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Selkirk Rex Cats: The Curly-Coated Wonders of the Feline World

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Selkirk Rex Cat

With an adorable curly coat reminiscent of a lamb’s wool, the Selkirk Rex captures hearts everywhere. This unique breed originated from a spontaneous mutation in a feral cat rescued in Montana cost only between $500- $800. Today, the Selkirk Rex remains relatively rare but makes an exceptional pet for the right owner.

In this extensive guide, you’ll learn all about this cat breed profile, history, traits, costs, grooming needs, and other essentials in determining if a short hair Selkirk Rex should join your family.

Selkirk Rex Characteristics and Key Traits

The Selkirk Rex stands apart thanks to its signature curly coat akin to that of a sheep. Beyond beautiful curls, here are the key features of this loving yet lively breed:

  • Body Type: Medium to large, sturdy yet elegant frame with a rounded torso. Muscular and heavier than appearance suggests.
  • Coat Length: Medium. The curly coat gives the illusion of short thick fur. Stubborn cowlicks frequently occur.
  • Coat Texture: Soft, plush curls. Denser during winter months but still soft, never harsh.
  • Coat Colors: Occur in a rainbow of colors/patterns although tabbies, calicos and black/smoke dominate.
  • Eyes: Round, large and expressive. Eye colors correspond with coat color.
  • Ears: Medium with rounded tips. Set on a flat plane slightly tilted forward.
  • Legs/Paws: Legs substantial to support sturdy body. Large rounded paws with tufted toes.

Beyond gorgeous spiraling fur, the Selkirk Rex has an endearing personality.

Selkirk Rex Cat Behavior and Temperament

Despite their glamorous good looks, Selkirk Rex kitties have playful, affectionate dispositions making them wonderful pets. Expect your curly companion to exhibit traits like:

  • Intelligent – Bright and responsive. Eagerly learns tricks. Easily trained.
  • Affectionate – Extremely attached to their families. Enthusiastic cuddlers.
  • Playful – Retain strong kitten-like qualities well into adulthood. Will initiate games and toys.
  • Adaptable – Generally accepting towards strangers and new situations thanks to friendly nature. Travels well.
  • Communicative – Uses an array of vocalizations beyond meowing. Loves “conversing.”
  • Curious – Must investigate anything new or interesting! Leave no closet or cupboard unexplored!

Above all, the Selkirk Rex breed bonds deeply and thrives on receiving ample attention and playtime with their special humans. Now let’s delve into the history behind these uncommon curly cats.

What is Behind History of the Selkirk Rex Cat Breed?

Unlike ancient naturally occurring breeds, the Selkirk Rex has a relatively short history spanning just a few decades. But the story of how these curly cuties came to be is rather fascinating.

The Origins of the Selkirk Rex Cat

The breed traces back to a particular curly-coated cat adopted by a Persian breeder named Jeri Newman in 1987. Here’s the cute yet quirky story of the first-ever Selkirk Rex:

Newman worked at an animal shelter in Big Fork, Montana when she came across an unusual young dilute tortoiseshell-and-white stray kitten with astubbornly curly coat brought in by some locals.

While the kitten seemed to be a typical mackerel tabby pattern colorwise, her unruly fur that stuck out in ringleted coils all over immediately caught Newman’s eye. She adopted the unusual feline, naming her Miss DePesto after a curly haired character on the TV show Moonlighting.

Later that year, Miss DePesto gave birth to a litter of six kittens. To Newman’s delight, three of the black kittens emerged with the same curly coated mutation as their mother. She reached out to feline genetic experts who determined that the cause behind Miss DePesto’s natural twisted fur was a spontaneous dominant gene mutation not previously recorded.

Armed with confirmation that this unique trait could be passed down reliably to offspring, Newman made it her mission to develop the curly coat into a recognized pedigree cat breed. And thus began the development journey of the Selkirk Rex!

