American Curl: Peter Pan from Kittyland

Studio image of an American curl cat sitting
Steve Corelli
Written by Steve Corelli

You will agree that temperament, physical traits, adaptability, maintenance, and health tendencies are what really matters when deciding on a cat breed. But at the same time, you also want to adopt a cat that draws you in appearance-wise. It’s totally understandable, but does a cat breed that’s both physically attractive and easy to take care of at the same time really exist? They do, and the one we’d like to discuss today is the American Curl.

The American Curl is a cat breed that’s intelligent, affectionate, sweet, and friendly. They will fit right into your household—as long as you don’t mind providing tall perching spots for them because these are energetic and high-flying cats whose paws hardly ever touch the ground. The American Curl is also physically striking with an exotic look attributed to their unique curly ears.

Studio image of an American curl cat sitting

We aim to present the characteristic ratio, important highlights, personality, grooming, and the general care features of this unique breed in this article. We will also highlight the matters of feeding schedule and potential health challenges of the American Curl.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: High
  • Grooming: Moderate
  • Health: Good
  • All Around Friendliness: Above Average; friendly, but not lap cats
  • Exercise Needs: Above Average
Cat Breed GroupShort-Haired, Natural Breed
SizeSmall to Medium
WeightMales: 7 - 12 pounds

Females: 5 - 8 pounds
Lifespan12 - 16 years

The American Curl is a small to medium-sized cat that was born out of natural genetic mutation in 1981. Their name was inspired by the unique nature of their ears which curl backward. The breed was fully recognized in 1993 by the Cat Fanciers Association. The cat breed is accepted in any color or pattern.

The ear curl ranges from 90 to 180 degrees without touching the skull. The tips are moderate and flexible; however, the base is as stiff and hard as the human ear. As kittens, the ears can curl and uncurl at different times, but by the fourth month, they would retain their permanent shape. The American Curl has different eye colors that can come in amber, aqua, blue, copper, hazel, orange, yellow, or odd-eyed.

Close-up image of an american curlhed

Their silky coat can be either long or short, and it comes in various colors and patterns. They weigh as heavy as 12 pounds and stand as tall as 12 inches. The American Curl is striking to look at, affectionate by nature, and smart. They love kids and can live with other household pets.

The American Curl is generally healthy because of their large genetic pool. They can live up to 16 years with proper care and a healthy diet. They crave companionship from both humans and other pets.

It is advisable that you get your American Curl at a registered breeder or a pet store with a good reputation. If you are getting one from a friend’s litter, it will be great if you can find out the health history of the parents before committing.

Main Highlights

  • The ears are the signature feature of this cat breed and what they were named after.
  • The curled ears must not touch the back of their head. They should be between 90 and 180 degrees to be accepted
  • Kittens are born with straight ears at birth, which later curl up within forty-eight hours of birth.
  • The American Curl reaches full maturity at 2 to 3 years of age.
  • The breed comes in different colors and patterns. As long as the cat retains the signature ears, they are acknowledged as an American Curl.
  • The breed was created as a result of a natural genetic mutation in 1981.
  • The American Curl cat is family-oriented, sweet-natured, intelligent, and can be easily groomed.
  • The American Curl is essentially an indoor cat.
  • There are commonly three to five kittens in a litter.
  • The American Curl is seldom found in the United Kingdom and is not recognized by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy.
  • The American Curl enjoys companionship. They are sociable and get along well with both humans and other pets in the household.

Breed History

In Lakewood, California in 1981, a stray black kitten found her way to the doorstep of Joe and Grace Rugas. They found the kitten unusual and unique because she had ears curled towards the center of the skull. She also had a long, silky coat—giving her an attractive appearance.

The Rugas named her Shulamith—a name that means “black and comely,” reminiscent of a princess in the book of Songs of Solomon in the Bible. Shulamith grew and had her own litter of four; the father was unknown as it was not an intentional breeding. Two of the kittens carried their mother’s unique curled-back ears. This indicated that a dominant gene was responsible for the ears.

American_Curl kitten sitting

In 1983, selective breeding began. Although they do not exhibit the curled-ears trait themselves, they do carry the gene; thus, straight-eared kittens of the American Curl litter are used to continue the breeding process or are given up to be adopted as pets.

Officially in 1986, the breed was named the American Curl and registered in the Cat Fanciers Association. By 1987, the breed had gained the recognition of the International Cat Association. Although the American Curl is a recent breed, today you can find them across the world—in the United States of America, Spain, Japan, France, Russia, and other parts of the world


The American Curl cat is a small to medium-sized breed. The cat can be as small as 4 pounds, but usually, males weigh between 7 and 12 pounds while females weigh between 5 and 8 pounds. Both genders are muscular with a long body when compared to their rather small head. They have a straight tail which can be furry and full in the long-haired variety. Their wedge-shaped head carries walnut-shaped eyes.

Personality and Character

The American Curl is a happy cat that retains their kitten-like characteristics of fun loving, innocence, and sociability well into their ripe old age. Highly intelligent, the American Curl loves brain games that will challenge them. They can also be found eagerly joining a game of fetch—just as easily as a dog will.

American Curl cat personality is affectionate, and as such, they fit well into family life and can easily interact with both adults and kids. The American Curl also allows strangers to touch them.

