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Helmi Flick, Animal Photography
Tetsu Yamazaki, Animal Photography
This curly coated cat is friendly, loving, and curious. His unusual appearance is the result of a spontaneous mutation. The coat, which varies in length, comes in all colors and patterns seen in cats. Some kittens are born bald or with straight coats, but most of those develop the curly coat at maturity.
LaPerms are known for their curly coats, but LaPerm kittens can be born bald or shorthaired. Their curls typically come in when they are between 2 and 3 years old.
The LaPerm looks as if he stuck his paw in a light socket and got a shock, but his curly coat is the result of a natural genetic mutation, not at all unusual in the world of cats. The LaPerm may be born bald or shorthaired, with his wavy or ringleted coat coming in at maturity. The coat comes in any color or pattern but is most often seen in tortoiseshell, tabby, or red. It may be short or long and covers the entire body, right down to the curly tail. Not all of the cats develop a curly coat, however. Some are born with a straight coat and keep it throughout their lives. If you want to be sure your LaPerm has curls, you may want to seek out one whose mature coat has already come in.
This is a medium-size cat who weighs 5 to 10 pounds and reaches maturity at two to three years of age.
The LaPerm is a typical cat with an inquisitive nature, love of heights, and desire to be involved in everything his people are doing. He is fond of riding on shoulders or will climb to the top of his cat tree so he can supervise whatever is going on. Don’t be surprised if you see him using his paws to open things or simply to pat your face to get your attention. He is highly active, but if he sees an opportunity to sit in your lap and be petted, he will take it.
If the LaPerm is well socialized as a kitten, he will be happy to meet and interact with your guests. He is a good choice for families with older children who will treat him respectfully, but toddlers should be supervised so they don’t pull his curls. He is also perfectly capable of getting along with cat-friendly dogs.
The coat is easy to groom. He usually doesn’t shed much, but occasionally the LaPerm may go through a heavy shed, after which his coat comes in thicker than before. The only other grooming he needs is regular nail trimming and ear cleaning.
You may hear that the LaPerm coat is hypoallergenic because it is curly, but that is not correct. Allergies are caused not by a particular coat type but by dander, the dead skin cells that are shed by all cats (and people, for that matter). There is no scientific evidence that any breed or crossbreed is more or less allergenic than any other cat. Some people with allergies react less severely to particular cats, but no reputable breeder will guarantee that her cats are hypoallergenic.
The LaPerm is well suited to any home with people who will love him and give his unusual coat a weekly combing. Keep him indoors to protect him from cars, diseases spread by other cats, and attacks from other animals.
A spontaneous mutation in a kitten born on an Oregon farm in 1982 led to the development of the LaPerm. The kitten was bald at birth, with large, widely spaced ears and a classic tabby pattern on her skin. Soon, however, she began to grow soft, curly hair.
The cat, named Curly, produced many random-bred kittens, which often had her unusual coat. The owner, Linda Koehl, began to learn about genetics and breeding. Through controlled breedings, she discovered that the gene for the curly coat was dominant and was carried by both males and females. When she entered the cats in a show, she was surprised by the amount of interest shown in them. Curly, who was an outdoor cat, eventually disappeared, but she lives on in the new breed she produced, called the LaPerm, after the wavy coat.
LaPerms are recognized by several cat registries, including The International Cat Association and Cat Fanciers Association.
The LaPerm is a typical cat with his inquisitive nature, love of heights and desire to be involved in everything his people are doing. He is fond of riding on shoulders or will climb to the top of his cat tree so he can supervise whatever is going on. Don’t be surprised if you see him using his paws to open things or simply to pat your face to get your attention. He is highly active, but if he sees an opportunity to sit in your lap and get some petting, he will take it.
If the LaPerm is well socialized as a kitten, he will be happy to meet and interact with your guests. He is a good choice for families with older children who will treat him respectfully, but toddlers should be supervised so they don’t pull his curls. He is also perfectly capable of getting along with cat-friendly dogs in the household.
All cats can have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit diseases. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on kittens or who tells you that her kittens are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons.
At this time, the LaPerm is not known to have any genetic diseases. Nonetheless, it is always wise to buy from a breeder who provides a written health guarantee.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new kitten into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the more common health problems: obesity. Keeping a LaPerm at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to protect his overall health.
The LaPerm’s coat is easy to groom. Comb it once a week to prevent or remove mats or tangles. He usually doesn’t shed much, but occasionally the LaPerm may go through a heavy shed, after which his coat comes in thicker than before. In some instances, LaPerms “molt” and end up with a sparse coat that never really grows back. The hormonal changes that occur after spay/neuter surgery usually ensure a nice, full coat.
The only other grooming the LaPerm needs is regular nail trimming and ear cleaning if the ears look dirty. Use a gentle cleanser recommended by your veterinarian. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath.
Start brushing, nail trimming, and teeth brushing when your cat is still a kitten, and he will accept these activities later on.
You want your LaPerm to be happy and healthy so you can enjoy your time with him, so do your homework before you bring him home. For more information on the history, personality, and looks of the LaPerm, or to find breeders, visit the websites of the Cat Fanciers Association, Cats Center Stage, the Fanciers Breeder Referral List, and The International Cat Association.
A reputable breeder will abide by a code of ethics that prohibits sales to pet stores and wholesalers and outlines the breeder’s responsibilities to their cats and to buyers. Choose a breeder who has performed the health certifications necessary to screen out genetic health problems to the extent that is possible, as well as one who raises kittens in the home. Kittens who are isolated can become fearful and skittish and may be difficult to socialize later in life.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include kittens always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any kitten, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your feline friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and unhealthy catteries can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick kitten, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy kittens.
Put at least as much effort into researching your kitten as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Be patient. Depending on what you are looking for, you may have to wait six months or more for the right kitten to become available. Many breeders won't release kittens to new homes until they are between 12 and 16 weeks of age.
Before you buy a kitten, consider whether an adult LaPerm might be a better choice for your lifestyle. Kittens are loads of fun, but they’re also a lot of work and can be destructive until they reach a somewhat more sedate adulthood. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health. If you are interested in acquiring an adult cat instead of a kitten, ask breeders about purchasing a retired show or breeding cat or if they know of an adult cat who needs a new home.
The LaPerm is an uncommon breed. It is unlikely that you will find one in a shelter or through a rescue group, but it doesn’t hurt to look. Sometimes a pedigreed cat ends up at a shelter after losing his home to an owner’s death, divorce, or change in economic situation.
Here are some tips to help you find and adopt the right cat from a rescue group or shelter.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a LaPerm in your area in no time. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the LaPerms available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter.org can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a cat. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with pet pros in your area about your desire for a LaPerm. That includes vets, cat sitters, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a cat, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Networking can help you find a cat that may be the perfect companion for your family. Most people who love LaPerms love all LaPerms. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless cats. Start with the Fanciers Breeder Referral List. You can also search online for other LaPerm rescues in your area.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a cat. These include:
Wherever you acquire your LaPerm, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter, or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with pet lemon laws, be sure you and the person you get the cat from both understand your rights and recourses.
Kitten or adult, take your LaPerm to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems and work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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