In 1982, on an Oregon farm located near the ancient hunting and fishing grounds of the Wishram Indians, a litter of six kittens was born to a barn cat. One of the kittens was born completely bald – looking nothing like her mother or her littermates.
While the kitten had no hair, it did have large wide-spaced ears and blueprint pattern on her skin that mimicked a classic tabby pattern. Within eight weeks, the kitten began to grow very soft, curly hair.
At three to four months of age the kitten, now named “Curly,” had a full coat of curly hair. The LaPerm can sport anything from a wavy coat to ringlettype curls that range from tight ringlets to long corkscrew curls.
The tightest curls occur on the underside of the cat, on the throat area, and at the base of the ears. The longhair is generally blessed with a curly plumed tail and often exhibits a full, curly ruff. The coat is moderately soft in texture, yet each cat’s coat is distinctly unique.
The shorthair has more texture to the coat than does the longhaired variety. It does not have the ruff, has a “bottle-brush” type tail, and the coat generally stands away from the body, parting down the middle.
When undertaking outcross matings to non-pedigrees, reputable breeders seek out cats closely resembling the correct LaPerm body type with coats which are not overly thick.
This practice continues the use of the kind of cats which composed much of the original foundation stock for the breed and helps to maintain genetic health by using the widest gene pool available.
However, in some countries, such as the UK, it is illegal to sell the kittens from such matings as pedigrees because of the Trades Description Act 1968 through which it has been established that the legal definition of a pedigree cat in the UK is one with a fully recorded three-generation pedigree.
After outcrossing to a cat of unknown parentage, at least three generations must be bred to establish a full pedigree record. In Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) breeders used the Ocicatfor a two-year period, terminating on 1 May 2002; LaPerms registered during this period were permitted to have an Ocicat parent, and by extension, one or two Abyssinian grandparents, as the Abyssinian is an approved outcross of the Ocicat.
The easygoing but playful LaPerm is well suited to life with families with children and cat-friendly dogs. He can learn tricks, enjoys interactive toys, and loves the attention he receives from children who treat him politely and with respect.
Supervise young children and show them how to pet the cat nicely. Instead of holding or carrying the cat, have them sit on the floor and pet him.