If you are reading this, then you are probably thinking of getting a Selkirk Rex cat for the first time. This is a fairly new breed, so you most likely saw one at a cat show, or maybe you already know someone who owns one. You are unlikely to have just seen them around, as it were, as they are still something of a rarity. Therefore it can be a bit difficult to find out what they are like. So let us take a look at this breed, what these cats are like as pets, how you can get one, and what you can expect from owning one for the first time.
In 1987, a curly-haired kitten was born in Sheridan, Montana, USA. The unusual looking kitten was completely unlike her littermates. Her name became Miss DePesto, apparently because she was always pestering people for attention, though I'm not sure that makes a lot of sense! At any rate, she found a home with a breeder of Persian cats, and became the founder of the Selkirk Rex.
The Selkirk Rex first came to the Europe in 1990, initially to Switzerland. The first cats of this breed arrived in the UK in 2002. Since then they have grown in popularity, and are now accepted for showing with all major registries. But they are still relatively rare.
Since the Selkirk Rex is a fairly new breed, it is not always easy to find Selkirk Rex kittens, or even older cats. There are not that many breeders in the UK, and although there is a list of them on the Selkirk Rex Cat Club website, there are only ten names on it. So you may have to travel to obtain a kitten, and you might also have to wait a while. Of course, there may be breeders who are not on the list, and these cats do turn up on the internet from time to time. But, as with any breed, you will need to be careful if you are buying from relatively unknown sources.
In the case of the Selkirk Rex, you may need to be particularly careful, and to decide what type of cat you want. Owing to the breed's genetic make-up, the kittens can look very different. The genetics of this is quite complicated, so we will not look at details here. But briefly, you can get 'homozygous' kittens, which have two Selkirk Rex genes, and these are very curly coated with quite a slim body shape. 'Heterozygous' kittens are cobbier, with looser, more unstructured curls. Then there are Selkirk Rex 'variants', which have straight hair. And all these types come in other long haired or short haired versions.
You need to decide which type you would like. If you plan to show your cat, you should know that in general only heterozygous Selkirk Rex cats are suitable for showing. If you want to show, let the breeder know in advance, and they should find you a suitable kitten. Of course, any Selkirk Rex cats can be shown as 'pedigree Pets' in the Household Pet classes. And all these types should have the same lovely personality.
As stated above, Selkirk Rex looks can vary quite dramatically. However, unless you have a straight haired variant, all Selkirk's will have curly hair, some curlier than others. They also have curly whiskers, although these may well break off in kittens, and re-grow later. The Selkirk Rex head is quite broad, and the body, even in the homozygotes, is distinctly cobbier than other Rex types. The unstructured curly coat can look quite untidy, and these cats – particularly the long haired ones - are sometimes referred to as 'the cat which is having a bad hair day'. Selkirk Rexes have round eyes and a slightly mournful expression. This cat never seems to smile – but it does purr a lot!
People might first go for a Selkirk Rex because of its looks – but they tend to stay as fans of the breed because of its personality. These are easy-going, happy cats. They are never in a hurry, are very affectionate, and purr a lot, sometimes very loudly. They can be playful and inquisitive, particularly as kittens, but are happy to stay in one place and simply curl up close to their owners. This makes them particularly suitable for showing; a row of Selkirk pens at a show is simply a line of relaxed looking cats, often with slightly miserable expressions, but all purring happily.
Selkirk Rex cats do not require a lot of care. Their coats are better left alone for much of the time, as too much grooming reduces the curls, and the slightly unkempt appearance is part of their appeal. However, the longer coats can form knots, so combing with a wide toothed comb is advisable from time to time. Also, you will need to check the long hairs above your Selkirk's eyes, as they can occasionally curl around into the eyes, causing irritation. If this happens, simply trim the hairs shorter. If you are showing your Selkirk Rex it will need a bath, but not too close to the show date. And again, do not groom the cat too thoroughly after it's bath; better to let it dry naturally and then just lift and separate the curls.
So is the Selkirk Rex the breed for you? By now you should have a pretty good idea if this is the type of cat you want. If you get one, you will probably never regret it. You will have a friendly, gentle member of your family, and a talking point whenever anyone meets your cat – at the vet, the cattery, or when friends come to your home. In fact, you may well decide, as many do, that one Selkirk Rex is simply not enough...so don't lose touch with your breeder after you have your first kitten. And the best of luck with your new curly feline friend.