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American Curl Cat: Info, Pictures, Characteristics & Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

American curl cat lying

Height 9-12 inches
Weight 5-10 pounds
Lifespan 12-18 years
Colors Black, chocolate, brown, silver, blue, grey, cream, beige, lilac, red, orange, white
Suitable for First-time pet owners, friendly towards its human owners and strangers, good lap cat, indoor cat breed.
Temperament Friendly, sociable, and affectionate.

The American Curl Cat was born out of a spontaneous, naturally occurring genetic mutation. This cat is known for its unique appearance, and its distinguishable feature is the ears, which curl towards the back of their heads.

This American-bred species first appeared as a stray in Lakewood, California, in June 1981. The stray long-haired black female cat with curled ears was adopted by Joe and Grace Ruga, who named her Shulamith. The cat later gave birth to kittens with the same curled ears and marked the beginning of this breed.

In 1986, the American Curl was exhibited at a Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) show in California for the first time. The International Cat Association (TICA) would later give the long-haired American Curl championship status in 1992. By 1999, this breed became the first to be admitted to the CFA Championship Class for both long-hair and short-hair divisions.

These cats can be bred with other Curls or crossbred with other varieties that have straight ears to meet the Curl breed standard. Breeders focus on this crossbreeding to increase the genetic diversity and ensure there’s a large gene pool.

Even with its short history, this cat breed has grown in popularity and is ranked 25th out of 37 by the CFA. The breeds have spread out beyond the U.S to Europe and Japan. Due to their popularity with breeders, the breed standard was amended in 2015 to stop out-crossing with domestic shorthair and longhair cats.

Prior to then, breeders could create different species with the Curl to create varying coat and color variations. The current pedigreed species are the result of Curl-Curl breeding.

This medium-sized cat is perfect for first-time pet owners. Known for their friendly nature, they are affectionate to their owners and strangers alike. If you are considering getting an American Curl cat for your home, here’s all you need to know.

American Curl Cat

American curl cat kitten
Image Credit: Caitlin Willow, Shutterstock


The price of an American Curl cat depends on whether the kitten is a family pet or bred to be a show cat. The latter are more pricey than typical home pets.

The rescue agency is a better option if you can’t afford the price at the breeders. However, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get a purebred from the rescue. In addition, they don’t come with official papers. But remember, you’ll be changing a loving cat’s life for the best.

Taking care of a litter of healthy kittens needs a lot of time, effort, and money. Therefore, when shopping for kittens, avoid breeders that sell them very cheaply. These are most likely to have medical issues which might be expensive to manage in the future.

American curl cat
Image Credit: Linn Currie, Shutterstock

3 Little-Known Facts About the American Curl

1. American Curl Cats are Born with Straight Ears

Since cats from this breed have distinctive curl ears, it’s easy to assume that they are born like that. However, this is not the case. American Curl cats are born with straight ears like other cats.

The ears then bend backward within 3-5 days. They curl and uncurl in varying degrees during this time for about four months and eventually stick to one final position.

At five months old, the ear cartilage hardens, and their ears will remain curled.

2. American Curl Cats Made History in the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA)

In 1993, the American Curl made history by becoming the first cat breed accepted by the Cat Fanciers Association as a single Champion Class breed with two coat lengths; long and short.

3. American Curl Cats are Known as the “Peter Pan” of Cats

This reference comes from the fact that they remain playful even in their senior years. It’s normal to see an older American Curl running around the house with the same energy as the younger ones. In addition, both males and females are equally active.

Their kitten-like attitude remains throughout their adulthood, making it very popular among cat lovers. Therefore, before getting this breed, ensure you can commit and provide space and toys for the cat to play with throughout its lifespan.

american curl cat lying on the floor
Image Credit: paikong, Shutterstock

Temperament & Intelligence of the American Curl Cat

Despite its sophisticated, elegant look, this breed is down-to-earth. American Curls have a reputation for being loyal, affectionate, curious, intelligent, and adaptable to new homes.

They are cuddly but not too needy for affection from their families. As lap cats, they love perching on their owner’s lap when they need to nap.

Curls are not standoffish and will happily follow their owners from room to room, unlike other cat breeds. Because they are not highly vocal and bossy, they will curl around their caretakers when they are hungry or need something. They show their affection through head bumps and physical attention.

Due to their playful nature throughout their lifespan, they can be easily taught to play fetch. They are energetic and active, making them perfect for households with active children.

