The Barn Cat
The LaPerm first came into being through a natural, spontaneous mutation in 1982 on the farm of Linda Koehl in The Dalles, Oregon, USA, from a gray tabby barn cat named Speedy. This breed is characterized by its curly coat and comes with either long or short hair. The kittens can be born with any one of three coat types: straight haired, curly coated, or bald. If the coat and whiskers are curly or the kitten is bald with curly whiskers, it will then be curly coated as an adult. The kittens born with straight hair will generally maintain that straight coat throughout life.
Pictured right: Salvidor Dali - Picture kindly donated by: www.laperm.com
In order to show her new breed of cat, Linda had to come up with a name for her genetically-unique felines. She came up with "LaPerm", which means wavy or rippled in several languages. And so, a new breed was born.
After birth the kittens can go through several stages of coat development. Many will stay as they were when born but often they will drop their coats either entirely or in part. Such "molting" generally produces a denser coat when it comes back in. Occasionally one will drop the coat and stay bald or maintain only a sparse coat. The kittens born bald will generally grow a curly coat with age. The coat continues to develop for up to 3 years and will have varying degrees of curl. The coat is low maintenance with little tendency to mat and little shedding compared to other breeds. There is also a tendency for this breed to cause fewer allergies in humans than with other breeds, probably due to fewer guard hairs.
Any colour is acceptable in this breed and they can be bred to anything at this point in time. The standard states "open registry until sufficient gene pool has been established". The preferable out-cross desired by The LaPerm Society of America is, however, the domestic cat. As long as one parent is straight haired, there is the chance of straight haired kittens. This also occurs breeding curly to curly, but fewer in a resulting litter will have the straight hair. There is the possibility of a homozygous cat when breeding curly to curly.
Although the look of each kitten varies, one thing always remains the same: the great personality of this new breed. Even the occasional straight-haired kitten is blessed with it, which makes finding good homes for them very easy.
LaPerms are very gentle and affectionate. They seek human contact and purr as soon as they become aware of your presence. These cats are face lovers; they will reach for your face with their paws and rub their faces against your head, neck and face. They love being kissed and will kiss back. They beg to be held, drooped over a shoulder or cradled in your arms while resting on their backs.
Don't let this make you think they are lazy. On the contrary, they readily learn to fetch as well as many other tricks. They are inquisitive in nature, always wanting to know what is going on around them. Kittens have been known to stop nursing and seek out the source of a human voice even before their eyes are open. They are generally quiet-voiced but may be vocal when wanting attention. Being a working cat on the farm, they are excellent hunters, as well as gentle companions. They adapt well to apartment living because of their strong bonding instinct.
The coat on both the short and long-haired varieties may vary in length and fullness depending upon the season and the maturity of the cat. Both males and females have a full ruff on the neck at maturity.