The Selkirk Rex is a curly-coated cutie with a mellow personality and loving nature. These playful but low-key cats are always up for napping near (or on) their favorite human.
Selkirk Rex History
The Selkirk Rex originated in Montana in 1987 when a stray cat gave birth to a kitten with an unusual wavy coat. A Persian breeder named Jeri Newman adopted the kitten and called her Miss DePesto.
After a little investigating, Jeri concluded that there were no other curly cats in the area. Suspecting Miss Depesto had a new rex mutation—a genetic variation that results in curly hair—Jeri decided to breed her with one of her Persian males. The resulting litter had six kittens. Three of them had normal coats, and three had curly coats, proving that the rex gene was dominant.
Breeders worked to develop a standard for these curly-coated cats, and in 1990 TICA accepted the Selkirk Rex into their new breed program. Four years later, they granted it Championship status.
Selkirk Rex Traits
Selkirk Rex are medium-to-large cats with heavy boning and substantial heft. They have a balanced overall appearance, with no one feature standing out over another.
Coat and Coloring
Selkirks may be any color or combination of colors, and they come in long and short coat length varieties. Both are plush with loose clumps of individual curls most evident around the neck, flanks, and belly. The shorthaired cats' curls emphasize the coat's density, whereas the longhaired cats' curls give them a more tousled look.
Distinctive Physical Traits
The Selkirk's key features include a round, broad head, short muzzle, large, round eyes that come in all colors, and a medium-length tail.
Selkirk Rex Temperament
Selkirks are quiet, laid-back cats with affectionate personalities. Known for their patience and tolerance, they're an excellent fit for homes with other pets or kids.
This breed has a playful nature but isn't overly energetic or hyper.
Selkirks like to keep themselves entertained by stalking their toys and interacting with food puzzles.
And if you feel an urge to cuddle with these teddy bear lookalikes, good news: Selkirks like to hang out in their human's lap or snuggle under the covers in bed.
Selkirk Rex Care
The Selkirk Rex requires a high-quality diet. Because nutritional needs vary for kittens, adults, and senior cats, opt for a formula that's age-appropriate for your pet.
Obesity is on the rise in cats. Since extra pounds can contribute to other serious health issues, it's important to watch your cat's weight. Avoid overfeeding by measuring out meals and reducing portions if necessary. And be sure to account for treats. As a guideline, they should make up no more than 10% of a cat's calories.
Lastly, all cats need access to fresh, clean water around the clock.
Regardless of coat length, Selkirks need to be brushed once a week with a wide-toothed comb to help keep their curls intact. These cats don't typically require frequent baths. But when you do bathe them, blot them dry with a towel instead of blow-drying. As any human with curly hair can attest, hairdryers contribute to frizziness.
Ear cleaning and nail trims should also be part of your cat's grooming routine. Check their ears monthly to clear out wax buildup or debris. And trim their nails every few weeks to keep them at an appropriate length. Long nails are more likely to snag on something and become torn or damaged. They can even grow into your cat's paw pads, leading to pain or infection. In addition to clipping, providing a scratching post will allow your cat to do some nail maintenance themselves (thanks to their instinct to scratch).
And don't forget about those teeth. Dental care is essential to a Selkirk Rex's lifelong health. Starting in kittenhood, get your cat comfortable with at-home teeth brushing and professional exams and cleanings.
Some breeds are more susceptible to certain health conditions. Selkirks may be prone to developing Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy—which decreases the heart's efficiency and can lead to other issues. Consult your veterinarian about this condition and other health concerns for your cat.
Reviewed February 23, 2021 by Annette Louviere, DVM