LaPerm FAQs & Facts
LaPerm Frequently Asked Questions
Is the LaPerm a good pet for people with allergies?
There are many people who are allergic to cats who find that they are able to live with a LaPerm, but there are also others who cannot. This is because there are different types of cat allergy so not every allergic person reacts in the same way. The curls in the LaPerm coat tend to hold shed hair in place and stop shedding which can help to keep allergens under control. Also they have a single coat so do not have the large volume of fur that some other breeds have. See our Page; Allergies
Is the LaPerm related to the Devon or Cornish Rex?
The LaPerm is not related to any of the other curly coated breeds. While the breeds can be classed together as they are all rex breeds (i.e. breeds which have curly coats) there has not been any interbreeding to create the LaPerm. The original colony of curly coated farm cats, which were developed to give us the LaPerm breed that we know today, arose from a new spontaneously occurring natural mutation. Only these cats and other straight coated cats have been used to develop the breed. The gene responsible for the LaPerm coat behaves in a different way to the Cornish Rex, Devon Rex and Selkirk Rex genes.
Is the LaPerm a Rex breed?
In cat breeding Rex refers to any type of cat with a curly coat and this includes the LaPerm. If a LaPerm has a nicely curled coat it can be described as being well rexed or having good rexing. It has been suggested that at some point in the future cat organisations might create a Rex or Rex and Hairless breed group. There are four major rex breeds and a few other minority ones.
Why are some LaPerms born with straight hair? Does this mean that they do not breed true?
The LaPerm does breed true, which means that it is possible to pair LaPerm to LaPerm and to get all LaPerm kittens, unlike some other breeds where variants will always be a part of the breed. However the LaPerm breeding programme makes use of some cats which are straight haired and some curly cats which carry the recessive gene for straight hair (called heterozygous LaPerms), as well as homozygous LaPerms which do not carry straight hair. This means that sometimes the recessive straight hair gene can surface when breeding from two heterozygous LaPerms, and if a heterozygous LaPerm is mated to a straight haired cat about half the kittens are straight haired or LaPerm Variants. These straight haired cats are very beautiful with extremely soft silky flat coats and the same loving natures as their curly brothers and sisters. They can also play a valuable role in the LaPerm breeding programme. A DNA test is currently being developed to identify the LaPerm gene, which breeders will be able to use to identify cats which carry straight hair.
What is the Oregon Rex? Is it related to the LaPerm?
Although these two varieties both have curly fur and come from Oregon, that it where the similarity ends. The Oregon Rex was a recessive mutation which was bred experimentally in the 1960s and proved to be a new rex gene. It was not developed into a pedigree breed and had apparently died out before the birth of the LaPerm breed in 1982.
Why are there both longhaired and shorthaired LaPerms? Why are they not different breeds?
Most breeds are developed and then established in one hair length and if another hair length is developed later down the line it is seen as a new departure and given a new breed name. Some breeds, including the LaPerm, originated and were developed in both hair lengths so there was no need to divide them into two breeds and kittens of both hair lengths can happily occur in the same litter. The very first LaPerm was in fact a shorthair, but the long hair gene was present in the colony and longhaired LaPerms were born before the formal breeding programme commenced.
Why do some LaPerms sometimes go bald?
As part of the LaPerm coat phenomenon some cats can undergo very heavy moults leaving them with sparse coats or bald patches. After a heavy moult the coat tends to come back in thicker and curlier. Baldness is not a desirable feature and as the breeding programme has progressed and cats with stable coats have been selected this has become rare. This can be affected by the cat’s hormonal cycle and often the coat becomes stable after neutering. Also nursing queens tend to have bald tummies which makes it easier for the kittens to find the milk.
What are the BB, BS and BC abbreviations in LaPerm pedigree names?
