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Home > Cats > Cat Breeds > American Curl Cat Breed: Info, Pictures, Temperament, and Traits

American Curl Cat Breed: Info, Pictures, Temperament, and Traits

American Curl

The American Curl is one of the world’s youngest cat breeds. Selective breeding of American Curls began in 1983, and, with incredible speed, they were recognized by the International Cat Association in 1987 and the Cat Fanciers’ Association in 1993.

Breed Overview


12–18 inches


5–10 pounds


12–16 years


Chocolate, brown, sable cinnamon, silver fawn blue, gray-black, beige, tan lilac red, orange-white

Suitable for:

Active families, experienced cat owners


Confident, curious, intelligent, active

The American Curl is a unique cat breed because it doesn’t have the same highly standardized characterization as other cat breeds. American Curls can come in many unique shapes and sizes because the only defining feature of the breed is its distinct curled ears.

American Curls have a dominant genetic mutation that causes their ears to curl backward.1 All Pedigreed American Curls are bred from the first documented cat with curled ears, Shulamith.

To ensure an adequately diverse gene pool for such a narrow genetic trait, Pedigreed American Curls can produce pedigreed kittens with a straight-backward-eared cat, provided that the straight-eared cat fits all other breed standards. Thus, American Curls can vary widely in appearance aside from curled ears.

American Curl Characteristics

High-energy cat will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy cats require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a cat to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train cats are more willing and skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Cats that are harder to train are usually more stubborn and will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some cat breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every cat will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds' potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some cat breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other animals. More social cats have a tendency to rub up on strangers for scratches, while less social cats shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your cat and expose them to lots of different situations.


American Curl Kittens

American Curl kitten
Image Credit: Eric Isselee, Shutterstock

American Curl kittens are not as easy to find as some other breeds because of the relative newness of the breed. As the breed ages, more kittens will become available. When choosing a breeder, ensure that the breeder does their due diligence to breed the cats ethically. Ask to be furnished with a genetic report on your cat and their parents—any responsible breeder will be able to provide these documents.

When you bring an American Curl into your home, be ready to have a high-energy and intelligent kitty around. This means they can be easily trained and will love to play with you. American Curls are active and curious cats, which are a good option for active families or experienced cat owners.

Temperament and Intelligence of the American Curl

white american curl cat sitting on a blue chair
Image Credit Evannovostro, Shutterstock

American Curls can vary widely in temperament because of the diverse breeding pool. American Curls do not have a standard color or coat length. This intentionally widens the breeding pool since American Curls can be bred with non-curls and produce more curled kittens.

Are American Curls Good for Families With Kids? 👪

American Curls tend to make good family pets. They’re bred meticulously as show and companion cats by competent pedigree breeders. They display friendly and active temperaments to keep your cat up with your kids.

Do American Curls Get Along With Other Pets?

American Curls can be good candidates for multi-pet households if the two animals are introduced correctly. Pet parents of small animals will want to ensure their American Curl doesn’t accidentally harm their small pets when out of their enclosures.

American Curls are very agile and may try to play with your small animal. Ensure that your small pet’s enclosure is securely locked and not in a place where it could fall and harm the small pet.


Things to Know When Owning an American Curl

Food & Diet Requirements

American Curls are cats at the end of the day and have similar requirements to other cats. They must be fed a high-protein diet sourced from high-quality meats and organs.

Cats are hypercarnivores and lack the digestive enzymes needed to digest plant material. So, try to keep veggies and houseplants out of their mouths when you can.

Exercise 🐈

Energy can vary wildly between the two American Curls because of the lax requirements for breeding specimens. For best results, assume your kitten will probably have higher energy needs.

You can always give more space and time to a cat with exceptionally low energy, but providing for a cat with more energy than you bargain for can be difficult.

american curl cat on the lawn
Image Credit: Nitiphonphat, Shutterstock

Training 🧶

American Curl kittens tend to be relatively high-energy, resulting in a need for consistent training. This high-energy disposition can also be complex for training since they only want to play and romp.

When training your American Curl, be consistent in your everyday life. Don’t let your American Curl get away with disobedience; even a slight deviance from training should be corrected to ensure that your American Curl knows what is expected of them.

Grooming ✂️

Both long and short coats are present features of the American Curl. So, the amount of grooming your cat will need may vary. Shorthaired cats need very little grooming by owners, but longhaired cats need regular grooming to maintain a beautiful coat.

If your American Curl has long hair, you’ll want to brush the cat at least once a week to keep their fur from getting matted. Introduce your cat to baths early, as they may need to be bathed in their older years. So, getting them acclimated to water will be beneficial for them.

american curl cat in the studio
Image Credit: Linn Currie, Shutterstock

Health and Conditions 🏥

Due to the American Curl’s recent introduction to the cat scene, there isn’t much research regarding hereditary illnesses in the breed. Additionally, the breeders do their due diligence to actively maintain a diverse gene pool for the cats to avoid the genetic results of inbreeding.

Male vs Female

Male American Curls tend to be larger than females on average. Aside from this, there are no notable differences between males and females.


3 Little-Known Facts About the American Curl

1. The curliness of the American Curl’s ears is a genetic mutation.

The curls of an American Curl’s ears result from a dominant genetic mutation. The trait can be replicated easily because the gene will show as long as the quality is passed down from one parent, as opposed to recessive, where both parents must pass down the gene for the feature to show.

2. American Curls are one of the youngest cat breeds.

American Curls are a relatively new cat breed. The Cat Fanciers’ Association has only recognized them since 1993, and the International Cat Association was not much earlier, having recognized them in 1987.

3. The breed was discovered by accident.

From rags to riches, the original American Curl from whom all American Curls are descended was a stray cat taken in by some kind souls, Joe and Grace Ruga, in Lakewood, California. Her name was Shulamith, and she was the first cat to be documented with this genetic mutation. Had she not been found by the Rugas, we may not have discovered this mutation for many more years.

American curl black cat
Image Credit: Bobbii Art, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

There’s something exciting about being part of the raising of an up-and-coming breed, and the American Curl aims to please with their lovable dispositions and adorable curly ears. While they may be harder to find than other breeds, pet parents who do the work won’t be disappointed with what their kitten brings to the family. If you’re looking for a kitten, consider the American Curl for your family!

Featured Image Credit: Linn Currie, Shutterstock

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