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    Selkirk Rex

    Selkirk Rex

    BiblePlace of origin

    Montana, United States


    In 1987, in a litter of kittens born to a female rescue cat who had lost her foot in a trap was a single curly-coated kitten. "Curly-Q" was placed in a pet home at a very young age, but her initial adopter returned her to the rescue group because she demanded too much attention. She was then given to a Persian breeder who had an interest in feline genetics and wanted to determine if this funny-looking shorthaired calico cat represented a new Rex mutation. The breeder renamed the cat "Miss DePesto," after a curly-haired character on the television show Moonlighting and the cat's own reputation as a "pest." When she matured, Miss DePesto was bred to a black Persian, and three of the six kittens were born with curly coats.

    This demonstrated that a dominant mutation was at work, unlike the previously established Rex mutations that had a recessive mode of inheritance. Inspired by the attractive appearance of these Persian-cross kittens, the original breeder and others expanded the initial gene pool using American Shorthairs, British Shorthairs, Exotic Shorthairs, and Persians/Himalayans to develop for this breed. The originator named her new breed of cats Selkirk Rex in honor of her stepfather. It was recognized by TICA in 1992 and in the United Kingdom by the GCCF in 2009. The breed is now found in most cat fancying countries around the world.

    Physical description

    The living embodiment of a soft, plush teddy bear, the Selkirk Rex has a round head, large rounded eyes, and a sturdy body, all of which adds to the appeal of its curly coat. The muzzle is short, but more reminiscent of a British Shorthair than a Persian. The longhaired version displays a cascade of loose ringlets, while the shorthaired version has random loose curls. The curls are most evident on the underside of the cat, around the neck, and on the britches of the back legs. Kittens and young cats may appear to have relatively little curl compared with adult cats. Males tend to be curlier than females. Because the mutation that causes the curly coat is dominant, breeders produce noncurly kittens in their breeding programs that make delightful pets, with coats that have all the soft plushness of their littermates, but without the curls.

    Colors and varieties

    The Selkirk Rex comes in all colors of the domestic cat, including the Burmese- and Siamese-derived semi-albinism colors. The longhaired and shorthaired varieties exist in both curly and noncurly versions.


    Selkirk Rex seem to have inherited the mischievously affectionate nature that gave their ancestor "Pest" her nickname. Easy-going, somewhat goofy cats, they take advantage of the fact that their soft, plush coats make it easy to elicit cuddles and strokes from their owners. Surprisingly playful at times, but never overly busy, they are very tolerant of children and other pets.

    Activity level


    Vocal level


    Special needs

    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.



    Longhaired Selkirk Rex

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

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