14 Reasons to Love the Cute and Curly Selkirk Rex


Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in the March/April 2015 issue of Catster print magazine. Click here to subscribe to Catster magazine.

The Selkirk Rex is memorable for a number of reasons: Curls. Talking. Loving disposition. Being hypoallergenic? Here’s the story about how the Selkirk Rex came to be, how the breed got its name, and the truth about being hypoallergenic.

1. A gorgeous coat

Right? It makes us swoon, too — and for good reason. Nicknamed the “cat in sheep’s clothing,” the Selkirk Rex has a plush, curly coat that gives him the look of a real-life stuffed animal with soft-to-the-touch strands and corkscrew whiskers.

2. The curls have a story

Believe it or not, the naturally curly cat derived from a house cat found in a Montana shelter in 1987. Named Miss DePesto “Pest”of Noface, she was bred to a black Persian named Photofinish of Deekay by Persian breeder Jeri Newman. Of the litter of six kittens, three had curly coats, proving that Pest’s genes were dominant, and a new breed was on the cusp of hitting the cat scene.

Vader (fat curly Sith Lord), a Catster member
Vader (fat curly Sith Lord), a Catster member

3. Room for curly and straight

Given the fact that the curly-coat gene is dominant in the Selkirk Rex, curly and straight-haired kittens can be born in the same litter, with short- and long-hair varieties being possibile. The difference between curly- and straight-hair kittens is evident upon birth, as the curly kittens have curled whiskers.

4. Infinitely touchable

The truth: lambswool. At about six months of age, Selkirk Rex kittens lose their curls, growing sparse, straight fur in its place for their adolescence. Upon maturation, at about two years of age, a thick, soft coat that feels like lambswool develops.

5. Loving and patient

You’ll want to — and so will everyone else. Though sometimes referred to as the “cat
with the bad hair day,” the Selkirk Rex has been bred to have a patient and loving personality — two traits that are clearly essential, as everyone he encounters (and we do mean everyone) wants to run their hands through his fur.

6. Grooming is easy

If the thought of grooming a Selkirk Rex’s coat frightens you, toss your fears away. That curly coat is not high maintenance. In fact, brushing too often runs the risk of stretching out those beautiful curls. So, brush the coat no more than a couple of times a week to prevent matting and tangles and to remove dead hair.

Selkirk Rex by Shutterstock
Selkirk Rex by Shutterstock

7. The name comes from a human

Breeder Jeri Newman named the breed Selkirk after her stepfather, making the Selkirk Rex the only cat ever to be named after an individual.

8. Supersize breed

The Selkirk Rex, who features a mix of British and Exotic Shorthair in her bloodline, has been developed to have the same type of large, big-boned physique as the British Shorthair, with a round head, semi-cobby shape, muscular build, and a weight of six to 16 pounds. More to love, as they say.

9. One silly feline

Often described as a clownish cat, the Selkirk is known for having a giddy personality, and he’s always ready to make you laugh with his antics.

10. Intelligence

While playful and laid-back, the Selkirk is quite the smarty-pants, with the ability to quickly learn how to open doors and drawers to retrieve treats or toys.

By Heikki Siltala (FINTICAt cat show Helsinki 2013-11-23), via Wikimedia Commons

11. Good for families

The Selkirk Rex makes a good family cat. His mellow persona and penchant for cuddles and hugs makes him a great companion for children or households with multiple pets (including dogs). He also thrives in smaller areas such as apartments.

12. Frequent vocalization

Like his sweet and affectionate temperament, the Selkirk has a gentle, small, quiet voice that she’ll use to chat with you. The Selkirk, while not demanding, will let you know when she feels unappreciated via verbal cues.

13. Ever the companion

The Selkirk shouldn’t be left alone for long periods of time. The Selkirk is a social kitty; she needs a healthy dose of stimulation and companionship to thrive.

14. Hypoallergenic cat

Well, not exactly. Contrary to popular belief, this is a myth. Our resident vet Dr. Eric Barchas has pointed out that people allergic to cats can react more or less to certain individual cats depending upon the ratios of the allergens produced by the cats, but no cat is totally hypoallergenic. Although the coat of the Selkirk Rex is different from that of other cats, the breed still sheds a certain amount of allergy-causing dander.

Read more Catster breed profiles:

About the author: Writer and blogger Erika Sorocco fuses her love for felines and fashion in the blog Cat Eyes & Skinny Jeans. She shares with her cats Minky and Gypsy. Follow Erika on Twitter at @cateyesskinnies.

1 thought on “14 Reasons to Love the Cute and Curly Selkirk Rex”

  1. I found my little Manny in an animal shelter six weeks ago. He is a precocious tuxedo cat and people swear he looks just like a stuffed toy. I can’t imagine life without him. He has taken to my two black cats (a Bombay & a Turkish Angora) but so far dislikes the two redheads. It appears that he is racially prejudiced! Hopefully time will improve those relationships.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Catster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.

Let Catster answer all of your most baffling feline questions!

Starting at just


Follow Us

Shopping Cart