If there are strangers, they adapt well and are not shy. Because of this warm personality and people-friendliness, the American Curl is sometimes referred to as the ‘dog of cats.’

Are These Cats Good for Families? 👪

Yes, the American Curl cat is a perfect choice for families. They are people-lovers and will be happy hanging around the family or playing. Their calm personality and temperament are also good since they are not too demanding like other cat breeds; therefore, they will easily adapt to changes in the home.

Because they don’t demand too much attention, they can comfortably stay at home while the owners are at work. When the family members are around, they’ll happily involve themselves in all the daily activities.

The American Curl is an excellent choice for people with children, seniors, and first-time owners. It’s among the few cat breeds that seek out kids for playtime.

However, it’s advisable to watch them keenly if you have small children and teach them not to play or pull the cat’s ears. Their little fingers might crack the cat’s cartilage.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

With proper socialization as kittens, American Curls can live well with other cats. They don’t like sharing territory with another cat; therefore, it’s best to go for one that’s already been socialized well by a breeder.

This breed will quickly adapt to living with a new puppy than a kitten. Therefore, to avoid any territory issues or competition, get a well-socialized kitten.

Things to Know When Owning an American Curl Cat

American Curl cats are a popular cat breed. Before getting one for your household, you need to understand their dietary, exercise, training, health, and grooming requirements. Although they are not as demanding, they require basic needs to make their life comfortable.

Here’s what you need to know.

Food & Dietary Requirements

Cats are pretty fussy about their food. As obligate carnivores, they aren’t too picky about what they eat. The American Curl cat might prefer some foods over others.

When shopping for cat food, there are hundreds of commercial cat food brands. To ensure that your cat is getting the best food and required nutrients, make sure the food has high-quality ingredients.

On top of the gourmet formulated foods in the market, ensure you supplement your Curl’s diet with a supply of vitamins and minerals to keep the diet well balanced. If your cat feeds only on commercial food without the healthy treats, they are more likely to be sick because of poor immunity.

The diet will also vary depending on the age and size of your cat. To get the proper and correct measurements, consult with the veterinarian about the type of diet and amount to feed your cat at different life stages. The vet is better placed to advise whether the diet suits your cat and protects them from becoming obese.

Exercise 🐈

American Curl cats have exercise needs like regular cats. Unlike canines, cats don’t require lots of exercise; they just need a few toys and space to run, jump and play. Therefore, if you want to keep this breed, you have to make room for this.

Also, since the American Curl remains active throughout its adulthood, it needs this space, whether indoors or outdoors, to keep them active. Despite being perfect indoor cats, you can get a harness to allow your cat to exercise outside communal gardens or pet parks. They enjoy some time running around on the grass.

When they are indoors, they are safe from other aggressive cats. They’ll also avoid injury and not stray away from your home.

However, if you notice that your Curl is piling weight and becoming overweight, you might consider increasing their exercise periods. You can consult the vet for guidance on how to do this best.

Training 🧶

This breed is brilliant. Because of this, they are pretty responsive to training. The Curl is even better at learning new tricks in comparison to some cat breeds. Unlike other cat breeds, you can teach the American Curl to play fetch, which they enjoy playing with their family members.

In addition, you can teach them other extra tricks such as opening doorknobs and cupboards. However, when training them on this, you should be extra cautious not to cause any damages to your home.

They’ll catch up on the training very quickly and will be playing with the family in no time.

American curl cat
Image Credit: Nui Thanakorn, Shutterstock

Grooming ✂️

American Curl cats come in both longhair and shorthair coats. This differentiation determines how long or short the fur coat will be. The silky coat comes in varying colors, including exotic shades as chocolate tortoiseshell smoke, lilac lynx point, and silver patched tabby.

A short-haired American Curl will require minimal grooming, whereas a long-haired cat will need a weekly brushing session to keep the fur coat mat-free. However, regardless of whether the Curl is long or short-haired, you should brush them twice a week to stay ahead of the shedding season.

The breed is a moderate shedder that mostly happens consistently rather than during the traditional shedding seasons found in other breeds. This is why you should also comb the short-haired breeds to remove the dead hair and skin stuck on the fur coat.

In addition to the fur coat, brush your cat’s teeth weekly and keep the nails trimmed every couple of weeks. Due to their curled ears, you should also check your pet’s ears regularly and clean them off any debris.