Introducing the Selkirk Rex Breed

Intrigued by the possibility of establishing Miss DePesto’s exceptional locks as defining hallmarks of a new breed, Newman strategically outcrossed the curly coated felines to breeds like Persians and British Shorthairs over successive generations. These pairings introduced hybrid vigor and favorable conformation characteristics while still allowing the dominate curly fur attribute to shine through consistenly in resulting litters.

After several years of selective breeding and lobby, Newman successfully earned acceptance of her unique curly cats into cat fancy associations. In 1992, the Selkirk Rex breed got recognized by The International Cat Association. Soon after in 2000, the Cat Fanciers Association also granted championship status to the Selkirk Rex.

Today, Selkirk Rex cats remain among the more rare pedigree breeds globally. But their patient, affectionate temperaments and generally healthy genetic lines have steadily attracted more devotes over recent years.

While their glamorous looks may take top billing, the story behind the scenes of careful breed engineering required to set new breed standards should not get overlooked!

Achieving Breed Standards and Recognition

Developing guidelines for any new breed involves extensive research alongside trial and error while breeding toward an ideal. Let’s explore considerations that went into formalizing Selkirk Rex breed standards:

Appearance and Conformation

Formulating an envisioned look includes carefully assessing preferred proportions and angles of the head, limbs, and torso. Structural chronformation also gets evaluated through gauging muscular strength, flexibility, and posture.

For the Selkirk Rex, establishing a medium to large sized sturdy yet elegant cat emerged as breeding objectives. Resulting standards call for a firmly muscular yet agile body type with proportions falling within an accepted range.

Coat Texture Expectations

Naturally the coat took priority in breed descriptors given the mutation impetus behind the Selkirk Rex. Standards dictate a soft, plush coat that feels akin to lamb’s wool or pelted fur versus wired hair. The texture should curl in loose uniform waves rather than kinks or tight crimps.

Coat Colors and Patterns

Unlike some breeds that only recognize certain coat colors or marking patterns, the Selkirk Rex breed embraces coats of all colors and designs. No preferences exist for particular shades or stripes. This allows for a rainbow spectrum of Selkirk Rex beauties!

By outcrossing and then backcrossing to the desired curly coated cats over successive generations, Newman successfully set appearance and personality hallmarks that define the ideal Selkirk Rex today.

Now that you know the methodical mechanics behind developing this singular breed, let’s talk about their signature curly-haired coats.

Selkirk Rex Kitten
Selkirk Rex Cats: The Curly-Coated Wonders of the Feline World 1

What Makes the Selkirk Rex Coat So Unique?

The Selkirk Rex breed exists because of a spontaneous natural mutation causing a curly fur coat. But what exactly is happening scientifically to make their hair grow in those tight coils?

In Rex cat breeds, a dominant variant of the gene coding keratin production drives formation of curly or wavy fur shafts. Keratin serves as the structural protein that makes up the bulk of skin, nails, claws and hair in both felines and humans.

In Selkirk Rex specifically, their curly coats result from a distinct mutation affecting curvature of the keratin hair proteins as they assemble within the fur follicles during growth cycles.

Instead of forming smooth, straight hair strands like most cats, the keratinalignments in Selkirks favor binding in a curled pattern. This breeds permanent kinks or curls into each fur shaft, causing a sheep-like wave.

The whorls and cowlicks give a tousled, unkempt appearance regardless of length since both the outer guard layer and underlying downy coat gets impacted.

Under a microscope, Selkirk Rex fur shares a similar chemical composition to all cats. It’s merely the way those keratin proteins fasten together that makes the coils so singular.

Now that you have insight into why this breed sports permanent bedhead, let’s contrast them to other curly coated cats.

How Do Selkirk Rex Cats Compare to Other Rex Breed Types?

The family of Rex cats share mutation genes causing bent, crimped, or curled fur shafts. But differences between the Selkirk Rex versus Cornish Rex and Devon Rex go beyond meets the eye. Let’s explore distinctions:

Coat Texture and Feel

Selkirk coats have a plush, wooly density thanks to sturdy guard hairs surrounding fluffier undercoat. The springy curls feel akin to lamb’s fleece.

