Section 4 – FOREIGN – Group 2
A rare delight, the LaPerm is one of the newer breeds in the UK. These charming friendly cats have an elegant athletic build and are hardy, healthy and suitable for a range of owners and households. Their most striking feature is their soft coat of shaggy waves, curls and ringlets which is easy to care for, comes in a wide range of colours and feels delightful to touch.
The LaPerm was born in the 80s when shaggy perms were all the rage. Linda & Dick Koehl from The Dalles, in Oregon owned a cherry farm and had a number of working farm cats, one of whom gave birth to a curly-coated kitten, appropriately named Curly. Curly’s coat was caused by a new dominant gene, which she passed on to her own offspring on the farm. Over the course of a few years a whole colony of curly-coated cats developed among the cherry trees before the Koehls made contact with people in the cat fancy and a formal pedigree breeding programme was developed. The name LaPerm was chosen to reflect the cats’ perm-like coats and echoes the local Native American trade language, Chinook Wawa, which absorbed French words, including their definite articles, into its lexicon. The first LaPerms in the UK arrived in 2002 and full championship recognition was granted by the GCCF in 2012.
The LaPerm is a moderate cat with no extremes, but whose curly coat gives them a unique and striking look. They have a muscular, semi-foreign body with longish legs and neck. Their heads are wedge-shaped with a broad muzzle and medium-large flared ears set to follow the line of the wedge. Their almond-shaped eyes are medium-large and expressive. All colours and patterns are permitted and some beautiful combinations are seen. Both long and short haired varieties are bred and the soft coats have a unique texture. It is soft and inviting, but not silky, having a texture more like mohair or lambswool. It should be light and springy, standing away from the body. There are waves or curls throughout the coat, sometimes turning into ringlets in longer areas, such as the ruff. The shorthaired coat can have a more textured feel, standing out from the body with waves, including on the tail, which can look like a bottlebrush.
LaPerms are affectionate and devoted to their owners. They enjoy interacting with their families and like to join in with whatever is going on. Even quite young kittens will seek out human companionship and enjoy cuddling up on a lap. They are also playful and enjoy interactive games with humans or other cats.
The LaPerm is an active intelligent cat and requires stimulus and exercise. Particularly fond of heights your pet would enjoy a high cat activity centre. LaPerm coats do not shed a great deal but occasional grooming will help to keep them in tip top condition. A few LaPerms have been known to have very heavy moults, but their coats normally grow back in, often coming back softer and curlier.
There are no breed-specific health problems known in the LaPerm breed and breeders have used outcrossing to ensure that there is a wide and healthy gene pool. Any cats used for outcrossing should be healthy and undergo DNA testing for any appropriate genetic diseases.