The kitten that exhibited traits of the original mutation
that has formed the basis for the LaPerm breed sprang
from strong, healthy, domestic “barn cat” stock. In 1982, on
an Oregon farm located near the ancient hunting and fishing
grounds of the Wishram Indians, a litter of six kittens was
born to a barn cat. One of the kittens was born completely
bald – looking nothing like her mother or her littermates.
While the kitten had no hair, it did have large wide-spaced
ears and blueprint pattern on her skin that mimicked a
classic tabby pattern. Within eight weeks, the kitten began to
grow very soft, curly hair. At three to four months of age the
kitten, now named “Curly,” had a full coat of curly hair. Not
being very knowledgeable about cats, the owner accepted the
“mutant” as unique and thought nothing more of the matter.
During the next 10 years, no attempt was made to breed
selectively, but as the frequency of bald kittens increased in
the random bred litters, the owner of the farm began to seek
additional information about her unusual cats. She had no
knowledge of genetics or breeding and thus allowed the cats
to roam freely throughout the barns and orchard for several
years. As she became aware of how truly unique these cats
were, she started to confine the cats and control the breedings.
It appeared that the curly gene was dominant and carried by
both males and females. This breeder was totally unprepared
for the interest and excitement generated by cats she decided
to enter in a cat show. The owner gave the cats the name
“LaPerm,” which means wavy or rippled.
The LaPerm can sport anything from a wavy coat to ringlettype
curls that range from tight ringlets to long corkscrew
curls. The tightest curls occur on the underside of the cat, on
the throat area, and at the base of the ears. The longhair is
generally blessed with a curly plumed tail and often exhibits a
full, curly ruff. The coat is moderately soft in texture, yet each
cat’s coat is distinctly unique. The shorthair has more texture
to the coat than does the longhaired variety. It does not have
the ruff, has a “bottle-brush” type tail, and the coat generally
stands away from the body, parting down the middle.
The LaPerm comes in every recognized color and coat pattern.
Some kittens can be born hairless, but most have short wavy
hair or straight hair at birth. Kittens often go almost totally
bald, beginning with a spot on the tops of their heads. This
process generally starts when the kittens are about two weeks
old, and they can be in varying stages of baldness during
their first four months or so. The coat will generally come
back in and will always be curly if the kitten was born curly.
Coat variations throughout the life of a LaPerm range from
molting that can leave a sparse, thin coat to a possible full
coat after neutering or spaying.
LaPerms are gentle and affectionate but also very active.
Unlike many active breeds, the LaPerm is also quite content
to be a lap cat. The LaPerm will often follow your lead; that is,
if they are busy playing and you decide to sit and relax, simply
pick up your LaPerm and sit down with it, and it will stay in
your lap, devouring the attention you give it. LaPerms seek
human contact and will purr as soon as they become aware
of your presence. They are inquisitive by nature and always
want to know what is going on around them. They will reach
for your face with their paws and rub their faces against your
head, neck, and face.
LaPerms are truly different from any other breed of cat
because of their unique combination of appearance and
people-oriented personalities. The breed has captivated
nearly everyone who has the opportunity of seeing one. Once
a LaPerm graces your household, you will be hard pressed
to think of living with any other breed and may find it
necessary to have more than one. Cradling a LaPerm in your
arms can touch your senses. Running your fingers through
the sensuous coat becomes automatic, and you won’t want to
stop. Listening to the purr and seeing the intelligence unfold
as you teach your cat tricks, such as fetching, will give you an
unmatched feeling of love and respect for the breed.
For more information, please contact the Breed Council Secretary for this breed.