The Selkirk Rex is a housecat with a curly coat. As noted by the International Cat Association (TICA), the breed standard calls for a dense but soft coat with curling being most pronounced around the tail and neck areas. Even the whiskers are curly.
History of the Selkirk
What some experts describe as a spontaneous mutation of a dominant gene, the Selkirk Rex Breed Council puts in much more flowery language. According to recent history, the original mama cat was a Montana housecat named Miss DePesto. Its mother was a feral cat. Initially, adopting out this cat was difficult because of its demanding behavior. Yet because of the unusually curly coat, little Miss DePesto eventually found a home.
After breeding the cat with a Persian feline, three out of six kittens featured amazingly curly hair and were subsequently known as the first litter of Selkirk Rex cats. It is quite possible for curly-haired kittens to be born alongside straight-haired litter mates. In addition, there are long-hair and short-hair versions of this mutation. The breed attended its first cat show in 1990.
Breed Basics and Standards
Selkirk cats ideally are considered medium large with a heavy build. They lack the dainty appearance of small short hairs. Naturally inquisitive, owners intending to show the animals can capitalize on this temperament when grooming the cats. Even as point scores vary between different show organizations, by and large the standards are similar. The Cat Fanciers’ Association has compiled them in a convenient list. They include:
- Eyes. The eyes should be round – as opposed to oval – and large.
- Muzzle. Of a medium width, the muzzle should be proportionally short, squarer than round and present with the telltale curly whiskers.
- Toes. The Selkirk Rex should have five toes in the front and four in the back.
Is This the Breed for You?
The CFA is quite clear in stating that “this breed is not for the uptight organized pet owner.” This obviously has to do with the maintenance that is required for keeping the coat in silky smooth condition. In fact, these cats are reputed to be overall patient and tolerant but with a bit of a playfully inquisitive streak.
Even though the different Rex Cat breeds have found plenty of aficionados, the Selkirk is not for everyone. These animals are not hypoallergenic and a person with pet allergies will not do well with this type of Rex.
Health Issues the Selkirk Can Experience
Kittycat Magazine warns that improper breeding leads to tear duct kinks, which in turn result in highly visible tear runs. This Selkirk Rex tear duct issue makes them less desirable. It is not unheard of for these animals to enter shelters as being undesirable for breeders.
Another problem that seems to affect the Selkirk more frequently is an unusual increase in ear wax production. HiCats explains that this is due to ear canal irritation caused by curly fur.
If the animal carries two copies of the Selkirk gene, the animal may also develop a perpetual “greasiness” of the coat. This problem amplifies if the animal is obese and cannot properly clean itself. Owners must commit to take on these hygiene issues with proper grooming and possibly also bathing.