Whereas Cornish and Devon Rex feature almost entirely downy undercoat with few coarse protective guard hairs. Their thin coats expose more skin giving a velvety feel and releasing less dander.

Coat Appearance and Styling Ability

Both Cornish and Devons sport a short, sleek uniform curly coat easily molded into hip styles. But the coarser dual coat of Selkirks with longer guard hairs takes more freeform shape with frequent cowlicks.

Shedding and Grooming Needs

The Selkirk’s denser double coat requires more frequent combing to prevent matting and tangled fur during shedding cycles. Sparse single coated Cornish and Devons rarely mat and need only a soft cloth for grooming touch-ups.

Body Shape and Size

Selkirks present as medium-large cats with proportionally broad chests and rounded hips atop strong leg bones suited for supporting substantial muscular frames.

Whereas Cornish trend smaller with dainty heads and wispy whip-like tails. Devons also remain lightly built and diminutive thanks to their progenation from crossing Cornish Rex cats with stray domestic cats generations back.

Selkirk Rex Cats 2
Selkirk Rex Cats: The Curly-Coated Wonders of the Feline World 2

Breed Origins and Timelines

The Selkirk Rex began in 1987 from a spontaneous mutation in Miss DePesto.

By contrast, the Cornish Rex started in 1950 England when a curly coated kitten named Kirlee was born. The male cat then passed along that unusual fur gene when crossed with his mother.

The Devon Rex emerged in 1959 from a feral curly haired tomcat discovered living in an abandoned mine shaft in Devonshire, UK.

Hopefully these comparisons give clearer insight into similarities and differences separating the Selkirk Rex from other Rex types. Now back to more on this marvelous breed!

What are the Common Health Issues Facing Selkirk Rex Cats?

While the breed certainly carries lower disease risk than flat-faced or dwarf breeds, ethical breeders still prioritize health when producing Selkirk Rex litters. Let’s explore conditions to screen for.

Genetic Issues to Screen For

As with all purebred cats, certain inherited conditions may occur at above average frequencies in Selkirk Rex. Reputable breeders aim to minimize risk through testing parent cats before breeding.

Polycystic Kidney Disease

An inherited disorder causing fluid-filled cysts on the kidneys leading to organ degeneration and potential kidney failure over time. Responsible Selkirk Rex breeders now routinely screen for this gene mutation.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Another concern often striking middle aged cats. The disease involves abnormal thickening of heart ventricle walls, impairing the organ’s pumping effectiveness. Can lead to blood clots, irregular rhythms and potential sudden death. Ethical breeders perform echocardiograms to catch early indicators so suspected carriers won’t get used for mating.

Standard Health and Wellness Considerations

Beyond those two genetically inclined conditions, maintaining wellness involves similar care as any cat:

  • Annual veterinary exams to check for emerging issues
  • Preventative dental cleanings and daily tooth brushing
  • Avoiding obesity through proper diet and daily exercise
  • Enriching indoor environments to stimulate bodies and minds

Now that you know key points for safeguarding their health, next let’s go over grooming in detail.

Specialized Grooming Needs of the Selkirk Rex Coat

That plush curly coat may look high maintenance, but basic brushing keeps shedding and tangles at bay. Here are tips catered to caring for cords:

Tailored Brushing Techniques

  • Brush thoroughly yet gently twice weekly using a firm stainless steel comb. Metal doesn’t create static.
  • Always comb in the direction hair grows rather than against to avoid damaging locks. Follow the spiral shape already set.
  • Use a slicker style brush meant for curly coats only when finishing to fluff up the coat and distribute skin oils. Never brush dry only with slickers.

Bathing Best Practices

  • Limit full baths to just a few times yearly when dirty. But do spot clean any significantly soiled areas as needed.
  • Choose gentle shampoos without dyes, perfumes or chemicals. Formulas specifically for curly coats work well.
  • Usage of conditioner remains optional. But if used, avoid getting conditioner on the roots which can weigh down curls. Focus just on the ends.
  • Thoroughly rinse out all traces of shampoo residue to prevent skin irritation and prevent dehydrating already dry hair texture.
  • Gently soak up excess moisture before allowing the coat to completely air dry naturally. Never brush wet curls.

