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American Curl Cat Breed: Info, Pictures, Traits & Facts

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on April 25, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team


American Curl Cat Breed: Info, Pictures, Traits & Facts

Breed Overview


18-20 inches


5-12 pounds


12-16 years


Almost any color including tortoiseshell and patched tabby varieties

Suitable for:

Anyone looking for a warm and friendly indoor-only cat


A people-loving cat that gets on well with children but may not like the company of other cats.

The most distinctive feature of the American Curl is their unique, curly ears which are turned back towards the back of their skulls.

The breed is relatively new and actually came about as a mutation in a cat that was born in Lakewood, California. Shulamith was a black cat with long silky hair and ears that curled backward in a style that had never before been seen in domestic cats. Shulamith had four kittens with an unknown father, two of whom were born with curly ears like their mother. Following a consultation with a local geneticist, it was discovered that the curly ear feature was actually a mutation and also was a dominant gene. From 1983, cat fanciers began deliberately breeding curly ear cats, and the new breed was named the American Curl in 1986.

Today, the breed has become popular throughout the United States and has been exported to many other countries around the world.

American Curl Characteristics

A high-energy cat needs a lot of physical and mental stimulation to keep healthy and happy, while a low-energy cat needs minimal physical activity, but still needs mental stimulation. When choosing a cat, It’s important to ensure their energy levels match your lifestyle.
Cats that are easy-to-train are more willing and skilled at quickly learning prompts and actions with minimal training. Harder-to-train cats are usually more stubborn or aloof and require a bit more patience and practice.
Certain cat breeds are more prone to various genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every cat in those breeds will have these issues, but they do have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Due to their size or potential genetic health issues of a specific breed, some cats have shorter lifespans than others. Proper nutrition, exercise, mental stimulation, and hygiene also play an important role in your cat’s lifespan and quality of life.
Some cat breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other cats and animals. Cats that are more social have a tendency to rub up on strangers for scratches or jump on laps for cuddles, while cats that are less social shy away, hide, are more cautious, and even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed or gender, it’s important to socialize your cat and expose them to many different situations.


American Curl Kittens

American Curl Kitten
Image Credit: Seregraff, Shutterstock

Being a relatively new breed, the American Curl still has a somewhat small gene pool, and to ensure genetic diversity within the breed, responsible breeders often cross their cats with straight eared cats.

If you are looking to purchase an American Curl, it is vitally important that you spend some time researching and picking a respectable and responsible breeder. Unfortunately, the pet industry is often targeted by unscrupulous groups who are looking to make as much quick money as possible, and such groups will often breed animals that are closely related to each other to save money. Such behavior can result in cats being born with genetic disorders and can also negatively impact the genetic diversity of the breed.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the American Curl

1. The American Curl’s Devilish Appearance is Not Reflected in Their Personality

The American Curl has an undeserved reputation on some online forums as being quite mean. However, this unwarranted label actually couldn’t be further from the truth. They are very active cats that enjoy playing, but they’re actually quite friendly towards people and, unlike some other breeds, are also very tolerant of children.

2. American Curl Kittens Are Not Born With Their Distinctive Curly Ears

The American Curl gets its name from the shape of its ears which curl back towards the back of its skull, but they aren’t born with ears that curl this way. When they are born, their ears sit forward like any other cat, and it’s not until they are about 10 days old that their ears form their curly shape. When the kitten reaches 5 months old, the cartilage in their ears hardens, and their ears will remain curled, with the amount of curl varying from cat to cat, anywhere between 90 and 180 degrees.

3. The American Curl Set a New Precedent in the Cat Fanciers Association

In 1993, the American Curl became the first cat breed to be accepted by the Cat Fanciers’ Association as a single Champion Class breed with two coat lengths—long and short.


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Temperament & Intelligence of the American Curl

The American Curl is a playful and affectionate breed that is known to maintain high levels of activity and a love of play well into their adult lives. Not at all aloof or standoffish, the breed loves spending time with their owners and will happily follow them from room to room and curl up on their lap, or by their side, whenever they need a nap.

These energetic, people-loving cats also love children and will go so far as to seek them out within the house to spend some time with them.

They are not overly talkative or bossy, and their constant friendly and playful nature has led many people to describe their temperament to be more dog-like than that of a cat.

Are These Cats Good for Families?

Yes, the American Curl is a fantastic cat for families. All personality and energy, they will happily involve themselves in anything that is going on around the family home. They are not at all aloof and will often approach and make themselves known to any guests that come by.