Studio image of a beautiful American Curl

These cats are curious and interested in both people and things. The American curl will sometimes get vocal; they are overall a lively cat. They are not one to be content sitting in a lap, but will go sticking their nose into where there is activity. They enjoy spending time with their owner and shouldn’t be left alone for long periods of time.

Health and Potential Problems

The American Curl is generally healthy and is not known to commonly develop any major health problems. It is, however, important to get your cat from a registered breeder who ensures that each litter receives the appropriate inoculations. You can also request a written health guarantee during purchase.

Due to their uniquely-shaped ears, they tend to have exceedingly narrow ear canals. This can lead to wax buildup or other ear infections. Therefore, ear care is something that the owner of an American Curl must pay close attention to. Take them to the vet for proper checkup, treatments, and medications at the first sign of an ear infection.

American Curl kitten sitting in bed

They should be kept in a clean environment and with a clean litter box to prevent them being exposed to common health problems that may arise as a result of poor hygiene. Like any other cat breed, the American curl can become obese if not kept on an appropriate feeding schedule or is given treats and sweets too often.

Care Features

The American Curl is called the Peter Pan of cats because they love to soar from the top of one perching spot to another. You should provide cat trees or shelves for them to indulge their natural instinct of leaping and climbing. Multilevel cat towers with dangling toys and mouse can help keep them active, agile, and well exercised.

American-Curl cat sitting with her head on the ground

Ensure you keep your furry ball indoors to keep them from coming to harm. Keeping your cat indoors will protect them from larger animals or predators, especially if you live in the countryside. Indoor cats generally live a lot longer than cats that are allowed outdoors; as your American Curl isn’t the type of cat that can’t stand being kept strictly indoors, you should take advantage of this trait of theirs.

Never play with your American Curl’s ears. This could cause damage to the fragile cartilages. If you observe any kind of infection, quickly consult the veterinarian.

Feeding Schedule

American Curl cats need a lot of meat, protein, and fat. You should not feed them food that is too rich in carbohydrates or give them the same food that you feed your dog since they could quickly get obese. It is important to follow through on feeding them a healthy diet.

Premium protein from natural sources such as cuts of meat should be given once or twice daily. Beneficial fats can be found in the gravy that comes in canned cat foods. The optimum feeding schedule would depend on the weight of your cat and their life stage. Sweets and treats can occasionally be given when you want to reward your Curl, but not too often.

Close-up image of an American-Curl cat

The American Curl loves to eat throughout the day; it is advisable to put food out where it will always be accessible, but limit the quantity and only refill when it’s time for their next portion. Ration the food by giving half in the morning and the other half later in the evening.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

One noteworthy characteristic of the American Curl’s coat is that it is silky. Either short-haired or semi-longhaired, Curls have their coat lying flat against their body—making it easy to groom. Long-haired cats should be brushed twice or thrice a week using a rotating soft brush. This is to ensure that you go through the length of the hair properly to prevent the coat from harboring fleas or ticks.

Using the right brush for long-haired cats would also ensure that you get out all the loose hair. For short-haired American Curls, a regular weekly brushing session will help the coat maintain its silky texture.

An American Curl cat with incredible back curled ears and green eyes

No specific color or pattern is associated with the American Curl. You can find them in white, blue, black, red, cream chocolate, silver, lilac, brown, buttercream, tortoiseshell, and gold. In terms of the pattern, you will find an array of bi-color, tortoiseshell, stripes, calico, points, shaded, smoke, tabby, and solids.

Regular nail trimming is needed; also, their teeth should be brushed with toothpaste designed for cats daily or twice weekly. Baths can be given when needed, and it is advisable to have it done professionally to prevent water from getting into the ears. Their eye discharge can be wiped with a damp cloth.

Their ears should be checked every week and cleaned with cotton balls or damp cloth when it is visibly dirty. Do not go digging for dirt in the internal canals. The grooming routine should be started early so that your American Curl will grow used to it.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

The American Curl enjoys the company of children, as long as they are shown the appropriate amount of care and respect. Younger kids like toddlers should be supervised so that they do not cause injury to the cat’s ears when they pull on it innocently. The American Curl does not exhibit aggression towards other household pets and cat-friendly dogs. The two of them should be introduced in a controlled environment to ensure that they get along well.

Wrap Up

In conclusion, the American Curl is a lovable, lively, and intelligent furball. This cat breed will attract stares everywhere they go because of their extraordinary ears. They require moderate grooming. These cats are quite active, and they especially enjoy climbing to high places.

American-Curl cat sitting

The American Curl is endearing, and they can adapt well to any kind of family structure—single, married without children, or even a big family with kids, cats, and dogs. You don’t have to worry about spending too much on medical costs with this cat breed.

Are you into energetic cat breeds that have a personality as quirky as their curly ears? If you’re really into one-of-a-kind cats, we would also like to suggest to you another cat breed that’s not just curly-eared, but also hairless and diminutive. We encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

About the author
Steve Corelli
Steve Corelli

Steve Corelli is a Pet Nutrition Expert from Allentown, Pennsylvania. He is the author of many nutritional strategies for different breeds and a member of some Pet Food development teams. His Maine Coon Stephan, as you might guess, is always well-fed.