These abbreviations stand for Born Bald, Born Straight and Born Curly and describe the three coats types of LaPerm kittens. LaPerm breeders put these abbreviations into their kittens’ names in order to keep track of the way that the LaPerm gene is manifesting itself so that the best coats can be selected. BB kittens are less common than they were in the early days of the breeding programme and may possibly have less stable coats as adults. Those kittens which are born bald go on to develop their curly coats. Many kittens will have a heavy moult at some point in their development. A kitten born with a straight coat is almost always a variant without the LaPerm gene, but there have been very occasional exceptions where what appeared to be a straight coat has been moulted and grown back curly.
Are LaPerms good with children?
LaPerms are very sociable and people-oriented cats so they are good for children who want a companion. They are affectionate and interact well with humans. They are also very playful so if you have a LaPerm buy plenty of interactive toys that your child can use to play with the cat. Any young children who are not old enough to know how to treat a cat properly should be supervised during contact.
How much grooming does a LaPerm need?
Most LaPerms have coats that are easy to care for and do not need much in the way of grooming to keep them in good condition. There is no thick undercoat so the fur is not prone to matting. A comb through two or three times a week should be sufficient and a comb with revolving teeth is recommended as it moves through the coat without pulling the curls straight. A spritzing with water or a rub down with wet hands helps to set the curl and leave the cat looking at its best. Some additional grooming might be appreciated during a seasonal moult or for an older cat who is less able to keep themselves in top condition. Show cats take a bit more preparation to get them into tip top condition for the judge’s table and LaPerms can be bathed and left to dry in a warm spot. Blow drying is not a good idea as it gives a frizzy coat and too much combing will straighten out the curls somewhat. Bathing should not be done too close to the show as a day or two will allow the bounce and curl to come back into the coat, but keep that cat clean in the interim!
What colours does the LaPerm come in?
The LaPerm can be bred in all possible colours and patterns and there are no colours which are not permitted. The most frequently seen colours reflect the cat’s origins and torties, tabbies and red cats are often seen, with or without white. The first colourpoint LaPerm, Kloshe BB Morning Mist, cropped up in a litter in 1989 and has proved to be popular with breeders, as has the chocolate gene. There are many challenges for breeders out there to work with the less commonly seen colours and patterns and help to extend the palette.
What outcrossing to other breeds has been used in the LaPerm breeding programme?
In America the principle outcross to develop the gene pool of the LaPerm has been the domestic cat or non-pedigree. This is because these are the cats which are closest to the original colony where the LaPerm arose. The Ocicat and Somali were also used in America. In other countries where outcrossing to non-pedigree cats is not encouraged there is more scope for outcrossing to pedigree breeds. Lists of approved outcrosses give breeders the option to use a handful of breeds which are single coated cats of moderate type such as the Somali. Careful outcross programmes are designed to maintain type, improve the features of the breed and ensure that as numbers grow the gene pool can also grow. Outcrossing has the added advantage of helping breeders to develop new colours and patterns within the breed. Full details of permitted outcross breeds can be found in the GCCF LaPerm registration policy.
How much might I expect to pay for a LaPerm?
It should be noted that pricing will be at individual breeders’ discretion and also will depend on the quality of the kitten. You may pay more for a breeding cat, the direct progeny of recently imported cats or rare colours or patterns. You may pay a little less for a young adult. A guideline price in the UK is around £750.
The LaPerm is a hardy natural breed originating from a colony of curly coated working farm cats who lived in the barns of Linda and Dick Koehl’s cherry orchard in The Dalles, Oregon.
The origin of the LaPerm can be traced to one shorthaired cat who was born bald and developed a curly coat. She was named Curly and left a great legacy of rexed kittens that formed a breeding colony in the Koehl’s cherry orchard.
The LaPerm breed has been allied with Native American culture and can be thought of as the “Native American Rex”; several of the original group of breeders had some Native American ancestry and the breed came into existence in an area of great significance to Native American culture and history, comprising the traditional lands of the Wishram Indians (a Chinook tribe). This is why the pedigree names of many LaPerm cats are Native American names.
