Posted on: January 4, 2020 at 8:22 am
Last updated: July 13, 2020 at 2:55 pm

As a child, many of us probably wished that our stuffed animals could come to life. They were always so cute, soft, and cuddly – they would make the perfect pets, right?

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Well, in a way, your childhood dreams may be able to come true! A new breed of cat has been officially distinguished: The Poodle Cat.

What is a Poodle Cat

Now not to worry, the Poodle Cat is not a cross between the famous dog breed and a cat, though it kind of looks like it. Also called “a cat in sheep’s clothing”, the actual name of the breed, given to the cat by researchers from the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, is the Selkirk Rex: a fluffy kitty with distinctively curly hair.

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The Origin of the Selkirk Rex

The Selkirk Rex is a sort of Cinderella story. In 1987 a litter of kittens was born in Montana to a feral cat. (1, 2, 3, 4)There was one kitten, however, who looked different than the rest: she had curly whiskers and as she grew, curly fur. Her unique look caught the eye of Jeri Newman, a breeder specifically for Persian cats, who was visiting the shelter where she was living at the time. He adopted her and gave her the name “Miss DePesto” after the secretary from the TV show “Moonlighting”, also known for her curly do. (1, 2, 3, 4)

A dominant gene

Now, there are other breeds with the curly-haired gene, such as the Devon Rex and the Cornish Rex, however, the gene in those cats is not dominant, so the likelihood of having curly-haired kittens from them is quite low.

When Newman adopted Miss DePesto, he did not yet know if her curly gene was dominant or not. He bred her with his black Persian PhotoFinish and waited to see what would happen. Sure enough, when the litter was born, 3 out of 6 kittens had curly hair. This proved that the gene was, in fact, dominant, making the Selkirk Rex the first naturally dominant curly-haired breed. (2)

How to know you have a Selkirk Rex in a litter

This may seem obvious, however, when a litter is firstborn, you can’t really tell if a kitten’s fur is curly or straight. Instead, you must look at their whiskers. The Selkirk Rex, or poodle cat, will have curly whiskers right from the start.

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How to take care of a poodle cat

According to the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), Selkirks are a generally strong, healthy breed. They are also patient, loving, and highly tolerant, making them wonderful pets to have. Their care does have to be somewhat different than other cats:

  • Whether you have a short or long-haired Selkirk, in order to maintain their curls you must actually brush them less often than straight-haired cats.
  • When bathing your poodle cat, you must be sure not to use shampoos that coat the fur. Ask your breeder or at your local pet store for recommendations. 
  • Be okay with your cat having a somewhat “messy” or “disheveled” look – they are supposed to look that way! Let their natural curls shine through.

The perfect pets

As already mentioned, Selkirks are known to be very affectionate cats. They are playful and attention-seeking and in general, want to be cuddled. If you just can’t resist their soft, curly fur and fun, snuggly personalities, be prepared to pay up! One Selkirk kitten can cost you anywhere from $500 to $800.

If the price doesn’t stop you from purchasing one of these beautiful kitties, your allergies might. Unlike real poodles, these cats are most definitely not hypo-allergenic and are generally not suitable for anyone with pet allergies.

A new best friend

So if your childhood dream was for your teddy bear to come to life and be your pet-best-friend, then you are in luck! Reach out to your local breeder today and get your hands on one of these curly-haired cuties – you won’t regret the decision!

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Julie Hambleton
Nutrition and Fitness Enthusiast
Julie Hambleton is a fitness and nutrition expert and co-founder of The Taste Archives along with her twin sister Brittany Hambleton.

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