Additional Upkeep Notes

  • Pay special attention to powers behind and inside ears. These areas easily collect grease and dirt on any cat but hiding within cord crevices risks matting if not removed.
  • Longhaired Selkirks sometimes require trims around the paw pads if fur between toes grows excessively bushy, leading to debris getting trapped.
  • Clipping hard-to-brush areas can help reduce chore time if your cat tolerates grooming spaced over shorter sessions. But unless severely matted, the coat doesn’t require Styling or cuts to uphold the breed standard look.

Commit to consistent yet gentle grooming rhythms, and the Selkirk Rex coat will flourish with minimized tangles and reduced shedding courtesy of locks effectively capturing loose fur when brushed repeatedly.

selkirk rex characteristics jpg
Selkirk Rex Cats: The Curly-Coated Wonders of the Feline World 3

What Are Upfront and Yearly Costs for a Selkirk Rex?

Given the substantial prep work behind developing the unusual Selkirk Rex breed, they remain moderately expensive kitties. Here’s what to budget if considering one of these uncommon curly cuties:

One-Time Initial Selkirk Rex Costs:

  • Adoption Fee – $800 to $1200 from an accredited breeder, $75 and up through rescue/shelter
  • Supplies – $500 to $1000 first year including litter system, food bowls, bed, toys, brush, carrier, collar/tag
  • Spay/Neuter – $300 to $500
  • Microchip – $40 to $75
  • Vet Fees – $455 to $580 for initial vet exam, antigen tests, deworming, vaccination

Total Initial Costs – Approximately $2500 to $4000 first year

Estimated Yearly Selkirk Rex Price Care & Needs Costs:

  • Food & Treats – $150 to $290+ for high quality diet
  • **Routine Vet Care ** – $400 to $900 including exams, immunizations, bloodwork
  • Grooming Supplies – $50 to $150 for shampoo, conditioner, brushes
  • **Toys & Miscellaneous **- $100 to $300+
  • Health Insurance – Optional but suggested – $500 to $1000 per year
  • Total Yearly – Around $1200 to $3000+

Other irregular costs may occur. As a brachycephalic breed, the Selkirk Rex can run higher vet bills being prone to potential respiratory issues or birthing complications. Their longevity however allows for manageable amortization of expenses over more years.

What Sets Selkirk Rex Cats Apart From Other Breeds?

The obvious distinguishing trait – the curly coat – certainly proves eye-catching and BEGS touching. But the Selkirk Rex offers delightful qualities beyond unique texture and leading lady looks.

More Distinguishing Traits of Selkirk Rex Cats

Intelligence and Trainability

These quick studies eagerly learn tricks and master puzzle toys easily. Their sensitivity to correction however means always using positive reinforcement methods.

Social Nature

Selkirks tend to bond deeply with their families while welcoming politely towards guests. They don’t normally attach to just one person.

Patience with Kids

High energy kids get tolerated amiably thanks to their placid natures. But supervision still remains important given sensitivity and claws.

Athletic Prowess

Deceptively sturdy, Selkirks love climbing cat trees, play wrestling with other pets, chasing wand toys with surprising speed and agility.

Expressiveness

Large luminous eyes paired with a range of vocalizations makes them highly communicative of their moods and desires.

Add in those cute curly-cues, and you’ve got a fabulously well-rounded yet still unique breed suited ideally to families looking for an exceptionally outgoing yet low-key kitty friend.

Now that you appreciate the engaging temperament behind the tapered twists, let’s get into more Selkirk Rex FAQs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Selkirk Rex Cats

Are Selkirk Rex Cats Expensive?

