With its curly coat and curly whiskers, the Selkirk Rex is an easy-going cat, who is equally happy in an active family home with children or as a companion to a single senior adult.
Like finger prints in humans the distinctive soft curls of the Selkirk Rex are different for every cat. Selkirk Rex are described as semi-cobby, that is to say, they have a muscular rounded body with a round broad head, soulful round eyes, short legs, broad chest, and a back which is carried in a curve.
Fur comes in a range of colours and consists of loose curls which vary in length from short to long. While both sexes have full cheeks the males can often feature very distinctive jowl lines. The ears are broadly spaced and are sometimes finished off with adorable little curls. The Selkirk Rex also has trademark curly whiskers.
Most cat breeds are the result of spontaneous genetic mutations that are noticed by enthusiastic breeders who then try replicate the trait by breeding for it. The Selkirk Rex is no different — it all kicked off with a feral cat in Montana who gave birth to a litter of five kittens in 1987. One of those kittens had a distinctive curly coat which Jeri Newman, a breeder of Persians, took an interest in. Jeri took the kitten thinking it may have contained a gene from the Rex breed of cat. She surmised correctly as she had had in fact stumbled upon an entirely new Rex gene, one that was dominant for curly coats.
Newman bred the cat to her black Persian male which produced three curly coated kittens. Unlike the gene for curls in the Devon Rex and Cornish Rex – which only shows up on occasion – three curly coats proved that this gene was indeed dominant. Jeri tells people that she named the breed after the Selkirk Mountains, as this is near where the original cat was discovered, but some sources say she actually named the breed in honour of her stepfather.
The Selkirk Rex has a fairly chilled out personality. They are placid and will never reject a cuddle should one be on offer. While he does enjoy the odd session curled up in a lap the Selkirk Rex also likes to be up and about but will not tolerate being left alone for long periods of time very well. Should he become lonely he will pester you for attention by mewing in his small soft voice.
Selkirks also have a bit of a silly streak and will enjoy play time with their favorite fishing pole toy, or chasing that ever elusive beam from the flashlight. In short, the Selkirk Rex will be equally happy in an active home with a family that loves him and takes time out to include him in a little energetic play, or as companion for a senior adult living on their own.
Did You Know?
If the Selkirk Rex was indeed named after Jeri Newman’s stepfather, this makes it the only breed to have been named after a person.
The curly coat appearance of the Selkirk Rex means that it is sometimes referred to as the cat in sheep’s clothing.
Caring for Your Selkirk Rex Cat
To keep your Selkirk Rex’s curly coat in top condition you’ll need to brush regularly to prevent mats and tangles. Some cats also tend to have a greasy coat, so may require frequent bathing. Make sure you use a moisturizing shampoo and let them air dry for a few hours rather than using a hairdryer, as this will result in an animal that looks remarkably like a poodle – a rather undesirable look for such a distinguished cat.
As a relative of the Persian, the Selkirk Rex can be prone to some of the same health problems, such as issues with tear ducts and kidney disease.
If you have a Selkirk Rex cat in your life, please share your experiences below.