They are not a demanding breed, and, unlike some other cats, they won’t necessarily think that you’re their pet and are there to constantly serve them.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

If brought up with other pets, the American Curl can cope quite well, but they don’t always like another cat moving in on their territory. In fact, they will usually more readily accept a new puppy joining the household than a new cat.

American curl cat Silver tabby color
Image Credit:Nitiphonphat,Shutterstock

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Things to Know When Owning an American Curl:

Food & Diet Requirements

Cats can be quite fussy about the food that they eat, and while they aren’t usually overly picky eaters, you may find that your American Curl will favor some cat foods over others. There are quite literally hundreds of different brands, types, and flavors of commercial cat foods. Provided you choose a cat food made from high-quality ingredients and that has been formulated to provide your cat with a complete and well-balanced diet, you can’t really go wrong.

The one thing to be careful of, though, is that there are quite a number of fancy gourmet cat foods on the market that sound perfect for a cat, but are, in fact, only formulated to be cat food supplements. You should never feed your cat a complete diet of cat food supplements, no matter how scrumptious you think they look as cats need several essential vitamins and minerals in their diet. Without them, they will become quite ill.


Unlike dogs, cats don’t need structured exercise each day, but what they do need is a few inexpensive cat toys and an area in which they can romp about and play. This is particularly the case with the American Curl, who will want to spend more time playing than your average cat.

Remember too, that, unlike some other cat breeds, the American Curl will want to maintain an active lifestyle up until quite an old age. Long after other cat breeds have retired to a life of sunning themselves on the windowsill all day, these Peter Pans of the cat world will still be darting around the house like energetic kittens.

Of course, even an indoor cat will enjoy a bit of time outside on the grass now and then, and you may want to consider purchasing a lead and harness so that you can exercise your cat out in your yard or communal garden now and then without them running off.

big eye American curl cat Silver tabby color
Image Credit: Nitiphonphat, Shutterstock


The American Curl is actually quite responsive to training and can be taught a few tricks that more than a few dog breeds struggle with. Most people wouldn’t think of teaching their cat to play fetch. But not only can these intelligent felines learn the game, chances are they’ll actually enjoy playing it.

You can also teach them some other useful things, such as how to open doors on your cupboards and between rooms. Just be careful if you do, as you might come home and find that your cat has opened one or two of your kitchen cupboards and emptied the contents out onto the floor.

Grooming ✂️

The amount of grooming that your American Curl will require is likely to vary depending upon whether you have a short or long-haired cat.

A short-haired American Curl needs very little grooming whereas a long-haired cat will require weekly brushing to keep their coat looking its best. In addition to brushing, like all cats, your American Curl should have their teeth brushed regularly and will also need their nails trimmed every couple of weeks.

You should also check your cat’s ears regularly to ensure that they are clean and free of any foreign material. Just remember to be gentle with their ears as you don’t want to damage the cartilage.

Health and Conditions

American Curls are generally very healthy cats; however, like all cats, there are a few health conditions that they can be susceptible to. These include:

Minor Conditions
  • Narrow ear canals – leading to ear infections
  • Obesity
  • Diarrhea
  • Eye infection
Serious Conditions
  • Kidney disease
  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Heartworm disease
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus

Male vs Female

Whether you get a male or female cat, unless you plan on breeding from them, we strongly recommend that you have your pet neutered or spayed. Intact cats, whether male or female, will have some behaviors that may make them difficult to manage and keep inside.

Intact male cats, in particular, have a strong desire to reproduce and have been known to break through window and door screens to get out. Female cats, when in heat, will also have a very strong desire to break out. Whole female cats will also vocally wail while in heat, which can quickly become annoying.

Neutered and spayed cats, whether male or female, on the other hand, will not have a desire to roam and can easily be managed indoors. They will also generally be more playful and friendly towards other cats and won’t wail.

Thus, assuming you intend to neuter or spay your cat, we recommend picking a new kitten based on personality rather than sex, as once they have been desexed, most of the negative behaviors associated with breeding will be removed.

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Final Thoughts

The American Curl is a friendly, playful, and affectionate cat, and thanks to their unique curled ears, they also have a somewhat exotic look. Overall the breed has a lovely personality, and these cats, while a little on the expensive side, can be great pets for families or individuals. They may also be a great choice for a first-time cat owner.

As with all cats though, you need to remember that your pet will likely be with you for the next 15 years, and you need to be sure you can commit to raising and caring for them for their whole life before you purchase a kitten.

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: Linn Currie, Shutterstock

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