The LaPerm is a new breed of cat that is the result of spontaneous genetic mutation. It has a wavy or curly fur that LaPerm owners have grown to love. Despite its disheveled or unkempt appearance, the LaPerm has a gentle nature and an affectionate personality. This is when it is not on the prowl, hunting mice and other rodents. It is a resourceful and clever kitty that makes for a great house cat for the modern family.
History of the LaPerm Cat
Nobody created the LaPerm. It is a breed that is the result of spontaneous or natural genetic mutation. Richard and Linda Koehl from The Dalles, Oregon, had a barn cat, named Speedy. The Koehls relied on Speedy to hunt the mice and other rodents that often raided their barn. In 1982, Speedy gave birth to several kittens. One of the kittens did not have fur. There were tabby stripes on the kitten’s skin. It weighed less than its siblings and had bigger ears and a longer body.
After 2 months, the hairless female kitten grew its coat. Unlike its siblings, this kitten had downy curls. The Koehls called it Curly. She is the very first LaPerm in this world. Curly mated with other cats and gave birth to bald kittens. The kittens also grew curly or wavy hairs as soon as they reached 8 weeks of age.
Geneticists say that the curly fur is a dominant trait. Only one parent needs to carry the gene to pass it down to the next generation of cats. Realizing that they might have discovered a new breed, Linda Koehl did some research. In 1992, she took her cats to the CFA-sponsored cat show in Portland. By this time, the Koehls already called their cats “LaPerms”.
The cats dazzled the cat show audience. Koehl coordinated with geneticists and breeders to help her in the establishment of the new breed. Her perseverance resulted in the creation of the breed standards of the LaPerm.
The International Cat Association recognized the LaPerm as a breed in 2003. The Cat Fanciers’ Association followed suit five years later in 2008. Cat fancier associations in the UK, France, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa also began recognizing the LaPerm as a feline breed.
Quick Facts about the LaPerm
LaPerms may be the result of natural mutation. However, one can never deny the fact that they have an adorable nature. Here are other interesting facts that every potential cat parent of the LaPerm has to know.
- A Medium-Sized Kitty
The LaPerm is a medium-sized kitty, weighing between 5 and 8 pounds. It has a muscular body with disproportionately longer legs and neck. It has a wedge-shaped head and flared ears. The head also has rounded contours and a flat forehead. The eyes are medium in size and often take the shape of almonds.
- Coat Characteristics of a LaPerm
The main distinguishing characteristic of a LaPerm is its coat. Unlike other feline breeds with long, silky-smooth fur, the LaPerm’s coat is wavy or curly. The fur on the cat’s neck, ears, underside, ruff, and tail come in tight corkscrews. The fur on the rest of its body have a crimped appearance. Most people do not know that the LaPerm’s eyebrows and whiskers are also wavy. The coat can be either long or short. There are cats that have straight coats. These LaPerms have recessive genes for the curly coat. They often pass these genes to their kittens that will express the gene as curly or wavy coat.
- Some LaPerm Kittens are Born Bald
There are some LaPerm kittens that are born without any fur at all. There are also those that have straight or wavy fur at birth, only to lose them within the first 2 weeks of life. These kittens will remain in their ‘bald’ state for a few weeks. Over time, new fur will grow. The new coat will have the characteristics of the original fur. That is why potential owners of LaPerms should wait until the kitten has reached 12 weeks of age. This will give you an idea about the kind of fur that the cat will have for the rest of its life.
- It is Not Hypoallergenic
LaPerms do not shed as heavily as other cat breeds. This leads people to believe that they are hypoallergenic. One has to remember that there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat. All cats have the potential to trigger an allergic reaction in a susceptible person. What makes some cats more ‘allergenic’ than others is the presence of the Fel d 1 allergen in their saliva and on the skin. Some breeds have a greater concentration of this allergen than other feline breeds. The LaPerm is one of those breeds that have lower concentrations of the allergen.
- A Rare Feline Breed
It is true that the LaPerm has its origins in the US. However, it remains a very rare feline breed in North America. Out of 43 feline breeds registered with the Cat Fanciers’ Association, LaPerms come in at number 40. It is either most Americans do not like a wavy-coated cat breed or they have never heard of the LaPerm.
- Different Cat Associations have Different Outcrossing Guidelines
One of the reasons why LaPerms are rare in North America is because there are no clear guidelines as to which feline breeds the cat can be outcrossed to. The International Cat Association has the laxest rules when it comes to outcrossing LaPerms. The organization allows almost any other feline breed. They also accept up to F3 LaPerm generations. The organization prefers domestic longhaired and shorthaired cats in the breeding of the LaPerm, however.
The Cat Fanciers’ Association, on the other hand, allows LaPerm outcrosses to the Ocicat. This was before 2002. After 2002, LaPerm breeders can only use domestic cats that are non-pedigreed in the outcrossing process. After 2020, the CFA will no longer allow outcrosses.
