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    LaPerm

    LaPerm

    Place of origin

    Oregon, United States

    History

    The first LaPerm occurred as a spontaneous mutation among random-bred farm cats at a cherry farm in The Dalles, Oregon. In 1982, a straightcoated brown tabby shorthair called Speedy gave birth to a bald female kitten who later grew a soft curly coat. She was named (naturally) Curly. Curly, like the farm's other felines, was a working cat, protecting the farm from rodents and roaming freely. She later produced five bald male kittens who also grew curly coats and bred freely. As a result, the farm's feline colony soon included a large number of Rex-coated cats in a wide range of colors and patterns and in both long- and shorthaired forms. Colorpointed cats were included as well, thanks to a local cat of Siamese ancestry.

    The farm's owner took six of these unique cats to a local cat show to display them to the exhibitors and judges present. Cat fanciers there and elsewhere enthusiastically embraced the ringleted cats, which attracted sufficient interest to be pursued as a breed in North America. Foundation cats were later exported to breeders around the world. Early on, most of the kittens were born bald and developed their curly coat within three to four months. A small number of kittens were born straight-coated due to recessive genes and remained this way. A few kittens were born straight-coated and shed this coat, becoming almost bald until a new-and curly-coat grew in.

    Originally known as the Dalles LaPerm, the breed name evokes both the shaggy coat and adopts the local Chinook tradition of adopting French words, complete with the definite article (la or le), into their language. It was recognized as a breed by TICA in 1995 and has since gained breed recognition in a number of countries.

    TICA and the CFA currently allow outcrossing of LaPerms to nonpedigree cats of suitable conformation with coats that are not excessively thick. In the United Kingdom, the Trades Description Act 1968 legally defines a pedigree cat as one with a fully recorded three-generation pedigree. This means LaPerms can only be outcrossed to other pedigree breeds, otherwise the next three generations are not pedigree cats. Similar legislation applies in other European and Commonwealth countries, so breed registries define an "approved outcross" list, typically listing Abyssinians, Somalis, Ocicats, Asian Shorthairs, Tiffanies (Asian Longhairs), European Burmese, and Tonkinese (plus Turkish Angora in some countries) as approved outcrosses for the LaPerm breed.

    Like other Rex-coated breeds, LaPerms have attracted the reputation of being hypoallergenic. Cat allergy is caused not by the fur, but by the Fel d1 protein secreted in feline saliva. This means the LaPerm is just as likely to trigger an allergic reaction in those susceptible individuals.

    Physical description

    The LaPerm's working cat background has produced a lean muscular cat with no exaggerated features. These are medium-size, athletic cats with a moderately long (semi-foreign) body supported by medium-long legs. This breed has a modified wedge head extending from a long, elegant neck. The ears are flared, and the eyes are an expressive open-almond shape.

    The tousled coat, with its loose shaggy curls, is the most dramatic feature. The curly outer guard hairs may form a "halo" above the more tightly curled undercoat, creating an appearance unique from the other Rex breeds. It has an artfully unkempt appearance and there may be a natural parting Biblealong the back. In longhaired LaPerms, the coat forms longer ringlets in the ruff and tail. Even the whiskers and the hairs inside the ears are curly. The tail of the shorthaired LaPerm may resemble a bottlebrush.

    Colors and varieties

    LaPerm cats exist in all possible coat colors, in both longhaired and shorthaired varieties. Tabbies, reds, and torties are common, reflecting the cats' random-bred origins. Colorpoints are also popular. Newer varieties include ticked tabbies and silvers/smokes.

    Temperament

    Affectionate, active, and outgoing, these fun-loving cats inherit the attentive hunting instincts of their farm cat ancestors, even though their prey may be no more than a furry toy. Coming from farm cat stock, the LaPerm is clever, inquisitive, and mischievous. They also get on well with children and with other pets.

    Activity level

    Moderate

    Vocal level

    Moderate

    Special needs

    Light combing with a long-toothed comb will remove loose hair. Because the abnormality in the hair follicle that causes the hairs to curl or kink also interferes with skin secretions (sebum) being pulled away from the skin, some Rex and Wirehaired cats may need to be bathed frequently and their ears cleaned regularly to prevent these secretions from accumulating in the hair follicles or ear canal and causing dermatological problems. Towel dry rather than blow dry your LaPerm because blow drying will make the coat frizz.

    Variations

    None

    Silver tortie tabby LaPerm

    From The Cat Bible, Copyright by Sandy Robins, licensed through ContentOro, Inc and used by arrangement with I-5 Press

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