The first thing you’ll notice about the LaPerm cat is its soft, wavy fur. But while LaPerm cats have a unique appearance thanks to a genetic mutation, this breed maintained its popularity because of its one-of-a-kind personality. They are known to be quite affectionate, making them loyal companions that enjoy a good cuddle. Paired with their energetic side, this makes them a great balance for most families looking for a cat that matches their family’s lifestyle.
LaPerm Cat Breed Origin & History
Despite its unusual look, the LaPerm came from everyday domestic barn cats. In 1982, a farmer in Dalles, Oregon discovered a litter of six kittens, one of which was completely bald. Despite its lack of fur, the hairless kitten had a classic tabby pattern on her skin.
To everyone’s surprise, the kitten produced soft, curly fur at eight weeks old. It had a full coat of curly hair at the age of three to four months. The LaPerm kitten was now known by the name “Curly.”
Even though its fur was quite strange, the owner had no interest other than keeping Curly as a companion. But the owner of the farm started noticing an increase in bald kittens in litters over the next ten years. After a while, the farmer began to confine the cats and control the breeding, curious of their odd mutation.
It soon became clear that the curly-coated gene was dominant, carried by both male and female cats. The owners, Linda and Richard Koehl, brought the odd cat to a cat show and were astonished to find out that other people were just as fascinated by the cats’ unique appearance. The newly discovered breed was called “LaPerm,” referencing waves.
Curly-coated breeds existed at the time, including the Selkirk Rex, Devon Rex, and Cornish Rex, the final two of which originated in Great Britain. But geneticists determined that the LaPerm was different, most likely carrying Siamese and Manx genes.
In 2002, the International Cat Association recognized the LaPerm. The Cat Fanciers’ Association followed soon after. Currently, LaPerms are bred to domestic shorthairs and longhairs instead of purebred cats to maintain genetic diversity.
LaPerm Breed Personality
The LaPerm’s personality is the perfect balance of playful and affectionate. This breed is often described as mischievous and goofy, and they’re known to have a sense of humor.
While charming, their mischievous nature can lead to things like opening doors and cabinets, since the LaPerm is quite clever — so definitely don’t let them get bored. Keep LaPerms occupied with plenty of toys and appropriate things to climb, like cat trees and shelves. This inquisitive cat loves heights.
Perhaps the most distracting thing for naughty LaPerms is simply yourself. LaPerms are not clingy or vocal. In fact, they’re known to rarely meow. But this gentle and loving feline really enjoys being around their family and their guests.
They’ll follow you around sometimes, other times sitting on your shoulder or lap. Some LaPerm are even known to lightly reach for your face, looking for pets or hoping for a chance to rub against you once they have your attention.
LaPerm Cat Breed Characteristics (Physical)
The LaPerm’s distinct quality is its fur, which comes in every recognized color and coat pattern. Still, kittens can be born hairless — although most have short wavy hair at birth. Even kittens with fur will start going bald, beginning with a spot on the top of their head.
For the first four months, LaPerms may experience varying stages of baldness. In the end, adult LaPerm cats have their one-of-a-kind curly coat, either thin or full.
LaPerm Cat Size
The LaPerm is a small to medium-sized breed. They often weigh between 6-12 pounds, with the males outweighing the females on average. The Cat Fanciers’ Association describes their body as “moderate in size,” with proportionate features.
One distinct facial feature of the LaPerm is its dipped nose, easily seen from a side view. Their head is slightly round with gentle angles, along with a strong chin. Males may have jowls. Their whiskers are described as “long and flexible,” atop full and rounded whisker pads.
Almond-shaped and expressive, the LaPerm’s eyes appear slanted and far apart. Their eye color does not correlate with their coat pattern. Copper, gold, yellow, green, blue, and aqua are all acceptable colors. Mink-colored LaPerms can have odd-colored eyes, meaning two different colors.
Their ears are slightly flared, sometimes with earmuffs and lynx tipping.
Legs & Paws
Matching the rest of their body, the LaPerm cat’s legs are medium in length. Their feet are round.
