LaPerm: Cat Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

A close-up of a LaPerm cat

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Also known as the Dalles LaPerm, the LaPerm is a newer breed with a relatively short history. In fact, the first known LaPerm litter was born in 1982.

Perhaps best known for its distinctive appearance, the LaPerm has tightly curled hair around the neck ruff, ears, and tail, and a fluffy, bottle brush-shaped tail. Because the LaPerm is the result of a genetic mutation (more on that later), LaPerms can come in every color and coat pattern, but are most often ginger, tabby, or tortoiseshell.

LaPerms can be extremely affectionate with their close family members, and can thrive in a household with or without children or other pets. Because the LaPerm originated from barn cats, they're very active cats with higher exercise and play needs—and they especially love a good game of chase. Despite their higher activity levels, LaPerms are happy to cuddle up on the couch after a good play session.

Aside from their high exercise needs, LaPerms are relatively low maintenance. It's rare for a LaPerm to vocalize; they have very low shedding levels; and they're easy to groom, making the LaPerm a good choice for first-time cat owners.

Breed Overview

Weight: Between 6 and 12 pounds

Length: Between 12 and 18 inches

Coat: Very soft and somewhat long with tight curls or waves

Coat Color: Every coat color and pattern; the most common colors are ginger, tabby, and tortoiseshell

Eye Color: A wide variety of colors, including copper, gold, yellow, aqua, blue, or green

Life Expectancy: 10 to 15 years

Characteristics of the LaPerm

Affection Level Medium to High
Friendliness Medium to High
Kid-Friendly Medium to High
Pet-Friendly Medium to High
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Vocalize Low
Amount of Shedding Low

History of the LaPerm

Although the LaPerm has a relatively short history, the origin story is fascinating. In 1982, in a cherry orchard in The Dalles, Oregon, owners of a brown tabby barn cat named Speedy noticed an interesting trait in one of her six kittens: She was completely bald, unlike her soft, brown siblings. Plus, she was small in size, but had a long body.

After about eight weeks, the kitten started to grow soft, wavy hair all over her body. A clear choice, she was named Curly. After Curly had matured—and the owners got to know her sweet, docile personality—she had a litter of five tabby kittens. Those kittens, too, were born completely bald, but developed soft, curly coats a few months after birth.

Over the next decade, the owners, Linda and Richard Koehl, didn't control Curly's breeding or track any of the litters produced—so the number of curly haired kittens increased rapidly.

In 1992, Linda entered one of her curly haired cats into a Cat Fanciers Association show in Portland, Oregon. The show required a breed name for registration, so Linda registered LaPerm—because the cats' coats look like they have a permanent wave. After the show, Linda started a monitored breeding program to better track the development of LaPerm cats, and to gain recognition from the world's largest cat associations.

Today, the LaPerm cat is recognized by the American Cat Fancier's Association, the Cat Fancier's Association, and the International Cat Association.

LaPerm Care

Although the LaPerm has a somewhat long, curly coat, grooming needs are fairly low. As long as you brush her coat one to three times per week, she's unlikely to develop mats or tangles. If your LaPerm's coat is very long, however, you can expect to comb her more frequently.

LaPerms don't shed very much, and you can reduce shedding further by brushing regularly. On the off-chance she does develop a mat or tangle, gently comb it out with a slicker brush or greyhound comb.

If your LaPerm's curls need a boost, mist her coat with water from a spray bottle and gently scrunch the curls with your hands.

In any cat, dental hygiene is extremely important—and can help prevent the development of periodontal disease. Daily brushing is always ideal, but if you can brush your LaPerm's teeth once a week, it can offer some protection.

Be sure to check your LaPerm's ears regularly, using a soft, cotton cloth to gently remove dirt or debris. If your cat's ears are excessively dirty, red, inflamed, or smell funny, get them checked out by your veterinarian immediately. These can be signs of injury or infection.

Because the LaPerm descends from highly active barn cats, they have higher exercise needs. Keeping your cat entertained with cat toys will keep him exercised and engaged. LaPerms love to chase, so games like fetch can be especially fun for your cat.

Common Health Problems

Although the LaPerm is generally healthy, there's no guarantee he won't develop certain health conditions during his lifetime. Because the LaPerm has a larger genetic pool, your cat may be less susceptible to certain genetic conditions.

If you're concerned about your LaPerm's health, talk to your veterinarian about ways to help your LaPerm live a long, happy, healthy life.

Diet and Nutrition

Your LaPerm's diet will depend largely on its sex, age, and activity levels, but generally, your cat should eat high quality, portion-controlled, dry cat food. Wet cat food can make a good treat—or an alternative if you run out of dry food—but it's important to note that cats whose diets consist mostly of wet food may require more dental care. Dry food can help keep the teeth and gums cleaner, and remove plaque from the surface of the teeth.

Where to Adopt or Buy a LaPerm

If you're looking to buy a LaPerm cat, conduct extensive research on local breeders to ensure the person you're working with is ethical and working to maintain breed standards and health. Ask him or her lots of questions about the parents, litters, and conditions in which the cats are bred.

It may be difficult to find a LaPerm at your local shelter, but search for rescue organizations in your area. You can also use sites like PetFinder.com to search for adoptable cats by breed.

More Cat Breeds and Further Research

Before bringing any cat home, be sure to do your research and make sure the cat's needs fit your family's lifestyle. Because the LaPerm is generally low maintenance and can get along with kids and other pets, it would make an ideal cat for a first time owner.

If you're interested in breeds similar to the LaPerm, check out: