Everything You Wanted To Know About American Curl Cats

Just when I thought that I could no longer be surprised by the cuteness of a cat breed, American Curl cats managed to prove me wrong. This cat breed is so cute that it almost feels illegal!

With their folded ears, American Curls look like cartoon characters. However, these cats aren’t just cute, they are also great pets, so let’s go through some American Curl main info!

American Curl Cat Characteristics


Fur colorAny color, including gray, brown, black, white, orange, cream, or red.
Fur patternSolid, tabby, bi-color, calico, tortoiseshell, and tuxedo.
Fur lengthShort and long
Eye color & shapeGreen, yellow, amber, copper, aqua, blue, gold, hazel, orange, odd-eyed. Eyes are round, walnut-shaped
LengthMales 16”-21”
Females 14”-18”
WeightMales 5-10 lbs
Females 5-8 lbs
Expected lifespan12-16 years


TemperamentFriendly, affectionate, and active. Intelligent, cuddly, and playful, these cats get really attached to their owner.
Kids and other petsKid-friendly and great with other pets, these cats will enjoy the company of potential playmates.
Sociable and cuddlyYes, these cats love to socialize, and after a long day of playing, they will ask for cuddles.
Activity levelAmerican curls are active cats that like to play all day. They like to play hide-n-seek, fetch, jump, run, climb, and explore their surroundings.

Requirements & Traits

FeedingMeat-based, protein-rich diet. Adults should eat two times a day, while kittens and juveniles need to eat 3-4 times a day.
GroomingBrushing the fur 1-2 times a week for short-haired cats and more often for long-haired cats. Ear cleaning is also important.
SheddingLow to moderate amount of shedding, and you can keep it under control with regular brushing.
HypoallergenicNo, people who are allergic to cats should stay away from American Curls.

History and Origins

American Curls by Heikki Siltala
Heikki Siltala, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

American Curl is a relatively new cat breed, but it has an interesting origin story. This breed first appeared in Southern California in 1981, when a black stray female kitten was born with curled ears because of a genetic mutation.

Soon enough, Joe and Grace Ruga adopted the kitten and named it Shulamith. Shulamith gave birth to her kittens a few months later, and half of those kittens had curled ears just like their mother.

By 1983, breeders were trying to further breed these cats and preserve and propagate the curled ears’ appearance. Since curling ears were caused by a mutation in a dominant gene, these efforts were more than successful.

American Curl quickly became an extremely popular cat breed. The International Cat Association recognized it as a distinct cat breed in 1987, as well as other international cat organizations in the following years.  

In the 1990s, American Curl cats became popular participants in various cat shows, and they remained popular up until today. 

American Curl Personality

The American Curl is an outgoing and friendly cat who loves to be around people. These cats are curious and playful, and they love to explore their surroundings. American Curls are also very affectionate and love to be petted and cuddled. 

They are intelligent cats who can learn tricks and commands easily. American Curls are active cats who need plenty of playtime to stay healthy and happy. Also, they don’t like to be left alone for too long and do their best in homes where someone is around most of the time. American Curls are good with children and other pets and make great companion animals.

Another interesting American Curl personality trait is that they will often follow their favorite human all around the house. They also love to play fetch and hide-n-seek with their humans, so make sure to take some time to entertain your American Curl.

American Curl cats aren’t very vocal cats, but they are expressive, and they will communicate with their owners in various different ways. For example, it will show its affection towards you with a head bump, and it will bop you with its paw when it needs your attention.

People often call this cat a Peter Pan of cat breeds due to its playful, gentle, adventurous, curious, and fun nature. Even in their adult age, American Curls keep their kitten-like playfulness. 

American Curl Appearance

American Curl cat is small to a medium-sized cat breed, with its most distinct characteristic being curled ears. 


Surprisingly enough, American Curl kittens are actually born with straight ears. Then, in the 48 hours after being born, their ears will roll into tight buds. Slowly, the ears will unfurl over the course of the next few weeks.

Once the kittens reach four months, their ears will reach their final curly form and become firm. Depending on the cat, the angle of curliness may vary. Usually, the ears can curl by anywhere between 90 and 180 degrees. 

The ears will curl toward the center of the back of the skull, giving the cat a whimsical and alert appearance. 


American curl cats can be short-haired or long-haired. They don’t have much undercoat, so they don’t shed as much as some other cat breeds. Their fur is silky and soft to the touch, and it lies flat against the body.

When it comes to colors and patterns, any combination is allowed. This means there are black, white, gray, brown, cream, and orange American Curls, and their fur can come in various patterns. There are tabby, solid, bi-color, calico, tuxedo, and tortoiseshell American Curls.