Yes, Selkirks usually run higher purchase prices and lifetime costs than your average house cat. As a newer pedigree with small bloodlines, generating litters requires extensive investment by reputable breeders. Testing breeding cats, caring for queens and kittens, and placing cats in suitable homes proves costly, with expenses passed to buyers. Adoption fees ranging from $1000 to $1500 reflect these breeder expenses carried out of love for further developing the breed.

Are Selkirk Rex Cats Rare?

As a somewhat niche breed with limited gene pool diversity, Selkirk Rex rank fairly uncommon outside cat shows. Less than 1000 get registered across all cat fancier associations annually. Locating litters often requires patience and waitlisting until appropriate pairings produce the ideal curly coat attributes sought by buyers. But their charming personality helps boost interest steadily over time.

How Often Should You Bathe a Selkirk Rex?

Unless hitting the show circuit where perfection proves paramount, most Selkirks only need occasional bathing – once every few months or when significantly soiled provided brushing happens regularly. Over-bathing risks drying natural skin oils their coats rely on for optimal texture. Spot clean interim messes between infrequent full sudsings.

Do Selkirk Cats Shed Much?

Surprisingly not excessively considering their medium length dual coat! The textured fur effectively captures dead hairs when brushed consistently, releasing less overall loose fur. But expect heavier seasonal shedding still warranting temporary upping grooming maintenance.

Do Selkirk Rex Get Along With Dogs and Other Cats?

Their congenial attitude allows cohabiting harmoniously with cat-friendly dogs, other cats, even bunnies! Proper introductions help ensure successful integration with existing pets to avoid territorial issues. But they generally play and nap compatibility once settled.

Let me know if you have any other questions about the endearing Selkirk Rex! I’m happy to offer guidance as you decide if one of these marvelous mutations deserves a spot snuggling on your sofa.

How to Choose a Responsible Selkirk Rex Cat Breeder

Given the breed’s novelty, locating a Selkirk Rex kitten requires dedication and diligence vetting breeders since limited ethical options exist meeting rigorous standards.

Identifying Reputable Selkirk Rex Cat Breeders

Seeking accredited breeders active in major cat fancier organizations like TICA and CFA ensures encountering experienced programs dedicated to upholding breed health and temperament standards through selectively pairing only best specimen examples of the ideal Selkirk Rex type.

Pillar catteries have worked tirelessly over decades establishing genetic lines resilient against known inherited disorders, also carefully tracking results of health testing each generation. They offer insight into pedigrees allowing better odds gauging potential offspring traits and needs.

While seemingly costly upfront, ethically bred pedigree kittens offer predictable temperaments, physical conformation, and hardiness that random bred counterparts cannot guarantee long term.

Evaluating Breeding Stock and Litters

Whether meeting cats virtually or able to visit in person, ask to see parents of litters and living conditions. Healthy, well-adjusted breeding cats and cleanly quarters demonstrate knowledge and care.

Parent cats should willingly interact with humans using proper handles and collars. No signs of discharged eyes, mats, fleas, respiratory issues or swarming flies that may concern kitten vulnerability.

Nursing moms should seem content around her babies. Inquiries explaining any prior issues and resolutions offer transparency into health protocols.

Vetting Breeder Screening Practices

Responsible programs ask buyers many questions too rather than immediately providing purchasing details. Rigorously screening potential homes checks that new families offer safe, enriching situations meeting needs of the breed. Some breeders even follow up over time and require taking kittens back if issues arise.

Don’t take offense to seemingly nosy questions. Ethical folks feel accountable for each life they help introduce, wanting to prevent impulsive decisions or unfair environments down the line.

Concluding Thoughts on the Captivating Selkirk Rex

I hope this extensive exploration of the breathtaking Selkirk Rex cat gives clarity whether welcoming one of these rare curly cuties makes sense for your family’s lifestyle and budget long term.

Remember, adopting any pet remains a commitment to nurture another dependent life to the best of your ability. But taken seriously, sharing your home with these gorgeously goofy characters promises hours of playful delight balanced by devotion displayed through their innate heartwarming loyalty.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any other questions about this marvelous breed as you ponder making space in your home for their spirited snuggles!

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