Is the LaPerm a
good pet for people with allergies?
There are many people who are allergic to cats
who find that they are able to live with a LaPerm, but there are also others who
cannot. This is because there are different types of cat allergy so not every
allergic person reacts in the same way. The curls in the LaPerm coat tend to
hold shed hair in place and stop shedding which can help to keep allergens under
control. Also they have a single coat so do not have the large volume of fur
that some other breeds have. See our Page; Allergies
Is the LaPerm
related to the Devon or Cornish Rex?
The LaPerm is not related to any of the other
curly coated breeds. While the breeds can be classed together as they are all
rex breeds (i.e. breeds which have curly coats) there has not been any
interbreeding to create the LaPerm. The original colony of curly coated farm
cats, which were developed to give us the LaPerm breed that we know today, arose
from a new spontaneously occurring natural mutation. Only these cats and other
straight coated cats have been used to develop the breed. The gene responsible
for the LaPerm coat behaves in a different way to the Cornish Rex, Devon Rex and
Selkirk Rex genes.
Why are some
LaPerms born with straight hair? Does this mean that they do not breed true?
The LaPerm does breed true, which means that it
is possible to pair LaPerm to LaPerm and to get all LaPerm kittens, unlike some
other breeds where variants will always be a part of the breed. However the
LaPerm breeding programme makes use of some cats which are straight haired and
many curly cats which carry the recessive gene for straight hair (called
heterozygous LaPerms), as well as homozygous LaPerms which do not carry straight
hair. This means that sometimes the recessive straight hair gene can surface
when breeding from heterozygous LaPerms, and when a heterozygous LaPerm is mated
to a straight haired cat about half the kittens are straight haired or LaPerm
Variants. These straight haired cats are very beautiful with extremely soft
silky flat coats and the same loving natures as their curly brothers and
sisters. They can also play a valuable role in the LaPerm breeding programme.
Is the LaPerm a
In cat breeding Rex refers to any type of
cat with a curly coat and this includes the LaPerm. If a LaPerm has a nicely
curled coat it can be described as being well rexed or having good rexing. It
has been suggested that at some point in the future cat organisations might
create a Rex or Rex and Hairless breed group. There are four major rex breeds
and a few other minority ones.
What is the
Oregon Rex? Is it related to the LaPerm?
Although these two varieties both have curly
fur and come from Oregon, that it where the similarity ends. The Oregon Rex was
a recessive mutation which was bred experimentally in the 1960s and proved to be
a new rex gene. It was not developed into a pedigree breed and had apparently
died out before the birth of the LaPerm breed in 1982.
Why are there
both longhaired and shorthaired LaPerms? Why are they not different breeds?
Most breeds are developed and then
established in one hair length and if another hair length is developed later
down the line it is seen as a new departure and given a new breed name. Some
breeds, including the LaPerm, originated and were developed in both hair lengths
so there was no need to divide them into two breeds and kittens of both hair
lengths can happily occur in the same litter. The very first LaPerm was in fact
a shorthair, but the long hair gene was present in the colony and longhaired
LaPerms were born before the formal breeding programme commenced.
Why do some
LaPerms sometimes go bald?
As part of the LaPerm coat phenomenon some
cats can undergo very heavy moults leaving them with sparse coats or bald
patches. After a heavy moult the coat tends to come back in thicker and curlier.
Baldness is not a desirable feature and as the breeding programme progresses and
cats with stable coats are selected this is becoming rarer. This can be affected
by the cat’s hormonal cycle and often the coat becomes stable after neutering.
Also nursing queens tend to have bald tummies which makes it easier for the
kittens to find the milk.
What are the BB,
BS and BC abbreviations in LaPerm pedigree names?
These abbreviations stand for Born Bald,
Born Straight and Born Curly and describe the three coats types of LaPerm
kittens. LaPerm breeders put these abbreviations into their kittens’ names in
order to keep track of the way that the LaPerm gene is manifesting itself so
that the best coats can be selected. BB kittens are less common than they were
in the early days of the breeding programme and may possibly have less stable
coats as adults. Those kittens which are born bald go on to develop their curly
coats. Many kittens will have a heavy moult at some point in their development.
