American Curl

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american curl portrait
Welcome to the world of American Curls, where ears have a twist and hearts are quickly won! These felines sport a whimsical look with their unique, curled-back ears. But it's not just looks that make them a favorite - their playful antics and lovable nature will have you curling around their little paws in no time!

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, care, health concerns, history, and more!


ORIGINUnited States
HEIGHT9-12 inches
WEIGHT5-10 lbs
LIFESPAN13-16 years
american curl cat relaxing at home
Photo: rukawajung/Getty Images


The American Curl is a delightful sight to behold with its unique physical attributes. These medium-sized cats typically weigh between 5-10 pounds, with females being slightly smaller at 5-8 pounds and males at 7-10 pounds.

Their bodies are well-balanced, slender, and moderately muscled, giving them an elegant appearance. The body is complemented by a modified wedge-shaped head with round, walnut-shaped eyes that can come in a variety of colors, adding to their alert and sweet expression.

Of course, the most distinctive feature of this breed is their ears. Born with straight ears, those with the gene will see their ears start to curl backward within a week, forming a graceful arc that turns back from the face toward the center of the back of the skull. This gives the American Curl its name and a perky, alert expression that’s hard to resist.

As for their coat, it’s as diverse as their eye colors. American Curls can have either short or long hair, and they come in a variety of colors and patterns. Regardless of the length, their coat is soft to the touch and requires minimal grooming. Overall, the American Curl is a captivating blend of physical traits that make them stand out in the feline world!


The American Curl is known for its lively and affectionate personality. These cats are incredibly sociable, showing a keen interest in their human companions and often forming a strong attachment to their owners. In fact, their attachment is so strong that it’s often likened to the loyalty of a dog!

They’re also known for their playful nature. American Curls love to explore, chase toys, and engage in interactive play sessions. Despite their high energy levels, they also know how to relax and enjoy a good cuddle session. They’re not clingy, but they do appreciate being in the same room as their family members.

American Curls are also notably adaptable. They handle new situations well and can comfortably fit into various household dynamics. Whether you have children, dogs, or other cats, an American Curl will likely get along just fine. They’re rarely aloof and are always interested in what’s going on around them.

While they can be vocal at times, American Curls are not overly talkative. They tend to express their thoughts and needs with subtle vocalizations rather than constant meowing.

In summary, the American Curl is a delightful blend of affection, sociability, playfulness, and curiosity, making them a wonderful companion for many types of families and households.

american curl cat looking out a window
Photo: rukawajung/Getty Images



American Curls are relatively low-maintenance when it comes to grooming.

If your American Curl has short hair, a weekly brush should suffice to keep their coat looking sleek and shiny. For those with longer hair, twice-weekly brushing is recommended.

One unique aspect of grooming for this breed is ear care. Due to the unique shape of their ears, American Curls can accumulate more ear wax than other breeds. Regular cleaning, done gently to avoid damaging the delicate cartilage, will help prevent any potential ear infections.

Exercise and Play

American Curls are known for their playful and energetic nature. They thoroughly enjoy interactive play sessions, so having an assortment of toys at hand is a good idea. Puzzle toys that stimulate their intellectual curiosity, as well as toys that encourage physical activity, such as laser pointers or feather wands, are perfect for this breed.

Remember, exercise isn’t just about keeping your cat physically healthy; it also provides mental stimulation and helps prevent boredom.

Diet and Nutrition

Like all cats, American Curls need a balanced diet to stay healthy. High-quality cat food that is rich in protein is ideal. Both wet and dry foods have their own benefits, so you might consider providing a mix of both. Wet food is good for hydration and is often more appetizing to cats, while dry food can be better for dental health. Always ensure fresh water is available.

As with any pet, it’s important to monitor your American Curl’s weight and adjust food portions accordingly to prevent obesity. If you’re unsure about the best diet for your American Curl, it’s always a good idea to consult with a vet.


The American Curl cat breed is generally considered a healthy breed, with a life expectancy of 13 to 16 years. Thanks to their diverse gene pool, they are less susceptible to many genetic issues that can affect other breeds. However, no breed is completely free from potential health problems.

Here are some health issues that may affect American Curls:

Ear Infections: Due to the unique structure of their ears, American Curls can be prone to ear infections. Regular cleaning and check-ups can help prevent this issue.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This condition, which can lead to blindness, has been identified in the breed, although it’s not common.

Dental Disease: Like all cats, American Curls can suffer from dental diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis. Regular dental check-ups and proper oral hygiene can help prevent these issues.

Obesity: If not fed properly, American Curls can easily become overweight, leading to a range of health problems including diabetes, heart disease, and joint disease.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM): This is a form of heart disease that is found in all breeds of cats. Regular vet checks can help to catch this condition early.

To keep an American Curl healthy, a balanced diet is essential. High-quality cat food, rich in protein and low in fillers, can help maintain their health. Regular exercise and play can also help prevent obesity.

Regular veterinary checks are crucial for the early detection of any potential health issues. Vaccinations should be kept up-to-date to protect against common feline diseases.

It’s always advisable to work closely with your vet to establish a healthcare routine that’s suitable for your American Curl’s specific needs.

american curl sleeping on the floor
Photo: kaipong/Getty Images


The American Curl cat breed has a unique and charming origin story. This breed traces its roots back to 1981 in California when a stray kitten with peculiar curled ears was found by Joe and Grace Ruga. They named the kitten Shulamith, and she became the foundation of the American Curl breed.

The distinctive curled ears, a result of a spontaneous genetic mutation, proved to be hereditary when Shulamith gave birth to a litter of kittens, some of which also had curled ears. This began the development of a new breed that combined this distinctive physical trait with a delightful playful and affectionate temperament.

The breed quickly attracted attention and gained recognition from major cat registries. The International Cat Association (TICA) was the first to recognize the American Curl, granting it championship status in 1987. Shortly after, the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) also accepted the breed and granted it championship status in 1993.

Today, the American Curl is celebrated not just for its unique appearance, but also for its friendly and playful nature, making it a beloved pet in households worldwide.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines that describes the ideal characteristics, temperament, and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function with soundness essential. Breed standards are devised by breed clubs and recognized by various cat registries worldwide.

These standards provide detailed descriptions of the breed’s physical characteristics such as body shape, size, coat type and color, eye color and shape, ear placement, and tail length.

american curl kitten sitting on a tree branch
Photo: Caitlin Willow/Getty Images


Are American Curl cats rare?

Yes, the American Curl cat breed is relatively rare and highly sought after, not just for its unique appearance but also for its friendly and affectionate personality.

What is the behavior of American Curl cats?

American Curls are often described as sociable, playful, and adaptable. They get along well with children and other pets, making them an excellent choice for families. They’re also known for their intelligence and curiosity, which means they enjoy interactive toys and games.

Are American Curl cats healthy?

In terms of health, American Curls are generally a healthy breed with few breed-specific health issues. However, due to their unique ear shape, they can be more prone to ear infections, so regular ear checks and cleaning are recommended. Like all cats, they should receive regular veterinary care, including vaccinations and dental care.

Can American Curl cats have straight ears?

As for the question of whether American Curls can have straight ears – kittens are born with straight ears, which begin to curl within a few days if they carry the gene. The degree of curl can vary from cat to cat.

How long do American Curl cats live?

American Curls have a relatively long lifespan compared to some other breeds. On average, they live between 13 to 16 years, although some have been known to live into their early twenties. Regular veterinary care and a healthy lifestyle can help ensure your American Curl lives a long, happy life.

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