The LaPerm cat is a newer breed with a relatively short history. In fact, the first known LaPerm litter was born in 1982 in the United States. Perhaps best known for its distinctive appearance, the LaPerm has gently wavy to tightly curled hair, which can be short or long. Because the LaPerm is the result of a natural genetic mutation, LaPerms can come in every color and coat pattern.
LaPerms tend to be extremely affectionate with their close family members and 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, and they do more purring than vocalizing.
Other Names: Dalles LaPerm
Personality: Active, friendly, curious, affectionate, and playful
Weight: Between 6 and 10 pounds
Length: Between 12 and 18 inches
Coat Length: Can have short hair or long hair
Coat Color: Any genetically possible color of coat
Coat Patterns: Any genetically possible coat pattern, including solid, tabby, calico, or tortoiseshell
Eye Color: A wide variety of colors, including copper, gold, yellow, aqua, blue, or green
Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years
Origin: United States
The LaPerm is a medium-sized cat that takes two to three years to reach full maturity. It's known best for its coat, which is generally wavy in short-haired LaPerms and curly in longer haired cats. Either way, the LaPerm has a very outgoing personality. This is a cat that loves to interact and play with its humans, both children and adult, before settling down for a good purr and a cuddle on the nearest lap. It generally gets along with other family pets, as well.
|Kid-Friendly||Medium to High|
|Pet-Friendly||Medium to 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 its six kittens: It was completely bald, unlike its soft, brown siblings. Plus, it was small in size, but had a long body.
After about eight weeks, the kitten started to grow soft, wavy hair all over its body. Not surprisingly, it was named Curly. After Curly had matured—and the owners got to know its sweet, docile personality—it 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 six 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 Fanciers Association, the Cat Fanciers' Association, and the International Cat Association.
Thanks to their minimal undercoat and curly hair that tends to stick to the body rather than drop to the floor, LaPerms don't shed very much, although they are not truly hypoallergenic cats. You can reduce shedding further by brushing your feline regularly. On the off-chance it does develop a mat or tangle—which is unusual even in the long-haired LaPerms—gently comb it out with a slicker brush or comb.
If your LaPerm's curls need a boost, mist its coat with water from a spray bottle and gently scrunch the curls with your hands to add wave and encourage more curls.
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 off, 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 than some other cat breeds. Keeping your cat entertained with cat toys, such as crinkle balls, catnip mice, ribbon-wand "cat dancers," or electronic cat toys will keep it exercised and engaged when you don't have time for one-on-one interactions. LaPerms love to chase, so games like fetch can be especially fun for your cat.
Common Health Problems
The LaPerm is generally a healthy cat, with no tendencies towards any particular health conditions or illnesses. However, any cat can potentially develop health problems during its lifetime, and the LaPerm is no exception.
If you're concerned about your LaPerm's health, talk to your veterinarian about ways to help your cat live a long, happy, healthy life.
In terms of size and shape, the LaPerm is a medium-sized cat with a somewhat athletic build and long legs relative to their size. But it's the coat that makes this breed special; these cats have wavy to curly hair.
Surprisingly, it is not uncommon for a LaPerm kitten to be born without any fur at all, however. Others have short hair at birth, but lose their coats within their first few weeks, starting at the top of the head. Over the next several months, the kitten grows its coat back in, and even a bald-at-birth LaPerm will generally sport a curly coat by the time it is several months old.
The fur of a LaPerm is generally curliest along the cat's belly, at the throat, and at the base of its ears. Short-haired LaPerms usually have more wave, while long-haired LaPerms can boast tighter ringlets and curls. Long-haired LaPerms also generally have a large, curly neck ruff and a very fluffy, plumed tail.
Both long-haired and short-haired LaPerms generally have coats that stand slightly away from their bodies, giving the cat a fluffy, airy appearance. Their hair is soft and springy and doesn't tend to shed excessively. But these are not considered truly hypoallergenic cats.
When it comes to color, anything goes. Your LaPerm cat can have fur in any color or pattern that is genetically possible for cats, including solid, bi-color, tabby, calico, "tuxedo," tortoiseshell, or even colored "points" on the ears, face, and tail that are typically a trait of the Siamese cat.
As with the coat, a LaPerm's eye color can be any shade that's normally found in cats, including amber, green, brown, copper, blue, or eyes of two different colors.
Diet and Nutrition
Like all cats your LaPerm requires a diet that's high in protein, low in carbohydrates, and moderate in fat. Feeding your feline a high-quality cat food that's formulated for its age is the best way to keep your cat healthy. Be wary of overfeeding, however. Some cats regulate their food intake to maintain a healthy weight, but others feast until the bowl is empty, and can become overweight, which is bad for their health.
Most adult cats do well with two meals per day. Kittens need to eat more often, but in smaller amounts per meal. Your cat can enjoy a diet of all canned food, all kibble, or a mixture of both.
Occasional treats are fun for both you and your cat, but don't let them make up too much of your cat's daily calorie intake. As a very rough rule of thumb, a healthy, adult 10-pound cat should consume around 250 calories per day.
Where to Adopt or Buy a LaPerm
As LaPerms are not very common, you are unlikely to find one at a rescue or shelter. In fact, there might not be any LaPerm breeders in your area at all. But you might have success finding a breeder at a cat show, especially in a larger city. Another option is checking the breeder listings on the major cat association websites, such as The International Cat Association.
The LaPerm is a very active, curious, and friendly cat that can be a wonderful pet for a family with children, a single adult, or anyone looking for a feline that loves interaction and cuddles, but also enjoys active play. Its curly coat is definitely an attention getter, but these cats also offer a great deal of companionship and affection to their humans.
Generally healthy breed
Active and affectionate
High activity needs
Can get bored if left alone for long stretches
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. However, these cats are not easy to find.
If you're interested in breeds somewhat similar to the LaPerm, check out:
- The Cornish Rex
- The American Curl
- The Ragamuffin
Otherwise, check out all of our other cat breed profiles.
Are LaPerm cats expensive?
A purebred LaPerm can cost several hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, depending on the breeder, the cat's pedigree, and the area in which the breeder is located. These cats are rarely found in shelters or rescues, but you might be lucky if you are persistent. Adoption fees from shelters can be as little as $25 or as much as a few hundred dollars.
Are LaPerm cats hypoallergenic?
While it is true that LaPerms don't tend to shed as much as many other breeds, they are not considered a hypoallergenic cat.
Are LaPerms friendly cats?
Most LaPerm cats have very sociable, friendly personalities. They love to interact with their humans, and are very curious and outgoing. These cats need a lot of attention, playtime, stimulation, and opportunities for petting and cuddling.