The LaPerm, which resulted from a spontaneous mutation, has curly long or short fur and a sweet, friendly temperament.
The first LaPerm was the daughter of a brown tabby barn cat that lived on an Oregon orchard owned by Richard and Linda Koehl. Linda witnessed the birth of the unusual kitten in an otherwise normal litter of six. She was hairless with tabby markings on her skin and large, wide-spaced ears. The strange kitten eventually grew some fur – a curly coat. Linda named her Curly.
Curly, along with her descendants, bred freely for 10 years, increasing the population of curly-coated cats. No matter what breed of cat was crossed with Curly, the kittens were always curly-haired. This indicated that the curls were caused by a dominant gene, which arose via spontaneous mutation. Eventually realizing that she had a unique breed establishing itself in her orchard, Linda began confining the cats and controlling their breeding, and was soon joined by other breeders.
The LaPerm breed arose in an area of great significance for the history and culture of the Wishram Indians. Many of the original breeders had Native American ancestry, and the pedigree names of many LaPerms are Native American in origin.
LaPerm Cat Appearance
The LaPerm is medium-sized, lean, muscular cat with adult males weighing 8-10 pounds and females 6-8. Its most notable features are its soft waves and ringlets and long curly whiskers. LaPerms can be found in a broad array of colours and patterns (though most commonly tabby, tortie, and red), and both long and short hair.
Some LaPerms are born with straight hair when a curly-haired parent that carries a recessive straight-hair gene mates with a straight-haired domestic cat or another LaPerm with a recessive straight-hair gene. Straight-haired LaPerms have silky flat coats.
Some LaPerms are born bald like Curly, and LaPerms may revert to an ugly duckling stage at times due to heavy moulting, causing bald patches or a sparse coat. After a moult, the fur tends to grow back thicker and curlier than before. Breeders have worked to produce furred kittens, so bald kittens are becoming rarer. Most LaPerms that have the curly gene have curly fur at birth (if they have any fur at all), but occasionally a kitten born with straight hair has a heavy moult and produces a curly coat thereafter.
LaPerm breeders have continued the atypical strategy cross-breeding LaPerms primarily with domestic cats whose origins are unknown, though purebreds have been used by some breeders.
LaPerm Cat Personality
LaPerms are good problem-solvers and have agile paws, which they use to open cupboards, obtain desired items, and pat owners gently on the face in a gesture of affection. This breed isn’t clingy or vocal, but active LaPerms do tend to follow people from room to room, and many like to perch on shoulders rather than lap-sitting.
While there are certainly exceptions, LaPerms tend to be gentle, loving, and even-tempered. These playful, people-oriented cats make good family pets because they usually get along well with children and cat-friendly dogs.
LaPerm Cat Health and Grooming Requirements
LaPerms originated with hardy barn cats, and there are no illnesses specifically associated with the breed.
LaPerms don’t require much grooming. Combing the fur at least once a week is usually sufficient to prevent tangles, though more grooming is required for show cats. A revolving-tooth comb should be used, as it will not pull curls straight. If bathing a LaPerm, towel dry its fur rather than blow-drying to prevent the coat from becoming frizzy.
Are LaPerms Hypoallergenic?
Many allergy sufferers can live with LaPerms, because their tight curls reduce the shedding of dander-laced fur to some degree. However, some find no difference between LaPerms and other cats, so the only way to know for sure is to spend time with a cat to be adopted beforehand.
Adopt a LaPerm Kitten or Cat
LaPerms are still relatively rare, and pricing varies based on whether cats are show quality or pet quality. In the United States, LaPerm kittens cost anywhere from$300-$1,200 (and even more for rare patterns and colours). In the UK, curly-haired LaPerm kittens may be obtained for £350-£600 and straight-haired LaPerms for £150-£200.
There are also adult LaPerms in need of foster homes. LaPerm Fanciers International (LFI) rehomes LaPerms that have been removed from abusive homes, surrendered to shelters, or turned over to LFI because their owners can no longer care for them. Adoptable adult LaPerms may also be found on Petfinder’s breed page.
- LaPerm Cat Club. (n.d.). “FAQs.” LaPerm.co.uk.
- LaPerm Fanciers International. (2010). “LaPerm FAQ.” LaPermFanciers.com.
- Lawrence, A.D. (2000). The LaPerm Cat: The New Wave in Cats for the Millennium. Reprinted with permission by the Laperm Society of America, LaPermCats.com.
- Lawrence, A.D. (2009). “What Makes a Rex?” LaPermCats.com.
- TICA. (n.d.). “LaPerm.” TICA.org.
- Wolfe, J. (2008). “From Humble Barn Cat … to World-Wide Championship Breed.” LaPermFanciers.com.