Curly and Crimpy LaPerms


LaPerms are the rarest of the curly cat breeds. But if you are lucky enough to meet one, it wouldn’t be long before you become completely enamoured. Dig up some interesting facts about this exotic cat who is unique in every way possible.
Denise Abraham
The origin
In 1982, the first LaPerm kitten was born bald in Oregon, a north-western state in the US. The area that this kitten called home is thought to be sacred and was once the hunting and trading grounds for native Americans. Centuries later, French explorers travelled the Columbia River that runs through this area and created settlements from which to continue their operations. Between the French influence and the popularity of perming one’s hair during the 1980s the name ‘LaPerm’ of the breed was created.
Physical characteristics
Coat of a LaPerm can be of any length, colour or pattern and comes in a variety of ‘curl’ from crimped to ringlets. Mature coats take up to three years to develop, with the long-haired LaPerms sporting ruffs, ear tuffs, and full tails while the short-haired ones tend to have ‘bottle brush’ like tails. The fur tends to shed less, be non-matting and requires little attention. Because of these features, the LaPerm is thought to be one of the breeds most successful in limiting the symptoms of allergy sufferers.
LaPerms are unique in every way possible, not just within their genetic makeup. One distinguished feature of the breed, probably the worst, is that stressors can cause the cat to molt. Mostly molting is hormonally based such as when the cat has kittens or is spayed or neutered. The LaPerm can become completely bald or anywhere up to that point. Not every cat molts, but we cannot determine which ones will or won’t ahead of time. The saving grace is that with time, the curly coat will grow back in and be as beautiful as ever.
No health problem
Like many cats, LaPerms came from a working background. They were ‘hired’ to keep mice population down in cherry orchards. Likely due to this hardy background, they have no predisposition to any health problems. The breed started with a naturally occurring genetic mutation causing the hairs to be oval shaped instead of round, making the coat curl. However, breeding was not controlled until 10 years later in the early 1990s. They were finally accepted into The International Cat Association (TICA) championship class in 2003.
Outstanding personality
Visitors meeting a LaPerm for the first time initially remark on the breed’s soft coat and secondly, they delight with the curled, crimped and every-which-way whiskers and eyebrows. An occasional trim may be necessary to keep them from growing towards the eyes. The coat of the LaPerm is no doubt remarkable, but the personality of the cat is outstanding. The LaPerm is no ordinary cat. Most people assume aloof and independent when thinking about cat behaviours. But the LaPerm is determined to change that reputation.
LaPerms love attention, wanting to be the center of it in any way possible. Famous for being face lovers, they enjoy receiving and giving kisses. Housework is not complete without their contributions of ‘help’, continued with playtime in which the order of the day may be fetch, chasing laser pointer or flying through the air to catch ‘bird’ teaser. Then, of course, if you are tired, they are only too happy to warm your lap and nuzzle you while purring musically.
People-oriented creatures
LaPerms greet you at the doorsteps and if willing to keep up your half of the conversation, they will answer in trills and soft meows. They are very people- orientated creatures and most enjoy the attention of visitors. Consequently, their friendly nature makes them great ‘therapy pets’. They adjust well to the active family home or to the quiet senior home or anywhere in between. It is amazing how such an extraordinary cat came from such a simple origin.
This breed with all these wonderful attributes is still rare everywhere around the world, but found in some countries, such as Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, and USA. Hopes are that this wonderful breed can find homes across the globe. Perhaps India will be next?
(Denise Abraham started breeding LaPerms about five years ago. She is currently a breeder of TICA registered LaPerm breeds in Canada).