Use cotton swabs and a vinegar-water solution to clean and prevent ear infections. Also, remember to be gentle to avoid damaging the cartilage.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Because of a large gene pool and the huge number of non-pedigreed domestic cats used to breed the American Curls, this species is very solid health-wise. However, not all of them have a clean bill of health. Some pedigreed and mixed-breed cats have varying incidences of health problems that are genetically inherited.

Here are some of the common health infections American Curl cats are prone to.

These medical conditions can become severe for your cat and even lead to fatalities. Let’s examine some of them.

Minor Conditions
  • Ear Infections
  • Diarrhea
  • Obesity
  • Eye Infection
Serious Conditions
  • Kidney Disease
  • Periodontal Gum Disease
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
  • Heartworm Disease

Minor Conditions

  • Ear Infections: The narrow ear canals found in the American Curl cat can result in ear infections, especially if the ears are not cleaned properly. As a result of genetic defects, the ears can have a wax build-up which becomes a breeding ground for ear mites. To protect your pet, ensure the ear are clean at all times.
  • Diarrhea: Depending on the food your cat consumes, they may experience gastrointestinal issues. These can range from indigestion, nausea, and diarrhea. To avoid this, you need to feed your cat a well-balanced and nutritious diet. Diarrhea can also cause body dehydration and make your cat weak.
  • Obesity: Despite being active throughout their adulthood, these cats may add weight and exhibit signs of obesity. This condition arises when your cat is not feeding on healthy food and not getting exercise. If you don’t deal with obesity early on, your cat might develop other chronic medical conditions.
  • Eye Infection: Like other cat breeds, your cat is also prone to eye infections. These can result from underlying medical conditions that can lead to blindness, especially as your furry friend becomes old. Immediately you spot any eye issues, ensure your cat visits the vet for treatment.

Serious Conditions

  • Kidney Disease: Kidney infections are prevalent among cats. Even with the American Curl cats, your pet might develop these infections that could further become fatal if left untreated.
  • Periodontal Gum Disease: American Curl cats need proper care when it comes to dental health. If you don’t brush their teeth weekly, they’ll develop gum diseases that affect the teeth. In turn, this problem will contribute to loss of appetite and make your pet lose weight drastically.
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus: Feline immunodeficiency virus, also known as FIV, is a retrovirus infection found in cats. This virus kills or damages the cells in a cat’s immune system by targeting the white blood cells. With continued damage, the immunity system gets weakened, and your pet becomes vulnerable to secondary infections. Because this virus moves slowly in the cat’s body, your American Curl cat might have it for years before you discover it. You can detect this medical condition if you notice your cat has a fever, lack of appetite, persistent eye problems, gum inflammation, and signs of neurological disorders.
  • Heartworm Disease: Heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic worm known as Dirofilaria immitis. This serious disease is spread through a mosquito bite and can cause severe organ damage, heart failure, lung disease, and even death in cats and dogs. Although not as severe in cats, both indoor and outdoor cats are at risk of this worm. The most common symptom is respiratory infections that arise due to lung damage caused by heartworms. A veterinarian can recommend both topical and oral products for cats that can help in preventing heartworms.

Male vs. Female

Both male and female American Curl cats stay active throughout their entire life span. Female cats are much lighter and often weigh 5-8 lbs, whereas males are heavier at 7-10 lbs.

If you get a male or female American Curl, have them neutered or spayed. If you don’t, they might be challenging to manage and keep inside your home.

Both sexes have a strong desire to reproduce; therefore, they have been known to break out from the house while on heat. Unneutered female cats will wail loudly, which can be noisy, especially if you live in an apartment.

But if your cat is spayed, it will comfortably stay indoors without causing trouble. In addition, they’ll be friendly and playful with other cats.

Therefore, as you get a Curl at the breeder’s, pick a kitten based on their personalities as long as they have been neutered or spayed. They’ll be easier to manage.


The American Curl cat is a friendly, intelligent, and sociable cat to keep in your home. It maintains its playfulness from when it was a kitten into old age. Because of this, it requires space to run and play and an assortment of toys to keep it busy.

Whether you live alone, with a family, or with small kids, the Curl is an excellent choice. It gets along with people and is welcoming to strangers. These breeds are great for first-time owners because they are not too demanding.

Since they have a long lifespan and stay active throughout, ensure you can commit to the lifestyle before adopting or buying one for your home.

Featured Image Credit: Scink, Shutterstock

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