The strictest guidelines come from the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy in the UK. It only accepts LaPerms with 3 pedigreed generations for registration. If the cat comes from a 4th or 5th generation, there are a select pedigreed cats that the GCCF recognizes. These include the Abyssinian, Somali, Tonkinese, Ocicat, Burmese, Asian, and the Tiffanie. If the LaPerm does not have any of these pedigrees in its ancestry, then its owners cannot register the cat under the GCCF.
Things You Should Know About the LaPerm Cat
Part of becoming a LaPerm parent is knowing how to care for it. This includes taking care of its health, nutrition, and grooming as well as understanding the cat’s temperament. A potential cat parent can use this knowledge to determine if the LaPerm is the kind of cat that the person will want to bring home.
Given that the LaPerm is a ‘new’ feline breed, it is very early to say whether it is as healthy as what owners claim it to be. On the average, a LaPerm can live up to 15 years. This is not unusual since there are cat breeds that can reach up to the third decade of life.
There are no significant health conditions that are specific to the feline breed. This does not mean that it is already immune to cat diseases. The LaPerm is still at risk of diseases that are common among all cats. These include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and kidney disease. There is also the threat of viral infections, like Feline Immunodeficiency Virus and Feline Leukemia Virus infections. Heartworm, ringworm, and upper respiratory infections are always a threat. For more options, check out our detailed review of dewormers for cats.
Other common health conditions in cats that may also be present in LaPerms include diabetes, cancer, and intestinal parasitism.
All cats deserve a high-protein diet that’s based on meat proteins. One can always go the Vegan route. However, it is crucial to provide the necessary amino acid supplements to make up for the missing amino acids in plant-based proteins.
These cats need to drink. It is a crucial aspect of their feeding. It does not matter if the cat eats kibbles or wet cat food. They still need to drink water. However, feeding the LaPerm wet cat food can reduce the amount of water that it needs to drink. Maintaining the cat’s hydration is important in preventing kidney problems. One should consider pet drinking fountains and other methods of enticing the LaPerm to drink more.
Always work with a veterinarian in coming up with a meal plan for a LaPerm. All cats have the tendency to become obese if their pet owners are not careful in the pet’s feeding patterns.
Find out more about Dry Cat Food and Cat Water Fountains here.
Caring for a LaPerm entails regular visits to the veterinarian. It is important that the cat receives its required vaccine shots. Regular veterinary checkups should also include screening for diseases. It is always better to take a more proactive approach in the care of the cat, instead of acting only when there is already a problem.
Litter box training is important in the care of a LaPerm. As soon as the cat arrives in the house, pet owners should start training it to use its litter box. Cleaning the cat litter box is also important. No cat would ever want to use a stinky toilet. Instead of doing its business in the box, the cat will be tempted to bring it elsewhere.
Invest in a good scratching post, interactive cat toys, and cat trees. Unless you have rat infestation in your home, these contraptions will keep the LaPerm from getting bored. It also allows the cat to use its natural rat hunting skills to the fullest.
Having said that, part of the LaPerm’s care is regular interaction. This cat is a hunter. When not hunting, it relishes the time it spends with its owners. It can be mischievous, sometimes clownish. It will love to play with kids who know how to respect the cat’s boundaries.
Keep the LaPerm indoors. While catnappers may not be interested in taking the cat away, there are still a lot of dangers outdoors. Chemicals, fallen trees, frayed electrical wires, passing vehicles, and wild animals all pose a threat to the cat’s safety.
Despite having curly or wavy fur, grooming the LaPerm is never a problem. Its undercoat will never form mats, provided you comb or brush it at least once a week. Longhaired LaPerms should receive more frequent brushings or combings. If you can comb its fur every day, then do it. When combing the LaPerm, it is best to use a comb that has revolving teeth. This will not straighten the cat’s curly fur.
LaPerms also need dental hygiene every day. If this is not possible, then once a week brushing the cat’s teeth is fine. Clip the LaPerm’s nails every 3 to 4 weeks. Inspect and clean the cat’s ears every week. Clean its eyes, too. Tear stains can form on the fur near the corner of the cat’s eyes.
For more options head over to our guides on Cat Toothbrushes and Cat Toothpaste.
LaPerms are excellent mouse hunters. They have this single-minded focus when on the lookout for rodents. When not on the job, LaPerms enjoy the company of their families. It can be clownish and mischievous at the same time. It will use its innate intelligence to open doors and swipe the things that the cat wants. It will also tap your shoulders as a sign of its need for your attention.
While affectionate, the LaPerm is never clingy. It can shadow its owner from room to room. The best times for the LaPerm is getting that opportunity to sit in the lap of its owner. There are also kitties that prefer sitting on the shoulders of their respective pet parents. Some will turn your desktop computer monitor into their perch.
LaPerms are never vocal. This makes it very easy to identify if they have a problem or if they need attention. It is patient with its people and can display a gentle demeanor when around kids. It is a cat that is very pleasant to have in the home.
LaPerms are very adorable kitties. They are moderately active, low maintenance, and healthy. They make excellent pets for those who wish to have a cat that has the curly coat of a Poodle and the temperament of a Labrador retriever.
- The LaPerm Breed – TICA.org
- About the LaPerm – CFA