1. Key Characteristics
- Weight: 5–8 pounds
- Life Expectancy: 12–15 years or more
As the name suggests, this breed looks like a kitty with a perm — remember those?
LaPerm cats are medium-sized, muscular cats known for their curly hair. The hair can be short, medium or long; the condition of it varies from tight curls and corkscrews to straight strands in some cats.
The ears are fairly large and flank the wedge-shaped head. The almond-shaped eyes come in a variety of colors, as do the colors and patterns of the coat.
2. Where They Came From
The LaPerm cat was discovered in a barn owned by Linda and Richard Koehl in Oregon. The Koehls had barn cats to control the rodent population. The cats bred freely, and in 1982, a brown tabby cat named Speedy gave birth to a litter of kittens. One kitten was different from the rest, born hairless at fist, and then curly hairs started emerging to form a coat.
The cats freely bred over the next decade, and curly-haired kittens started appearing more often. It seemed no matter which cat the LaPerm was crossed with, the offspring would have a curly coat. This discovery helped support the theory that the curly-haired gene passed on from the LaPerm was a dominant gene.
The LaPerm Society of America was formed in 1997, and the breed received championship status with the Cat Fanciers’ Association in 2008.
3. How Friendly Are They?
Many LaPerm lovers describe the temperament of this breed to be similar to a dog. They stick close to their humans and even get excited knowing someone is at the door.
They are also intelligent, clever, inquisitive and outgoing cats. These active cats love playing with toys, but they are just as happy to hop into your lap at a moment’s notice.
Most LaPerms are great with children and even dogs, and some people think they’re hypoallergenic.
4. Is This the Right Cat for You?
LOW: LaPerm cats do not have any special exercise needs. Their physical activity should be similar to that of most cats (sleeping long hours, playing, running and jumping), although they’re typically much more active and playful than other cats.
Contact your veterinarian if you notice a decrease in activity or mobility; this could be a sign of a health problem.
MEDIUM: Brush shorthaired LaPerms once per week or less. Longhaired coats are not prone to matting but should be brushed more often — once per week is recommended.
The International Cat Association (TICA) advises against blow-drying the hair: “Bathing and towel-drying will also keep the coat pristine — blow-drying is unnecessary as it will make the coat frizz. Once the coat is totally dry, emphasize the curl by spritzing the coat with a fine mist of plain water.”
Trim the cat’s nails as needed (usually once every week to two weeks), and clean the ears and brush the teeth to promote good overall health. Pay special attention to the ears; LaPerm cats have moderately large ears and can experience problems without proper grooming.
LOW: LaPerm cats are a hardy breed with no known health problems. Always ask for a health certificate when buying from a breeder.
Breeding must be done carefully with other breeds with Type A blood to minimize blood type incompatibility. Kidney disease is a possibility when other breeds are crossed into the LaPerm lineage.
Watch these furry, fluffy felines play around:
5. Where to Adopt One
If you consider getting a LaPerm, please check adoption resources — even purebred animals can end up in shelters. Try Petful’s adoption page. (Select the “Cats” tab.)
A final note: Be aware of breeders operating kitten mills — and don’t support them.