The longhaired variety of LaPerm should have “springy, light, and airy” fur — not too thick or heavy. Curly and wavy are both possible, although curly is preferred. Their coat may vary in length or fullness due to the cat’s maturity or the season, but it should never be full of mats or knots.
Shorthaired LaPerms will have the same texture fur, although it may be considered harder. LaPerms can never have bald patches or straight fur.
Their unique fur can come in any color or pattern, including solid colors, tabby patterns, point patterns, and mink.
LaPerms are expected to live an average of 10 to 15 years, but they must be taken care of properly to have a long, healthy life
LaPerm Cat Breed Care
LaPerms may have an unusual coat, but their fur surprisingly doesn’t require much maintenance. They don’t shed all that much, although they experience shedding seasons, resulting in thicker fur.
Simply comb their fur once a week to prevent tangles and remove any mats. Brushing can also ensure that the LaPerm’s coat looks shiny and healthy. It will also remove loose fur.
While LaPerms don’t need regular bathing, try misting their coat to give their curly fur extra volume. Spray water from a spray bottle while gently scrunching their curls.
Like all cats, LaPerms should get regular nail trimming, tooth brushing, and ear cleaning. These hygiene practices ensure they stay in good health. Start trimming, brushing, cleaning, and scrunching your LaPerm as kittens so they get used to your daily and weekly rituals.
Because of the LaPerm’s large genetic pool, this breed has no known genetic diseases. Still, they are susceptible to common illnesses, and you must take them to the veterinarian if they appear ill or sick in any way.
Feline Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)
Some common diseases in all cats include feline urinary tract diseases. It’s estimated that 3% of cats have a FLUTD. You may notice your cat straining to urinate, blood in their pee, or a lack of appetite. Stress, sudden changes, and even living in a multi-cat household can cause a FLUTD. Unfixed cats are also more likely to get a urinary tract disease.
Diarrhea and vomiting are other common health concerns for cats. Vomiting can happen if your cat has a hairball or if they have an underlying health problem, like diabetes. Vomiting can leave your cat dehydrated, as can diarrhea. Diarrhea can be caused by food allergies or even liver disease or cancer.
Like all domestic kitties, the LaPerm needs cat food rich in the ingredients they need to stay happy and healthy. The first ingredient on the bag should always be a protein source, like chicken or salmon. It should also include taurine, an amino acid cats need to be well. Taurine helps cats maintain healthy vision, digestion, and heart muscle function.
You also want to ensure that the feline food you pick is low in carbohydrates. These are “fillers” since cats don’t need wheat, corn, or soy. In fact, they are often the source of cats’ allergies. It’s also what makes them overweight.
To avoid excess carbs, you can also consider canned food. Make sure your cat treats are also nutritious!
Children & Other Pets
While shy, the LaPerm is known to be good with the entire family — even guests. LaPerms enjoy interacting with other kittens and cats if they’re well behaved and properly introduced. They also don’t mind dogs in the house, as long as they’ve been properly socialized. The LaPerm enjoys a good play session with other pets. But they also need some time to themselves, usually atop a tall cat tree or climbing up cat shelves.
The LaPerm is also known to be good with children. But younger children should be supervised, ensuring they don’t pull at the cat’s curls.
More About This Breed
Registered adult LaPerms can go for around $300, which is significantly less than many purebred cats. The price is higher if the cat is championship quality. Out of 43 registered cat breeds registered by the CFA, the LaPerm is number 40 in America when it comes to popularity. That might explain why you never heard of this unique cat.
This breed is considered a “rex,” a term used for animals with the soft, curly fur mutation. While their coats are similar to a Cornish Rex or Devon Rex, the LaPerm is defined by its own unique body type, coloring, and personality. What people may not know is that rex cats, including the LaPerm, are not hypoallergenic. They shed less than most cats, but most people with allergies will still react to this curly kitty.
But if you want a cat that loves to cuddle, sit on your lap, or hang out around you while you work from home, the LaPerm is the perfect companion. This breed loves a good cuddle session and their fur is soft to pet, which makes it even better.