Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Pedigrees Cats of the World - The LaPerm

The A-Z of Cats
Pedigrees of the World - The LaPerm
The LaPerm is a unique combination of curly hair and an affectionate personality. One cannot deny the love and affection a LaPerm will shower upon its owner nor the curly or wavy hair that also makes the breed so interesting.
The first LaPerm was born in 1982 and was a spontaneous mutation in an otherwise normal litter of kittens. Linda and Richard Koehl owned a cherry farm in The Dalles, Oregon, USA, located near the ancient hunting and fishing grounds of the Wishram Indians, and had obtained some farm cats to keep the farm clear of mice. One of these was a plain but hard-working brown tabby shorthair called Speedy who gave birth to a litter of kittens which included a rather bald, long skinny kitten with a blueprint of a tabby pattern on her skin. She was named Curly. Linda wondered if something was wrong with the kitten but as she grew she developed a soft curly coat which everyone liked to touch. Perhaps this was also why she turned out to be so affectionate and a favourite of everyone on the farm.  In order to show her new breed of cat, Linda had to come up with a name for her genetically-unique felines. She came up with "LaPerm", which means wavy or rippled in several languages, and so, a new breed was born.  During the next 10 years no attempt was made to breed selectively but as the frequency of bald kittens increased in the random bred litters, the owner of the farm began to seek additional information about her unusual cats. She had no knowledge of genetics or breeding and thus allowed the cats to roam freely throughout the barns and orchard for several years. As she became aware of how truly unique these cats were, she started to confine the cats and control the breedings. It appeared that the curly gene was dominant and carried by both males and females. This breeder was totally unprepared for the interest and excitement generated by cats she decided to enter in a cat show.
Curly grew up and also worked as a farm cat. One day Curly, and the whole LaPerm breed, were almost wiped out when she climbed into the warm engine of a pick up truck and was injured by the fan when it was started up. She survived and became a house cat for a while convalescing from her injuries, but she managed to find her way out and became pregnant to one of the farm�s toms. An inexperienced first-time mum, she gave birth under a tree in the middle of a rainstorm one night. Linda heard strange noises and took a torch outside to find Curly fiercely staving off barking dogs while straddling her newborn babies. Linda put the kittens into her pockets and took them into the warmth of a barn to make them a nest in the hay. The next day when Linda was able to look at them in daylight she realised that all five kittens had the same appearance as their mother had at birth. All five were male and grew up to have the same soft curls. None of the five were neutered and their breeding activity led to many more curly coated kittens being born.  Linda found herself with a growing colony of unusual rex cats which included long and short coats and (thanks to the input somewhere along the way of a local cat who had a Siamese mother) chocolate and colourpoints too.  It was only when people started commenting on her odd cats and asking what they were that she did some research and realized that she had some kind of rex.  She took some cats to a show to ask for feedback and was told by exhibitors, breeders and judges that she had something very special. Several key people in the USA cat fancies gave her their support and the breed has grown and become a well established championship breed in the States with breeding programmes in many other countries around the world.
After birth the kittens can go through several stages of coat development. Many will stay as they were when born but often they will drop their coats either entirely or in part. Such "moulting" generally produces a denser coat when it comes back in. Occasionally one will drop the coat and stay bald or maintain only a sparse coat.  The kittens born bald will generally grow a curly coat with age. The coat continues to develop for up to 3 years and will have varying degrees of curl. The coat is low maintenance with little tendency to mat and little shedding compared to other breeds. The coat is the breed�s most distinctive feature; it is unique and does not feel like the coat of any other breed.  There is also a tendency for this breed to cause fewer allergies in humans than with other breeds, probably due to fewer guard hairs.
Although the look of each kitten varies, one thing always remains the same: the great personality of this new breed. Even the occasional straight-haired kitten is blessed with it, which makes finding good homes for them very easy.  The LaPerm is still a young breed but is rapidly gaining in popularity around the world.  Breeders often use the initials BC, BS or BB in their kittens� names; these stand for, Born Curly and Born Straight or Born Bald. Those kittens like Curly who are born bald, then develop a curly coat, have become rarer as the breed has progressed.
LaPerms are gentle, friendly and affectionate but also very active. They seek human contact and purr as soon as they become aware of your presence. These cats are face lovers; they will reach for your face with their paws and rub their faces against your head, neck and face. They love being kissed and will kiss back. They beg to be held, drooped over a shoulder or cradled in your arms while resting on their backs.  However, they are not lazy and are inquisitive in nature and will even learn to fetch as well as many other tricks. They are generally quiet-voiced but may be vocal when wanting attention and they do like lots of attention and cuddles. Being a working cat on the farm, they are excellent hunters, as well as gentle companions. They adapt well to apartment living because of their strong bonding instinct.  Unlike many active breeds, the LaPerm is also quite content to be a lap cat. The LaPerm will often follow your lead, that is if they are busy playing and you decide to sit and relax, simply pick up your LaPerm and sit down with it and it will stay on your lap, devouring the attention you give it. LaPerms seek human contact and will purr as soon as they become aware of your presence. They are inquisitive by nature and always want to know what is going on around them.  The breed has captivated nearly everyone who has the opportunity of seeing one.
The first LaPerm in the UK was Uluru BC Omaste Po of Quincunx, a lilac tortie and white Longhair who was bred in the USA. She was imported by Anthony Nichols using the Pet Passport in May 2002 after a stop-over with a LaPerm breeder in Holland. She arrived pregnant and gave birth to a litter of five kittens shortly after who were used as the foundation stock for the UK breeding programme. The UK is the home of the LaPerm Cat Club. The breed has made solid progress within the GCCF.

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