A kitten born with a straight coat is almost always a variant without the LaPerm
gene, but there have been very occasional exceptions where what appeared to be a
straight coat has been moulted and grown back curly.
Are LaPerms good
LaPerms are very sociable and
people-oriented cats so they are good for children who want a companion. They
are affectionate and interact well with humans. They are also very playful so if
you have a LaPerm buy plenty of interactive toys that your child can use to play
with the cat. Any young children who are not old enough to know how to treat a
cat properly should be supervised during contact.
grooming does a LaPerm need?
The LaPerm is an easy care cat and does not
need much in the way of grooming to keep its coat in good condition. There is no
thick undercoat so the fur is not prone to matting. A comb through two or three
times a week should be sufficient and a comb with revolving teeth is recommended
as it moves through the coat without pulling the curls straight. A spritzing
with water or a rub down with wet hands helps to set the curl and leave the cat
looking at its best. Show cats take a bit more preparation to get them into tip
top condition for the judge’s table and LaPerms can be bathed and left to dry in
a warm spot. Blow drying is not a good idea as it gives a frizzy coat and too
much combing will straighten out the curls somewhat. Bathing should not be done
too close to the show as a day or two will allow the bounce and curl to come
back into the coat, but keep that cat clean in the interim!
does the LaPerm come in?
The LaPerm can be bred in all possible colours
and patterns and there are no colours which are not permitted. The most
frequently seen colours reflect the cat’s origins and torties, tabbies and red
cats are often seen, with or without white. The first colourpoint LaPerm, Kloshe
BB Morning Mist, cropped up in a litter in 1989 and has proved to be popular
with breeders, as has the chocolate gene. There are many challenges for breeders
out there to work with the less commonly seen colours and patterns and help to
extend the palette.
What stage of
recognition is the LaPerm at?
In America where the LaPerm originates it is a championship breed in
TICA and is Working towards championship status in CFA. These are the USA’s two
largest Registries and the breed is also being promoted in some of the smaller
American Registries. Some other Associations around the world have also given
Championship status to the breed and more accept them as a new breed. In the UK
A group of breeders is working to promote the breed in the GCCF - they have now
Achieved provisional recognition and are working towards full championship
outcrossing to other breeds has been used in the LaPerm breeding programme?
In America the principle outcross to develop
the gene pool of the LaPerm has been the domestic cat or non-pedigree. This is
because these are the cats which are closest to the original colony where the
LaPerm arose. The Ocicat was also used in America. In other countries where
outcrossing to non-pedigree cats is not encouraged there is more scope for
outcrossing to pedigree breeds. Lists of approved outcrosses give breeders the
option to use a handful of breeds which are single coated cats of moderate type
such as the Somali. Careful outcross programmes are designed to maintain type,
improve the features of the breed and ensure that as numbers grow the gene pool
can also grow. Outcrossing has the added advantage of helping breeders to
develop new colours and patterns within the breed.
How much might
I expect to pay for a LaPerm?
In the USA and New Zealand
prices for LaPerms average about $500-$800, with up to $1000 for a top quality
stud or breeding queen. We are aiming to keep the prices of LaPerms as low as
possible here in the UK given that many of us are currently importing LaPerms to
get the gene pool large enough to sustain the breed development. Once the
numbers expand, you should expect to pay the same for a LaPerm as pedigree cats
of many other breeds.
It should be noted that pricing
will be at individual breeder’s discretion and also will depend on the quality
of the cat. You may pay more for a stud, the direct progeny of recently imported
cats or rare colours or pattern.
Our current breed guidelines to
The LaPerm is a hardy natural breed originating
from a colony of curly coated working farm cats who lived in the barns of
Linda and Dick Koehl’s cherry orchard in The Dalles, Oregon.
To this day LaPerms still work on the farm keeping
down the rodent population.
The origin of the LaPerm can be traced to one
shorthaired cat who was born bald and developed a curly coat. She was named
Curly and left a great legacy of rexed kittens that formed a breeding colony
in the Koehl’s cherry orchard.
The LaPerm breed is strongly allied with Native
American culture and can be thought of as the “Native American Rex”; several
of the original group of breeders have some Native American ancestry and the
breed came into existence in an area of great significance to Native American
culture and history, comprising the traditional lands of the Wishram Indians
(a Chinook tribe). This is why the pedigree names of many LaPerm cats are
Native American names.