The Dalles is the county seat of Wasco County, which has the distinction of having been the largest county in the US at one time. Most of Eastern Oregon, most of Idaho and the state of Montana and an area from the western slopes of the Cascade Range of the Rocky Mountains, were at one time part of the county. It is located on the Columbia River approximately 83 miles east of Portland
French and Belgian fur traders named the town after the slab like natural rock formations along the sides of the river gorge. (In French “dalle” means a slab of stone.) This feature of the river remains only in old memories since it disappeared under the water when the Columbia was dammed at The Dalles in 1957, creating the world’s fourth largest hydroelectric dam, providing natural power for the town and surrounding area.
The LaPerm coat is caused by a dominant Rex gene, so unlike the Devon and Cornish Rexes a LaPerm kitten may have only inherited its Rex genes from one parent.
LaPerm breeders use the initials BC, BS and BB as part of their kittens’ pedigree names. These stand for Born Curly, Born Straight and Born Bald. This helps breeders to track the gene and encourage full curly coats.
LaPerm breeders have bred away from lines producing kittens that are born bald and then grow curly coats. Today the majority of kittens are born with a curly coat. Some LaPerms have a heavy moult during their kittenhood, after which their coats grow back in curlier and thicker.
As with the other rex breeds, the original gene pool was small so outcrossing has played an important role in the breed’s development. CFA approved the use of the Domestic Longhair and the Domestic Shorthair, recommending that great care should be taken to choose a cat that is close to the LaPerm standard of points. A cat with a thick, woolly coat, cobby body type or short face should be avoided.
Pedigree breeds have also been used successfully for outcrossing. The CFA approved the use of the Ocicat for a specific time period. The original LaPerm breeders also recommended to use of the Somali and breeders developing the breed in New Zealand also used the Tiffanie. These breeds, along with some other similar, related breeds have formed the basis of outcross programmes for the LaPerm.
F1 curly kittens are registered as LaPerms and breeders breed down from these crosses to focus on good type and build up the numbers of generations of LaPerm to LaPerm breeding.
Outcrossing is used to prevent inbreeding, diversify a breed's gene pool and encourage good health.
The LaPerm breed is recognised in two hair lengths. The original LaPerm was a shorthair, however today the longhaired variety is more popular. Both varieties have a special charm of their own - the longhairs have more “visual drama” and offer more contrast with other rex breeds, while the shorthairs have a more subtle appeal, best appreciated ‘hands on’.
Homozygous LaPerms have inherited a rex gene from both of their parents. Heterozygous LaPerms carry the recessive straight hair gene. Matings between two heterozygous LaPerms can produce straight haired LaPerm variants.
A LaPerm variant makes a great pet cat as it still inherits the LaPerm’s other characteristics, such as its friendly personality, but they can also make a valuable contribution to a breeding programme.
There is currently a handful of specialist breed clubs or breeder groups for the LaPerm worldwide, including The LaPerm Cat Club, The LPSA (LaPerm Society of America), the Netherlands LaPerm group, LaPerms of Scandinavia, and a range of clubs that represent all of the rex breeds, including the LaPerm, such as the South African Breeders of Rex and Sphynx, The Rex Cat Club, the Rex Cat Association, the Scottish Rex Cat Club and the Colourpoint, Rex-coated and AOV Cat Club.
LaPerm enthusiasts around the world keep in touch to discuss the breed, swap news about litters of kittens and show wins and to enjoy friendly chat, especially through the Facebook group ‘LaPerm Lovers’.
The LaPerm is bred in all coat colours and patterns. The coat comprises all three hair types (down, awn and guard hairs) all of which are curled. The cats also have long curly whiskers.
The LaPerm bears many similarities to a horse breed popular among Native American people: the American Bashkir Curly horse from Dakota. Both breeds share an elegant body type, a sweet and friendly disposition and of course a curly coat!
The LaPerm has been immortalised in a postage stamp issued by Mozambique.