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Get to Know the LaPerm: A Curly Coated Ball of Energy

Unlike many of the active breeds, this cat is also delighted to be your “lap fungus.”

JaneA Kelley  |  Jul 14th 2015


Do you want a soft-furred lap cat with a most extraordinary coat and a personality to match? Look no further than the LaPerm!

Origins

On March 1, 1982, a barn cat living on an Oregon cherry farm gave birth to a litter of six kittens. One of these was born bald and looked nothing like her mother or her littermates. In about eight weeks, the kitten grew her first coat of soft, curly hair, and by four months she had a full coat of curls. Her owners, Linda and Richard Koehl, gave this odd-looking kitten the name Curly and went on about their lives. Curly bred freely with other barn cats, and more and more curly-coated cats started to appear and visitors to the farm started to notice. She entered six of her curly kitties into a cat show and the judges at that show declared that this was a mutation worth preserving. At that point, the Koehls began making an effort to breed the curly-coated cats together and establish this new breed.

The LaPerm was granted breed status by the International Cat Association (TICA) in 1995, and later on was recognized by the Cat Fanciers’ Association.

Appearance

The LaPerm is a small to medium-size cat with an Oriental-influenced body – long, lean, and athletic, with a modified wedge-shaped face and big almond-shaped eyes. Males weigh eight to 12 pounds and females tend to weigh about five to eight pounds; they achieve their full growth between ages two and three.

LaPerms come in every color pattern known to catkind, and their curly coats can be short, medium, or long. Their fur always looks a little bit shaggy, but the texture has been described as like mohair. Some LaPerms have a wavy coat, some have little ringlets and others have long corkscrew curls. Long-haired LaPerms have curly, plumed tails, while short-haired LaPerms have tails like bottle brushes.

Health and longevity

Because the LaPerm originated from barn cats and was pretty widely out-bred in the beginning, LaPerms generally enjoy good health, and a well cared for LaPerm could live 15 years or more. There are no genetic diseases known to affect LaPerms more than other cats.

What it’s like to live with a LaPerm

The LaPerm is the ultimate “people cat.” She’s very active and energetic, but she tends to use that energy to make sure she’s as close to you as they can be. The LaPerm is not a super-vocal cat, but she’ll be glad to use her words to let you know it’s time for you to pet her.

The LaPerm is also known for being clever and inquisitive, and she’ll need daily play time and room to move around so she can act out her barn-cat roots. She’ll also need a lot of vertical space, especially if you live in a smaller home, so she can have more control of her territory and room to explore.

Well-socialized LaPerms will get along well with older children, guests, and other family pets, including dogs.

LaPerm trivia bits

  • Many LaPerm kittens lose almost all their fur, sometimes more than once, until by about four months of age, when the cat’s permanent coat comes in.
  • The LaPerm got her name because breed founder Linda Koehl thought the first cats of the breed had fur that looked like a loose perm.

Do you have a LaPerm in your home? What’s it like to live with him? Please share your thoughts and photos of your LaPerm in the comments.

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About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal rescue volunteer and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.