Selkirk Rex – Cat Breeds

by catfood

The Selkirk Rex is the result of a dominant, spontaneous mutation that gives each guard, down, and awn hair a slight curl, giving the coat a silky feel. The Selkirk Rex is a medium to large cat with strong boning that gives the cat considerable weight and a powerful appearance.


The Selkirk’s adorable and curly look may initially draw you in, but these cats also make excellent companions. Selkirks can be laid-back cats who lavish their human friends with love and devotion. They are very people-oriented and remain loyal and kind throughout their life. They are social cats who enjoy spending time with their favorite individuals.


Selkirks make excellent and devoted companions. They are human-oriented, prefer sleeping with humans, and enjoy sitting on or near you. They are not overly demanding of attention, but they are quite social and enjoy interacting with others. They do not function well in isolation.

Selkirks get along nicely with other cats, dogs, and family members. They have a fantastic affectionate and lively disposition.


The Selkirk is the newest Rex breed to be recognized by North American cat groups, having been around for a shorter period of time than the Cornish Rex and Devon Rex. The Selkirk’s creation and promotion were largely due to the efforts of breeder Jeri Newman of the Noface Cattery in Livington, Montana, while many other dedicated breeders also contributed to the breed’s success. Newman, a Persian breeder for many years, had always been fascinated by cats in general and feline genetics in particular, and she made it known to friends and family that she was interested in adopting unusual cats. The unusual arrived in her life in 1987.

A cat gave birth to a litter of six-five kittens plus one kitten with a curly coat as velvety and huggable as a child’s stuffed toy at the For Pet’s Sake Animal Shelter in Sheridan, Montana, run out of the house of animal enthusiast Kitty Garrett Brown. When “Pest” reached breeding age, Newman bred her. She was, indeed. Newman was immediately drawn to the blue-cream and white cat with the bright green eyes and the magnificent curly coat resembling lamb’s wool.


The cat’s whiskers were curled, her ears were full of brillo-like hair, and her coat looked like she’d just had a perm at the age of ten months. Miss DePesto was dubbed by Newman because she was constantly hounding him for attention. Peggy Vorrhees of the Bozeman Humane Society in Sheridan, Montana, brought the kitten to Jeri Newman because she thought the unusual-coated cat would be of interest to Newman. The mating resulted in a litter of six puppies, three of whom possessed the characteristic curly coat.

Because Newman had researched genetic inheritance, she understood that the gene influencing the curly coat was dominant, which meant that only one parent needed to have the gene for the feature to manifest in at least part of the children. There was also one straight-haired kitten with lengthy hair in the litter. Newman found it intriguing. Pest possessed not only the dominant curly-coat gene, but also the recessive gene for long hair, as both parents needed to have at least one copy of the longhair gene in order to produce longhaired children.


The breed was dubbed the Selkirk Rex after Newman’s stepfather. For a period, she said the breed was called after the Selkirk Mountains, which were close to where the kittens were born. When it was pointed out to her that the Selkirk Mountains were in British Columbia, she confessed to naming the species after her stepfather; the Selkirk Rex is the only cat breed named after a specific person.

In 1990, the breed was presented to the TICA board of directors and admitted into the New Breed and Color class. In 1992, the CFA accepted the breed for registration in the miscellaneous class. The Selkirk earned CFA provisional status on May 1, 1998, and CFA championship status in 2000.

Physical Attributes


Medium to large in size, and well-balanced. The muscular torso is more rectangular than square, although it is not lengthy. Straight back with a modest rise to the hindquarters.


In both boys and girls, the skull is round, broad, and full-cheeked. From the stop to the rear of the head, as well as throughout the width of the forehead and between the ears, the skull structure should be smooth and round to the touch. The muzzle is modest in breadth. To provide the appearance of squareness, the underlying bone structure can be rounded using well-padded whisker pads.

The length is equal to one-twelfth of the breadth. A muzzle is visible beyond the curvature of the cheek in profile. In the same vertical plane, the tip of the chin aligns with the tip of the nose and the top lip. A nose stop is seen in profile. The nose is situated below the eye line and has a downward tilt with a convex shape. Chin should be solid and well-developed, balanced in relation to the rest of the head, and not recede, protrude, or be unduly large.



Medium in size, broad at the base, tapering, and spaced widely. If there are any furnishings, they are curly.


Large, rounded, and well spaced. The outside corner is defined slightly higher than the inner corner, giving the face a pleasant open expression.


Legs range from medium to lengthy. Significant boning. Large, round, and solid feet. Five in front, four in back.


Medium in length and proportion to the body. The base is heavy, while the tip is neither blunt nor pointed.


Colors and patterns that are genetically possible.



The coat texture is silky, full, and clearly curled. It does not feel or appear as velvety as the shorthair coat, but it should not appear thin. The coat is dense and complete, with no bald or poorly covered body parts. The coat may stand out from the body, yet it may appear and feel less than luxurious. A random, unstructured coat with flowing, distinct curls. Instead of an all-over wave, the curls appear as clumps or ringlets. Although curl varies by hair length, gender, and age in an individual, the rex gene should have an effect on the entire coat. Curliness may be more noticeable around the neck, tail, and belly.


The texture of the coat is silky, plushy, full, and definitely curly. The coat is dense and complete, with no bald or poorly covered body parts. The coat should stick out from the body and not be flat or close-fitting. A random, unstructured coat with flowing, distinct curls. The curls occur in bunches rather than as a continuous wave. Although curl varies by hair length, gender, and age in an individual, the rex gene should be visible throughout the coat. Curliness may become more visible around the neck, tail, and belly.


While the qualities listed below are common for this breed, cats are individuals with unique personalities and appearances. For more information about a specific pet, please contact the adoption group.

Wondering about Siamese? Check it out on our next post!


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