American Curl’s large eyes have a walnut-like shape, and they can be slightly slanted. They come in various hues, including green, blue, gray, yellow, orange, copper, aqua, amber, etc. Their eyes are sometimes odd-colored, with one eye being a different color than the other one.


American Curls are not really big cats. They are small to medium cats, with males reaching 5-10 pounds of weight and 16-21 inches in body length. Females are slightly smaller, and they usually weigh between 5 and 8 pounds, with their body length ranging from 14 to 18 inches.

Other Body Characteristics

Interestingly enough, this cat breed is quite muscular, considering it is not a breed of large cats. Their legs are medium-sized, and their paws are also medium-sized and rounded. 

Their tail is flexible and tapering. In general, American Curls are neither fine-boned nor heavy-boned. 

Daily Life With American Curl

American Curl is a  low to moderate-maintenance cat breed. They don’t require constant grooming, but they do have some specific needs. To make your Americal Curl cat happy, make sure to fulfill these care requirements:


Just like other cat breeds, American Curls need to eat meat-based foods that are rich in protein. Their food can also contain a moderate amount of animal fat, and they can eat both dry and wet food.

It is recommended that you feed the adult American Curls twice a day. On the other hand, kittens and younger cats need to eat more often, 3-4 times a day.

Of course, the amount and frequency of feeding may vary depending on the cat’s individual needs and activity level. If you are unsure how much and how often you should feed your American Curl cat, consult your vet.

Apart from the 2-4 meals a day, you can spoil your American Curl cat with occasional treats and snacks. However, don’t let it become your daily habit because you don’t want your cat to become obese.  


If you own a short-haired American Curl, you will need to brush its fur once or twice a week. On the other hand, if your cat is long-haired, you will need to brush it more often because its silky fur can get tangled. Pro tip: try to find a brush specialized for long-haired cats. Trust me, it will be a game-changer!

While there is nothing unusual in how you are supposed to maintain your American Curl’s fur, its ears are a completely different story. Since they are curled backward, it can be challenging to clean them properly. Also, because of ear curling, dirt and bacteria can easily get trapped inside the ear.

To prevent that, you will need to clean them gently using a dampened cloth or cotton pad. Don’t use cotton swabs because they can damage the inner structures in your cat’s ears. Once a week is enough to keep your cat’s ears clean and healthy.

Still, if you notice redness, swelling, or discharge in your cat’s ears, make sure to take it to the vet as soon as possible. Don’t try to fix the issue by yourself, you can only make things worse. 

Try to train your cat to put up with teeth brushing. Weekly teeth brushing will help prevent various dental and gum diseases. If you can’t make your cat endure the brushing, you can use plaque-removing treats instead.


Since American Curl cats are playful and full of energy, you will need to provide them with enough exercise and both physical and mental stimulation. There are many games that you can play with these cats.

For example, you can play fetch with small toys or balls. You can also play hide and seek if you have some cool places to hide. There are some cool puzzle toys that could be perfect for your American Curl.

Don’t forget to provide your cat with a cat tree, scratching station, and other structures where your cat can run, jump, and climb. 

This cat breed is most often kept as an indoor pet. You can let it play outside but under your supervision. Due to their playful and curious nature, these cats can easily get hurt if left outside unattended and for too long.

Most Common American Curl Health Issues

There is one thing I noticed when learning about different cat breeds and their most common health issues. Basically, the characteristics that set one cat breed apart from others are frequently connected to and correlated with the health problems that are most prevalent in that breed.

American curl health

American Curl cats are a perfect example. They are famous for their folded ears, and on the other hand, they are prone to ear-related health issues. Hairless cats often have skin issues, etc. There are many other examples, but let’s turn our focus back to the most common American Curl health issues:

Narrowed Ear Canals and Ear Infections

Because of their specific ear shape, some American Curl cats are born with narrowed ear canals. Such narrowed canals are prone to trap ear wax. This trapped earwax can further cause various infections. 

And in some cases, ear infections will cause swelling and further narrowing of the ear canals. As a result, more earwax gets trapped, and this is one vicious cycle that can only be broken by a vet intervention. 

You can try to prevent this from happening by regularly cleaning and inspecting your cat’s ears. If you notice anything unusual, make sure to consult your vet. 

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Another common disease that affects American Curl cats, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), is actually a group of several disorders. These disorders have one thing in common: they cause the deterioration of the photoreceptors in the cat’s eye. 

Consequently, the cat loses its sight and can even become blind. If you notice your cat is sensitive to light, nervous at night,  reluctant to go into dark rooms, or if it shows any other odd behavior, you should visit your vet to check your cat’s vision. 

Polycystic Kidney Disease

This disease is characterized by multiple cysts located on the cat’s kidney, and it is inherited. If left untreated, more and more cysts will grow, making the kidneys more prone to infections and failure. 

