HISTORY OF THE BREED
Reproduced with permission of
the Author, A.D. Lawrence from the book:
"The LaPerm Cat: The New Wave in Cats for the Millennium" ©
All Rights Reserved ®: No part of the following can be
copied or used in any manner without consent of the author.
"The Columbia River Gorge is one of the most beautiful areas in the world. The area was home for many Indian tribes and is rich in culture and history. Ten thousand years ago as the Salmon, "Noo-sok", made their trek up the "Big River" to spawn, the Indian people lived with and around the most powerful and beautiful River Gorge in North America. Many Indian names are still identifiable today such as Mah-no ma, which interprets to Multnomah Falls, the areas tallest and one of the most gorgeous falls in North America. Many legends abound in the area as well, such as the legend of Fire Mountain, that of Multnomah Falls, and of course the legend of the woman chief of the Wishram Indians, She Who Watches or "Tsagaglalal". This is an area covered with ancient Indian hunting and fishing grounds. In the midst of these hunting grounds, near The Dalles, Oregon and under the watchful eye of Tsagaglalal, the LaPerm came into existence in the spring of 1982.
The original mutation, which was the first LaPerm, sprang from strong, healthy, domestic "barn-cat" stock. The original cat was unique in a number of ways, other than just the lack of hair at birth. We have found that the body type and
temperament are as much a part of the breed as is the "Rex" gene.
A barn cat gave birth to a litter of six, one of which was born completely bald, looking nothing like her mother or littermates. The kitten was, without a doubt, the ugliest kitten in the world having no hair, large wide-spaced ears and a blueprint pattern on her skin that mimicked a classic tabby pattern.
Within eight weeks the kitten began to grow very soft, curly hair. By about three to four months of age, the kitten now known as "Curly" had a full coat of curly hair. Not being very knowledgeable about cats, owner Linda Koehl accepted the "mutant" as unique and thought nothing more of the matter.
As Curly grew, her soft fur felt so inviting to the touch that Linda found herself constantly picking her up. Curly's temperament was different too; she was affectionate but not demanding, patiently waiting quietly for her turn. She was gentle and trusting with her affection.
As a working barn cat Curly had a brush with death that could have prevented the creation of the breed. One morning she climbed into the fan housing of a pickup to get warm. When the truck was started Curly was pinned between the blade and the housing. Her yowl alerted Linda to the fact that she was under the hood. As the fan blade was manually reversed, Curly fell to the ground giving the appearance that she was beyond help. When an attempt was made to pick her up she revived and quickly scurried from the scene as fast as she could. Once away from the truck she calmed down enough to allow inspection of her injuries and was taken to a veterinarian. Curly had sustained serious gashes on 2 legs and across her nose. She fortunately had no broken bones or internal injuries.
During her recovery, Curly was the perfect patient displaying many of the qualities we have come to expect from this unique breed. She was very patient, made no attempt to disturb her dressings and seemed to thrive on the extra attention she was receiving. Removing the tape and taking hair with it seemed to be no problem for Curly either. She handled the situation like a trooper, making no attempt to escape, bite or scratch. Having strong work ethics this convalescence period was about the longest period of time Curly ever cared to spend in the house. After the ordeal was over she would come in and visit on a regular basis but was essentially an outdoor cat. Curly’s first litter was occasion for her second brush with death. However, fate and Linda intervened.
Apparently taken by surprise by the onset of labor and instead of seeking shelter in a barn, Curly gave birth to her five kittens under a tree in the orchard during a rainstorm. The frantic barking of dogs awakened Linda causing her enough concern that she put on coat and boots, grabbed a flashlight and went outside to investigate. Following the sound of the dogs, Linda found Curly straddling her newborn babies and holding the dogs off. Linda chased the dogs away, picked up the kittens putting them in her coat pockets and then tucked Curly under her coat and took the entire brood into the barn making a nest in a bale of hay. The next morning Linda discovered that there were 5 kittens, all male and all bald as Curly had been at birth. This intrigued Linda and she began to do research on cats thereby deciding she had had some sort of "Rex" mutation. Linda found this a "novel" situation but beyond that, never gave it another thought. Curly’s future litters provided only occasional hairless kittens of both sexes. Curly’s insistence at being an outdoor cat eventually led to her disappearance. Linda never found out what had become of her as she just stopped showing up for her morning visits. Curly left behind a number of kittens who had all inherited her soft, curly coat and marvelous disposition.
During the next 10 years no attempt was made to breed selectively but as the frequency of bald kittens increased Linda began to seek additional information about unusual cats. Linda had no knowledge of genetics or breeding and thus she allowed them to roam free through the barns and orchard for several years. They were excellent mousers and kept the property rodent free as a result.
As she became aware of how truly unique these cats were, Linda started to confine and control the breeding. It appeared that the curly gene was dominant and carried by both males and females. An occasional "boo-boo" led to enlarging the gene pool but at the same time maintained the same physical and personality characteristics."
All Rights Reserved ®: No part of the above can be copied or used in any manner without consent of the author.
Rex Breeds - an article