5 Things to Know About American Curls

American Curls adapt to new situations, pets and people quickly, and they are known to follow their people around just as a dog would.

1. Key Characteristics

  • Weight: 5–12 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 12–20 years

The American Curl is a medium-sized cat with unique curled ears that give the cat an alert appearance.

The ears are not curled at birth but begin curling within 3–5 days. The ears complete their transformations in about 16 weeks, and the curl can vary from almost straight to having a curl with an angle of 90–180 degrees.


The body is rectangular in shape with a rounded head and walnut-shaped eyes. The coat can be short or long, although both varieties are soft and silky with very little undercoat.

The coat patterns and colors can vary, and the longhaired version has a large, plumed tail.

2. Where They Came From

The American Curl is native to North America and was discovered in 1981 in California after a stray kitten with a long, black coat and curled ears appeared on the doorstep of Joe and Grace Ruga.

They named her Shulamith, and a few months later, she had her first litter.

Two of the 4 offspring had the same curled ears as the mother, and the breed was established. All of the American Curls trace back to Shulamith.

Fun fact: Feline geneticist Roy Robinson analyzed 383 American Curl kittens and found the ear-curling gene to be dominant — any cat with just 1 copy of the gene will have curled ears. A cross with 2 American Curls will produce 100% curled-ear kittens. An American Curl crossed with another cat will produce 50% curled-ear kittens.

The ear-curling gene in these cats is dominant. By: Eric Isselee (Top: Eugene Sergeev)

3. How Friendly Are They?

Curls are affectionate, curious and intelligent. They act like kittens well into their adulthood, and thus are nicknamed the Peter Pans of the cat world.


They adjust very quickly to other animals, children and situations. They have a tendency to follow their humans around as a dog would.

Curls are not overly talkative or noisy cats, but they are known to communicate through their trills. This cat breed is very people-oriented and can be clingy.

4. Is This the Right Cat for You?

Exercise Needs


LOW: American Curls do not have specific exercise needs beyond those of regular cats. They are usually active and love to play with toys. Keep yours indoors to avoid injury to them or to keep them from straying away from home.

If you notice weight gain, it’s a good idea to have the cat checked out by a veterinarian as well as review the quality of the cat food you provide. Contact your veterinarian if you notice a decrease in activity or mobility; this could be a sign of a health problem.

Grooming Needs


MEDIUM: Weekly brushing should be done for both coat varieties, although the longhaired coat may require slightly more grooming. Since the undercoat is light, shedding is minimal.

Cats should have their teeth cleaned daily and nails clipped as needed.

The ears should be checked for drainage and debris; clean as needed. But be careful not to bend the ears too much — although they are curled, they are not soft and may not bend easily.

Health Problems


LOW: The breed is free from defects and does not have any notable health problems other than those affecting all breeds of cats.

The only noted possibility of a health concern is to do with the breed’s ear canals.

Check out the American Curl here:

5. Where to Adopt One

Purebred cats can end up in rescues and shelters and regularly do. Please check adoption resources first or start with our adoptable search.

If you choose to go to a breeder, make sure you get to know them, their facilities and beware of the warning signs that the breeder is running a kitten mill (a puppy mill, but with kittens — they do exist).

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