The Dalles is the county seat of Wasco County,
which has the distinction of having been the largest county in the US at one
time. Most of Eastern Oregon, most of Idaho and the state of Montana and an
area from the western slopes of the Cascade Range of the Rocky Mountains, were
at one time part of the county. It is located on the Columbia River
approximately 83 miles east of Portland
French and Belgian fur traders named the town
after the slab like natural rock formations along the sides of the river
gorge. (In French “dalle” means a slab of stone.) This feature of the river
remains only in old memories since it disappeared under the water when the
Columbia was dammed at The Dalles in 1957, creating the world’s fourth largest
hydroelectric dam, providing natural power for the town and surrounding area.
The LaPerm coat is caused by a dominant Rex gene,
so unlike the Devon and Cornish Rexes a LaPerm kitten may have only inherited
its Rex genes from one parent.
LaPerm breeders use the initials BC, BS and BB as
part of their kittens’ pedigree names. These stand for Born Curly, Born
Straight and Born Bald. This helps breeders to track the gene and encourage
full curly coats.
LaPerm breeders have bred away from lines
producing kittens that are born bald and then grow curly coats. Today the
majority of kittens are born with a curly coat. Many LaPerms have a heavy
moult during their kittenhood, after which their coats grow back in curlier
Unlike any other breed, all CFA pedigrees of
LaPerm cats include a colour photo.
As with the other rex breeds, the original gene
pool was small so outcrossing has played an important role in the breed’s
development. CFA approved the use of the Domestic Longhair and the Domestic
Shorthair, recommending that great care should be taken to choose a cat that
is close to the LaPerm standard of
points. A cat with a thick, woolly coat, cobby body type or short face should
Pedigree breeds have also been used successfully
for outcrossing. The CFA approved the use of the Ocicat for a specific time
period. The original LaPerm breeders also recommended to use of the Somali and
breeders developing the breed in New Zealand used the Tiffanie. These breeds,
along with some other similar, related breeds have formed the basis of
outcross programmes for the LaPerm.
F1 curly kittens are registered as LaPerms and
breeders breed down from these crosses to focus on good type and build up the
numbers of generations of LaPerm to LaPerm breeding.
Outcrossing is used to prevent inbreeding,
diversify a breed's gene pool and encourage good health.
Other breeds of moderate foreign body type without
thick undercoats have been discussed as possible outcrosses and a small number
of experimental matings have taken place.
The LaPerm breed is recognised in two hair
lengths. The original LaPerm was a shorthair, however today the longhaired
variety is more popular. Both varieties have a special charm of their own but
the longhairs have more “visual drama” and offer more contrast with other rex
Homozygous LaPerms have inherited a rex gene from
both of their parents. Heterozygous LaPerms carry the recessive straight hair
gene. Matings between two heterozygous LaPerms can produce straight haired
A LaPerm variant makes a great pet cat as it still
inherits the LaPerm’s other characteristics, such as its friendly personality,
but they can also make a valuable contribution to a breeding programme.
There is currently a handful of specialist breed
clubs for the LaPerm worldwide, including The LaPerm Cat Club, The LPSA
(LaPerm Society of America), the Dutch LaPerm Club, and a range of clubs that
represent all of the rex breeds, including the LaPerm, such as the South
African Breeders of Rex and Sphynx, The Rex Cat Club, the Rex Cat Association,
the Scottish Rex Cat Club and the Colourpoint, Rex-coated and AOV Cat Club.
LaPerm enthusiasts around the world keep in touch
to discuss the breed, swap news about litters of kittens and show wins and to
enjoy friendly chat using email groups. The main email group used is "LaPerms"
on yahoo groups, which is an international group, and there is also a well
used "UKLaPerms" group for LaPerm lovers based in the UK.
The LaPerm is bred in all coat colours and
patterns. The coat comprises all three hair types (down, awn and guard hairs)
all of which are curled. The cats also have long curly whiskers.
The LaPerm bears many similarities to a horse
breed popular among Native American people: the American Bashkir Curly horse
from Dakota. Both breeds share an elegant body type, a sweet and friendly
disposition and of course a curly coat!