5 Things to Know About Selkirk Rex Cats

These cats originated in Montana in 1987 and have unique curly coats.

Although they can be a bit pushy when they want attention, Selkirk Rex cats are generally sweet and easygoing. By: isselee
Although they can be pushy when they want attention, Selkirk Rex cats are generally easygoing. By: isselee

1. Key Characteristics

  • Height: 9–11 inches
  • Weight: 9–16 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 15 years

Selkirk Rex cats are muscular with a rectangular body and long legs.

They have round heads with a flat space between the ears. The eyes are big and round with a sweet expression.

The dense coat, which consists of 3 layers, can be short or long and come in a variety of colors. It is soft with loose, natural curls. The curliest spots include the stomach, neck and flanks.

Kittens born with the dominant curly gene can be identified by their curly whiskers, a trait they keep into adulthood.

2. Where They Came From

The Selkirk Rex breed originated in Montana in 1987.

A cat gave birth to a litter of 5 kittens, and 1 kitten had different characteristics from the rest. The kitten was given to Jeri Newman, a Persian breeder, who named her Miss DePesto. Newman chose the name because the kitten pestered humans when she wanted attention.

Newman later mated Miss DePesto with one of her Persians, a black male named Ch. Photo Finish of Deekay. The resulting litter contained 6 kittens, 3 of whom had Miss DePesto’s signature curl — evidence that the gene for the curl was dominant and that it was different from the recessive gene found in the Cornish Rex and Devon Rex.

The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) added the breed to its Miscellaneous Class in 1992.

The International Cat Association had added the breed to its New Breed program earlier in 1990 and later awarded the breed full championship recognition in 1994.

PolloSelkirkRex
Selkirk Rex cats are known for their curly manes. By: Ciaccia

3. How Friendly Are They?

Loving, patient and playful is how people describe their Selkirk Rex friends. The cats are also known for demanding attention, but they are generally relaxed and laid-back.

They are good with children and also tolerant of being handled and held.

4. Is This the Right Cat for You?

Exercise Needs

Medium

MEDIUM: They are playful but will sleep a lot, as most cats do. Their long legs require areas in which the cats can jump, bound and leap, so consider getting your Selkirk Rex a tower to stimulate their body and mind.

You should keep your Selkirk Rex indoors. The breed’s easygoing personality makes these cats easy prey for thieves, plus it’s important to consider other dangers, such as disease or being struck by a car.

Grooming Needs

Low

LOW: Although you should expect to do routine grooming such as nail trimming and cleaning the ears, the coat won’t need much maintenance.

According to the CFA, brushing a short or long coat on a Selkirk Rex “should not be as frequent if the curly coat is to be maintained.”

When it comes to hygiene, keep the litter box as clean as possible every day — the Selkirk Rex is no different from other cats who constantly clean themselves.

Health Problems

Low

LOW: Selkirk Rex cats are generally healthy with no notable genetic health conditions.

However, they are susceptible to common ailments that affect all cats, such as kidney problems.

Too cute! Even the whiskers are curly on these Selkirk Rex kittens:

5. Where to Adopt One

In an online search, we found only 5 available Selkirk Rex cats — purebred and mixed breeds.

Given that so few are available for adoption, you may want to check with local shelters and rescues first.

If you contact a breeder, be aware that kitten mills do exist. Keep your eyes open for signs that the cats and kittens are not receiving proper care.

Additional Resources

Kristine Lacoste

View posts by Kristine Lacoste
Kristine Lacoste, editor in chief of Petful, has been researching dog and cat breeds for nearly a decade and has observed the animals up close at dog shows in both the United States and the United Kingdom. She is the author of the book One Unforgettable Journey, which was nominated for a Maxwell Award from the Dog Writers Association of America, and was host of a weekly pet news segment on the National K-9 Academy Radio Show. In addition, she was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years. Kristine has researched and written about pet behaviors and care for many years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, another bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

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