Category: Cats

Cat Breeds 101: LaPerm

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Ringlets, corkscrews, or digital waves – name the curl and you’ll probably find it on a LaPerm, the cat with a natural perm…

Despite its chichi-sounding name, the LaPerm actually has very down-to-earth roots, as the first recorded LaPerm was the offspring of a shorthaired farm tabby. But unlike the rest of the litter, this strange-looking mutant kitten was born with hardly any hair.

At six weeks of age, the fur finally came, and it was worth the wait because it developed into an eye-catching wavy coat that was softly textured and springy to touch. Farm visitors found it fascinating, and eventually, the farm owner, Linda Koehl, decided to begin a breeding program for her cat, whom she (not-so-imaginatively) named Curly. Thus the LaPerm breed was born. [1]

The LaPerm is characterized by curly hair found from the tip of the cat’s tail to the inside of its ears. It is not unusual for a LaPerm to give birth to a kit that turns out to have straight coat. Sometimes the straight coat remains straight, while at other times, it sheds off and gets replaced by wavier locks. The only way to be very sure that your LaPerm is really a LaPerm is to wait for the mature coat to grow. This wait can take up to two years. [2]

Although its coat is very attractive, it is low maintenance. Weekly brushing is all it needs. The lack of undercoat makes matting less likely. [1] Of course, there is also the usual weekly tooth brushing, nail trimming, and ear cleaning that is advised for nearly all other cat breeds. Aside from that, no exceptional care is typically required. Because the LaPerm comes from a hardy and well-adapted breed, it has no known genetic health issues either. [2]

This ease of care, plus its gentle-though-playful personality makes the LaPerm an excellent family pet. This is a cat that will be happy to stay indoors as a lap cat, and it will be equally happy to romp outdoors with your kids. It doesn’t really care what it does or where it does it, as long as it’s doing it with you. [1]

[1] LaPerm. The International Cat Association.
[2] LaPerm. Vetstreet.

Cat Breeds 101: Nebelung

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Silvery blue, foreign-looking, and with emerald eyes, the Nebelung is quite an eye-catching and somewhat mesmerizing cat. It is most quickly described as “a longhaired Russian Blue,” except it is not a Russian Blue – the first recorded Nebelung didn’t even have a direct Russian Blue ancestor.

The parents of the first Nebelung were actually a domestic shorthaired dam that looked like a Russian Blue (but wasn’t) and a black longhaired Angora-like sire. [1] The two produced a litter that included a beautiful blue longhaired male kitten, who was later named Siegfried. After several months, a second litter was born to the couple, and again, a longhaired blue kit appeared; but this time, it was female, and she was named Brunhilde.

The two longhaired blues were mated, and a new breed was on its way – but what should the breeders call it?

If you’ve been paying attention in literature class, you would know that Siegfried and Brunhilde brought together equals not just kittens but a German epic poem: The Song of the Nibelung (or, if you want to be more high-brow about it, you can instead say, “Nibelungenlied”). And so the new breed that began with the cats named Siegfried and Brunhild was called Nebelung. And to help the new breed develop, the Russian Blue was allowed as an outcross.

A Nebelung is defined by its color – a mandatory blue with silver tips – and its long hair. Its tail is thick and plumed. Its eyes are green and wide set. Its ears are large. [2]

Like the story after which their breed was named, the Nebelung cats have a mythical, mystical air. Although they are generally good natured and affectionate, they are also regal and reserved, especially among strangers. The Nebelung is not the type of cat that would roughhouse with your kids. In fact, it might not like your kids very much, if they’re the commonplace type who love to chatter and play. This is a cat that prefers peace and quiet, with just one or two gentle and soft-voiced humans to love. [1]

It is important that the Nebelung’s humans should love to groom cats. The Nebelung, with its longhaired coat, needs daily combing; otherwise, it will end up a hopeless mass of mats. Aside from that, this breed only needs the usual tooth brushing, nail clipping, and ear cleaning that other cats need as well. The Nebelung has no breed-specific health issues and, with proper care, is known to live beyond 16 years. [3]

[1] Cats 101: Nebelung. Animal Planet.
[2] Nebelung. The International Cat Association.
[3] Nebelung. Wikipedia.

Cat Breeds 101: Turkish Van

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One thing that cats are very well known for is their dislike of water. Bathing a cat is usually no fun, and getting one into the pool with you is cruel and unusual punishment, both for you and the cat.

But that’s not the case with the Turkish Van. Here’s a cat that actually loves to swim! Strange indeed, but that’s not all that’s unusual about this fascinating cat.

The Turkish Van is a rare breed in the United States. Its real home is Turkey, hence the “Turkish” in its name. (True, a lot of cats that are named after countries or regions don’t actually come from those places, like the Havana Brown did not come from Havana, and the Balinese didn’t really come from Bali, but the Turkish Van really did come from Turkey! 😀 ) This breed was brought to England in 1955 by Sonia Halliday and Laura Lushington, who had found the beautiful swimming cats in Turkey while they were there on a tour there. [1]

Even on dry land, the Turkish Van comes across as not quite your everyday cat. First, it’s got that strange, wonderful van marking, in which only the head and tail have a patch of color while the rest of the body is a brilliant white. Second, this breed has a tendency to be odd eyed, which means that one eye could be amber while the other eye could be blue. (Not all Turkish Vans are odd eyed, though.) [2] Third, while a lot of cats we see are always asking to be picked up and played with, the Turkish Van generally prefers not to be carried, although it enjoys being petted as long as you don’t do it a lot. This cat might not get along very well with little children, but it generally lives quite nicely among dogs.

Although the Turkish Van is semi-longhaired, it doesn’t need as much grooming as other semi-longhaired cats. One reason for this is because it has no undercoat, so the tendency for hair to mat is minimized. Also, the hair strands of the Turkish Van’s coat is water repellent and dirt repellent, so it doesn’t get all sticky and weighed down so easily. Combine this with the fact that this cat loves taking its own baths and you end up with a practically self-cleaning cat. It does need a weekly combing and brushing, though, just to clear out the tangles. [1]

But the fact that the Turkish Van needs only light grooming does not mean that this is a low-maintenance breed. The Turkish Van may not love to play with little children, but it does love to play. In fact, it is hardly ever still. And with its strong, powerful legs and lack of fear of water, there is practically no mischief it cannot get into. It can reach the breakables you put on the topmost shelf. It can bully the dogs. It can enter your aquarium and “fetch” the fish. One thing it can’t do is take good care of its toys, so have a good supply at hand and be ready to replace them frequently. [3]

To reiterate what must now be obvious, yes, this is a very active, healthy cat. As a breed, it is not prone to any known diseases – but it can be prone to obesity, so mind its diet. A well-cared-for Turkish Van can live for around 13 years. [3]

[1] Turkish Van. The International Cat Association.
[2] Turkish Van. Wikipedia.
[3] Turkish Van. Vetstreet.