days before cat show.

Nutrition choices

Balanced rations are recommended, although these cats are naturally not the ones to overeat and become obese.


Allowed crossings : none

Breeds relative to or derived from American Curl Longhair: Ruffle – rex variety, a crossing between american cual and cornish-rex

Alternative and obsolete breed names

American Сurly

Slang names


Breed's catteries