Fortunately, there is a way to slow down this disease. Treatments such as cyst drainage, vitamin D supplements, and a low protein diet can lower the rate at which new cysts appear. 

Urinary Tract Infections and Bladder Stones

If your cat suffers from a urinary tract infection (UTI), you must know that it is also at risk of developing bladder stones. Certain bacteria in your cat’s urine can change the urine’s pH levels, and struvite stones get formed. 

Keep in mind that in many cases, bladder stones can develop even without the infection or any other known cause. Sometimes, it can be hard to notice your cat has a UTI or bladder stones., If you notice that your cat has problems urinating or it urinates more often than usual, that might be a warning sign.


Unfortunately, this disease is becoming increasingly common among cats. Obesity is another disease on the increase, and it is closely related to diabetes. Both diabetes and obesity can be caused by inadequate diet, but they can also be caused by old age or genetic factors.

If you notice your cat rapidly losing weight for no obvious reasons, or if it drinks more water and urinates frequently, that might be a sign of diabetes. Some other warning signs include lethargy, increased appetite, walking on heels instead of toes, sticky urine, etc. 

Make sure to take your cat to the vet if you notice any of these signs. Your veterinarian will be able to create a treatment plan.   

American Curl Name Suggestions

Naming your cat is fun, but it can also be stressful. Should you come up with an elegant and classy name that will reflect your cat’s graciousness? Or maybe you should choose some goofy name that will show how silly your cat can sometimes be?

When you can’t choose, you can always make a compromise. Choose one name that will be “official”, and then come up with nicknames for your cat. So far, I have never met a cat owner that calls their cat only by one name.

Some of the names I would give to my American Curly cat if I had one: 

  • American Gurrl
  • Momo
  • Nugget
  • Toby
  • Oreo
  • Maya
  • Boo
  • Tippy
  • Teddy
  • Paw Paw
  • Mishka

Buying or Adopting an American Curl?

American Curl cats are quite popular among cat owners. Thus, you will rarely find one for adoption. If you really want to own this cat, you will have to buy it from a breeder. Be aware that they aren’t cheap, as their price ranges from $1200 to $3000.

There is one interesting thing about buying an American Curl cat from a breeder. Many breeders differentiate show-quality American Curl cats from pet-quality ones. Show-quality cats fulfill more strict requirements regarding their features, while pet-quality cats don’t have to fulfill such strict standards.

Nonetheless, pet-quality American Curl cats should be just as valued and loved as show-quality ones. After all, living creatures deserve to be treated well and with love, no matter if they fit some beauty standards or not. 

American Curl Alternatives

American Curl is such a cute cat, and it would be such a shame if you wanted to get one but couldn’t. However, the good news is there are several similar breeds that you can get instead of the American Curl. 

Scottish Folds are the most similar cats to American Curls because they, too, have folded ears. If, on the other hand, you want to match the cuteness of American Curls, breeds such as American Bobtail, Ragdoll, Persian, and Exotic Shorthair cats are your best choices. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Do American Curl Cats Have Health Problems?

Since their gene pool is wide, American Curl cats are fairly healthy. Still, they can be prone to some health issues, such as ear problems, bladder stones, kidney issues, and diabetes.

Are American Curl Cats Friendly?

Yes, American Curl cats are friendly and cuddly, but they aren’t clingy. They will happily spend their time playing and exploring.

How big do American Curl cats get?

These cats are not as big as some other cat breeds. American Curl cats are small to medium-sized breed, with males weighing 5-10 pounds and females weighing 5-8 pounds.

Are American Curl Cats Hypoallergenic?

No, although they don’t shed excessively, American Curl cats are not hypoallergenic and can still trigger allergic reactions.

Can American Curl cats be left alone?

Since they are sociable, American Curl cats don’t like to be left alone for prolonged periods of time. If there is no other way, and you have to leave your home often for more than one hour or two, consider getting another pet. This way, your American Curl will have a companion and won’t feel lonely.

American Curl Fun Facts

  • With its history starting in a not-so-distant 1981, the American Curl cat is one of the youngest breeds in the world.
  • Apart from their cute ears, American Curls also have beautiful plume-like and fluffy tails that can be as long as the rest of their bodies.
  • American Curl cats can learn how to open doors with doorknobs and cabinets. You might consider installing locks on your doors, and hope your cat won’t learn how to pick locks!


American Curl cats are a true delight among cat breeds. Not only do they look absolutely adorable, but they are also affectionate pets. However, be prepared for their mischiefs now and then, and accept them as part of American Curl’s charm.

If you choose this breed as your new pet, you will fall in love with it. Above all, you will find a loyal and sweet furry friend for years to come!